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March 13 2011

19:49

Lost in Boston: REALTIME

For the last several months, we have been testing a system called Lost in Boston: REALTIME with a variety of community partners. This video describes a bit about the project.

Rick Borovoy loves Boston, but he hates how hard it is to figure out where one is. Boston is tough to navigate, and while our various government entities do their best to keep up, governments are better at long-term infrastructure than quickly updating signage in a fast-moving, dynamic city. So Rick started looking at how businesses could help. He proposed hosting real-time transit signs in local businesses and non-profits. By hosting the signs on private space, the signs can cost 100 times less, and also help their host's mission. We have signs running in the famous J.P. Licks ice cream emporium, Anna's Taqueria, and Hope House, a local halfway house.

As mentioned in the video, we use information that MASSDoT has made available. Sure, we could have done an iPhone app, but many bus riders don't have smart phones, and text-based systems tend to be pretty inconvenient. More importantly, at the Center we talk about the "bottled water effect." Contemporary technology is almost always designed for the individual -- it is almost a reflex -- when in fact it might be better to design for the public. After all, we love Boston's public transportation system; it is extensive, convenient, and still pretty inexpensive. Why should navigating that system be any less public?
More information at http://www.lostinboston.org/

March 12 2011

21:34

Junkyard Jumbotron

Rick Borovoy just released the Junkyard Jumbotron project, which allows laptops or phones in close proximity to be ganged together to form a large display.

The Junkyard Jumbotron requires no special software; it is simply a web page that receives real-time updates from our server, allowing scrolling, zooming, and soon video. Like all software at the Center, it is free and open.

Rick developed the project as part of a larger suite of tools that he calls the Brown Bag Toolkit, all oriented around making technology work better with face-to-face interactions, like meetings, canvasing, or chance encounters.



Huge thanks to Paula Aguilera for making the video.
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