“REWIRE is an annual festival for contemporary music and related visual arts. The festival showcases relevant developments in the fields mentioned through an extensive music programme, a long run exhibition, screenings, performances and an education programme. The third edition will take place on November 8 and 9 2013 in The Hague city centre. The exhibition will run from November 8 until December 14th.
This year the REWIRE Festival music programme centres on several cornerstones: Nordic Jazz, Indie Classical, Chamber Pop, the Collaborative Programme and Post-punk/minimal wave. It also highlights a number of interesting electronic producers who are developing as against-the-grain vocalists. The night programme focuses on leading, innovatory electronic dance music producers. On Saturday the renowned R&S Record label celebrates its 30th birthday during the ‘R&S Records x REWIRE dance night’. The programme will showcase a few of R&S’ current artists, including Lone, Space Dimension Controller, dBridge and Cloud Boat.”
This is the fifth year we’re making lists and the fourth year of the Eclectro election widget. The widget is grown up and out of development by now. It has proven itself year after year. Last year we collected almost 70.000 votes.
This year we asked the readers of Eclectro on Twitter, Facebook and the blog to submit tracks. And people submitted. We’ve got over 300 dance tracks produced in 2009, with only space for a selection of 100.
We asked some experts to look at the list to make sure we’ve got all important releases. All this was done using Google Docs. People searched audio files, checked if the files really were produced in 2009 and linked to images. Tasks were distributed and within a week from making the decision to do an election this year it’s here. And all of this was done without a single meeting. Amazing.
For the music and art festival Urban Explorers festival I made a special video interface. During the festival reporters uploaded video with their mobile phones. The video was categorized on artists, venues and makers based on the video title. The project used the Blip API.
What was the best dance song of 2008?
This is the third year we are organizing an election using the vote widget to determine what’s the best record. We use a simple system where you have to choose the best out of two. This is the easiest choice to make. In the database there are 100 records. You get random pairs. The voting system is a system that’s (for internet standards) pretty much protected against fraud, since you never know what records or combination you will get.
What’s so special about widgets and gadgets
Widgets and gadgets have something special. They can act like a website without being a website. Sure, they need a central database to store information, but they are completely viral. Once you drop the gadget into a social network it can easily spread if people can directly (re)share your gadget.
With gadgets in a lot of personal networks you enter the long tail of users. People might have small networks and will maybe only make thirty votes. But if the gadget has a large user base this long-tail of installations could represent an enormous amount of votes. You distribute the voting interface, but not the election.
This afternoon someone told me about a company that’s making a business out of using empty gadget space. If a gadget is used (for example a Christmas gadget) the gadget often remains on the profile, but isn’t removed. This company creates gadgets and once they are no longer used, they use the inventory as advertising space/network. This is a completely new business, and although social networks will not like it, it’s a very smart idea. Use networks, to create your own network.
Disclaimer: Eclectro is a non-profit blog, we just do it for the love of music and love for the people making music, we will never sell gadgetspace 😉
Eclectro loves …
We couldn’t have made a gadget this advanced just by ourselves. I really want to thank the guys at Freshheads for helping us with the code, flash and database structure (did you know they turned an old office-vault into a dj-booth/club). And also special thanks to the gadgetguys at Open & Sociaal, for connecting the gadget to Hyves and OpenSocial.
The Eclectro Last.fm lovewall is an interactive installation that uses bluetooth to scan for mobile phones. Visitors are asked to change the bluetooth name of their phone into their Last.fm username.
A laptop scans the room using the open source Roomware software. It connects to random visitors and searches the Last.fm database for similarity. It then shows the similarity on a big screen by showing the profiles. A percentage and five artists both have in common.
The installation worked well and I got a lot of very positive feedback by enthusiastic visitors. A few things I learned.
It is possible to have a zero percent match but still have artists in common.
Similar artists are often Gorillaz, U2, Muse, Air.
It is very easy to join, people see something happen and they think it’s too difficult to join. If you tell them that all it takes is changing the bluetooth name of their mobile phone they are really surprised.
Explain, explain, explain.
People like seeing their avatars on a screen. Only showing avatars would probably make a successful application by itself.
Make the screen dark. I used grey photographs and still the brightness of the beamer lightened up the entire place.
The internet connection at public places is almost always difficult (unstable/low signal).
This saturday we have the first Eclectro party in De Unie in Rotterdam (which itself is pretty amazing). It’s the first offline event for something (a group of people blogging) that until saturday does only exist online.
To Eclectrofy this evening we started thinking about doing something extra with the location. How can we make the place visually and interactive exciting as well. Without making it too difficult to use or showing computers.
What I’m making for this saturday
Basically Roomware turns my Mac into a server that is able to read bluetooth names and convert this data into xml. We will ask people at the party to change the bluetooth name of their mobile phone into the username of their Last.fm account. With these Last.fm names an application searches the Last.fm API and extracts data about two random visitors and tell them how much Last.fm similarity they have and which artists they have in common.
Meet new people
The project autorepeats and makes new random matches with names of people that are actually in the room. The results are projected on a screen. Showing public information about people is a gimmick, but it might encourage visitors to meet new people.
Things to do before this saturday
All the technology works. What’s left is finding a beamer, finishing the design and the timing of the interface. The application doesn’t need much time to load, but I’m thinking about adding finctional timing to make it more exiting to watch.
For example first show one player. Show the second player a few seconds later. And finally show the bar (hearth) that indicates the percentages. And maybe add some hidden messages when people have 0 or 100% Last.fm similarity.
While waiting for Murcof at the airport we asked Jimmy Edgar if he would like to improvise something on an old Casio keyboard. Recorded on the roof (full recording) of Schiphol (Amsterdam airport / AMS)
The festival was a great success. Exhausting, but really great. During the festival we made around 400 posts on the special microblog.
Mobile services worked very well. Sending a photo through Mobypicture and directly sending an audio file through Gabcast give a really strong storytelling experience. Twitter messages are like SMS. Great to keep context in the timeline without actually having ‘to produce’ something.
I think our idea to connect everything you post to an avatar (like Twitter), and make the coverage as personal as possible really helped keeping it clear for our viewers. At least for how much this is possible given the enormous amount of information produced. Organizing it on time gives a very good overview of what was important or special during the festival.
Microblogs are really strong live applications. Afterwards they are less exciting to watch. You can use it as a collection of material where you can search items for articles elsewhere.
The WordPress XMLRPC is wonderful. From the 400 posts we have published almost none of those was made on the website itself. The posts were created using other websites and automatically posted to Eclectro.nl/live. Making publishing really easy.
What didn’t work
Video is difficult. Or at least uploading video is difficult. if you record a video it is still difficult to upload. When we recorded a video in high quality using a mobile phone (N95) the files get easily close to 10 Megabytes. If you want to upload/e-mail these files using UMTS you’re not only giving your battery a hard time, you’re also making it impossible to upload anything else during this process. Wifi often wasn’t available and when it was it was too unstable to upload or e-mail video.
I think services like Qiktv or Seesmic Mobile are interesting because the web-server is recording instead of your camera. Unfortunately those services can’t directly post a recording to a blog, yet.
We used a photo camera for recording video as well. This worked very well, the quality is good and Flickr is a great service for distributing files shorter than 90 seconds. The files recorded with the 8 Megapixel Sony Camera are around a 100 Megabytes. Uploading a 100 Megabytes in size. This requires you (or your laptop) to spend at least a few hours on a restaurant Wifi. Missing out on the festival. In the end we uploaded most files at night or in the morning.
We recorded the interviews on DV camera. This worked perfect, since there is no urge in getting the longer interviews directly on the web.
My idea was to maintain two blogs. The Eclectro blog and the Eclectro Live blog. /Live would be about us, a personal story about how we experienced the festival. The main blog would present interviews and reviews. This was just too much. We simply couldn’t make all this in a weekend and have a good time.
Ideas for live blogging / micro blogging
You need a central spot with a computer and good internet connection. A central spot on the festival where you can empty a camera and upload a batch of files.
Think about what you want to do and if this is possible. Think about how you keep it clear to your audience what they are looking at. Most people don’t know what is happening and they have to understand what it is and why you are publishing. We explained it with a short introduction movie.
A few people asked me to add more structure to the website and make it easier to scan what happened over time. I think we need even more timeline based structure in a next version.
If you are telling a story make sure to tell everything. Tell what you expect and afterwards tell if your expectations were right or wrong. Make returning jokes / running gags. Keep it personal and keep your audience informed.
We started with the Urban Explorers festival live coverage. We are using WordPress as an aggregator for information we publish on several other websites like Flickr, Mobypicture, Seesmic, Vimeo, Ustream, YouTube, Twitter and more.
The next days we will be running around the city of Dordrecht. Everything we do can be followed on the special micro blog. This afternoon we will be picking up two artists at Amsterdam airport. Tonight we sleep in an old squatted villa in the centre of Dordrecht.
Eclectro is a festival partner and we (a few Eclectro bloggers) will be covering the event on the Eclectro blog by writing reviews, doing interviews, making photos and videos as the festival happens. And we have some other exiting plans.
This is great, but not something we haven’t done before. We report while we are there. This time we want to take it a step further and make the coverage more personal. Urban Explorers is a small, diverse and very distributed festival. This makes it difficult to ask or explain visitors to contribute to the live coverage by using a mobile phone. This year we will try to make visible how we experience the festival.
Making it personal
For me Twitter was the first service that made the web more interesting as a live medium. Blogs are good for a recap, but microblogs can really give you a better live experience and it’s a more social and more personal experience. There often isn’t much value in the individual messages it’s the collection that builds a story and a character.
So this is what we want to do for the festival as well. We will also be reporting about where we are, packing my bag, how we sleep, what we are doing, what we are eating and who we are talking to. Short talks, photos and video interviews. All the small pieces of information aggregated in one spot.
The problem with building aggregators is that it often ends up in something that is difficult to follow for outsiders or people unfamiliar with the technology. We (Inge, Renier and myself) try to make it personal. And this weekend I’ve been making a website that just does that. I used WordPress Prologue, a theme that is based on Twitter and took out even more options like tags and feeds to make it look clean and simple.
The secret is in the back-end
The power of WordPress is that is has a xmlrpc back-end. This is a secure gate that makes it possible for other websites like YouTube or Flickr to talk directly to WordPress, like you wrote the message on the blog. Ad some extra open source plug-ins to WordPress and you have an incredible powerful system that is an aggregated channel centralizing information from distributed web-services.
Post from Flickr to a WordPress blog
Or from YouTube to a WordPress blog
Or record a Seesmic video in your WordPress blog
Last weekend I first played with Seesmic and I really like what it does. The videoplayer could use some enhancement, but the WordPress plug-in is a bless. You enter the WordPress admin section, click on the Seesmic logo in a new post and can directly start recording a video using your webcam. When done, all you have to do is hit publish in WordPress and you have just written a new blog post including a video.
Keep it simple
We can easily post to the website using mobile phones, laptops, webcams and websites like Flickr, YouTube, Mobypicture, Twitter, and Seesmic. Everything is automatically collected on the microblog and connected to our user accounts, connecting our names and avatars to the messages published.
Authors see an orange box on the front page, this makes it easy to directly write a message when visiting the website.
Will it work?
All these enhancements make it easy to read for visitors and easy to maintain for us while we are busy at the festival. We have a few more days to finish it, but I think we made a great tool. This weekend we will see if it works.
I’m very exited to play with this.
You can join the festival coverage as well. Use UE08 in your Twitter updates and they will show up in the stream, or post an image to Flickr with the tag UE08 and it will automatically show up in the header of the website.
Your ideas and thoughts are very welcome. How can we make it more personal or more clear? What would you like to see or what is difficult to understand? And do you know other great (web)services that could be integrated?
Once a month we organize a webcast at Eclectro. We use the website Ustream to broadcast a DJ-set or concert live from the DJ his living-room. All the DJ needs is a computer, webcam and internet connection.
Last friday the RGBoy-chiptune-heroes performed in front of the webcam. They performed a live gameboy concert including visuals. The entire performance was broadcasted live from Myslowice, Poland.
A chiptune, or chip music, is music written in sound formats where all the sounds are synthesized in realtime by a computer or video game console sound chip, instead of using sample-based synthesis. (Wikipedia)
The video above is a compilation from fridays performance. The tracks RGBoy plays are; my new PT82, super muter, secret level, 1980.
During these performances we invite viewers to use the Ustream chat-box. This increases the ‘live experience’ and enables contact between viewers and performers. The talks are often about technical problems, quality, track titles, personal matters or just to tell how great the artist is.
Utrecht meets Chicago
The next Eclectro Directo live performance will be friday the 30th of May. This time we will use the Mogulus website. Since this will be a live performance broadcasted simultaneous from two locations. Maurice Dohmen [moos] based in Utrecht, Netherlands takes care of the sound and visual artist Jorrit Poelen based in Chicago, USA takes care of the visuals.
Eclectro Directo Live: May 30th, 20:00 (Amsterdam time) / 1 PM Chicago Time