15 October 2008

Blogging, Business and Virtual Communities

Women In Blogging

Women In Blogging
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: wic blogging)

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To create this slideshow, Sallie Goetsch posed an open question on LinkedIn seeking women who have successfully used their blogs to build their businesses. She included my answer and a screenshot of this blog in her slideshow. The whole things speaks volumes about the effectiveness of online community in growing a business - in unprecedented and unexpected ways.

In the mid-90s I worked for a time in Silicon Valley, on one of the early online virtual worlds, WorldsAway, created by Fujitsu Software Corp. Clark Dodsworth's referral brought me into the marketing department to write user documentation for the product. This powerful medium was in its infancy but its potential was evident. The product placements and licensing tie-ins that make the news when they occur in Second Life were anticipated more than 10 years ago in discussions and business plans of the WorldsAway team. Concerning the power of online community for creating personal bonds: In the roughly eight months I worked there, two WorldsAway team members met and married people from out of state who they had gotten to know in the virtual world.

With or without avatars, when we participate in blogging and forums such as LinkedIn, we are interacting in a virtual world, and while these environments provide a framework, what happens there is up to us - it is our independent ideas and activities - the fruit of our imaginations and creativity - that populates and furnishes these worlds.

05 October 2008

"Altered State" Exec Producer Jonathan Katz to speak at Calif Assn of Museums conference Feb 2009

Jonathan Katz, CEO of Cinnabar Inc. and executive producer of 35,000 square feet of exhibits for the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, will speak at the next annual conference of the California Association of Museums (CAM), to be held February 2009 in San Francisco. The theme of the gathering is "Building Bridges: Collaboration, Innovation, Risk." Katz will talk about the Academy's 10,000 sq ft "Altered State" exhibit produced by Cinnabar, which addresses the topic of climate change and its effects on the state of California. Here is the summary from CAM's conference schedule:
SESSION 7D: Exhibitions: Experimentation, Risk, and Reward
Friday, Feb 27, 2009
California Association of Museums Annual Conference

"Most museums, big and small, are risk-averse, yet bold exhibits can really pay off. Speakers will discuss recent exhibitions that exemplify different kinds of risk, including those pushing the museum field into new territory with innovative designs and interpretive techniques, as well as risks that arise internally when new ambitions run up against tradition, budgets, and limited staff time. Join us for a lively discussion on the rewards and challenges involved in daring to try something new. Moderators: Ann Marshall, Director Exhibitions, Autry National Museum and Kitty Connolly, Botanical Education Manager, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Presenters: Jonathan Katz, President and CEO, Cinnabar; Jonathan Spaulding, Vice President of Exhibitions, Autry National Center."

Photos: Cinnabar Inc.

11 September 2008

Installation Marathon at the Museum: Cinnabar Commences "Altered State" Exhibit Setup At New California Academy of Sciences

Cinnabar, Inc. - a leading production and fabrication house for motion pictures, museums and themed entertainment - is in the heady final weeks of installing 35,000 square feet of exhibits the company produced for the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, set to open Sept. 27. Cinnabar has commenced installation of "Altered State," 10,000 square feet of contemporary exhibits concerning climate change and the state of California.

"Climate change doesn't have a fixed outcome - what we do as individuals and as a community will affect the next part of the story," says Cinnabar CEO Jonathan Katz. "That's why it was especially important to design and produce "Altered State" as a participatory guest experience. The issue becomes real in terms of people's daily lives - the choices we make - and how we perceive California." Katz is particularly well qualified for his role as executive producer of "Altered State." A man with a strong bond to his home state of California, Katz exhibits both passion and professional credentials in both design and conservation...

Click here to read the full news story in Lighting and Sound America, or here to read it on Blooloop. Photo: T-rex in the Extinctions exhibit at the new California Academy of Sciences. Photo by Cinnabar, Inc.

Read Cinnabar's weekly installation diary as they work towards completion of the new Academy (opening date, 27 Sept 2008.) Thanks to Blooloop for publishing it. September 10 entry. August 29 entry. Aug 22 entry. Aug 11 entry.

09 September 2008

ETC lighting products help Palazzo Las Vegas achieve LEED standard

Thanks in part to ETC lighting products, the Palazzo Las Vegas is not only the newest, tallest and most luxurious hotel and resort complex on the Strip, it is also the greenest. The $1.9 billion, 50-story Palazzo Las Vegas opened in December 2007, located next to its sister property, The Venetian. The largest LEED structure in the world, Palazzo Las Vegas presages a new era of conservation-minded building construction in the area...

Read the full news story here on Lighting & Sound America.

30 August 2008

Star Trek the Experience RIP

After ten years at the Las Vegas Hilton, Star Trek: The Experience is closing down. Click the title link to see an AP slideshow of this attraction, which was a breakthrough in experience design. I had the pleasure of profiling this attraction when it opened, for Live Design Magazine (back when it was Entertainment Design mag) but alas, haven't been able to find a link to it.

In 1998, Star Trek: The Experience was honored by the Themed Entertainment Association, with an Award for Outstanding Achievement at the 5th Annual Thea Awards.

According to this Aug 30 story in the Los Angeles Times, Cedar Fair, owner of the attraction, and the Las Vegas Hilton, could not agree on terms for a new lease.

IPM Magazine profiled the Borg Invasion 4D theater that was added in 2004, in its 4D Theater Showcase, published last year.

Here is the official press release announcing the end of the "10 year mission."

01 August 2008

The Kit of Parts that Makes a Science Museum

Renzo Piano's magnificent building designed to LEED standards is getting all the press. But the fact is, this building couldn't support a science museum on its own. What makes it function as a science museum, and gives it its identity as the new California Academy of Sciences, are the amazing "kit of parts" exhibit systems designed and crafted by Cinnabar, executive producer of the exhibits for the Kimball Natural History museum on the main floor of the Academy. These modular, re-configurable, re-usable systems, fabricated of mostly sustainable materials, contain the key infrastructure: life support systems, heating and cooling, lighting and cases for displaying and preserving specimens, juice to run the AV, and surfaces for displaying graphics. The installation is in progress now - these photos of the exhibit systems taking shape were captured just a few days ago. Read the story and quotes from Cinnabar CEO Jonathan Katz here on Blooloop or here on Lighting & Sound America. -JR

Photos: Cinnabar, Inc.

25 July 2008

Digital Dome-Ocracy: Bayley Silleck Enthuses about Fulldome Presentation Media

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Bayley Silleck (Cosmic Voyage, Wired to Win) delves into the world of fulldome digital immersive presentation and likes what he finds. It's good news for science education - and more. -JR

"I found myself sprawled out on the floor in the pitch-dark. A tall, gangly figure loomed in my field of view. I had a brief flashback to the years I lived in London - could this be Dr. Who, the British television wizard, come to re-ignite my energy
field, rescue me from shape-shifting aliens, or transport me to other worlds?

Despite the flowing mane of Sixties-style hair, the multiple strands of African glass-bead necklaces, and the long silk scarf, this was a new, very modern breed of wizard, whose wand is a mouse and whose lab is a digital dome. It was Carter Emmart,
director of astrovisualization for the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of
Natural History in New York City."

Read the full story in IPM Magazine.

TEA Hosts SATE 08 Conference Sept 18-19 in Orlando

"Through an examination of the basic components of the guest experience - Story, Architecture, Technology, and Experience (SATE) - and how they can be orchestrated to work together for a compelling effect, TEA's second annual SATE Conference on Sept 18-19 in Orlando offers a valuable perspective that members of the international attractions industry can put to use in their own creative efforts," says Larry Tuch, SATE co-chair.

Online registration for the SATE 2008 Conference, in Orlando Sept 18-19, is now open at www.teaconnect.org/sate.htm. The two-day conference, hosted by TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) offers delegates the opportunity to significantly expand what they know about creating guest experiences for guest attractions such as museums, heritage centers, theme parks, retail complexes, resorts, casinos, and corporate visitors centers... [read the full article here]

Inside Chuck Roberts' (BRC) Head: Space Shuttles and Presidential Libraries

A revealing and personal article by a very creative person, Chuck Roberts, who is director of design for BRC Imagination Arts. -JR

Chuck writes...
'I have had the privilege to be involved in the design and production of more than twenty themed experience projects. Once you look at themed entertainment through the eyes of a designer, there is no going back to being a normal visitor. Going to a theme park or museum with family and friends becomes a study in how sensitive, clever and aware other designers have been. The family and friends become lab rats, observed covertly so as not to sway the findings.

At theme parks, I sometimes witness the emotional meltdowns that occur in visiting families. There comes a critical point where the desire to go on one more ride and the idea of waiting in one more line collide like a pair of freight trains. I’ve seen it happen almost anywhere in a park, but usually it occurs in the middle of a large crowded pathway, in the still hot, late afternoon sun. The spectacle slows the surrounding foot traffic like a fender bender on a Los Angeles freeway. People slow to gawk and see a child wailing and trembling, the parent trying to yell and whisper simultaneously, “We can just leave right now. Is that what you want?” I usually side with the kid....' click here to read the full article.

01 June 2008

Countdown to FullDome Summit & DomeFest in Chicago July 3

The worldwide planetarium and astronomy community will gather at the Adler Planetarium and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place for the 19th biennial conference of the International Planetarium Society (IPS) June 27-July 2, followed by a special, all-day supplementary session spotlighting FullDome theater technology on July 3.

The July 3 FullDome Summit and DomeFest, co-sponsored by the IPS FullDome Video Committee and the Adler, will keep many IPS delegates in town a day or two longer, and bring in new attendees from outside the planetarium market.

There are currently more than 400 fulldome theaters around the world. Most are in planetariums and educational institutions. The total is expected to reach 600-800 in the next two years, and the type of venue is diversifying. The trade group IMERSA (Immersive Media, Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts) is conducting the July 3 FullDome Summit, a day of panels, roundtables, demos and presentations exploring technologies, standards, markets and IMERSA's own role.

The FullDome Summit during the day at the Hyatt will be followed by DomeFest 2008 in the evening at the Adler. DomeFest is the equivalent of a film festival for the digital dome: an annual screening of fulldome shows and related sessions that explore the artistic and entertainment potential of the medium in addition to its scientific and educational applications. DomeFest also includes the juried "Domie" Awards...

Read the full story on Blooloop.com.

20 May 2008

Zaragoza Expo 08: "Biggest Water Festival on Earth"

Less than a month from now, Zaragoza Expo 08, the next world's fair, will open its gates to the public for a three-month run, from 14 June to 14 September, 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain. The theme of the expo is “Water and Sustainable Development.” Commissioner General of Expo 08, on behalf of the government of Spain, is H.E. Mr. Emilio Fernandez-CastaƱo y Diaz Caneja.

After closing day, the 25-hectare site, located west of the city on the banks of the Ebro river, will be converted to a business park, re-using many of the expo pavilions. Expo organizers have made the most of the occasion by also developing a 120-hectare “Water Park” close to the expo site, a green space supporting a variety of leisure activities. Official participants include 106 countries (the US is not on the list) and 19 regions of Spain... Read this article in full on the Bemusement blog.

Pictured: Zaragoza Expo Mascot "Fluvi."

22 April 2008

Shanghai [2010] Surprise: Knute Berger in Crosscut

Journalist Knute Berger has written a very good analysis of the struggle to realize a US Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo. It appears in the 4/22 edition of Seattle-based Crosscut.com:

"It was looking like the U.S. was about to suffer the international embarrassment of not showing up for what many regard as the new China's coming out party. Expo 2010 will be the largest world's fair ever held, with 70 million visitors expected and more than 170 nations participating. The U.S. had pledged to be one of them, but that was starting to seem unlikely.

But this month, the State Department signed a letter of intent with a new group headed by Nick Winslow, former head of Warner Brothers International Recreation Enterprises, and Ellen R. Eliasoph, attorney with the Washington, D.C. white shoe law firm of Covington & Burling."

Click the title link to read the full story. (And thank you, Knute, for quoting me!)

The picture I have included here is of one of the great US pavilions of the past: Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome at Montreal Expo 67. -JR

17 April 2008

Department of State Signs Letter of Intent for World Expo Shanghai 2010

The significance of this announcement is that there's now a good chance the US will have a pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010. -JR

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE - Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release - April 17, 2008

Department of State Signs Letter of Intent for World Expo Shanghai 2010
The U.S. Department of State has signed a Letter of Intent to work with “Shanghai Expo 2010,” a non-profit group headed by Ellen Eliasoph, attorney with Washington law firm Covington & Burling, and Nick Winslow, leisure industry expert and theme park developer, to develop a U.S. Pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.

The Letter of Intent will allow the Eliasoph and Winslow group to further develop and implement its ideas for the project, and provides documentation the group can use when approaching private sector donors. The Department of State Action Plan requires that our non-profit partner (Shanghai Expo 2010) have all required funding in hand before the Department signs a Memorandum of Agreement for the project , and, in turn, a Participation Contract with the Chinese Expo organizers. The Participation Contract commits the United States to present a U.S. National Pavilion at the Expo.

Working with a private sector partner is essential because the Department of State is prohibited by federal law from spending appropriated funds to participate in expositions such as World Expo Shanghai 2010, which are registered by the Bureau of International Expositions.

For information on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and its programs, visit http://exchanges.state.gov/.

16 April 2008

Now Online, THE EXPO BOOK Reveals How to Plan, Organize, Promote, Host, Design and Operate a World's Fair

(IPM Magazine)
Picture: Venezuela Pavilion at Hanover Expo 2000, photographed by Gordon Linden

DUBAI, UAE, April 16, 2008 -- “There is very little published material on how expos are born, organized and operated. As a result, expo organizers often get off to a rough start,” says Gordon Linden AIA, AICP, co-author of The Expo Book, speaking from his current base of operations as Manager of Planning and Urban Design for the Dubai office of Parsons International. “But that doesn’t have to be the case,” continues Linden. “While each event is unique, there are many common factors that, if understood, would prevent or lessen many of the problems that tend to crop up again and again, consuming precious time and resources. And it’s worth it – because a world expo is a monumental, magnificent undertaking with the potential to deliver significant regional benefits and positive global impact.”

THE EXPO BOOK is being published as a series in six consecutive installments of the bi-monthly IPM Magazine, a trade publication serving the attractions industry. The first three chapters are available in print, in IPM issues Nov-Dec 2007, Feb-Mar 2008 and April-May 2008. The downloadable electronic version is likewise available online at the IPM website www.InParkMagazine.com, and at www.TheExpoBook.com.

THE EXPO BOOK brings together a uniquely qualified team, headed by co-authors Gordon Linden and Paul Creighton, a pair of seasoned international expo consultants with several decades’ experience advising world’s fairs and mega-events such as the Olympic Games. Special contributor is Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts...

Fulldome Video is The Hottest Digital Technology for Immersive Education and Entertainment

Milwaukee, WI - April 13, 2008 (IPM Magazine)

Fulldome video systems are rapidly replacing traditional star projectors in planetariums around the world, and are also being adopted by science centers and other types of museums for their dome theaters, according to an article in the April-May 2008
issue of IPM Magazine.

The article, "Digital Dome-Ocracy," written by film director/producer Bayley Silleck
(Cosmic Voyage, Dinosaurs Alive 3D, Wired to Win), ventures behind the scenes in
the fascinating, specialized world of facilities that have astronomy-oriented,
educational missions....

Picture: from the fulldome production SonicVision

Griffith Observatory’s Magical Makeover

I wrote this article for Exhibit Builder, which published it in early 2008. It has now been reprinted on Blooloop.com:

On November 3, 2006, Griffith Observatory reopened after a successful redo of the entire facility, a four-year, $93 million project. First opened in 1935, it was the fulfillment of Griffith J. Griffith’s vision of a public scientific and educational institution. Griffith Observatory has stood as a national leader in public astronomy education, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of Southern California's most popular attractions. Griffith Observatory is also a well-known visual and cultural icon of Los Angeles. Its elegant triple dome, crowning Mount Hollywood, has popped up in numerous films over the decades, including Rebel Without a Cause and The Terminator. The Observatory has been called the “Hood Ornament of Los Angeles.”

But even an institution so well conceived that its exhibits capture the public interest for 70 years eventually needs an update. By the time it closed for the makeover, the many original 1930s exhibits that had been retained through the decades were very well worn - by the roughly 70 million visitors who had passed through Griffith’s doors. Griffith Observatory was in need of rejuvenation – but wisely chose a course that would preserve everything that was loved and admired about the original while at the same time bringing the institution into the present and preparing it for the future.... [click the title link to read the full article and see pictures]

08 April 2008

Shuttle Launch Experience - definitive story

This is an article I wrote for the March 08 issue of Sound & Communications magazine, and I like to think it is the definitive portrait of Shuttle Launch Experience, a unique new attraction at Kennedy Space Center that uses motion simulation in a pared-down and unprecedented way. Here are the opening paragraphs. Click the title link to see the full article and photos, and the AV equipment list. -JR

The picture to the right shows the simulator mockup built to test the concept. Image courtesy Frank Weigand of The Wheel Thing.

Tasting Space at Kennedy Space Center:
One-Dof = Zero Gravity at Shuttle Launch Experience
By Judith Rubin

Buzz Aldrin was among the three dozen astronauts who showed up at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to ride the new Shuttle Launch Experience (SLE) on opening day. The $60 million, 44,000-square-foot visitor attraction at Cape Canaveral FL blends showmanship with simulation to give visitors an authentic taste of what it is like to ride a NASA space shuttle. Over a period of about 25 minutes, they become passengers on the shuttle, passing through a sequence of experiential theaters that provide the sensations, sounds and sights of liftoff, acceleration and weightlessness, capped by a breathtaking view of planet Earth looking much as she does to genuine shuttle astronauts when they’re really up there.

After exiting the simulator modules, visitors wind down at their own pace among a series of educational displays about space travel and the NASA shuttle program. This attraction recently received a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).

Shuttle Launch Experience was conceived, designed and creative-directed by BRC Imagination Arts, in association with NASA-KSC and Delaware North Companies, Parks and Resorts. BRC produced the media, special effects and graphics for the attraction. The extensive BRC team included Paul Redding (project manager), Chuck Roberts (creative director/production designer) and Josh Cottrell (show systems manager). BRC founder, CEO and chief creative officer Bob Rogers, a recipient of the NASA public service medal, originated the concept and story, and was closely involved with the project from start to finish... [click title link to see full story and pictures]

03 April 2008

Ted Allan: The Eye, the Dome and the Expo

I never met the late Ted Allan, but I corresponded with him and worked with him for years. From 1987-1995, I was associate editor of World’s Fair magazine and he was a regular columnist. Mr. Allan was a natural and prolific writer and his submissions were always entertaining and sharply observant. After I left World’s Fair, I invited him to contribute to various publications I edited and he would always oblige with a fascinating article whenever he was asked.

Ted Allan worked on his first world expo project as an architect in 1951 and subsequently became involved in the exhibition and trade fair business nonstop, including all the major expos worldwide. He was British Commissioner General at Vancouver Expo 86, President of the Executive Commission at the BIE in Paris from 1986-1992 and BIE President 1992-1993. In ‘retirement,’ he wrote and broadcast on the subject, and continued as an advisor on expo projects.

In this article, presented just as originally published in 2000 in a quarterly magazine that I edited for TEA - only the websites have been updated - Ted Allan comments, in his unique and delightful, world-witty diplomat’s voice, on what were then two of London’s newest landmarks: the London Eye and the Millennium Dome. He follows it with a summary of world expo doings at the time (note: Shanghai landed the 2010 expo, www.shanghai-expo.com). There’s enough name-dropping and historical context here to make the reader feel like a political insider, and all the observations are still fresh and relevant today. I wish Ted Allan was here today to comment on that and a few other things. He was what I’d call a great human being.

Many thanks to TEA for giving permission to republish this article, and to Blooloop for enthusiastically taking it on. By doing so, they allow more people to appreciate Ted Allan.... [click the title link to read Ted Allan's article on Blooloop.com]

Leveraging Film Assets into Special Venue Experiences

Super 78 Studios is a non-traditional animation and production house that is actively working with content owners to develop ancillary special-venue products—branded experiences for theme parks, museums and other locations. For the magazine Film Journal International, Judith Rubin interviewed S78 principals Dina Benadon and Brent Young.... [click the title link to read the full interview]

Note: Ben 10 "Heat Blast" image courtesy Super 78 Studios.

Thorburn to Museums: Don't Change out Film for Digital Prematurely

Digital projection systems currently on the market have some ideal applications for small theaters in educational institutions, but for theaters with screens wider than 20 feet that show nature and science documentaries and other visually detailed material, museum operators are better off keeping their film projectors for now, says consultant and audiovisual expert Steven J. Thorburn PE, in an article appearing in the April-May 2008 issue of IPM Magazine, a trade publication serving the museums and attractions industry....

[click the title link to read the full story]

13 March 2008

TEA and ERA Release Theme Park Attendance Numbers for 2007

On March 14, 2008 at 6:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight time, the TEA/ERA Theme Park Attendance Report for 2007 will be available on the websites of TEA and ERA as well as at the websites of industry publications Park World Magazine and InPark Magazine (IPM) . It presents global attendance data of top theme parks and waterparks, broken down by geographic region, by chain and by type of venue.

The report is a collaboration by TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) – the leading international trade alliance for the creators of compelling experiences and places – and ERA (Economics Research Associates) – a top international consulting firm providing economic analysis for the entertainment and leisure industry. It is a definitive reference work relied upon by journalists and professionals in the attractions and tourism community. The report also stirs intense interest among theme park enthusiasts.

10 February 2008

USS Monitor Center - Newport News VA

The USS Monitor Center in Newport News is involved in a very longterm project: desalinating and restoring the remains of the historic Union vessel that was part of a critical Civil War encounter. The ironclad ship's turret and other portions were salvaged from the deep not long ago but they will remain in their stabilization tanks for years. In the meantime, the Maritime Museum has produced this first-rate educational guest experience which includes several replicas of the turret, numerous interactives and specialty theaters.

The Monitor Center has been given thumbs-up approval by diehard Civil War aficionados. I enjoyed writing up this remarkable project for Lighting & Sound America magazine and it has just been reprinted online at Blooloop. Click the title link to read it.

Jonathan Katz and the New Cal Academy of Sciences

The new California Academy of Sciences will open this fall in San Francisco. It has received a lot of media attention for its LEED certification, its living roof and world-class architectural design by Renzo Piano. When visitors get inside the new building and see the exhibits, they will discover that world-class design standards were also applied there. One of the designers who was in charge of creating several of the new exhibits is Jonathan Katz, CEO of Cinnabar (Los Angeles). Although passionate about museums and education, Katz isn't known primarily as a "museum designer" - a lot of his work has been in media production for the film industry and commercials.

This interview, titled "Collaborate, Design, Engage, Succeed!" conducted by Liucija Ambrosini, illustrates how Katz applied the same collaborative style he uses to create stellar media, to achieve great exhibit design and production for CAS, efficiently, innovatively, beautifully and within budget constraints.

Urso Chappell and Expo Museum

Urso Chappell is a world's fair enthusiast and a talented designer based in the San Francisco area. He is, appropriately, the graphic designer of The Expo Book, a book about the business side of world's fairs by Gordon Linden and Paul Creighton. I am editing The Expo Book and it is having its first appearance serially in six installments, in six consecutive issues of InPark magazine.

Architect magazine recently ran a short spotlight article about Urso and his excellent website, Expo Museum. Click on the title link to read it.