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What do you get when a world class museum decides to launch a mobile, think tank to discuss and tackle the problems of modern urban communities?  The BMW Guggenheim Lab. It launches tomorrow in New York and looks to be kicking off with a good number of interactive events, talks, etc.

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Paying homage to Times Square’s roots and taking some chances with personal space, a Theater for One has opened in New York and is running through Sunday.  What is it? A chance to be the sole member of the audience during a brief (5-10 minute) piece of drama. What’s the catch? The space is very small and intimate. In one of the pieces, the actor asks the audience member to hold his hand. In another, the actor speaks directly with the audience member and asks them to participate.

It looks quite intense as the usual distance an individual gets from a performer is shattered. Not only are you up close, but you lose your place in the group. There’s no hiding from the performance or the performer. If you’re in New York, it looks worth checking out, especially with an admission price of $0.

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Just a reminder to all of you attending Planning-ness in Denver and Brooklyn…Stop by our table to say ‘Hello!’ and claim your very own W5 t-shirt (while they last).

The New York Times does a great job of using the web to do more than republish the newspaper. The original content on the Times’ website is often as insightful or entertaining (sometimes more so) than the print version that waits for me at the end of the driveway in the morning. It also is full of nooks and crannies for exploration.

One of these spots is a series called One in 8 Million. It’s some fantastic story telling.  Essentially the series uses audio and photographs to peer into the life of ordinary New Yorkers. With titles like The Walker, The Rookie Detective, and The Bar Fighter each story offers something new and different.

As newspapers focus on profit and forget their mission, the Times does a great job of leveraging the web as a supplement of it’s daily print edition. It adds value instead of giving the store away for free.

Twitter is what’s social media is becoming. It never stops growing. I have an account but don’t really like updating on-the-go – mainly because I’m terrible at keeping up with it. What I like about it is to follow others – not necessarily people but brands, organizations and even causes. I use it like another type of Google Reader. Very recently, low-price airline JetBlue launched a new promotion for their 10th anniversary, where they handed out free tickets to their Twitter-followers in Manhattan. The location of the giveaways was only announced via their Twitter account. The people chasing the tickets had to bring some JetBlue-related stuff to the destinations in order to get their award, and by doing so; they had to research JetBlue on the web.

At each destination there was over 300 tickets waiting for each crowd. Within minutes each time after the release, they were gone. Clever, I must say. This can obviously be risky business, but I actually like this form of marketing. If you can engage people, make something good, get a smile or two back – you have won so much more than new business. I would argue that your reputation is by far more important than the profit, even in shorter terms. Have a look at  JetBlue’s Twitter account, apparently the journey continues. This is exactly what Twitter is for in my opinion – to connect people and to connect businesses, to enlighten us but also to engage us on a daily basis. Give something, and you’ll receive something back.

Since Valentine’s Day just passed us by, I thought it was suitable to bring up a small company in New York, called Urban Signals, to the love-searching spotlight. This newly started company, with their iPhone app as the main focus has been gaining a lot of media attention lately.
A work in progress, the idea is to flirt and connect with people in your surroundings and see if they’re ready for bonding using the GPS capability in your phone. The CEO of the company got her vision when she realized that there were so many connections that got lost each day, and she wanted that to change. Basically you send out a signal through the app to whomever shows up on your radar with the hopes for a response. With your own profile you can easily share whatever information you want. The system is built so that abuse doesn’t take place – this works by giving the signaled person an option to respond or deny your signal request. If it’s a positive answer then you can continue engaging with that person by asking a question, similar to a live chat or messaging. Also, the radar never tells the other person where exactly you are unless you want it to do so – that’s all up to you of course and there’s a “meet up” button for that.

At their blog you can follow the ongoing development and events and see what’s next, or even follow the ‘Hook-up Van’ on its mission to connect the people of New York. Apparently, more media coverage is around the corner. I really like this idea and hope that San Francisco will experience the radar soon. It’s quite innovative, and I see this as a meeting point for more spontaneous people, that don’t necessarily want to go through several steps in order to engage with each other. Apps that are made to connect people are a brilliant thing. So what are the risks you might wonder? I don’t know yet, but I guess that wide usage will tell us more. 

Hopefully we’ll meet out there soon ready for coffee, a drink or even dinner. As their motto says, “Urban Signals is taking love back to the streets!” Check out their website here.