Monday, July 07, 2008

Community: Peal Out the Watchword.

I may not know just yet what the Pig in My Panties is, but I can see problems that we can fix without a messiah.

In small theatre communities the problems are cliche: capital and space. To avoid this as best we can we need to eliminate resource redundancies and maximize the talent pool.

That’s easy.

Well. Not easy easy.

It requires communication. Communication requires contact, and contact requires a meeting place.

In a more romantic time that central place would be a bar or coffeeshop. A real world place where a person newly washed up on this shore could head to take the temperature of the community.

I don’t know about your town, but I haven’t heard tell of that place here in Austin.

For a town like this with no central place to meet it makes a lot of sense to me to create on online space for that to happen. An always on place for people to ask questions, solve problems, and meet people.

This isn’t a perfect solution. Theatre folks aren’t early technological adopters. So you need to make it as user-friendly as possible and make it clear what the benefit to them is quickly.

A smaller town like Austin doesn’t need something as comprehensive as the Chicago Theatre Database (132 venues?!). It needs Facebook.

Rather, a specialized social networking application.

Take the Facebook model. It’s something that folks are familiar with. Now instead of a goofy picture of you and your cat your use a headshot, and your profile is a searchable resume - for actors, directors, technicians, designers and writers. Pages for companies and venues, and groups for casting calls, resource requests, and discussion.

I think people would use it.

It’s familiar. Are folks tired of signing up for things? Sure. but Again, the benefit will be evident to the users.

The problem of course is that I have no background in hosting, customizing and maintaining a social networking site.

There are open source and turnkey options like Mahara. But the technology is all a little beyond me. So I would need help from an as yet unknown person or entity getting it in motion.

It has legs

What am I missing?

EDITED 8:54 AM 7/8

It's important that a project like this not exist inside a walled garden like an umbrella arts organization would create. Membership in something like Austin Circle of Theatres has it's benefits, but shouldn't be the gate to entering the community or sharing it's existing resources.

It should be free, and open.

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