February 28, 2007
Boston Rethinking Public Displays
According to a piece in today's Boston Globe , the Boston Redevelopment Authority is contemplating amending zoning restrictions on "big, flashing signs":
Saying it wants colorful electronic marquees to create an atmosphere like Times Square in New York, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is planning to amend the city's zoning code to permit electronic signs that make "bold use of graphics" and create a sense of "animation and motion" and "images that engage the public."
The new rules would apply in the Theater District, the South Boston waterfront near the convention center, and Lansdowne Street near Fenway Park, areas that draw tourists and are considered ripe for nightlife development.
"It will enliven those areas, make it more interesting and unique, in the same way as when you're in New York City and you go to Times Square," said Kairos Shen, the BRA's director of planning, who is heading the effort. "It will help bring our Theater District to the 21st century, in terms of image."
Boston banned flashing signs in the 1970s amid agressive urban renewal efforts including the razing of Scollay Square to create Government Center. The city allowed the signs only in a small area near Chinatown described in the zoning code as "an adult entertainment district." Everywhere else, commercial signs were required to be static and emit only "continuous light."
Times Square, eh? 21st Century, huh? From the sounds of the proposal, the approach will bring Boston squarely into the 20th Century, friends. "Images that engage the public" are so last century.
But wait, there's more:
The city is also planning a new building at the corner of Tremont and Stuart streets that will act as a gateway to the Theater District. Plans call for a 12-story, curvy, glass building whose focus will be a large electronic video display facing the streets.
But citing traffic and neighborhood concerns, the BRA rejected a proposal from TD Banknorth Garden last year to erect a giant video billboard on its building facing Interstate 93.
Prospero is aimed at updating this approach. It doesn't simply create images that dazzle those that pass by, holding them in their thrall. It intends to bring them into dialog.
Here's hoping that this change in Boston will usher in something truly bold and visionary. We already have Times Square...
February 13, 2007
Integrating Design Review Feedback
We had a meeting this week to integrate the feedback from the design review.
Then Ben coded up our first fully functional module for the system: it uses google maps and zipcodes to do location-based queries.
February 02, 2007
Prospero Design Review
Friday, February 2
Charles Kaylor did a great job on the slides for our design review today (ppt is here). We came up with some good copy collectively, and each took part in the actual presenting. Ben Congleton pulled off some slick code and a LIVE demo of card-swiping into the Prospero system and pulling some data down from facebook in real time.
The best part was coming up with our 3 P's (to go along with Prospero):
Presence(ing) --> Process(ing) --> Present(ing)
The entire GROCS assembly gave us a lot of great feedback on even more P's: Privacy, and how to Provoke user Participation. :-)