April 21, 2007
BIP - building interactive plagrounds July 20-21, 2007, Florence/Italy is a contest for building interactive projects to put in public spaces. The focus of this contest is on 'art' and environment in interactive projects.
They claim, curiously, that they are looking for people who "are not scared by a drunk young audience"!!
April 13, 2007
Pervasive computing and ...pervasive projection?
An interesting article about public pervasive computing:
"[This architecture] shows how the urban environment inspire researchers to explore the intersections between physical,social,and digital domains."
It seems that this is one of the rare system architectures that actually takes the surrounding physical space into account:
"The interesting point here is that it shows how system developers and HCI designers try to obtain a fundamental understanding of a physical space and how it impacts the social interactions taking place there prior to sketch any ideas about technologies. Achieving such a goal is often done by looking at architecural theorists [...]"
Also, this article about outdoor digital projection in urban environments is also of a good deal of related interest to Prospero, for obvious reasons.
March 05, 2007
Next for Social Networking
There was a piece by Brad Stone in Friday's NY Times on social networking that caught my attention. The punchline: quite a few players are trying to figure out how to make the most of the (presently hermetically differentiated) social networking services available at more and more sites.
They look at MySpace and Facebook, with their tens of millions of users, as walled-off destinations, similar to first-generation online services like America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy. These big Web sites attract masses of people who have dissimilar interests and, ultimately, little in common.
The new social networking players, which include Cisco and a multitude of start-ups like Ning, the latest venture of the Netscape co-creator Marc Andreessen, say that social networks will soon be as ubiquitous as regular Web sites. They are aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.
The questions that folks are grappling with are fairly common. Since the mulitudes that head to YouTube have, the article suggests, little in common, what does a "deep" community look like? Smaller for sure. Purposive? Unifed by a common theme (the article suggests common interests such as a fondness for C.S.I. as an example).
A link between this and what we're up to with Prospero is that we imagine that interactive displays would work well in bracketed contexts such as a campus or corporation, a place where membership to a certain extent frames what is expected from other members. Stone's piece suggests a similar inclination among folks exploring with networking:
Several former employees have left Tribe.net to start their own firms offering social network tools. Alexander Mouldovan, who had been a product manager there, started a company called Crowd Factory to design social networks for large companies.
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...