Technology vs. Experience
Being a media design firm, more often than not, a large concern of our clients is the sustainability of the technology being used. And quite frankly, more often than not, we too are skeptical of technology, but if done right digital technologies can create long lasting relationships between people and their surroundings. In fact, at Local Projects, it is built into the core of our mission to produce projects that will endure. We think of ourselves as translators of technology, integrating new technology into both the fabric of physical environments and our lives. We experiment and look for ways in which new technologies can allow people to participate in the experience, creating something much more engaging and that is meant to last. With each of our projects we look for ways in which people can further their connections to the world at large and to each other, creating experiences that produce emotional connections. These emotional experiences are what resonate with people on a deeper level, and what they will remember, not the latest technology that was used. As we look back on some of our past projects, while the technology may no longer seem cutting edge, the experience itself still resonates with visitors. As technology continues to evolve and integrate into our lives, creating new ways for us to share, reflect, and identify, we will be able to provide more and more engaging experiences that people will remember. Using this visitor experience centered thinking has allowed us to create timeless pieces and a sustainable approach for future projects.
How to Approach Sustainability
Sustainability is a tricky challenge in a crowd-sourced, social-media curated, web-based documentary project and one we still haven’t solved with 18DaysInEgypt. We built an innovative collaborative web-platform to empower Egyptians to tell their own story, in their own voice, using their own media. We had decided from the start that this was not our story to tell, instead choosing to trust our community, build our community, and let them make 18DaysInEgypt what it is today. We had to be sensitive to the political climate we were operating in, which means if one of our contributors removed one of their videos from Youtube, we automatically respected that decision in our platform and the linked content was also removed. These decisions have created a project that is a dynamic, living platform, a community that continually needs outreach, the social media tools we rely on are continuously evolving, and the archive itself needs a permanent resting place.
At 18DaysInEgypt we have a huge challenge ahead of us about what it means to be sustainable and how to approach it. The obvious solutions are regular software updates with new social media API changes, installing a community manager to engage the community, and finding a suitable partner or institute where our archive can find its final resting place.
However, all of the above are not sustainable solutions as they are requiring more funding, a permanent team, and the right partner - especially, when it’s almost impossible to define when a crowd-sourced, new media documentary project is actually “finished”. One approach we are considering is our final phase of the project, which will be our curated, produced take on 18DaysInEgypt. An offline, interactive experience reflecting on the Egyptian revolution and the year since, building on the over thousand stories and thousands of media contributed by our community.