Announcing: A thing that hasn’t got a name yet.

a picture of a white board with post its attached

If you fancy reading a masterstroke of announcing the research and development of a new app without us actually mentioning anywhere what the actual app is going to be called (we straight up just don’t know yet) then head over to the now renovated albow website (they don’t capitalise the name).

Albow are a company based in the South West who you might not have heard of, but if you work in the arts and live events around there, or within certain countries across Europe then you’ll know about some of the sites which they make – community driven listings and discovery systems for live events, jobs, opportunities, that kind of thing. TheatreBristol.Net is the most well known and used of these. And a while ago Seth Honnor who heads up albow invited me to work with him on a new idea with regards to those systems. We originally called this idea ‘Digital Hat’ – a system for exchanging data and money in a live event situation (in the street after a piece of pervasive theatre, in a pop up factory gallery or non-theatre building) but since our thinking has developed and a newer idea – for an app, a platform that provides the space for the much more important bit of the process that ends up with you maybe wanting to ask for or offer money or data.

There’s a really interesting study that looks at the creation and exchange of ‘value’ around the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol – the way the residency systems, open plan office space, ideas and ethics (you are always invited to be interruptible, to discuss you work with others in completely different areas, and for that they put artists next to technologists next to academics next to scientists next to product designers) all contribute to a great deal of economic value, but actually that is only a product – and you need to think about by putting money to one side. Anyway. You can read that article here. And it illustrates a thread of our thinking around actually, if you have a live event you want to put on, obscurity is the first problem, not money.

So we developed an idea and have been awarded an Arts Council/NESTA/AHRC Digital R&D Fund grant to research and develop an app (mobile and web-based) for sharing, discovering and exchanging value around live events – where value means reviews, shares, likes, offering time, contact details, ongoing donations, one off ticket price, or pay what you can donations. We’re also looking at how you can work with people’s data and interest in ways that are mutually exploitative, not like the ‘big data’ use of Google and Facebook. Oh, and the things we can do to make a community space that invites people not to troll – to build in a degree of accountability that isn’t as clumsy as just demanding the use of Real Names, etc. It’s a BIG thing, and the first version is going to really be to proof of concept, but it’s VERY exciting. We’re working with two universities and 3 technology partners. The process involves making a thing, but also a big chunky bit of research alongside two universities. I’m the producer on it, as well as Research Assistant with UWE. We’re going to be looking for alpha/beta testers for the app so if you want to know more about the thing in general, or specifically about being a tester for us, sign up to this mailing list. And read the introductory blog!

(Name forthcoming. Names are difficult).

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