Nonprofit Technology Conference #18NTC

NTEN's annual conference is always a special treat. Vendors and attendees all focused on making the world a better place while investigating the appropriate role technology plays in that transformation.  With 144 sessions plus keynotes, Birds of a Feather lunch tables, Ignite talks and pre-conference workshops, to say the conference is robust is an understatement.  The following are my main take-away from the conference, but if you are curious for more, be sure to check out their social channels with hashtag #18NTC.

What are the Professions within Data Science? Notes from an Industry Panel

What is the difference between a Data Analyst and a Data Scientist? What is the most demanded programming language for data workers entering the cultural field? And what skills are most important for those interested in working with data? AMT-Lab contributor Julia Lewis recently attended a panel which addressed these questions and more. Read her thoughts here.

Creators Project in San Francisco

Last weekend the Creator's Project garnered significant attention from national media.  From the mission statement on the website "The Creators Project is a global celebration of art and technology." and "The Creators Project is a new kind of arts and culture channel for a new kind of world."   As an intersection between art and tech it seems appropriate that the blog weigh in and take a look at what they did, how they did it, and the implications.  The Creator's Project has major sponsorship from Intel Corp and VICE with significant online free content focusing on mostly short form interview of Creator associated artists.  This Project offers similar promise to other ventures to offering culture and arts online to ideas such as On The Boards TV and Jacob's Pillow Virtual Pillow but is already operating on a much larger scale than either of these.

The Creators Project offers arts and culture online at a scale that is extraordinary for such a young institution.  The levels of participation on information sharing that is happening through their website looks unparalleled and should be looked towards as a model for successful integration of technology and the arts.   The Creators Project was started in May of 2010 by VICE and seems to have two major interfaces with the public.  There is a exhibit/show that has toured around the world each year and an expanding web presence that now counts video downloads in the millions.  The content is broken out into six different categories:  Music, Film, Art, Design, Gaming, and Fashion and has engaged with artists from all of these areas to provide content online and for the annual festival.  They will be rolling out content collected from the event last weekend (March 17-19, 2012) in the coming weeks.

Current content on the website is a mind blowing array of new directions taken by artists in each of the fields.  One of the standout artists at the event last weekend was a new work from visual multidisciplinary artist Chris Milk.  The installation called the Treachery of Sanctuary incorporated user interaction with digital transformation to look at elements of flight.  Visuals of this can be found here.

Anther fascinating example that was found on the Creator's Project website was the Electronic Shadow from France.  Electronic Shadow uses imaging technology and software to generate interactive 3D maps of people places and objects.  These images then can be used and manipulated in artistic fashions.  The implication for this technology would, for instance, be a game changing one for other art forms such as dance.

Exchange of ideas such as Creator's Project bring together the bleeding edge of Technology and the Arts and as such should be a point of engagement for institutions that are looking to modernize and include new audiences (and younger audiences).  The artists involved have obviously successfully engaged these audiences already and by following the lead of these success stories arts leaders at more conventional organizations can find hope in a new direction in reshaping structure and content to address the demands of a more complex world.





Festivals Galore!

As the month of March rolls on, and the weather starts to warm up, two things immediately come to mind: vacation, and festivals. The gang here at Tech in the Arts is on spring break this week, so expect a lighter posting schedule as we take a (well deserved!) break from our studies. Having said that, I wanted to briefly check in and point out two festivals happening this week that are highlighting some of the best and most creative technology and arts projects occurring from across the country.

The first, South by Southwest, or SXSW for short, is currently underway down in Austin, Texas, as anyone with a Twitter account is well aware of by now. Having grown massively in size over the years, the show is divided between three festivals: film, music, and interactive. The interactive portion, including keynotes, speakers, presentations, shows, parties, events and so much more (it really is a sight to behold) is taking place this weekend and ends tomorrow, the 13th.

Tech in the Arts is live down in Austin covering the action; you can follow our Twitter feed (@techinthearts) for live updates and recaps of SXSW events, including the big bash that Carnegie Mellon held this weekend, along with one of our staffers, Terry Boyd, who is tweeting from his personal account (@boydleservice). We all wish we could be there this weekend, but those two accounts are representing us well!

We’ll also have a wrap-up of all the great action at SXSW following the conclusion of the festival, so stay tuned for that.

I’m typing this from beautiful San Francisco, California, and the second festival I wanted to mention is the 3rd Annual Creators Project, taking place this upcoming weekend (March 17th-18th) here in the Bay Area. Sponsored by Intel and VICE, the festival seeks to bring together the best of art, music and is “dedicated to supporting artists in realizing their creative visions through technology.” In addition to the works of art on display, there will be performances by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, James Murphy, and Squarepusher.

The best part of the festival? It’s free with an RSVP! So if you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, definitely check it out.

Even if you can’t make it to either Austin or San Francisco this week, stay tuned as we’ll be posting follow ups to both exciting festivals and highlighting the best art and technology trends coming from both.


Expanding the Dialogue with the CultureCode Initiative

While the intersection of technology and the arts has always presented a series of exciting opportunities for us here at Technology in the Arts, the reality is many cultural and arts organizations find technology challenging. It can seem especially prohibitive to small organizations and individual artists who may lack expertise. The Arts Council England and Codeworks have developed an interesting forum to increase the dialogue between arts organizations and the developers of this intimidating technology, the CultureCode Initiative.

No definition fits the CultureCode Initiative better than the one straight out of their digital press release,

“The CultureCode Initiative is a series of free events designed to open up new opportunities for highly skilled developers, designers and assorted geeks to work collaboratively with cultural organisations and artists.”

Here’s why I find the idea of the CultureCode Initiative so fascinating: technology often overwhelms people and appears antithetical to cultural organizations that feel that new technology can make them obsolete. The CultureCode Initiative seeks to completely debunk that myth, as Tyneside Cinema Chief Executive Mark Dobson explains, “You don’t need to have any previous experience of digital to attend this event”.

The CultureCode Initiative’s website even states “you don’t need an IT department” to partake and learn from their events, and some are guaranteed to be "jargon-free". The advent of web 2.0 and the current culture of sharing absolutely everything via the internet has democratized information. The CultureCode Initiative, to me, is increasing accessibility and informing arts and cultural organizations know that it is possible and it is easy for them to join this discussion.

Most importantly, perhaps, the discussion is not meant to be in one direction. While most similar opportunities are aimed at instructing arts organizations in utilizing technology, the CultureCode Initiative encourages two-way dialogues, with events showing developers how they can take a new look at cultural organizations and how cultural organizations can reconsider their “digital assets”.

If you’d like to join the discussion live, their first events start early next week (Tuesday, February 21st ) and CultureCode ends with a huge twenty-four hour Hack towards the end of March.

If you don’t happen to live in the North East of England (where these events take place) you can join the discussion digitally by tweeting @Culture_Code.

Any of our readers going? Be sure to let us know your perceptions of the events – you can bet Tech in the Arts will be watching to see what cool solutions come out of the CultureCode Hack.

Solve for X

Try not to have horrible flashbacks of high school algebra! In this case, Solve for <X> is a new Google initiative, defined as “a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moon-shot thinking and teamwork”, and <X> is defined by as the intersections of “huge problem”, “radical solution”, and “breakthrough technology”.

While the website is fairly vague, Solve for <X> sounds like a hub for crowdsourced solutions with a focus on innovative thinking and technologies. The website already has some brilliant talks online – as a visual person, I found Mary Lou Jepsen’s discussion on “Imaging the Mind’s Eye” fascinating.

Solve for <X> has a Google+ page to encourage and facilitate discussion; anyone with a relevant talk is invited to share it on the page as long as it meets the criteria (huge problem, radical solution, and breakthrough technology). Solve for <X> even hosted a conference in the beginning of February to bring together innovators to discuss major problems and solutions of the modern world. There’s a YouTube channel with more videos from the site and their conference, with presumably more on the way.

Crowdsource thinking like Solve for <X> and the TED talks certainly provide an interesting set of viewpoints on a wide range of topics. You can bet we’ll be watching to see how Solve for <X> has an affect on culture and the world of art.