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First findings–including my need to get better skills.

Ok, so following Mushon’s sound advice, I tried to focus my research in:

1)      Finding what collaborations between new media and the Arts exist out there.

2)      After that, the next step is to evaluate what has worked well and which problems do exist and need to be changed—and also evaluate which applications/ideas can be adapted to a lesser-wired context.

What I’ve found so far I’ve  can be divided in three main usages:

1. User-generated content/interaction projects

Most of the projects that I found rely on engaging the audience (old and new) into generating new content; through social media like Tweeter or Facebook, their mobile phones, or the web. The projects go across all art genres:

DANCE– Check out Twitter Community Choreography: an ongoing experiment from Dance Theater Workshop. On Tuesdays, they ask their Twitter followers to send one movement (or nonmovement), to form a choreography. They put all the responses together and engage the audience into choosing the order in which the moves should be interpreted, and afterwards they ask them to participate in the music and sound editing. The final result is executed by a professional dancer and filmed.

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LITERATURE— Another super cool project is Penguin’s “We Tell Stories”- they challenged some of their top selling authors to create new forms of story, designed specially for the internet. Over six weeks writers created tales “that take full advantage of the immediacy, connectivity and interactivity” The stories are targeted for young people and have different styles and levels of interaction. “The 21 Steps”, for example, is a homage to “The 39 Steps” in a story that must be followed around the world through Google Maps. In other stories the author would do a real-time writing of the story on a blog-type app, one hour each night for a week; or a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type of story where the reader makes the decisions. A cool catch is a contest that involved a seventh story hidden through the web, with clues both online and in the real world that led the readers to win prizes.

2. Access to archives

Besides YouTube and Hulu, there are many resources that offer great quality content totally or almost free. Two great findings:

FILM— Less than a year ago, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s archive was completely uploaded and disclosed on the Web for anyone to enjoy. Screenplays, photos, his beautiful watercolor storyboards, drawings, notes, newspaper clippings, etc can be accessed for free .

The guys from The Auteurs (if you haven’t yet, definitely join) have managed to offer super good quality streaming for tons of high-quality movies, either for free or for as little as $1.

3. Social media—on the side findings.

Although it may not seem very exciting, for me it was a treasure to find a super useful study conducted by Marc van Bree, http://mcmvanbree.com/about.htm#resume a top PR and MKT man for the arts, who actually put the effort into gathering information and in-depth interpretation of a pool of 81 orchestras—which can basically can be traduced into most types of cultural institutions.

It is not news that social media is a powerful tool for gaining advocacy, branding, funding and general diffusion of any topic. But in my experience, arts institutions have been very slow in incorporating this new media to their communication and marketing strategies. One important element is the lack of feedback and research on social media & the arts impact and concrete results. To that, this study proves to be an invaluable tool for gaining support and budget from high executives in arts organizations.

This is what I found more interesting from many other sites, but am still looking for examples that help delivery of existing content into new audiences. I also found that I need to improve my search skills because I need to get more time-efficient. Sorry to post this late today!

Schoolyard Foursquare or an Elusive Treasure Hunt? Oh, What to do?

GPS Satellite

Ten years ago, on May 1, 2000, the ability to track one’s self was revolutionized when the government had the feature Selective Availability removed from the Global Positioning System (better known as GPS). This gave normal civilians the ability to use GPS more accurately to determine their position in relation to a specific destination.

With the Internet continually becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives, the use of GPS is again being revolutionized and changed. Today, GPS is used for many different things, including determining turn by turn directions, researching the exact longitudinal and latitudinal degrees an individual is currently standing at, to play games, for government purposes, and even for marketing purposes.

There are many issues that can be discussed concerning privacy, the use of GPS, and the Internet. But, I have two specific topics in mind to consider for my next “travel destination,” both being real time location-based services/games. I am hoping for your help in determining which destination I should choose! The two destinations up for consideration are Foursquare and Geocaching.

iPhone App

The objective of Foursquare is  to give the player a new way of exploring their city by “checking in” at different locations using text messages or a device specific application. Users are then awarded points and badges for logging their destinations. I can see many issues arising with this site concerning marketers and the users’ privacy. It would be interesting to explore and research just where all of the location information stored in this game goes to, as well as the possible future implications of it.

My favorite explanation of geocaching is: modern day pirate treasure hunting. The objective is to use a handheld GPS device to hide and seek containers (with “treasure” inside) anywhere around the world. There are a handful of geocaching social networking sites where people log caches (the containers) that they’ve found and clues to those that they’ve personally hidden. I haven’t heard of any geocachers complaining about privacy issues, as it is a tight-knit community where a lot of trust is involved. But, it would be interesting to experiment with the game and see if I find any such issues. If I were to explore this topic, I’d use www.geocaching.com as my social networking site of choice, as it is the self-named “Official Global Cache Hunt Site” and the largest geocaching site.

What are your thoughts? Which GPS-related social networking site/game should I explore for the next few weeks?

1st Travelogue: The Aftershocks of Ineffective Therapy

The part of The Trap that caught my attention and particularly disturbed me was the discussion towards the end of the documentary about negative liberty and the attempt to use this political philosophy on Russia. I had trouble agreeing with the concept of negative liberty because it promotes a society without ideas. To me, this seems utterly contradictory to true freedom, which is what was trying to be accomplished. While negative liberty promotes the individual’s ability to do whatever they please, it also hinders the individual from finding purpose in one’s life. Consequently, in the case of Russia, it seems that authorities were creating an illusion of freedom for the population, rather than providing true freedom and reform.

When the group of American advisors, led by Jeffrey Sachs, tried to put the theory of negative liberty into effect through their plan of “shock therapy,” it proved to be a disaster. A Time Magazine article notes that in January of 1992 when the therapy was being implemented, “The lines outside food stores in Russia grow longer and longer, and the people standing in them grow angrier and angrier.” Yet, this idea of “freedom” was continually pushed onto the society.

I feel as though Sachs and his group of advisors were too strict in their plan, not allowing for mistakes. They tried to push a certain viewpoint on the whole of society, without taking into account the people of that particular society. Isaiah Berlin, the philosopher that further defined the idea of negative liberty from the time of Kant, even noted that being too steadfast to one idea will only lead to its collapse:

“It is seldom, moreover, that there is only one model that determines our thought; men (or cultures) obsessed at their models are rare, and while they may be more coherent at their strongest, they tend to collapse more violently when, in the end, their concepts are blown up by reality – experienced events, ‘inner’ or ‘outer’ that get in the way.” (from ‘Does Political Theory Still Exist?, 1962; http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/berlin.htm)

I do not think a specific, structured mode of developing a society and promoting a certain notion of freedom will ultimately succeed. The plan must have room to grow and breathe with the society it is supposed to be helping. Additionally, to take away the ability for individuals to control their own lives and develop their own sense of fundamental purpose, for the sake of being free to do as they wish, is inherently not free.