Every once in a while I look up and find myself in a room full of innovative, inspiring, and interesting people. This is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago at The Next 50 and Startup Washington launch party. On Thursday, September 6, 2012, several socially, environmentally, and ecologically conscious entrepreneurs, researches, consultants, and other forward-thinking individuals gathered to celebrate the innovative nature and opportunities that exist right here in Washington. Below are some of the pictures (photographs provided courtesy of Andrew Vanasse of Vanasse Studios for Menrva Labs) and videos from that event.
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A couple of days ago on Sunday, August 26, we tried something new. By using a combination of social media tools and a physical location, I hoped to minimize one of the biggest issues we face when conducting interviews. When in an interview, the interviewer is supposed to uncover the answers to all the questions the audience might have. However, no matter how skilled or experienced an interviewer is, they can never place themselves fully into the hearts and minds of everybody who has a question.
So I figured, why try to do that at all? I began to wonder in what ways can we allow passive viewers and listeners become active participants. If people are provided the opportunity to to ask questions and leave comments in real-time they are more likely to engage in the interview and leave with a feeling of satisfaction than they would otherwise.
In order to accomplish this, we used Google+ Hangouts On Air to automatically stream and record the interview on YouTube. I then placed the link on the event page, my personal page, and the Menrva Labs page on Facebook. I also embedded the code on my website so viewers could watch it there. Rather than use an expensive camera setup, I picked up the new Logitech C920 HD Webcam from Best Buy. Audio was captured with my trusty Zoom H4n. Lastly, we used Twitter as the platform for people to ask questions. By using the hashtag #menrva and the free service TweetChat we were able to watch questions and comments come in in real time.
Overall, I think it was a success. Thank you to all of you who supported the idea, came to the location, and watched/participated online. I see a lot of opportunities to merge offline and online methods to increase engagement in future projects. Also, a special thanks to Andrew Vanasse, who came out and shot such beautiful pictures. For more of his work, check out his blog and website.
The highlight of the night, of course, was the time spent with Ildikó. Although she's about to travel around the world to talk about The Bearing Project she made time to speak with us and share her story, the inspiration behind the piece, advice, and where she's headed next. Truly incredible person. Checkout her websites to learn more about Ildikó Kalapács and the Bearing Project.