How to socialize the hipster way and get a discount at Starbucks along the way.
iPod earbuds on, passing people by without eye contact, drifting through the metropolitan maze in your own little bubble. Sound familiar? It’s the Large City Syndrome, and we’ve all got it to some extent. So how do you de-strangerize and rekindle that “social being” side of your existence?
A little awkward is a quirky, inspired, distinctly hipster project that aims to encourage interaction between strangers in the city, coordinating low-key meetings between those who want to meet new people in urban environments.
The project is the work of two students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Alex Abreu and Stella Kim, for the annual students’ ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) show.
The way it works is brilliantly simple: To create a meet-up event, you specify the expiration time — could be 30 minutes, could be 3 days — and give a quick clothing description. Then, the system matches you up with someone else in your area who’s looking for an encounter at that time and each of you gets a text message with the nearby location of the meet-up (which the system picks out for you), the time you have to get there, and the other person’s clothing description so you can spot them right away.
Besides the undeniable cool factor and good times potential of the project, the founders are also contemplating some interesting marketing partnerships — namely, hooking up with specific venues in an area to sponsor the project. In return, A little awkward would push people to those venues for meet-ups, offering users perks like coupons or other exclusive discounts at the local partner hangouts.
50% off a Starbucks Chai Latte in good company doesn’t sound like a bad plan for a Sunday afternoon.
We just dig the idea of jolting people out of their urban routine and allowing them to surrender to chance and uncomplicated fun and all those things that somehow gave way the grown-up reality of work and rent and mandatory Friday night dinner parties.
In the year of the YouTube election, innovation in political communication spanned virtually every medium. As the big day is upon is, we look back on an incredibly tumultuous political season with our selection of the smartest, most revolutionary election-related ideas.
THE SAYHEAR PROJECT
In a political climate where the “get out and vote” message seems to be spewing out of everywhere (and rightfully so), it’s worth taking a step back and asking ourselves the simple question: Why are we voting today?
That’s exactly what design studio Gershoni did with their experimental sayHear project, which assigns a toll-free number to each of the 4 voting options – Obama, McCain, 3rd party, and non-voter – and invites people to call with the reason for their choice, then displays the results in a neatly designed interface.
You can hear all the confessionals on the project website, ranging from the fully serious to the giggles-in-the-background prank calls. Listen to one particularly funny one here.
The best documentaries record monumental events that change the course of history. That’s exactly what The New York Times is out to do with their Polling Place Photo Project, the first-ever nationwide experiment in citizen journalism.
The project aims to create the largest photographic archive of the actual battleground of every presidential election — hum-drum polling places — capturing the richness and complexity of voting, a visual record of human behavior in that final stretch of choosing our political destiny.
You can already browse photos from this year’s primaries and caucuses, or upload your own. So don’t forget your camera today.
MICHAEL MOORE’S SLACKER UPRISING
Notorious filmmaker and whistle-blower Michael Moore made movie distribution history this year with his latest political documentary, Slacker Uprising, which became the world’s first feature-length film to launch as a legal free release.
The film, covering the filmmaker’s failed attempt to save the Democrats from themselves in the 2004 election by rallying people to vote with a grassroots tour of 60 cities in the battleground states, is above all a call to action in hope for redemption this time around.
After Barack Obama’s New Hampshire primary speech in January, artist will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas got overwhelmed with the desire to prevent the “unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful, corrupt” process of the last election. So he called up a massive lineup of celebrities to produce a revolutionary music video based on Obama’s speech. (We first covered it here.)
The video became the most-watched election-related video on YouTube, with over 30 million views across its various uploads, and set off an avalanche of buzz across the social web. It inspired an equally moving spinoff, the HOPE.ACT.CHANGE. project, which invites Obama supporters to upload images of themselves and rebuilds the video into a gloriously designed multimedia mosaic of them.
SHEPARD FAIREY’S OBAMA POSTERS
In January 2008, artist Shepard Faireydid what he does best to show his support for Barack Obama – he designed a poster.
Little did he know the 350 limited-edition PROGRESS screenprints would sell out in minutes, the HOPE print would go on to become part of the Obama camp’s awareness campaign, and the posters would become the most iconic images associated with this presidential campaign.
Here’s to the power of supreme graphic design and art direction.
There were, of course, a ton of other tremendously innovative efforts. A few more of our favorites included the Obama social network; the efforts to give voice to those who are impacted by the American election but can’t vote, like the nation’s 29.1 million home-owning, tax-paying legal aliens or, you know, the world; the clever and tremendously amusing Things Younger Than McCain site-turned-book (which is funnier if you skip back through the archives); and the Field of Hopecrop circle in Pennsylvania.
But what we really hope is that all this innovation is indicative of a greater cultural hunger for change. And as the 11th hour of this grand race is upon us, we can almost taste it.
So get out and vote today — and enjoy it. Your children will read about it in the history books.
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How Tim Burton could’ve made $1 million today and why the road to social media is paved with good intentions.
The recent Pepsi redesign produced a new logo, fresh packaging and a slew of mixed response across the social web spanning the entire it-sucks-it-rocks spectrum — not quite the all-around applause last year’s award-winning new Coke identity got, but still an interesting conversation to follow.
The evolution of the logo alone sparked a heated discussion in the design community.
A multi-talented artist friend of ours loved the very first one best, declaring: “It looks like Tim Burton did it.” Which of course gives anything more street cred than any advertising can buy. And the guys at Make The Logo Bigger just launched a Design Your Own Pepsi Logocontest on Flickr for all the naysayers and smart-asses who think they know better than Pepsi’s $1 million design team.
Meanwhile, the ever-eager Steve Rubel of Edelman, Pepsi’s PR firm, got to spreading the word ever which way he could. First, influential social media types got a kit of 10 Pepsi cans showing the evolution of the logo, complete with a teaser note.
Then, a YouTube video popped up tracing Pepsi’s design history. And despite the questionable editing and the cheesy music choice, we found it somewhat endearing.
Rubel even set up a room on FriendFeed called the The Pepsi Cooler where Pepsi is inviting ordinary web users to help shape the company’s media future. An admirable, albeit misguided initiative as it seems that so far, the bulk of room members are professional social media all-stars. Heck, Chris Brogan is on there.
Also from the well-intentioned but misguided front: We came across this cool tag cloud in the FriendFeed room, showing responses to the redesign. No love link and thus no clue where it came from, just a random image hosted on the Amazon cloud server — but pretty neat nonetheless.
It may be smart of Edelman/Pepsi to actually stand behind the Flickr contest and hear what the design community has to say in the only language it speaks. After all, they put themselves on the social media table, so now it’s all fair game. And, sure, it could turn into a food fight — but they’d better be ready to join in and play.
But enough about our take. What’s your 2 cents on Pepsi’s $1 million redesign initiative?
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