Monday, February 13, 2012

innovative cities = uncharted territory

Lately we keep hearing that innovation is the big driver of economic growth and that innovation takes place in cities. What makes a city innovative? Among the factors often mentioned are arts clusters and place-making. (For an in depth analysis of what makes cities innovative, check out the Streets Ahead report from the Work Foundation in the UK.) It isn't just because I love art that I spent some time checking out the arts component of Winterfest 2012 in Lowell. Filling up empty store fronts with pop-up art galleries and installations is a great way to bring art into the foreground and to create public places. Innovative cities are uncharted territory to some, and Uncharted Studios brought some major creativity to Merrimack Street in downtown Lowell during Thursday night's gallery walk.

The intriguing video image in the window draws you in to a space filled with painting, video, music, and spoken word.  Inside, the  installation makes a place and delights the eyes and ears.

Video in the Window at 66 Merrimack Street
As video images flowed over the paintings and Mike Dailey banged on his drums, I got totally immersed in the colors and patterns around me.
Video Projected on Painting

Constantly Changing

Mike Dailey on Drums
He paints and drums too!
Folks discovered that they could play with the images too.

Watching How the Video Alters the Paintings
People were positioning themselves so the  video enlivened their sweatshirts and hipster sweaters.

Playing with the Shadows
People started doing shadow puppet things with their hands and their bodies, which looked really cool from outside the window too.
The Gallery
Visitors filtered in and out of the gallery. Many of them just happened to be passing by on the street. They weren't even aware of the gallery walk.

More Changes -- More Color
Every time I looked up, the paintings looked different.

This One's Getting Hypnotic
Once I tore myself away from the hypnotic images and went back outside, I still couldn't manage to leave the space right away. A group of young men were doing some kind of spoken word thing on the sidewalk and I was really enjoying it. They told me what the name of the style was, but I didn't quite catch it. Anyway, when I asked if they were getting a kick out of an "old lady" hanging around to listen to them, they invited me to join them. I didn't, but I got into a great conversation with Lindsey Parker, another of the great visual artists at unchARTed, as they spell it. :-)

I'd arrived knowing only that Mike (whom I know from Brew'd Awakening) was doing something with video and music on Merrimack Street and left knowing there's a great group of artists exploring uncharted territory in an innovative city. As the city seal of Lowell proclaims: Art is the Handmaid of Human Good.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#MIN35 at NERD

The View from NERD
Mass Innovation Night is always fun and Microsoft NERD is always a great event venue so #MIN35 was sure to be a winner from the get go. Sure enough, it was! The crowd took awhile to filter in, so I had a bit of time to check out the presenters before the tables got really busy.

Team OfferBeam

OfferBeam is a mobile app that provides location specific targeted marketing. No more searching for special offers and promotions near you. OfferBeam pops up nearby offers on your smartphone when you're passing by. They did reassure us that offers won't pop up when we're driving 100 mph on 128 :-) OfferBeam is such a great idea that I downloaded it during the presentation and it beamed me a welcome to Mass Innovation Night. The OfferBeam team had a great time striking poses for my photos and they had matching T-shirts so they get "best costume" for #MIN35 too!

Mass Innovation Nights Experts Corner regular, Corey Turner of Turner Business Services, founded CampusEmployer out of frustration in trying to hire college students. He found that he had to contact the career services department at each campus to get an account and post a job. There had to be a simpler, more efficient way to connect employers with college students. CampusEmployer makes it easy for employers to target college students with the skills they're looking for. No more campus by campus search and no more flyers in laundromats! Oh, and I am awarding Corey the "best hat" award because he was the only one wearing a hat. :-)

SnapHop is a platform that brings together lead generation, audience engagement, and analytics -- the basics of mobile marketing. All the social media marketing services you already use work neatly with the SnapHop platform. They make it easy to create and deliver a mobile marketing campaign. When was the last time you saw "easy" and "marketing campaign" in the same sentence? That's how innovative these guys are. Those cool QR codes that let you tweet from each table at MIN? SnapHop!

Live Cirrus takes advantage of the cloud to deliver the full desktop experience to mobile devices.  We all know how developing mobile applications from scratch can be time consuming and expensive. After all, we  already have so much invested in our existing web solutions. With LiveCirrus you don't have to start over. They take the pain and expense out of going mobile by deploying your existing desktop apps using their cloud platform. Their table and SnapHop's table were both very busy after the presentations. Definitely a hit.

Besides the chosen presenters, I had a chance to talk with these great folks with cool products:

  • FreightFarms - hydroponics, networking, recycled materials, grow food anywhere!
  • InsightSquared
  • - data intelligence for small and medium businesses made easy and smart
  • Socialete- bringing young, urban professionals together in real life with handpicked events and unique nightlife experiences
  • CoPatient Audit and Appeal Services
  • - an online community where consumers can upload their insurance benefits and medical bills and be paired with a billing expert who will provide a free audit of those bills
  • ArtVenue - making it simple for artists and business to organize art shows





We had a great crew of experts in the Experts Corner this time too. For my featured "expert looking expert" this month: Michael Potts of EZOG. What's your Entrepreneurial Zone of Genius? Visionary? Architect? Builder? Cultivator? I guessed that I'm a Builder, then took the test and discovered I'm an Architect. Great insight.

Expert Looking Expert