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When world-changers meet in Maine: the Pop!Tech conference

Each year Pop!Tech brings dozens of world-class thinkers and doers, along with hundreds of listeners, to a three-day retreat in rural Maine. Their goal: Save the world.

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Day one blog; Pop!Tech conference in Camden, Maine, by Gregory M. Lamb:

One of them has created an innovative way to let individuals make tiny personal loans over the Internet to impoverished but motivated entrepreneurs anywhere in the world. Another one designs simple, inexpensive products that let millions of people who earn less than $1 a day ratchet up their standard of living. And yet another repurposes technologies developed for state-of-the art consumer products to cast light for those in remote areas far from conventional power sources.

Those individuals were just three of the opening-day speakers at this year's Oct. 17-20 Pop!Tech conference (www.poptech.org) in Camden, Maine. Each year, hundreds of attendees pay a considerable fee to crowd into the seaside town's Opera House to hear from a score or more of innovative thinkers and doers representing the latest and best thinking in their fields.

The talks now are broadcast over the Internet (www.poptech.org), archived, and -- beginning this year -- translated into eight languages. Past speakers have ranged from geostrategist author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; to Carolyn Porco, the head of NASA's Cassini spaceprobe mission to Saturn; to Bunker Roy, the Indian social activist.

Here are a few highlights from Day One of Pop!Tech:

Jessica Flannery calls herself just an ordinary middle-class girl from Pittsburgh who wanted somehow to help those in need in developing countries. Together with her husband, who supplied some of the Web know-how, they founded Kiva (www.kiva.org) about 18 months ago.

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