William Powers

William Powers - Social Media Communication  speaker


About William Powers - Speaker and Bestselling Author of Hamlet's Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age:

William Powers is an international commentator on how to live and work well in the digital age. He is also best-selling author and a research scientist at MIT.

A former staff writer for The Washington Post, Bill is the author of the New York Times best-seller, Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (2011). The book is widely praised for challenging the idea that digital technologies are intrinsically good for productivity, innovation and creativity. Rather, Bill persuasively argues that a balanced use of technology is the path to organisational success and personal happiness. Hamlet’s BlackBerry has been published worldwide in numerous languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German and Russian. 

In 2012 Bill created and directed The Crowdwire, a data project sponsored by Bluefin Labs that analysed the use and effect of social media during the US presidential race. In 2014, he joined the Laboratory for Social Machines, a new research group at the MIT Media Lab. The group was founded in the belief that while the social media revolution has dramatically disrupted old business and social structures, it has not yet been successful at building new structures that solve problems for organisations and society at large. As a research scientist, Bill is working on a number of projects aimed at doing just that.

He has spoken at South by Southwest, the Aspen Festival of Ideas and other high-profile conferences. In addition to The Washington Post, his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and many other major publications. His work has been covered by The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, USA Today, Wired and The Guardian, among others. Bill is also a two-time winner of the National Press Club’s “Rowse Award” for best American media commentary. 

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What William Powers Talks About: 

Free the Mind: Unleashing the Creative Power of New Technologies
Best-selling author William Powers combines the neuroscientific and behavioral breakthroughs of the last several decades with his own trailblazing research to show why the current approach to social networking and other new technologies is deeply flawed. Conventional wisdom says the more connected you are 24/7 to digital screens--and the more tasks you’re performing simultaneously--the better. Yet a growing body of evidence shows that, as we strive to stay tethered to our gadgets, we’re working less efficiently and thinking less creatively. And paying a high price in lost productivity: A typical midsized American company with 1,000 employees is now losing $10 million a year to overload--distracted workers trying to juggle too many digital tasks at once. In this provocative, story-driven presentation, Powers:

  • Shows we’re repeating the mistakes of the technology past, by viewing the devices as the source of creativity;
  • Explains what constant multi-tasking does to the brain;
  • Using real-life examples, demonstrates how a more balanced, targeted approach to technology restores focus and sparks truly innovative thinking.

Hamlet's BlackBerry: The Next Tech Revolution
Over the last two decades, the digital revolution has transformed our lives. We’re connected as never before, and a whole new world of resources is at our fingertips. How do you harness these riches to build better organizations, communities, schools and families? This might seem like uncharted territory, but it isn’t. Drawing on over 2,000 years of human innovation and progress, Powers shows that every tech age brings the same mix of opportunities and challenges we’re facing right now. And forward-thinking people always recognize that the key to success isn’t the technology but how you use it. Our gadgets should be working for us, not vice versa, and the next wave of innovation will be about making sure they do. In fact, it’s already begun. In this lively presentation, Powers reveals:

  • Why great leaders and creatives are never passive about technology,
  • Why Shakespeare embraced the BlackBerry of his time and how Ben Franklin would have used Twitter,
  • How the next tech revolution will radically reshape the digital experience, so it fosters depth and imagination, 
  • Which innovative organizations are leading the way, and what we can learn from them.              
Einstein's Cubicle: Where Genius Happens & Why
Information is everywhere, and in an effort to stay abreast of it all, we’re constantly connecting. But the most important connections--the original insights and “eureka” moments that change the world--tend to happen in the space between the countless tasks that fill up our daily lives. It can happen when you’re walking along a city street, taking a shower or just driving down the highway. William Powers calls them Gaps, and he shows why they’re essential to the kind of thinking often called genius. There’s genius in all of us and in a busy, hyper-connected world the trick is locating those magical spaces where it can bloom. Powers shares inspiring stories of geniuses past and present who found gaps in the most unlikely places and how we can do the same.

  • What the latest scientific research reveals about the sources of inspiration;
  • How great minds such as Einstein carved out gaps within their own hectic, busy lives;
  • The ways digital tools are changing the landscape of creativity, and where cutting-edge thinkers and organizations are finding brand new gaps.

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 Recent Publications

Powers moves beyond the debate over whether technology makes us smarter or dumber and focuses on what really matters: how do we learn to cope with it.

Niraj Chokshi, The Atlantic

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