Category Archives: participation

Interview: TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie

TOMS shoes, a company started in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie from his Venice, CA apartment, has quickly become a social movement – a phenomenon quickly propelling the shoe brand into the hearts and minds of consumers and social activists alike. Gaining momentum on college campuses and through social sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s now a top-selling shoe at popular department stores like Nordstroms.

TOMS “One for One” business model means that for every pair of shoes purchased, another is given away to a child in need. And now, four years after it was founded with a goal of giving away two hundred and fifty pairs, TOMS is celebrating giving away the one millionth pair – something Blake had never anticipated happening when first starting out.

Thanks to generous support from the good folks at AT&T, I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina for the One Millionth Pair Shoe Drop. The group consisted of just over 30 folks from the TOMS staff, partners from AT&T and Gowalla, members of the media including noted photographers and videographers, and Blake’s parents – two of the most incredible folks I’ve had the chance to meet.

Over the course of a week, we delivered and placed TOMS shoes on the feet of hundreds of children. We traveled around the Argentine state of Misiones visiting rural villages and schools,  hand-delivering shoes and engaging with children in an effort to prevent disease and create a memorable moment in a child’s life.

I had a chance to speak with Blake about the impact of social media, where the name TOMS came from and what’s next for the revolutionary company. Check it out!

For more of our coverage, see:  http://toms1m.wordpress.com

Buy TOMS shoes here

Music Video as Interactive Art: Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire, seminal indie band with the #7 record in the country (previously at #1), has teamed up with director Chris Milk and the good folks over at Google Chrome Experiments to create an interactive music video for the single We Used To Wait.

The first of it’s kind, the video utilizes Google maps + HTML 5 video, audio and canvas to present a multi-window, choreographed experience.

Simply enter the address of the house you grew up in and the feature takes it from there.

The experience was designed to work in Google Chrome, but seems to work in Safari too.

I’d rather not spoil anything – check it out for yourself, here!

http://www.arcadefire.com

http://www.chromeexperiments.com/arcadefire

Playlist Manifesting: What Makes a Great Mixtape?

Every single one of us can be a DJ . We each have the ability to be an influencer, a critic – a purveyor of fresh musical content for the masses.

From an accessibility standpoint, It’s becoming easier to queue up songs and create deep playlists based on the music we love. Between music blogs and social sites, we can preview tracks from established and brand-new artists. We can easily create playlists on the fly, spreading them far and wide to share our respective tastes and express our mood to the world.

Thanks to music blogs, we have the ability to hear upcoming singles at the same time (or even before) traditional musical tastemakers do. And we’re not restricted by FCC rules or political embargos.

The great news is that online music services are consistently getting better and the catalogues are becoming deeper.  We can share tracks, solicit feedback, re-share what our friends have liked and even collaborate with them.

We are eager to share and eager to please.

With all of this newfound access, content will still prevail. There’s still an art to crafting the perfect mixtape – a perfect rhythm and balance that tells a story and will make your friends hunt you down for more.

For what it’s worth (and so I’ll stop babbling to strangers about this at parties), I’ve sketched out a few thoughts on what I think creates great playlist. As a DJ and musical programmer with several years of community + college radio experience,  I feel that I may be able to speak semi-intelligently on the issue (ha).  And if I really have no clue what I’m talking about, please feel free to call me out in any way you see fit (a playlist battle, perhaps? double ha).

Without any further ramblings, here within please find 7 general tips for giving your best set ever.

#1 Grab ‘em from the get go.

Traditionally, a DJ mix starts slowly then builds to peak at about 3/4’ths of the way through. While this may work on a dancefloor, a digital mixtape has different needs. You’ll want to grab the ear of the listener right away. This is ‘specially important in an online world where users don’t stick around for long.

With that said, this doesn’t mean you should put all of your bangers up front. It’s not a tempo thing. Instead, think about starting with something that’s simply really, really good. A banger can be the equivalent of shouting “WAKE UPPP!!” Not many people like that.

You can open your mix in a very subtle way (for example, a classical piece or a clever acoustic cover). Whatever you think is comfortable yet arresting.

The goal here is two-fold. #1 get their attention, and #2 set the mood.

Whichever way you choose to go, the opening track should set the tone for the rest of the mix.

#2 Pick a variety of songs – but stay consistent to your theme.

I have a friend who works in music supervision. He loves trendy indie bands on the folksy, whimsical tip.  And while his mixtape selections are amazing – I always learn something new – in the end it sounds like one long record by the same band. Ultimately, unless he’s hitting fans within his niche directly he’s gonna lose people. The mix is too steady and listeners will easily get bored and go away.

Choose a variety of songs from different decades and genres. This opens up your work to a larger audience with a wider variety of taste.  Mixing it up also keeps listeners on their toes. It keeps it interesting.

The way to tie it all together is through your theme – whether it’s by mood, subject, or purpose.

Continue reading