Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Smart use of common tech

Lately I've been noticing some great examples of established technology being used in creative and effective ways:

  1. HeckleVision, which I've already mentioned: all this took was combining digital movie projection and text messaging. The next one is on April 9.
  2. On May 5, Seattle Opera is going to simulcast its opening night of Madame Butterfly to a giant screen in Key Arena. Admission will be free, and they're expecting 8,000 people to show up. They're also taking production seriously: the performance will be captured by seven HD cameras and edited live.
  3. With the familiar classics, like Beethoven or Puccini or Shakespeare, you basically know in advance what you're getting, and can make an informed choice of whether to go. With cutting-edge theatre, dance, and performance art by new artists, you have no real way of knowing whether you'll love it or want to leave at intermission. Alternately, you may want to satisfy your curiosity about a performance but on curiosity alone can't justify getting downtown and back, dealing with parking, and sitting through the whole thing. lets you pay either $5 per performance (or $50 per year for all performances) to watch the On the Boards presentations online instead, solving both issues. I believe this approach is perfectly suited to modern performance and hope it catches on.
  4. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra webcasts. You get to hear (and also see) their performances live via the internet for free. Furthermore their player is integrated with twitter, with a channel dedicated to the performance, so everybody tuning in can discuss what is happening in real time if they wish. This is something I've been recommending for years, and it's good to finally see someone do it.
  5. I've mentioned Fathom Events and National Theatre Live before: these are the two leading sources for broadcasts of live fine arts performances to local movie theaters. Now Fathom Events has started doing audio-only broadcasts to theaters as well, for example their broadcast of a classic Grateful Dead concert recording on April 19. I suppose this idea isn't that different from the sort of music-accompanied laser shows which science museum planetariums have been offering for years, except that if the idea catches on a wider range of music could be offered, and hence more fans of particular kinds of music could enjoy the shared experience of listening to it.

I believe intelligent use of common technologies (as illustrated by several of the above examples) will, increasingly, allow people to live wherever they like without missing out on the cultural offerings which only the world's largest cities can provide, and furthermore without even missing out on the sense of enjoying them with others.

I find that inspiring.

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