Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Drupal Community Helpdesk at CoLab Orlando, First Fridays

Thu, 06/04/2009 - 07:20 -- rprice

12:00 - 1:30 PM, June 5th, July 3rd, August 7th, September 4th at CoLab Orlando

[caption id="attachment_760" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="It might look something like this"]It might look something like this[/caption]

A few months ago, I attended my first DrupalCon, and what an explosion of open source community awesomeness it was. As Mike and I are running a fledging Drupal shop, I was subconsciously looking for a shop I could use as a signpost, a group whose values and practices were in line with where I would like to be in a few years. I met the fine guys and gal from Advantage Labs in Minneapolis/St Paul, and was introduced to some of the awesome stuff they do.

One really great thing they offer in addition to web hosting, consulting and training is what they call Lab Hours. Twice a week, anyone experiencing a hang-up in their site, or just folks who are interested in helping, come by their offices for some roundtable support time. A goal is set to accomplish a certain task at the end of 2 hours, everyone pairs off and work commences.

There is no "expert" in the room doing all of the work. It's roundtable style, and that's how it should be.

This is pretty much a direct physical manifestation of the kind of help you get in #drupal-support in IRC. I have helped out there a bunch, and then having heard about this concept, I decided Orlando could use some community helpdesk time as well.

Starting with the first Friday of the month, I'll start hosting Lab Hours of my own here in Orlando. If you've attended DrupalCamp Florida or a Drupal Meetup, if you've attended one of our DrupalEasy training days or webinars, or if you're just curious about learning how to use this open source content management system, you're welcome to come by and share.

If nobody shows up, I'm going to open up IRC and help people in other parts of the world. I also intend to show everyone where they can go and get more help outside of helpdesk time.

CoLab is Orlando's first and only coworking space, on the 6th floor of the Angebuilt building, 37 N. Orange Ave. It's right at the corner of Wall St and Orange Ave, above Subway. It's the perfect place to host an event of this kind.


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My Pipes to Retweet Article as a Video

Thu, 05/28/2009 - 08:09 -- rprice

I've been getting lots of good karma and feedback from people about my retweeting recipe using Yahoo Pipes. In truth, the tutorial can be a bit hard to swallow if you aren't familiar with pipes or a node-based editing system.

Xavier Vespa from Hyve Up has done an easy to follow, step-by-step version of a retweeting recipe based on the content of my original tutorial.

From: HU Twitter: How-to Retweet Automatically - Video Demo


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JetPack, Bespin, Ubiquity... and beyond

Thu, 05/21/2009 - 13:56 -- rprice

Mozilla Labs announced a new product called JetPack, which reminds me of the kinds of features you've seen in Adobe Air, Flock and Songbird, but the tool makes creating said features very simple.

Mozilla Labs Jetpack - Intro & Tutorial from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

In the video, the developer mentioned two other Mozilla Labs projects, the first of which I hadn't seen before. It's called Bespin, and it's a cloud-based code editor. Right now, they are hosting the app for open source developers, but I'd love to be able to host an instance on my own server in the future.

Introducing Bespin from Dion Almaer on Vimeo.

Last but not least is what's basically an implementation of QuickSilver (the application launcher) in your Firefox browser, but instead of launching desktop apps, you're accessing web services, search and browser actions. The project is called Ubiquity, and it's cool (for people who like using the keyboard).

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Then they just get downright insane...

Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

This video really takes the idea of web browsing away from just a bunch of flashing data and gives some good context. I can't say I would like to use that exact interface, but extra points for effort.

Or if you'd rather see something that's not so far in the future, this MIT student builds on some ideas that are already out there and improves them. It still has some of the "spatial history" ideas, and takes the idea of "pages" out of the browser, but if you ask me, it doesn't go far enough.

Firefox Concept Video from liyan chang on Vimeo.


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Fringe Fringe Fringe Fringe Fringe Fringe Fringe

Mon, 05/18/2009 - 09:12 -- rprice

Yes, it's true. I can never shut up about the Orlando Fringe. Fringe is what BarCamp will be in 50 years, becuase they have the same humble beginnings. Actually, if you take Internet Years into account, we are more like 3 or 5 years away from having unconferences that last 2 weeks and appeal to a wide audience. (I know because I want to create one)

[caption id="attachment_743" align="alignleft" width="175" caption="photo from"]photo from[/caption]

Of the 67 shows at this year's Orlando festival, a majority are from out-of-town (USA or International), OR have never appeared at the Fringe before. The festival is spread across 8 venues in Loch Haven Park, so everything is within walking distance. The proximity of the venues, along with the staggering quality of all the shows, makes this one of the premier unjuried theatre festivals in the world.

Half of Orlando has no idea this is happening. It's even worse for tourists.

Fringe has been going on for 18 years, longer than any other US fringe, longer than the crappy Music Festival, and just as long as the Film Fest.

On top of all these things, 100% of ticket sales go directly in the artists' pockets. No exeptions, substitutions or refunds. The only things the festival makes money on is the Button (everyone must buy one, $8), merchandise, Beer and Wine, and Donations. A huge part of their budget comes from Grants and Donations. They have several full-time and part-time staff. (donate something, yo)

Happy Hour Monday

If you've EVER read this blog before you'll know I wrangle the herd of cats known as Florida Creatives. Well, once a year I try to inspire this group (you can't tell these kids what to do, just suggest) to make the pilgrimage to Loch Haven Park with me and drink beer 3 miles from their normal gathering place. Last year, we enjoyed some marginal success, and one guy actually came to see a show with me! I know a few other folks came out on the weekends, brought their kids. Good thing too. Fringe has a great family atmosphere if you're looking for it.

Blogging Fringe

I love this festival so much, I go there every day for 2 weeks, and I started an entire project (I don't think of it as just a website any more) where I blog about Fringe, take photos, make videos, and try to inspire people to do the same.

The big change this year is I'm not really trying to aggregate anything, just evangelize. The most I've really done to that end is to try and filter twitter posts about Orlando Fringe, which grows in complexity (and annoyingness) all the time. The coolest thing about the recipe I've built is that it works with the global twitter community, which is still fairly easy to navigate. I can't say the same of the blogosphere, especially since so many people are posting to private Facebook and MySpace accounts. The openness of twitter (which almost sounds like a joke) is a strength I am exploiting, and I'm trying to wield in a meaningful and usable way. Not everyone uses Twitter Search or TweetDeck, so I made one for them.

Herding theatre patrons

This year marks the 4th festival since I started doing Blogging Fringe, and I don't feel as though I've gotten very far in getting other people to blog on my site. So this year I wanted to let them create content where they are most comfortable, and have them act as advocates for something bigger than Blogging Fringe or even a single instance of the Orlando festival.

We're talking about the community.

Just as with my love for Drupal, your reasons for staying at Fringe are not always the same ones that made you come in the first place.

Normally, a friend will drag you to some show or other, or perhaps you know someone in a show, or a second- or third-degree friend is in that situation. At Fringe, the Kevin Bacon game is too easy. The circle is much smaller and the bonds are often stronger. There are plenty of people I only know during Fringe, because they live in Seattle, Canada, or the UK. I have actually taken one of these Fringe Friendships to the next level, by visiting some actor friends up in New York a few years ago.

Just like making friends online, sometimes Fringe Friends can become your friends in Real Life. This is sometimes true of locals, but not often.

Another crazy thing is that this village only comes together for two weeks. I've heard similar things about Burning Man. Another characteristic they share is a Gift Economy.

Whuffie at the Fringe

Orlando Fringe has an invention they call "Fringe Bucks", which is a social currency you can touch. When you volunteer for Fringe, you get 1 Fringe Buck per hour. 4 Fringe Bucks gets you into a show, for free. Your used Fringe Bucks then go to artists, who in turn use their Fringe Bucks to get into other shows. Artists also often "comp" their friends and other artists. Up to 10% of any show is filled with people who didn't pay money to be there.

[caption id="attachment_744" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Fringe Bucks"]Fringe Bucks[/caption]

Volunteers also get a free Button, so if you are willing to spend time at Fringe (which is natural for many people), you can get into all the shows you want, for free, within reason.

I was reminded of Fringe Bucks when I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and learned Cory Doctorow's wild theory that someday money will be based on meritocracy. He called this new Social Capitol "Whuffie", coining a term that has started a movement in social media marketing. Tara Hunt has even gone so far as to write a book about Whuffie. It's called The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business, and I can't wait to read it.

Printing Money, Whuffie Style

Other than volunteering, several other ways exist to earn social capitol at Fringe. "Hug a volunteer", is a mantra that's heard and acted on often. Billeting artists (giving them a place to sleep) actually earns you a SuperPass, which gets you in to any show for free. Buying someone a beverage at the Beer Tent is often proffered as a reward for a favor, a free ticket to a show, or just as an excuse to get some face-time with your favorite artist.

My mission this year was to try and capture some of that implicit social capitol and have everyone make the festival better by participating in a game. I often describe it as a scavenger hunt, but it's not really correct to call it that.

I was inspired by Akoha, which is a game where you are given a physical card with a unique "Mission ID" or a deck of missions, and the whole thing is tracked online. The idea is to "play it forward". One card will pass from person to person, as you perform small kindnesses to other people, making the world a better place.

[caption id="attachment_742" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Akoha at TED"]ted_deck_spread_medium[/caption]

The Game Itself

Each participant gets a small booklet containing a piece of paper with several "challenges". Some of these are easier than others, but initially they were designed to be things you could do for free, and especially to generate a story you could then tell to others. The best one so far was a bizarre hula-hooping mishap... involving a girl wearing a skirt.

[caption id="attachment_745" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Game, Manifested"]The Game, Manifested[/caption]

Each mission is worth 10 points, with modifiers for fun reasons.

  • Drink a beer with a Canadian (drink a beer with a Floridian, -5 points)
  • Donate to the Fringe (1 point per $1 donated)

... and so on.

In order to get players engaged right away, I invented the idea of your first mission being something you'd have to carry out right away, with two added bonuses:

  1. The First Mission always involves a 3rd party, who has not yet started playing the game.
  2. You must convince said 3rd party to complete your mission without speaking to them.

This makes the first challenge, well, challenging, and gets you from zero to one as a player right away. Now, you also have to explain to your friend what the heck you just did when the mission is over, thereby spreading the game virally.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I had originally wanted to do this game more like Akoha, with an online registration for missions, players and points. Anyone could create a mission, assign a mission to someone, or gift points in recognition of "going above and beyond". It would turn everyone into a facilitator of the game, and in a perfect world, it would have been great.

In the end, I chose to use paper and online photos as the medium, because it's more accessible and there's a lot less overhead (this is a free time project).

Any player is still invited to invent their own challenges, either by having me write them down, or by printing out their own sheets. You just need a 4 1/4" square piece of paper, and you can write anything on it.

Artists often use printed fliers to promote their shows, so I thought this would be a good chance to make the fliers useful beyond just saying the show times. Now every flier you hand out is interactive and viral, and it inspires your patrons to share something related to your show.

We have designed a platform.

Measuring Success

As players are encouraged to use whatever platform is most comfortable for them (Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, etc.), measuring will be just as difficult as with most social media campaigns. My Blogging Fringe twitter bot helps a bit, and Google Alerts help a bit more, but the only (simple) way to be able to see all these posts will be to have all these people add me as a friend on the relevant network and look at their Activity Streams.

This is where open standards would really help. They could make aggregating this content easy, but Facebook and MySpace are inherently closed to the average Joe, and that's me.

Luckily I know most of these people, or I'm getting to be Fringe Friends with them. In the future, scaling this game will be hard without a centralized web site to collect all the data, but for this year's experiment, what we've got isn't bad for the amount of time and money I put in to it.

The Goal

In coming up with my presentation for BarCamp, I stumbled across the mission for Blogging Fringe. Even though I had done it for 3 years prior, I couldn't verbalize fully and succinctly why I was doing it. I came up with the following:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="To inspire entertaining and unexpected interaction between patrons of the arts, artists and arts organizations."]To inspire entertaining and unexpected interaction between patrons of the arts, artists and arts organizations.[/caption]

Everything I generate now for this project and future iterations of Blogging Fringe will take this statement into account, and give me the razor-edged accuracy I need to make this free time project greater than the sum of its parts.

There's a lot I haven't covered here, but that's the way with this project, it really is quite deep and nebulous. It took me more than 3 years to understand it, and I feel like I'm learning and re-learning new things all the time.

I'd love your feedback, or stories about similar campaigns. This will definitely come up in a future podcast, BlogOrlando, BarCamp or other session. I'd love to know what others can learn from my experimentation, and how I can make this project even better.


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Blunder Bungle Photos

Fri, 05/08/2009 - 10:25 -- rprice

I had a great time doing a real art show last night... some great people came by, and even one real puppeteer got a chance to try out with my creation!

There were several photographers there, some from Metromix, and 2 representatives of The Daily City.

Daily City Photoset of Blunder Bungle by Mark Baratelli

Daily City Photoset of Blunder Bungle by Tisse Mallon

Metromix Photoset of Blunder Bungle by Miriam Lorenzi
[caption id="attachment_738" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="photo my Miriam Lorenzi"]photo my Miriam Lorenzi[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_739" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="el Presidente"]el Presidente[/caption]


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Blunder Bungle (today) an art show inspired by mistakes

Tue, 05/05/2009 - 20:11 -- rprice

I will be doing an (as of yet untitled) digital puppetry / collaborative performance piece tonight as a part of a backyard art showcase. The blunder for me, is that it's 18 hours until the event and I don't have a playable demo! Built with Processing and a Nintendo WiiMote. Come and see what the fuss is all about.
Blunder Bungle

In light of a recent missed deadline, we are creating an art show to prove that royally messing up, is not in fact the end of the world.

Artists participating include:

Doreen Barber | James Caruso | Patricia Coyle

Jessica Earley | Trevor Garrett | Jennifer Foust

Greg Leibowitz | Molly Livingston | Hannah Miller

Sergio Mora | Eric Jedraszczak | Rachael Page

Brian Phillips | Doug Rhodehamel | Maria Heidi Sanchez

Matthew Simantov | Blair Sligar | Beau Thomas

Jessalyn Wakefield | Katie Windish

With Performances by:

Omar Delarosa | Brian Feldman | Jack Fields | Ryan Price | Erika Wilhite

Organized by Jessica Earley, incarnated by you.

When: Wednesday May 6th, 2009 from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Where: Museum of My Neighbor’s Backyard (MoMNB) - 940 Bradshaw Terrace Orlando, FL 32806 (S. of Gore St. / E. of Delaney Ave.)

Admission: Free

Websites: (Blunder Bungle : Facebook Event) (Blunder Bungle : Google Docs)

When referencing on Twitter, please use hashtags:

#thisthejam #BlunderBungle #MoMNB

Public Transportation / Parking:

LYNX: Take Link 7 or Link 11 on Orange Ave. The bus stop is in front of Lucerne Medical Center. Walk one block south to Gore St. Turn Left at Gore St. and right onto Bradshaw Terrace. / Street Parking is available along Bradshaw Terrace and in the empty lot across the street.


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I'm playing mini-golf, for art's sake!

Tue, 05/05/2009 - 04:57 -- rprice

[caption id="attachment_727" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Brian Feldman\'s Miniature, this Saturday, May 9th"]Brian Feldman's Miniature, this Saturday, May 9th[/caption] Ah yes, we all love a little mini golf, but only one man I know is crazy enough to play it for 24 hours straight. That one is Brian Feldman, and he's going to be taking over an I-Drive tourist attraction this weekend for an uncanny and silly performance titled Miniature.

I'm playing the very first game, which is midnight Friday. Come check it out:

In honor of National Miniature Golf Day (Yes, it’s real!), performance artist Brian Feldman (Leap Year Day, sleepwalk, txt) will attempt to play an unprecedented 72 games of miniature golf in a single day (24 consecutive hours).

The public is invited to challenge Brian, for free, during lightning fast 20 minute games of miniature golf, by calling (407) 792-9421, emailing or @BrianFeldman to reserve one of 72 tee times. Any open times will be available day of event on a space available basis.

When: Saturday 9 May 2009 from 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM (24 hours)

Where: Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf @ 8969 International Drive Orlando FL 32819 (Next to WonderWorks)

Cost: Free (Reservations Requested Please)

Websites: (Brian Feldman) (Miniature : Facebook Event) (Miniature : Google Docs)
When referencing on Twitter, please use hashtag: #miniature


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TED Video: Serious Play

Tue, 04/28/2009 - 09:17 -- rprice

If we're "Creatives", one of the things that helps define us as such is that we have not lost our ability to engage in play. This video has more on the subject:

Stuart Brown: Why play is vital -- no matter your age

Stuart Brown's research shows play is not just joyful and energizing -- it's deeply involved with human development and intelligence. Through the National Institute for Play, he's working to better understand its significance.

Dr. Stuart Brown came to research play through research on murderers -- unlikely as that seems -- after he found a stunning common thread in killers' stories: lack of play in childhood. Since then, he's interviewed thousands of people to catalog their relationships with play, noting a strong correlation between success and playful activity.

One thing you see and hear often is about the "creative types" who work at ad agencies is that they know how to have fun at work. Take MindComet, for example - the building is built with all these crooked lines and rounded corners, to encourage the fun and playful culture they have cultivated - they even have Tequila Fridays, Cakeplow parties, and dress-up days.

Not all creatives work in ad agencies, but when you put them all in one room like that, they can often come up with some great and innovative stuff. Take this video, for example:

Lip Dub - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

'nuff said.

Have you incorporated play in your work and home life? I want some of those "wearable meetings".


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The Least Pretentious Demo I've Seen in Ages

Sun, 04/26/2009 - 10:18 -- rprice

Everybody can take a hint from Ryland Haggis and Lisa Bettany over at redpilot media in vancouver, b.c. (that's in Canada, yo). It's simply designed, the edits are not too fast, and they have a very clear message to communicate.

Redpilot Media from Redpilot Media on Vimeo.
Most Demo Reels or Trailers you see for companies try to jam as many different styles, media, bright colors, fast motion and buzzwords as they possibly can. What Ryland and Lisa have done here is notable, because, unlike all the other guys, they're not trying too hard.

Don't agree? Concur? Tell me why.


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Your Tech Doesn't Matter, n00b - How to Kick Ass at Your Job

Sat, 04/25/2009 - 06:15 -- rprice

My BarCamp Presentation actually hit the home page of SlideShare the other day. I gave this at the very end of the day, so if you missed it, check it out in 35 McCluhan-inspired text-happy slides.

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