Today is the start of March Madness. In the world of Schipul, it’s my general duty to manage the office pool. As the Twittersphere started warming up for March Madness, I came across this tweet from a former Schipulite:
I pasted it, and sent it to Ed. The subject, Dear Ed, the body, Just sayin’ ;). He liked the idea, but not the reward. Instead, the Schipulites will be putting their brackets on the line for the opportunity to donate $500 to the relief effort in Japan. (and an Apple gift card, natch!)
The Final Four is kinda special for me this year, as my hometown is playing host. I’m excited that my picks this year may do more good than ever before. Good luck to all, wherever and however you play. However, if you do win a big office pool, do consider donating some, if not all, of it back to Japan.
I attended a screening of Warhol on TV presented by Aurora Picture Show at the Menil Collection last Friday night. The film was a collection of excerpts of works created by and featuring Andy Warhol. The film was curated by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA.
Andy Warhol’s obsession with celebrity and the lives of the rich in famous is well documented, and very evident in the film. What hit me was his fervent dedication to documenting his life and the world around him in photographs and video. Take this photo I took of a video of Andy being done up in drag.
In today’s pop culture, our obsession with the lives of the rich and famous is at an all time high. The entire Charlie Sheen saga has been a grim reminder of how much we thirst for a good celebrity train wreck. But a democratization of the velvet rope has occurred with the proliferation of camera phones. Whether it is the video of Cyndi Lauper singing Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun in an airport terminal . . .
Or a little girl singing the new Lady GaGa single . . .
There are moments of Warholian fascination being born (this way) every day. It’s had me thinking about what Andy Warhol’s art would have looked like if he was armed with an iPhone. The glut of photography apps on the iPhone, particularly those dedicated to creating a vintage look to your photos, make your iPhone reminiscent of Warhol’s ubiquitous cameras. Here are a couple of my favorites
Instagram is incredibly simple. Take a picture, apply a cool filter, share with other user and over your social networks. They recently added hashtag support allowing users to tag their photos, making them searchable. Instagram is great to get quick snaps of random things going on around you. The in-app feed is great for those moments when you want to just look at something interesting in the middle of the day. You can also like and comment on your friends photos. There is also a Popular button that takes you to a collection of the most liked photos taken by Instagram users.
I’ll warn you now, this app can lead to a serious obession. I LOVE Hipstamatic. While the app comes with a nice set of equipment up front, the real fun is adding the Hipstapaks, expanding your lens, film and camera options. I doubt I’ll ever learn how to use this app to its fullest potential, but I know it’s going to be fun trying. Another great feature of this app is the Hipstamart. You can upload photos from your phone into the Hipstamart, and order high quality prints! They come in a nifty little envelope that folds into a stand-up frame.
Hipstamatic just takes great photos. You can also share them in Instagram, doubling the AWESOME! One more thing, if you’re going to be using Hipstamatic, you might as well invest in SwankoLab as well. It’s like having an entire dark room in your pocket!
I haven’t been able to use 8mm as much as I would like. As you can probably imagine, it turns your iPhone into an 8mm camera. Like Hipstamatic, it comes with a small collection of lenses and films to experiment with. Turn your videos into home movies from yesteryear!
Fortunately, the bad fashion from the 70’s is not included.
With an iPhone and these apps, anyone can lead the life of Andy Warhol. And getting your 15 minutes of fame just got a bit easier. Happy content creating!
Schipul is incredibly excited to show off some new stamps we’ve had created with the help from our friends at Gowalla.
While we are still trying to figure out everything there is to know about location based social media, we LOVE the way Gowalla allows locations to easily customize their visitors’ experience. These three stamps are our first steps to helping our clients get more out of Gowalla, and help them find new ways to interact with their customers, visitors and patrons.
The Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park will be held Friday, March 25 through Sunday, March 27 in Memorial Park. The Bayou City Art Festival is produced by the Art Colony Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to producing high quality art festivals and events, which provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations. Over the past 39 years, Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park and Bayou City Art Festival Downtown have raised $2.6 million for local nonprofit organizations.
The 2011 Miller Outdoor Theatre season kicks off March 23 with Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance presented by the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company. The performance incorporates history, fashion, music and the arts into an interactive blast of excitement. The company dances through the eras of the 1930’s Lindy Hop, bops into the 1950’s, grooves into the 1970’s and ends into the Hip Hop music of today.
There is an article in this month’s Texas Monthly titled Paint by Numbers that takes an in depth look at one of the most ambitious contemporary arts collections recently brought together in the State of Texas. What makes this collection unique is this “gallery” just hosted the Super Bowl XLV. I am, of course, talking about the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
I found the entire article incredibly fascinating. While some will sniff at the idea of the art in the stadium being compared to the frescoes that adorned the vomitoria (click on the link, it’s not what you think) of the Roman Colosseum, Mr. Jones has recreated the same thing in Arlington, and he’s done so with contemporary art.
For the record, I am not a big fan of Jerry Jones, but I greatly respect what he has done here. It’s a surprisingly forward thinking move from an organization drowning in sponsorship money from beer and soft drink companies. An NFL franchise as an arts benefactor makes so much sense, it’s hard for me to believe it hasn’t been a higher priority, if not a legislative requirement of publicly funded sports stadiums.
The amount of money pumping through the professional sports leagues is mind boggling, and incredibly hard to swallow at times. The Dallas Cowboys stadium alone carried a price tag of $1.15 BILLION. To see some of this money directed into the arts makes me happy, and hopeful we can see more money pumped into the arts communities of all cities that are home to a professional sports franchise.
At a time when government funding of the arts is in danger of being cut on all levels, it is high time owners of all professional sports franchises try harder to keep up with the Joneses.
I’ve been working here at Schipul for almost a year now. I came here after 4+ years of working for the Society for the Performing Arts in Houston, TX. During this time, my mind has not strayed far from trying to find better ways for performing arts organizations to harness the power of the Internet to enhance audience development and, more importantly, sell more tickets.
This post is a first step in helping performing arts institutions to better understand and use the Internet for their organizations and their artists. I welcome your feeback, and hope you forward this on to anyone you know that works for a performing arts organization if you find it useful.
A Reality: Performing Arts needs SEO
You probably think an organization like Lincoln Center wouldn’t need Search Engine Optimization. You’re wrong.
Despite being quite familiar with their site, I had to Google them first to find their site. Today’s web user is very reluctant to start slapping .com on anything you want on the web. For instance, try typing whitehouse.com into your browser. You will not find our President.
Need more proof? Take a look at this report from Google Insights about searches including the words lincoln and center. NOTE: These results are from New York state.
I don’t know about you, but I know Lincoln Center is in New York City. Yet above you can see that many people actually search for “lincoln center nyc” or “lincoln center ny”. Again, these are searched from the state of New York. The point here is that regardless of how strong your brand or position is in a patron’s mind, they will more likely be Googling you or the performer first.
Wait! Don’t go optimizing your performances just yet. You need to develop your strategy first. You’re probably thinking you’ll succeed if you start optimizing around the same time you start marketing the performances through your other outlets. That’s not going to work. You need at least three months of continuous optimization to start getting attention of the great and powerful Google. This means your online marketing should not, in any way, be tied to your other marketing plans. Why?
Newspapers are dying because they thought reprinting their paper on the web was all they needed to do. They were wrong. You must market to an online audience (i.e. Google) if you want people to find your web site. This means you need to start treating Google like your oldest subscriber and donor.
A Challenge: Performing Arts needs Video
Do you remember when we all thought how crazy it was to have a camera on a cell phone? Now we have phones offering HD video! But there’s a HUGE drawback as it’s not so easy to transmit video via today’s web. However, as the Internet continues to become more mobile, and the transmission lines get faster and more widespread, sharing video is going to become as ubiquitous as photo sharing is today.
Today, many performing artists rely on photos to tell their story. Take this image from Diavolo’sTrajectoire.
But doesn’t this video do a better job of telling their story?
Of course, it’s not just about presenting it, it’s HOW you share the video. Take this video I’ve embedded from Alvin Ailey Dance Company. NOTE: Alvin Ailey has restricted our ability to share their videos to this format.
Not very impressive, is it? If you do decide to click on it, you will bear witness to one of the greatest displays of American choreography the world has ever seen. But if you’re like most web users, you are more likely to trust the Diavolo video link (32K+ hits) over the link from Alvin Ailey (26K+ hits).
Proving a picture is worth 6,000 clicks.
Artists and presenting organizations have to work together to provide better opportunities for patron video consumption. It’s not about showing entire pieces or performances, it’s about whetting the appetite of an audience that is starved for good content. And like we’ve seen above, how you allow your patrons and fans to present is important as well.
An Adventure: Check in, Experience the Performing Arts
Do you remember your reaction when you first heard someone talk about Twitter? It was probably the same reaction you have had listening to someone talk about Foursquare, Gowalla or SCVNGR. I must admit, I long fought against the location-based check in services. However, the more I learn about them, the more I begin to see the dawning of a new level of personal interaction.
The purpose behind these services isn’t to alert people of your location, it’s to tell a story about a location. Every time you walk into a special place, like a performing arts venue, a memory is made. You are not the person you were after you’ve walked into one of your special locations.
For a performing arts organization’s patrons, this is a regular experience every time they walk into your performance hall. The hall is your sandbox, and you now have some pretty amazing toys to play with in it. Whether you create photo contests with Instagram or Hipstamatic, or offer discounts to patrons who check in via Gowalla or SCVNGR, you now have the ability, generally for FREE, to create memories and expand your patrons’ experiences beyond the stage and performance.
Performing Arts Online
I want to explore these and other ways the Internet can be used to tell the story of performing arts over the course of this year. I can tell you now, the performing arts groups are not fully utilizing the power of the web to further their mission and vision. My goal, my New Year’s resolution, is to help change that.
I hope this is a first step in the right direction.
As we come to the end of 2010, I’d like to take a look at the fastest growing segment of social media this year, Location.
There are 3 you should know, but you only need 2
Location is dominated by three major companies, Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR. You only really need Gowalla and SCVNGR. Gowalla now allows you to check-in on Foursquare. All that means is you no longer have to choose between the two, and Gowalla has always been more fun and had more functionality, although Foursquare’s recent update evened that playing field.
As for SCVNGR, I see it becoming the eventual winner of all three. It gives users more freedom to create ways to interact with different locations, and is just more fun to use.
It will NEVER be okay to check-in to your house
Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, add your home to any of these services. This would also include never checking into your apartment complex or building. It’s irresponsible, dangerous and just plain STUPID. Get your home off these services ASAP if you were ignorant enough to create the location. It should go without saying that you should never add your friend’s home either.
Seriously, don’t be an idiot.
Privacy shouldn’t be an issue
Of course, you don’t want everyone to know where you are at all times of the day. Using these services effectively does not require you check in EVERYWHERE. The whole point of these of the check-in is to share an experience at or with a particular location. If you’re not in the sharing mood, don’t check in! 🙂
Share on Facebook and Twitter . . . sparingly
All of the apps will allow you to share your activity via Facebook and Twitter. #1 thing to know is you should turn off ALL automatic updates. Everything you do one these services is of interest to your friends and followers. Generally speaking, you only want to share those instances where there is a point to you being at a particular location. This is a really gray area, and one that even I don’t really get right all of the time. However, you need to go into using these apps with the understanding that sometimes the activity is for these apps only. Common sense should be enough for you to figure this out on your own.
Those people annoy me too
You, I, someone we all know are one of those people from time to time. And that makes the thought of checking in everywhere you go another opportunity to be one of those people. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I have started using Gowalla and SCVNGR more and more. My tip for you here is to check in BEFORE you walk into somewhere. Before leaving your car, do all of your checking in.
One of the goals of these services is to provide insider information for different locations like bars and restaurants. What to order, what to drink, etc. If you take the time to peruse this information BEFORE you walk in, you look that much better when you walk in like you own the joint.
Always remember, Location, Location, Location
The purpose of these services is to share your experiences at a particular location. Use them when those stories happen. Have a great meal? Share a special memory? Share it with your friends! And as always, HAVE FUN!
Jimmy Kimmel has named Wednesday, November 17, 2010 National Unfriend Day
NUD is a day where all Facebook users have the freedom to delete or “unfriend” people from their Facebook profiles that are not really their friends. We here at Schipul applaud Mr. Kimmel’s cause, and are here to help you get the most out of NUD this Wednesday.
For the purposes of this post, we’re going to use Dunbar’s Number, or 150, as a target for the number of friends you’ll have after participating in NUD. Although, we’ll let you go as high as 230 if you so wish. I will run through my own criteria for NUD, and give you an idea of how I will be dropping people from my own Facebook profile.
At the writing of this post, I have 408 friends on my Facebook profile. I have tried many times to keep this number below 300, but it would appear I have been remiss in my Facebook friend gardening. Before we go any further, It is important for you to be comfortable with the idea that you can and should regularly delete people from your Facebook profile.
We’re going to start out with a couple of groups of people that are sure to be easy targets for you to unfriend.
We all add people when we’re networking whether it be professionally or socially. Oftentimes, nothing comes from that initial meeting, and these people sit on our profiles. You’ll see them pop up on your profile from time to time, and you really have no idea who they are. It is entirely okay to delete them. If you run into them again, and they mention it, simply tell them you were weeding out your friends list recently, and cut them. You can always add them back. If they get snippy about the whole thing, ask yourself if this kind of person you want on your Facebook profile anyway. Think about it.
If you do not can’t remember where or when you met them, UNFRIEND THEM!
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Our next group to unfriend is pretty easy. These are the folks you’ve hidden from your Newsfeed. You may have done this when they went overboard with their political opinions during election season, you may have hidden them because they were going overboard with offensive, annoying or TMI updates. In any case, you’ve removed them from your Facebook kingdom, and you need to finish the job by deleting them altogether.
To find this group, scroll to the bottom of your Newsfeed, and click on Edit Options :
Next, if you’ve hidden people, they will appear like so in the box below.
If you don’t see them,UNFRIEND THEM!
High School/College Friends
I don’t know about you, but I am not all that close with a lot of my high school friends. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I just don’t really keep in touch with many of them. However, this is one of the scariest group of people for Facebook users, old and new, to deal with. “I joined Facebook, and all these people from high school started adding me!” “We weren’t friends in high school, but now they want to be my Facebook friend.”
This needs to stop, and I’m telling you it’s okay to say NO. Ignore the requests when they come in, and go through and delete anyone from your school days you don’t want on your profile. You don’t owe these people anything. If anything, I would highly recommend creating a friends group of your high school friends, so you can keep track of and/or limit their access. Facebook can be a great tool for staying updated on your old school friends, but it’s not the sole reason for using Facebook, nor does it make a good reason to be friends with someone.
You’re not in high school anymore, UNFRIEND THEM!
That covers the basic groups of people where you’re likely to find a good number of NUD candidates. I must stress to you that unfriending anyone is perfectly normal, justified and healthy. People can always be added back later, and you can always claim it was an accident. If someone continues to push you, I shouldn’t have to convince you why that isn’t someone you want on your Facebook to begin with.
To close, I’m going to give you the simple criteria I generally use when weeding out my Facebook friends. If the answer is no to any of these questions, they get the boot.
Do I talk to or see this person regularly?
Do I share special memories with this person?
Does this person frequently comment on my posts?
Do I frequently comment on this person’s posts?
Do I have a professional need to stay connected to this person?
Do I have a social need to stay connected with to person?
Is this person married to or dating a friend I am keeping?
Does this person’s posts provide me with news and information that is important to me?
Does this person have less than 1,000 friends?
Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for you to manage and communicate with the important people in your life, but it quickly loses its effectiveness if you have too many friends. And there is no special badge you win for having the most friends within your social circle.
I’ll return on Wednesday with the final tally of my Facebook pruning. If you tweet, we encourage you to share your National Unfriend Day number with the hashtag #NUD.
Spread the word of this great day when you’ll take back your Facebook profile! The time to unfriend is NOW!
And when you’re finished unfriending, let Biz Markie bring it home.
UPDATE: As promised, I am back to reveal the number of people I unfriended on this glorious day of unfriendingness.
Today I unfriended 41 people on Facebook. I am actually pleased to know that I have about a 90% legitimate friend quotient on Facebook. I did learn a few things after writing this post, and having conversations on this topic.
1. People are sensitive. While I feel they are sometimes TOO sensitive, you must expect some push back from people. In my case, I’d say there were probably about 5-10 people that I could possibly expect some kind of negative reaction and/or situation to arise down the road. So be it, life goes one, it’s not personal, it’s just Facebook.
2. Friends on Facebook do not equal friends in real life. The most shocking thing to me was how many of my friends seemed to fear that I was going to unfriend them. These were people that I wouldn’t EVER dream of unfriending, yet they made comments suggesting they were worried. This tells me we put too much and too little value on these online connections. Or, more importantly, we cannot rely solely on social media to maintain our closest relationships. It greatly bothers me that I would be connected to someone I don’t know or care about at the expense of my cherished relationships.
3. Unfriending feels good. Sure it might get messy, but tell me of a time you’ve cleaned something where you didn’t come out with a little dirt on you. Life goes on, it washes off, but you’re standing in the middle of a clean room that you know you’ve worked hard to look this way. Now, if only we could keep it clean ALL THE TIME.
I hope you take some time today to edit your Friends list on Facebook. In the end, I am certain there are a good number of people who you can delete for any number of valid reasons. Remember, if you don’t know or trust everyone on your friends list, they may leave you and your friends open to harm through scams and viruses.
In a way, unfriending people is a favor to your remaining friends. Think about it.
When I accepted my job at Schipul back in January, I was scared.
It wasn’t the challenge of the new job, no, it was because I was leaving something, Downtown Houston, that had very much become an important part of my identity.
Downtown has long been one of my favorite places in Houston. Shortly after graduating from college, I started hitting the Flying Saucer. While attending Texas Christian University, I had begun the quest of getting a plate at the original Flying Saucer in Fort Worth, TX. During this time, I got to know Downtown, and learned it was a helluva lot easier to figure out that most people around Houston think.
I was one of the thousands of folks that celebrated the Super Bowl and the MLB All-Star game. Downtown had finally arrived, and I was in the thick of it with people I count today as my best friends.
On Memorial Day weekend in 2005, I moved into the East End, and took a job at Society for the Performing Arts. My education in all things Downtown soared to a new level. I was working and playing Downtown, and even started taking METRO to work. Thus Urban Houstonian was born. I bought a Manhattan Portage messenger bag, subscribed to some Esquire and Texas Monthly magazines (because you need something to read on the bus to work), and started blogging about my adventures.
I was getting off the 36 Kempwood/Lawndale at Dallas and Rusk, and hoofing it the rest of the way to Jones Hall and the SPA offices. It was one of the best times of my entire life. Downtown was my neighborhood, my special place where anything was possible.
But that was all set to end when I took the job at Schipul. My urban commute of 5 miles was going to balloon to 22 miles! Schipul offices are OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY?! I was bracing for the daily grind of relying on I-10 for my daily commute. I-10! The harbinger of traffic death in Houston, Texas.
O – M – G!
Some of my friends joked that I was not going to have to start calling myself Sub-Urban Houstonian. The new job eventually necessitated a move JUST outside the Loop. Yes, the Urban Houstonian now lived outside the Loop. Look for my thoughts on that soon on my blog.
It’s not often we get to talk about Hollywood here at the Official Schipul Blog. However, with the release of The Social Network, we’re rolling out the red carpet, and grabbing a bowl of popcorn (with extra butter, natch)!
The Social Network, aka “The Facebook Movie”, is based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. Mezrich is most famous for writing the book Bringing Down the House, which inspired the movie 21 about a group of MIT students who take Vegas to the tune of $3 million. So, yeah, Mezrich knows high drama in the palaces of higher education.
I saw the movie Friday night with the lovely, Caitlin Kaluza, and we made for an interesting dichotomy of Facebook users. Caitlin is one of the lucky folks to have actually used www.thefacebook.com (pictured above). I didn’t start using it until shortly after it was opened up to the general public. One of the interesting aspects of watching The Social Network is freshness of its history, the “I remember when . . .” moments.
In the end, this is where the rubber meets the road in The Social Network. It is a fast paced, intelligent, humorous romp through the history of Facebook. The payoff is going to be in the conversations the movie is sure to start amongst your friends. Indeed, I am anxious for more of my friends to watch it to hear their reactions, share their stories. I’m also fairly certain that I will be back in a theater to watch it again soon.
A lot of talk is being made about The Social Network being the “movie of a generation.”
It is a movie about the idea that is currently defining a generation. The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink defined a generation, and The Social Network does not compare. However, The Social Network will go down as one of the best films of 2010, and that is a distinction I feel it carries incredibly well. By my count, I see at least 5 Oscar nominations for the film: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg), Best Director (David Fincher), Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) and Best Score (Trent Renzor). Any more than that will be a based on whether the Academy deems this the “it” movie of the year. As for actual wins? Eh, it’s really too early to call, but I would like to see how a showdown between The Social Network and Inception plays out this Oscar Season.
In the meantime, please excuse me, I need to go share this link on my Facebook.
I started working in Houston’s Theater District at Society for the Performing Arts before Facebook was well, Facebook and the introduction of the iPhone. Android was still just a dream of the Open Handset Alliance. Being the early adopter that I am, I began testing the waters of Facebook and Twitter, trying to figure out how all this crazy stuff worked. All the while, my mind kept spinning around the question, ‘How could these emerging methods of connection and communication be integrated into the Theater District experience?’
As with many organizations during this time, the answers have not been easy to come by. The main conflict is the ages of the respective audiences. The group actively using social media on the internet and their phones is considerably younger than the audiences taking in performances at Jones Hall and the Wortham. The great fear for some patrons is the degradation of the theater experience like we have seen in our movie theaters. Others find the behavior of these tech happy people abhorrent, and too unsophisticated for the filigreed temples of the arts. Honestly? They’re right. Going to a performance is an experience between you and the artists. It is an intimate relationship that sometimes requires the full attention of the patron.
Imagine yourself locked in a passionate embrace of your significant other. They are holding you in their arms tightly, stroking your hair, nibbling at your ear. When, all of a sudden, he or she pulls out their phone to send a tweet. That moment is, as they say, spent. Now, with that same scenario, imagine if a stranger interrupted this moment to post your picture on Facebook? We’ll call this phenomenon Theaterus Interruptus.
This is not behavior anyone here at Schipul would be likely to encourage, however, we also see the strong need for a conversation about the use of social media and mobile phones within the construct of a night at the theater. In the coming weeks, I want to open up a dialog with arts patrons and enthusiasts about the use of social media in our performance spaces. I will introduce you to different sites and apps that I feel have great potential, and hopefully develop a set of rules we all can follow to help expand our enjoyment of the theater-going experience.