Filed under: Alberta, Arts, Calgary, Marketing, Politics, Technology
As 2009 comes to a close I wanted to take a look back. It was a good year for me personally and I think this blog shows some of the highlights that come to my mind when I reminisce about the last year of the decade. I could simply select my favourite posts, but I decided why not not just let the readers “select” by highlighting the most popular posts on this blog for 2009.
So without further ado, the most popular djkelly.ca Blog posts of 2009:
14. What kind of bridge will $25 million get us?
May 22, 2009
This was my first blog post about the soon to be built Calatrava bridge. I decdided I would take a look at the design limitations given to Calatrava and try to predict what the bridge might look like. While, I was right about it not being white with soaring cables, I wasn’t even close to the guessing the Chinese finger trap design, which is much more ornate than I was expecting.
13. Conversing with Alberta politicians on Twitter
June 4, 2009
A useful post that should probably be updated given how many more Alberta politicians have joined since June!
12. New Ward Boundaries Demystified
February 21, 2009
A simple post created by laying the old ward boundary map with the new map that was being proposed by the chief electoral officer. (Showing off my Photoshop skills.) It turned out to be a post that proved it was sorely needed.
11. Loving or hating Calgary’s new bridge is not as easy as it sounds
July 29, 2009
This is probably one of my favourite posts of the year, as I went through what I observed to be each of the areas of complaint about the proposed Calatrava bridge and outlined which were fair game and which were not. It was my attempt at adding clarity to an issue extremely misunderstood by Calgarians. While it landed at number 11 on the most popular posts, I don’t think I was overly successful because people still complain about the price with little understanding of “why”. If you’re one of those folks, it might be worth a re-read.
The last blog post on the old blog template! It holds a special place for me for that reason, but most people probably just appreciated it for what it talked about – as outlined in the post title. This is the most proud I was of our council this year. They painted themselves into a terrible corner, but admitted their mistake and righted their wrong. I wish they would have done this more times during 2009.
9. Vanessa Porteous, ATP Artistic Director Designate
January 14, 2009
I am shocked an arts related post ranked so high on this list! (And it’s not even the highest one!) Is it because of the lack of local entertainment reporting resources? I think it might be, because non-Hollywood entertainment news tends to take a couple days to make it into the papers. Maybe I should take up Metro Calgary on their offer to blog about Calgary arts for them… It could prove to be a very successful blog that maybe long overdue.
8. Doug Elniski: how to do it right
June 24, 2009
This post – along with number 5, which I wrote a day earlier – simply outlined where things went wrong in MLA Doug Elniski’s mini-Twitter scandal. This particular post provided follow-up and greater context to comments I made in several media interviews on the subject. (You can say SO much more on a blog than in a media interview!)
7. University of Calgary cutting 200 jobs
July 14, 2009
Out of all the posts in this list I think this is the closet to “regretting” one as I come. Unlike all the other posts (save the honourable mention) this post was “breaking” news instead of my usual commentary on the news. I didn’t mean for it to be however! Here’s what happened: the UofC sent an email to all staff saying they were cutting 200 jobs. I heard about this and asked the individual if it was okay I mentioned it on Twitter. They said yes, because it was sent to all staff and thus obviously public info now. The problem was, UofC never sent a press release. So when I posted it on Twitter I was inundated with media requests for more information. The result was I had another source send me the text of the email and I posted it on this blog. That night the television and radio news lead with the story and it was front page news in the papers the next morning. I’m not sure if the lesson here is about the power of Twitter, or to always keep your communications department in the loop when making major announcements. Maybe both.
6. Progress and respect
November 30, 2009
In the aftermath of the first Reboot Alberta conference I summarize my thoughts on the participants themselves.
5. Doug Elniski: now just another walled off politician?
June 23, 2009
(See number 8 first.) This is the blog post that started it all. I’m not sure why no one else was talking about Doug Elniski’s comments in context of his use of social media. It still baffles me that people think social media is some sort of special entity instead of what it actually is: just another way to talk to people. It’s nothing special, but is highly effective. This post was also was popular enough to result in me being invited to talk about his comments on CBC Calgary’s The Calgary Eyeopener, CBC Edmonton’s Edmonton AM and for a feature article in the National Post.
4. The #AskEd Accountablity Window ends tomorrow
December 3, 2009
Just like number 5 this was me talking about Alberta politicians and their failures with social media tools – although this time Mastermaq got the press coverage a week later
3. How to fix Ed’s communications problems
December 14, 2009
After number 4 I felt like I had to address the Premier’s communications problems appropriately. It’s bizarre how he’s lost the media and the public so thoroughly by a simple failure to communicate. He’s our premier and I want to see him, and thus us, succeed. This is my attempt to throw the premier a bone. We’ll see if he and his team take my advice or if they continue to fumble their way through 2010.
2. Look out Alberta, you’re about to get “rebooted”: First Impressions
November 28, 2009
I honestly think the Reboot Alberta movement – along with the Wildrose Alliance’s rise – is the single most important thing to happen in Alberta politics since the creation of the Progressive Conservative party. This post outlines my initial thoughts after the first day of the conference. The fact so many people read it gives me hope that Reboot Alberta is on the right track in their discussions. You can expect more thoughts from me on this movement in the very near future.
Yes, an arts story made it to number one on the list! And for such a short blog post?! The people spoke.
Honourable Mention: “Open Government” coming to Calgary?
July 21, 2009
Usually you expect to see an honourable mention at the bottom of the list, but I think this one deserves to be at the top of the list. July 21 had more people visit my website that any other day in it’s history. By a LONG SHOT – almost twice as many as any other day. There was only one post written around that period of time, and it was written on that very day. I think what happened was the main URL of this site was circulated and shared rather than the actual URL of this paticular post. Therefore I don’t have accurate numbers on exactly how many people visited this particular story, but the numbers are just so overwhelming I had to include it.
I wrote this post during the morning hours in a business centre of a hotel in Portland, Oregon. I had been given permission from Ald. Pincott and Ald. Ceci to announce the open data notice of motion the day before it became public when the council agenda was released. People from all over North American immediately sat up and took notice and did so by reading this post. Amazing. Look for a lot more on outcome of this notice of motion in early 2010.
For my CBC Wildrose column today I chose to speak about ESPN and the Southeastern Conference (NCAA)’s new social media policies. (You can listen online here.)
As the host, Donna McElligott points out toward the end of the interview, what we are really seeing here in sports organizations is they are struggling with the same issue newspapers and other news organizations are facing: what happens when users can reproduce content at a fraction of the cost?
Just as news groups struggle with the emergence of aggregators and “citizen journalists” (aka bloggers, Twitterers, etc) who break news before they can and slowly eat away at their audience, we can see these two large sports organizations struggle with average people – as well as their own staff – eating away at their audiences by providing much the same services. Only more quickly, or in more detail, or on a more personal level, etc. This is horrible news for these groups as it puts billions of dollars in advertising at risk.
It is another business model that is at risk.
This parallel was quickly noticed following the interview and a discussion with host and producers ensued. It’s clear many people are scared of the uncertainty of the future of these industries. But let me be clear: your industry, even your job, are not going anywhere. Just your employer. Here’s why:
I compare the current state of the news economy to that of the decline of the department store and the rise of the shopping mall. When the general store entered onto the scene it was, as the name implies, everything to everybody. If you wanted something you had to go to town and get it at the general store. This worked great for many years. Eventually the landscape shifted and more and more people began living in cities. As a response the general store became larger and larger – eventually becoming what we know as the department store. Still everything to everybody. Their business model was threatened by they found a way to make it work but changing how they do what they do slightly. At this time, convenience was the number one concern.
Over time as convenience became less of an issue (everyone started buying cars and could now get anywhere in a city they wanted) niche players slowly began entering the market and eating up much of the department store’s business. It’s a well documented fact that niche markets almost always win out. (In effect, we, as a society, trust specialists more than generalists.) The final nail in the coffin for many of the department stores was when a large group of these niche retailers banded together to share their best skills and began forming shopping malls. Now you could get all the goods you wanted in one place AND from a specialist. The days of the department store were numbered, beaten at their own game.
The 6 o’clock news is a 1950s department store.
First news small local organizations formed larger conglomerates in response to the changing landscape. And now we are starting to see evidence of individual specialists nibbling away at the network news’ market share; this is what broadcasters are complaining about when you hear them shout that “the sky is falling!”.
It won’t be long before we see individual specialists coming together for mutual benefit. But what will be the news’ ‘shopping mall’? Only time will tell.
The reason I bring this up is because there is actually little to fear. There are still dollars being spent on items that used to be purchased at a department store. There are still just as many people employed in retail, perhaps more. The same thing will happen with “news” as happened with “retail” given enough time. “Shopping” survived the closing of the majority of department stores just as “news” will survive the closing of the majority of main-stream media networks. Advertisers will always want to be where the audience is; just as people will always need to purchase goods.
I know change is a scary thing but we all have to learn to embrace it because nothing stays the same forever.
And yes, some department stores have even survived.
With the advent of free online news there something had to give. And unfortunately we are seeing the outcome of that now as companies such as CTV, Canwest Global and even the government supported CBC, struggle to update their business model so they can keep the news flowing.
There isn’t much in the way of solutions to this issue – I certainly don’t have the answer – but at least someone has written a fun parody song outlining the situation main stream media finds themselves currently in. Enjoy the song while hundred-year-old news organizations nervously laugh themselves into a huddled crying heap!
h/t to Ken Chapman
At Lunchbox Theatre I floated an idea that was more than a little out there. I didn’t expect it to gain much traction (in marketing you get used to that happening when you propose things “outside of the box”). But it did gain traction. And after getting the approval of the AD, GM, Literary Manager and playwrights – albeit with BIG questions unanswered – we took a deep breath and moved forward.
The result is an experiment that is generating some controversy. I wanted to share one string of that controversy here because the conversation is a good one. And an important one.
The project we decided to undertake was to allow live tweeting/blogging at two selected performances of Lunchbox Theatre’s Petro-Canada Stage One Festival.
Here’s the media release that went out and was posted on the Lunchbox blog.
We won’t ask you to turn off your phoneBloggers and twitterers invited to live blog/tweet Petro-Canada Stage One
Calgary, AB – The Petro-Canada Stage One Festival takes six new Canadian one act plays and gives the opportunity for each playwright to workshop their script and collect feedback from audiences following two public readings. As an avid user of “social media” Lunchbox Theatre will be undertaking a pilot project this year suggesting audience members turn ON their cell phones at the beginning of the performance.
In order to expand the methods and tools for collecting feedback from audience members, Lunchbox Theatre has created a unique event for the bloggers and twitterers of Calgary. For the Saturday, May 9 reading of Emily and Roy by Paul Kaufmann and the Saturday, May 16 reading of The Boiler Room by Allana Harkin, bloggers and twitters are invited to bring their laptops or smart-phones with them to the theatre and live blog/tweet during the reading. All blogs and tweets from these patrons will then be made available via the Lunchbox Theatre Blog (www.lunchboxtheatre.com/blog) for the public to view.
“We have been using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and our blog to broadcast information about Lunchbox for some time now; however this event provides an opportunity for users of these tools to interact with our work on a whole different level,” says D.J. Kelly, Marketing and Communications for Lunchbox Theatre.
“Petro-Canada Stage One readings are all about collecting patron feedback to help improve the scripts as they move on to the next phase in their development process,” adds Caroline Russell-King, Literary Manager for Petro-Canada Stage One. “It is in our best interest to gather as much feedback as possible and in as many different ways as possible. The honest comments generated through this will be used to make the plays better.”
Bloggers or Twitter users from Calgary are invited to contact Lunchbox Theatre Box Office with their blog address or Twitter username to purchase a ticket for $8 at 403 265 4292 x 0 or email@example.com. Tickets may also be purchased online from tickets.lunchboxtheatre.com.
The world’s longest running lunchtime theatre, Lunchbox Theatre is a professional company that caters to downtown office workers over the noon-hour by producing at least six plays per year as well as the Petro-Canada Stage One new play festival and the BD&P Emerging Director Program. After 33 years, Lunchbox Theatre has recently relocated to the base of the Calgary Tower.- # # # -
As you can imagine this generated some nearly immediate feedback from members of the arts community. Perhaps the most notable was/is local actor Hal Kerbes who has worked at Lunchbox Theatre many times before. Here is the text of his note he published on Facebook:
You may or may not have seen this post this morning. And it might be better for me to just shut up … but there are some things that simply cross a line.
Those of us who work onstage have had to learn to contend with the occasional errant audience member whose phone goes off during a performance. Then came newer communication technologies where people could be connected to everything, any time, anywhere.
I had the personal challenge, at one performance, of completing an intense & demanding scene culminating in my death while tied to a chair, where I remained for the final 20 minutes of the play. During this entire time, approximately 10 feet from me, a young woman was busy texting away, her little “tikka-tikka” sounds making me want to commit potentially justifiable homicide.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of new technologies. But there is a time and a place, and I personally do not think, either as a performer or as an audience member, that this (from this morning’s CPAA bulletin) is it: [see the release above]
His note, understandably has already generated 23 comments – a fair number for a Facebook note I’d say! Of course the majority of the comments focused on what Hal was specifically talking about: the distraction of texting to the actor. This of course is a MAJOR concern during a regular performance. That is also why we chose to not run this experiment on a regular performance. Here was my explanation in the comments to Hal’s note:
We carefully considered the options and decided to try it as an experiment. The idea of Stage One is to solicit audience feedback – we do this in feedback forms and post-show q&a sessions already – and give this to the playwright to do with it as they will.
I’m certainly not advocating for this to be a standard practise at a performance. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra tried that about a month ago and it had all the negative and positive impacts you can imagine and that others have pointed out here.
But doing it during a reading where audience feedback is already requested is another thing entirely. The public readings are about feedback for the playwright at their heart. That is what this is meant to give.
Why not try it out before dismissing it? New technology does not necessarily need to be feared in this context. It may provide some amazing opportunities to the playwright never available before.
On the distraction comment side: We are doing these on the 2nd public reading of the play so the creative team has one traditional reading under their belt free of online influence. We want to make sure the playwright gets the same benefit as the playwrights working on non-live blogged/tweeted shows. In addition we selected a performance that had sold zero tickets up until that point.
I’d also like to note this is Lunchbox Theatre. We allow people to bring their lunch into the theatre. The rattling of that can be far more distracting than someone in the back row typing on their BlackBerry. Actors here operate in an environment expecting a certain level of distraction during their work.
So there it is. Will the “experiment” work? How do we gauge success? The important thing, to me at least, is that we are looking at something new that may help the play development process. Something that may even open up Lunchbox to potential new audiences.
None-the-less it is important to not dismiss points such as Hal’s and those in his comments. They are very real concerns. (Among others that we at Lunchbox have that haven’t been discussed.) And to that end here is the text of a Facebook message I sent to Hal for sharing his opinion:
I wanted to thank you for posting your thoughts on what Lunchbox is attempting. I especially appreciate it because your comments are EXACTLY what ours were when we first started talking about the possiblity of doing something using social media to better interact with our audiences.
I get really excited when projects like this get this kind of attention. And it certainly does deserve this kind of attention and the discussion it’s creating. You’re points are important and it is good to constantly remind ourselves of what is important.
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how the two readings play out. Will it be useful for the playwright? Will it be unacceptably distracting for the actors or the audience? What are the possible outcomes of having these comments available online? Will anyone even bother to show up to twitter or live blog?! No one knows the answers yet.
But we will know moving forward because of this experiment.
Again, thanks for taking the bold step of making your opinion heard. I hope more do the same on issues as artistically important as this.
Stay tuned for more and to see what the outcome of these two readings is on this front. And of course if you want to attend either of the performances – to live blog/tweet or just to watch – contact the Lunchbox Theatre at 403 265 4292 x 0 or buy online.
As a postscript, if you’re not reading this too late, you can listen to playwright Allana Harkin and Stage One Literary Manager Caroline Russell-King on CBC Radio One Calgary’s The Eyeopener Thursday, May 6 at 7:40 am. (1010 AM or 99.1 FM)
Forget about the budget for a second, why the need for this lame-o photo op? Did someone in the Conservative communications nerve centre actually think this would be viewed in any manner other than as crass political posturing? Did they actually think even one single Canadian would believe that after proroguing Parliament for two months the Conservatives in the room did no work what-so-ever until the very morning of the budget announcement, when they suddenly convened in front of the cameras, took off their jackets and finally got to work. (Some Canadians might believe they finally got to work congratulating themselves, but that’s about as far as I can imagine anyone going.)
The image is a laugher because it works SO hard at turning over the big Harper stereotype that he is a lone wolf, muzzling MPs rather than working with them. The thing that really made me chuckle after the initial shock was Peter Mansbridge revealing that before the ministers came in the room the government press people handed out a seating chart saying who each of these people are and where they were sitting!
That’s right. They’ve been in the shadows for so long the press might not even know who they are. (I wonder where that stereotype comes from…)
At least they are out of the shadows now – hopefully to actually get down to work. Rather than just for a photo op that makes them look like they are working.
(photo h/t AGRDT)
PS – Maybe Harper should go play with a football like Stanfield or play street hockey like Dion. Somehow I feel those photo ops gone wrong were almost less embarassing.