Commentary: Making a website is daunting?  Here's one made in 13 days for $500.

Drew McManus,, 5/28/13

In 2013, Venture Platform user The Lost Colony decided to launch a new fall attraction and needed a simple micro-site to help promote and brand their outdoor haunted trail, which features special effect lighting, animation, and live actors. The end result was; the entire project cost less than $500 and took 13 days to produce an incredibly tap-friendly site that works equally well on smartphones, tablets, laptop, and desktop browsers. Everything a site visitor needs to know about the attraction, right down to a button for ordering tickets, is on a single fast loading page. When was the last time you heard about a project that took so little time, at that price point, and produced such a powerful user friendly end result that works across all platforms? That's what responsive design is all about when implemented properly. [Watch a short demo video of the site's features.]


Commentary: Don't have time for Twitter?  Here's why you should make time.

Jessica Wilt, Americans for the Arts blog, 5/24/13

In January 2012 I wrote: "With endless emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed." [But] never could I have imagined how the information, people, ideas and life-changing events I've experienced through Twitter would enhance my professional circles. [For example,] I saw a tweet about a Startup Education Weekend in New York City. Education and technology people from the tri-state area came together to brainstorm project ideas, including arts education, that in 48 hours would be presented to potential investors. The energy was electric and the ideas were mind-blowing.  Milena Arciszewski, "Director of Opportunity" for The Future Project, spotted me tweeting about Startup Weekend [and then] invited me to attend a Future Project event. It was there I met Steven Hodas, Executive Director of iZone, a technology-based K-12 program. Through Twitter, I have made incredible connections with Milena and Steven's networks, [and other] new professional friends. For whatever reason, people in the arts and culture sectors remain fearful of using technology in a way that enhances communication. I hope my example demonstrates how social media can play a crucial role connecting communities by sharing information and ideas with others in the field. Don't be afraid, just do it! 


Commentary: Easily distracted by technology?  How a Post-It can help.

Beth Kanter on her blog, 5/24/13

Yesterday [I saw this] tweet from author Howard Rheingold: "Wrote 'does this deserve my attention' on post-it, affixed to corner of screen. Every once in a while I notice the note, ask myself the ?" As he says in his book, your attention is one of your most available assets.   Yet, we often squander it by not being mindful.  [Being] mindful online is defined as not just going into auto pilot to update your Facebook status or scan your Twitter stream but to consciously think about all aspects of your digital actions. Rheingold's low-tech technique, a post-it note on your computer monitor, is a simple and elegant way to help train your attention.  [During a recent social media workshop I led,] we discussed different methods for being mindful and what might apply to our practice.   Stephen Blyth wrote up this reflection from the workshop about mindfulness and points a recent Guardian post where Oliver Burkeman delves into 'conscious computing'. The article showcases "calming" technology -- which is to use technology to help you focus or what he calls the "slow web movement."


Commentary: How to make your database of donor profiles more useful

Simone Joyaux, Nonprofit Quarterly, 5/24/13

I focused on building donor loyalty while presenting in Canada in March. Audience members and I talked about learning about donors and collecting what we know about them. Then we began talking about donor profiles. You know that your donor can ask to see her profile, so you'd best be careful what you include. Honesty and integrity and the right information, but also comfortable for the donor to see. Donor profiles need to include the donor's interests and aspirations, motivations and dreams. How about including the key emotional triggers that work with that donor? Consider things like anger, fear, greed, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, and salvation -- the seven top emotional triggers from direct marketing. Then one fundraiser in the audience had a brilliant idea: Let's invite the donor to write her own profile to include in the database. I know what I'd write about myself...what I want the organization to always remember. Isn't that a great idea? Sure, of course, you'll collect your own information. But words from the donor? How great that could be. How very useful.


Commentary: Why every artist should work at a tech startup

Clayton Weller,, 4/30/13

I'm a director, performer and writer. Still, the best thing I've ever done for my art was working in a tech startup. I'm fundamentally changed. The startup scene is vibrant and is constantly reinventing itself. [They] grab the world with both hands, shake it, and demand its attention. Here's how you do it:

Business isn't what artists think it is: When you say the word "business" to someone, especially an artist, they automatically assume you're talking about something stuffy, rigid, uncompromising, and [insert horrible adjective]. You say "business" but they hear "bureaucracy." THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING! To treat them as such is the equivalent of saying "art" and "hipsters" are equivalent.

Startup methodology makes sense: Talking directly to people, iterating ideas before execution, creating a feedback loop with measurable data; it all makes perfect sense. By doing this you create a real connection with your customer (audience) and develop a product (art) people will not only tolerate, but will clamor for. The average artist does NONE of these things. Not only that, they intentionally avoid them. They lock themselves away to pursue their secret "vision." When they receive negative criticism, they blame their audience (customer). WHAT?!?

There IS money out there: Let's crunch some numbers, because that's what I've learned in the Startup community:

  • Even the most frugal of Americans spent over $1,000 on entertainment in 2010 (the national average was around $2,500). Extrapolated for the total population of Seattle, we have a minimum of half a BILLION dollars.
  • In 2009, that average per capita income of a Seattleite was about $40,000. That means we could pay 12,500 people to do nothing but art if we wanted to.

I launched a Kickstarter to start a performance arts space. Beforehand, I simply asked performing artists what their biggest problems were, and then offered a solution (a price point that was fair). Then I developed a business plan that made sense. Well, it worked. In three days, we raised nearly 200% of our minimum goal, and people keep pouring out of all corners of Seattle.

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