Austin's unique "BE"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Austin Theater Scene map

The Austin Theater scene map began with a request from Bijoy Goswami. He showed me his then-nascent map of the impressive Austin entrepreneurial scene as a starting point, and asked about my interest in cataloging and relating in visual format the Austin Theater scene. As we discussed the idea, what emerged was the idea of a visual map as a tool for growth, knowledge, diagnosis, and self-awareness of the Austin theater scene and it's participants. These possibilities excite me.

Bijoy and I then met with Cyndi Williams and Liz Fisher and talked out which categories of constituents belonged on the map. We began with the rule that the map is of organizations, not of individuals (at least for now). We hammered out the top-level categories and listed a few organizations to fill in some blanks.

To collect the data, I began using Mindjet's MindManager software. I solicited feedback from Curtis Luciani, and Spike Gillespie at this early stage to fill in some of the blanks. As a step towards the final version of the map, that data has now been imported into the MindMeister service for easy web-publishing. At time of writing this post, I am sure this map suffers from remaining holes what need filling.

Presently, Ron Berry (of Fusebox Festival) and Travis Bedard (of Cambiare Productions) have edit rights to help steward this project to a more comprehensive and accurate state. At some point, I imagine we'll open up edit rights to a much wider, and potentially public, circle. Meanwhile, leave feedback here about what is missing and we'll attend.

Eventually, I'm hoping for a piece of software dedicated to Scene Mapping. Ideally this mapping tool will first allow the user to select the constituent categories and organizational attributes (e.g. annual budget, equity status, production quantity, performance style, birthdate, etc.) they desire, and then deliver the user a graphical image showing the organizations laid out in proximity according to their affinity by those variables.

[A question about the theater scene map's current contents is "where does light, sound, scenic design fit?" Note that also missing is actors and directors. At present, they are all represented in the map as participants/employees of producing organizations.]