Rrrradical Mmmedia

Three weeks ago or so, I attended Paper Tiger Television’s conference on  Radical Media.  A few days before the event, some little voice inside my head told me I needed to go.  So I did.  And it was a great decision.

The morning was filled with talks by a wide variety of brilliant people.  The first up was a woman, Martha Wallner, who serves as the Media & Communications Coordinator for the Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.  She spoke about the media’s unfair portrayal of prisoners and those who were formerly incarcerated.  Since this subject hits close to home, I really appreciated her passion for helping the situation.  I thanked her for her thoughts and efforts, and she gave me a hug.

After Martha the speakers were as follows:
Jesse Drew (professor, Techno-cultural Studies, University of California, Davis), Pablillo Jose (hacktivist), Shannon Mattern (assistant professor, School of Media Studies, The New School) and Isaac Wilder (Executive Director, Free Network Foundation).

During the afternoon, we were all split up into groups for a workshop.  We were taxed with the task of designing a “new radical media.”  All of the groups came up with some pretty neat, very idealistic, “save the world” stuff.  My group named Radical Paws, however, took a different approach…

Idea #1
Wouldn’t it be great if we could break out of the same old boring routine of getting our energy from the electromagnetic spectrum? Well, what if we harvested our intercellular energy? Say, perhaps, from a cuddle puddle?  All you have to do is snuggle up and take our pharmacological remedy and you’ll be charging your macbook with the power of human chemistry in no time.  Don’t worry, lonely people, we’ve invented a device you can wear around your neck like Flava Flav to harvest your own energy when you lack another warm body to cling to.

Idea #2
“Dr. Hoot” is the premier new doctor app that makes sure you know exactly what you’re getting into when downloading other apps onto your various devices.  When you download something, Dr. Hoot lets you know invaluable information about the app and its owners.  This information includes what the company does with your personal information and whether or not the company is involved in any lawsuits.  Dr. Hoot (a cartoon owl, of course), looks to the left if you should be careful, looks to the right if you’re okay, and downright shakes when you’re about to download something treacherous.

Idea # 3
Radical Pause by Radical Paws.  This is a small round device powered by human dynamo.  You twist it, and it generates a local area connection.  With the app, you can leave and take short messages of text from the device.  It’s a digital leaflet.  The first stage of our prototype would be for use in taxi cabs.  Step 1: Someone gets in the cab and puts the device on the bottom of the seat, between their “paws.” They then exit the cab (after reaching their destination of course). Step 2: Another person gets in the cab and “checks between their paws.” If there is a Radical Pause device there, they power up the app on their phone.  They can then leave one message and take as many as they want.  These messages could be anything from radical PSA’s such as “Corporations kill!” to “My band is playing next week at Such and Such Club.” to “Check out my website! www.mywebsite.com.”  Groups could even make many of these devices with similar messages as a blanket awareness campaign about their political and community causes.

Radical Pause was designed to personalize public space.  It is an attempt to infiltrate and combat all of the media and noise we are bombarded by in public spaces, such as the screens in taxi cabs and in elevators.  Plus, doesn’t it just sound like a good time?  Like you’re a part of some secret information disseminating club… or something.


Radical Paws was one of three groups chosen from the conference to present at the MoMA as a part of the Documentary Fortnight Festival.  Awesome.

A week or so ago, we did our presentation and it was a hit!  Everyone enjoyed our ideas, but I think they especially enjoyed that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously.  After all, it’s the MoMA and it only seemed right to be a little off beat and off the wall.  Usually, I get significantly nervous when speaking in front of people about a topic which will be opened up to questions.  Somehow, however, I got up there and adlibbed pretty convincingly and enthusiastically, much to the delight of our group leader.  I even answered some questions.  There’s something liberating about working in a group for three hours, coming up with some crazy (so crazy it just might work) idea, and then presenting it two weeks later as if it was the next iPad.  It’s so much easier to answer questions confidently about something that doesn’t even exist.

And it’s kinda fun, too.


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