This Episode: How do you create new and innovative systems for producing content in a new space? For Connor Illsley of Combo Bravo in Toronto, you innovate by “creating fearlessly.” Connor schemes how to create the most amazing creative scenario that is true to the artist — and THEN figures out how to make the new tech work to serve the artist. He shares the thought process behind Jazz Cartier’s 2016 music video Red Alert/100 Roses pair, as well as projects since. He shares with us how VR can open up opportunities with music as it lets us create more abstract approaches that just recreating reality.
Connor co-created one of the most innovative new music Virtual Reality experiences for Jazz Cartier in 2016. Along with his business partner at Combo Bravo, John Riera, he has stepped into VR projects for the UN, Nordstrom, and GE. His work brings him around the world — from Uganda to the Bahamas to a GE wind farm — to bring innovative approaches to VR as a new art form to the 360 screen. Combo Bravo is a full service production house, working on immersive media and now volumetric scanning in capturing the real world in VR and AR.
I spoke at SXSW Music again this year on my current favorite topic: Music 20/20 and how we can proactively affect the future. SXSW, however, is not just about speaking. It is about diving deeply into diverse ideas with diverse people. It is one of my annual addictions.
This is my 7th year going to SXSW — I think. They blur together. I started going to SXSW Interactive and enjoying the diverse voices, sharing areas I knew nothing about. I would go to session on digital changes in Latin America and Eastern Europe, meeting people I would never have seen otherwise. I learned about location-based mobile tools at SXSW first, learning what was being done on the ground from front-line users in arts, documentaries, and the like. I also hear dynamic voices that really resonate for me. I heard here first from Amber Case on tech anthropology. I first heard at SXSW about shifts in search engine trends. I first heard here about new heads-up displays for cars to keep the clutter down and compete with smartphone structures. I first heard at SXSW ideas about non-interface interfaces.
I also learned about breakfast tacos in the early years. Tacos? For breakfast?
My experience now is different. I don’t find many technologies I haven’t seen yet. Perhaps this is because I’m hip-deep in leading-edge technologies at other events from my current role at UCLA Center for Music Innovation. Maybe because the event is much heavier in startups competing for attention and big companies trying to get attention as well. The era of the breakout new tech service or product getting lots of buzz at SXSW seems to have made way for the McDonald’s custom burger, Mazda free rides, and esurance tech giveaways.
I do continue to get my favorite things from it: real-life implementations and dynamic voices. I enjoy learning from implementers on a local basis, running in-context, in-place real life examples of disruptive and collaborative tech — in use, with all its headaches and glory. I find that often the people drawn to the conversation IN the room are more intriguing than those on the dias, and conversations that follow provide all sorts of connected bridges to new engagement. In most rooms, the volunteer session wranglers needed to push everyone outside to finish conversations. . . not just about selling things and ideas to the speakers, but also to connect the folks who want to keep the conversation going in how these challenges apply in their own sector or local community.
It also continues to be a great mix of voices and use cases. This year, northern European languages abounded as people flew great distances to be in these conversations, with their own stories and questions. I met many executives and creative executives from Asia. On the US front, I met several mayors, many non-profits, and lots of university students, sharing ideas and interests.
As a result of my going to SXSWedu, Interactive, AND Music (two weeks in total), my highlights this year are a mixed bag.
Jane McGonigal at SXSWedu talking about how we can understand and think about the future. I do a lot of futurist work and hang out in that space. Her talk brought it into focus for folks wanting to understand how to be a Futurist in their everyday lives. That recording I have shared with a half-dozen people I’m working with and they are changing some of the questions they ask about the Signals they see.
The British Museum, with Samsung, using VR to take young students into the Bronze Age and see artifacts in context.
Lots of conflicting information and predictions in sessions on location-based mobile tools and big data about consumers.
Beacons, beacons, and more beacons. . . especially in retail.
New ways to make assets liquid, including MoveLoot, which helps you resell the used furniture in your home.
Battling apps about food — including finding food trucks, bringing us food on the spot, and in-app learning from videos of making food.
Cities wrestling with how to use big data and action research.
Local music venues dealing with the impact of streaming music and gentrification on local clubs.
I really enjoy the amazing speakers.
Brene Brown — live. I’m a big fangirl and have been consuming her books and audiobooks, so listening to her live was a real treat. I also brought along a friend from a big tech organization who needed to hear her messages. . . that week . . .
Ira Glass on the nature of hard work and creativity, and the difference between trying to edit documentary audio to elicit an emotional shift and writing it for feature film. (And how to make a balloon animal.)
Anthony Bourdain on how to urge your TV show crew to incorporate ideas from art films. . . and live a very big life.
Other take-aways were more contextual:
Joys of sitting in St. David’s waiting for a thunderstorm to clear while talking with 3 students and a record executive.
The crowded rooms that continue to see VR for the first time
Having people stop you in the hallway, bookstore, and bathroom to make comments and ask questions from your panel
The magic of good pulled pork and the challenge of keeping my breakfast taco intake low
The beauty of walking down a hallway in the Convention Center and despite there being more than 20,000 people in town for the event walking into people you know . . . from your own city . . .
Now back home for a short while, I think about the people I want to connect with further, to bring their local ideas into my local spheres, and ideas that I can play with and pitch for when when I come back again next year.
Inaugural Director/UCLA Center for Music Innovation
About this time each year, I look at my stuff. Goodwill Industries gets a lot of my physical stuff, and gets a lot more this year as two of my three kids are ensconced in colleges not in this same town. My third got the last of her college applications out yesterday morning. So I’ve been donating the “parenting” pieces of my life to go to other families.
However, this also is the time of year that I re-open my paper and digital files and find things I wrote from years past. I seem to be a information hoarder. It is like an archaeological dig. I find the “me” of times past writing to the “me” of now. And I find that my themes remain the same — and yet I seem to not have been fully listening to the “me” of 2009 and 2011. She really wanted to build programs that I have yet to truly build.
I also made a big mess by pulling out my old project files from the past 3-4 years . . . and I find similar unrequited themes. I also found many of my files from the start of my doctoral journey . . . and other unrequited work. Time to requite this year!
My next saga over the next day or so is the same archaeological dig of my own digital life and work. . . the keywords and collections . . . the digital detritus of a live digitally lived. I’ve created new themes and gatherings of ideas for my planned 2015 work — I’ll see what the “me” of the past continues to say to “me” in the days ahead.
In older days, I would Google myself to see how I surfaced. That’s not just an ego thing — I found many strange things attributed to me. I research myself, or at least my professional reach.
In current days, there are tools that help me “research myself” using visualization tools.
I’m sharing two here:
InMaps from LinkedIn Labs
I have a lot of LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn says 500+; it is a lot more than that.
LinkedIn Labs provides Inmaps, an intriguing tool to visually map the inter-connectivity of your Connections. It gives you a color coded interconnected visual that you need to figure the connections out for yourself.
Here is mine, updated to today:
The labels on the bottom left are provided by color code, and you can roll over each of the dots to see who each person is. You then can extrapolate for yourself the nature of the connections that are influencing the color codes. The Green on the bottom left, for example, are many of my friends from Fielding Graduate University in educational research, who are some distance away from my Blue friends on the bottom right, who mostly are digital media professional acquaintances from the past decade plus. LinkedIn has a good video from 2011 on how to use this tool on YouTube here.
There are many tools to look at Twitter. I have (at least) two Twitter “handles”: @maremel and @gigijohnson. I try to use @maremel for industry trend information and new Maremel programs and projects. @gigijohnson, on the other hand, is for more perspective comments. I have faded with both into retweeting articles I enjoy, and I can see that in my own casual observation.
SocialBro lets me take this a little further. I can break my Twitter followers into a wide variety of categories, including how often they Tweet and how stale their Tweets are or how many influencers follow them. Here’s a partial visualization of Twitter followers with larger followings who follow @maremel, as well as below that a tag cloud of what types of words Followers use in their bios:
I pay for the service about $7/month; price is related to the volume of followers you are analyzing. It also can track the overlap between your followers and other third-party accounts. I use the tool to analyze similar companies to various clients and partners to see who are combined influencers and who might be intriguing to start to follow or converse with in the Twittersphere.
What other visualization tools do you use to spy on your social self?
We enjoyed sharing insights at SXSW Interactive 2014 on this question — How is smartphone use pixelating reality, blowing it up and turning it into shiftable bits of data so we are making different decisions with its Time and Place?
We are in a massive change in social and personal behavior, catalyzed by the increasing penetration of smartphones. We have had digital cameras and cell phones for many years. The intriguing shift stems from both (a) casual photography with no lag time to distribute and immediate connectivity, and (b) instant connecting with small screens wherever we go.
What has shifted? This direction of thought looks at how this affects our Here and Now, as well as the question of being Together.
How are we Present if we are always checking in to other information and places?
Are we shifting our energies to auto-documenting our activities through pictures and other actions to the detriment of the activity and connections that we are experiencing live?
You can enjoy two elements of the presentation below…
First, this video outlines some of the questions we examined:
Second, here’s the SlideShare of the presentation from SXSW, without any audio.