Wednesday Feb 10 '10EVOKE - Innovatively Using Gaming to Affect Social Change

Directed by alternate reality-gaming thinker Jane McGonigal and produced/funded by the World Bank Institute, this looks like the most exciting call for social innovation using online tools yet!

Its an online game directed at affecting social change which can earn top players mentorships and a role in a World Bank sponsored summit in Washington DC.

To sign up, visit http://www.urgentevoke.com and create an account - after admin approval you'll be given access to more information about how to play... 

[Cheers to Christy Dena for the heads-up on this one]

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Tuesday Feb 9 '10Drupal as a Platform for Fashion 2.0

Despite my distaste for '2.0' suffixing, the term Fashion 2.0 is being used across the web in reference to new trends within the fashion industry reforming advertising, procurement, production and other aspects of business using the latest web technologies.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of how the fashion industry is specifically evolving using particular online spaces and platforms, I wanted to quickly make note of two projects we've undertaken and launched this year - Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu (http://atelierrosemarieumetsu.com) and JUMA (http://juma.ca).  Both are very different in terms of aesthetic and information architecture, so as to accurately affect the difference in how each firm does business within the industry.

Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu focuses on creating haute couture and limited, non-seasonal, lines for established female performers in the Arts.  Though not every piece they create is made to be presented on a grand stage, the Atelier's namesake owner and designer has a background in classical music - an extension of this is her tendancy to work with people socially or professionally related to the performing arts.

JUMA was founded in 2003 by brother-sister team Jamil and Alia Juma, who have since focused on creating collections seasonally which retail world-wide and target a young, hip but slightly conservative customer.  They make clothes for both men and women which can be worn in a variety of contexts, though not as formally as Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu's.

I have known both firms' owner-operators for a number of years but only been engaged commercially through Design Guru with JUMA since 2006/2007 when we worked together to create and launch their first dynamic site - which allowed functions like blogging and e-commerce and saw them develop an online identity for the label.  The time since has been a very interesting learning period for myself and the JUMA team which involved us regularly discussing the potential for independent designers to use online tools and leapfrog the barriers to market established by advertising dollars of conventionally large international fashion houses.

Only in the last few years has communication technology allowed start-ups like JUMA to build a world-wide audience and develop a relationship with fans/friends of their label that is engaging and produced with high aesthetic value.  The new site we produced and launched for them this month exemplifies this and provides platform for a truer expression of their brand than ever realized (read the case study).

Now, given that Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu is a smaller outfit which does not deal with retailers, their online needs are very different than those of JUMA.  Quite simply, the Atelier relies on word-of-mouth and mainly needed the best calling card ever - their website is essentially a modern, interactive brochure.  The site supports word-of-mouth and doesn't drive it - through mainly providing two types of content; photos and press clippings.  The photos are organized into galleries depicting events at the Atelier, custom-curated shoots held at the Atelier, clothing being worn for press shots and live at performances and so on - they collectively tell the tale of the Atelier's clothing being desirable amongst an artistic vanguard and place it within a cultural/social context.

Despite the differences between the two fashion design firms we have been working with, Drupal has proven to be an excellent platform for developing the right solution for each of their needs.  Its innate scalability means that as their business models develop, their site's can grow to feature new functionality as needed.  Being more than a simple content management system (a la Joomla/Wordpress), Drupal has allowed us to create custom dynamic data types and displays, such as the Atelier's bespoke gallery and JUMA's innovative online shopping interfaces.  As well, with OpenID and Facebook Connect logins integrated, Drupal allows labels like JUMA to use their own website as the social glue that binds audiences they develop through spaces/platforms like Facebook to hopefully drive sales whilst keep their fans/friends engaged.

In addition to technological whizzbang, both sites are very simple to update; Drupal allows us to build very simple interfaces that only present features relevant to the person looking at the site - so JUMA's interns can post to the blog, say, but not have access to e-commerce settings crucial to the firm's commercial success.  We understand that no matter what purpose websites serve to whomever we make them for, they should make life online more enjoyable, fulfilling and easy.

Now that its live, I will be posting regular updates on Fashion 2.0 lessons learned through the JUMA case-study and try to explain how Drupal can play a larger role in the fashion industry.

If you work in fashion and would like to discuss your project with us, please get in touch!

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Wednesday Feb 3 '10A Cheeky Advertisement for new Clients!

Advertisement for designguru.orgNow that the barrage of final touches to our 2009 projects is pretty much tackled (new client project details will be uploaded in the next few days), I've decided to place some ads on a few designguru web properties (like JoomlaFeed and WhyJoomla?) to [hopefully] usher in new work. 

Typically, I'm cautious with using our own adspace so I thought I might as well have fun with this campaign!  Kicking it off is a lovely animated 300x250 spot inspired by a favourite board-game of mine.:)

Check back for more spots as they go live!

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Tuesday Feb 2 '10New Release of Aegir & Installation Instructions

You might have read a post I did recently about how Aegir makes managing Drupal installs really easy.  Well wondered how to get it all installed?  Here's a video with instructions. Also - be sure to read Development Seed's post about the new release for all the goods on new changes etc...

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Feb 1 '10We're hosting a Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig in Toronto

Thursday February 25th, 5:30-10:00pm
@ the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto
215 Spadina Ave, Suite 160


RSVP: http://lessigtalktoronto.eventbrite.com

A Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig

6:00pm - 7:30pm
Professor Lessig will deliver a talk on fair use and politics in online video from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA/USA - we are projection-screening a live hi-def stream of the talk.

This is a talk about copyright in a digital age, and the role (and importance) of a doctrine like “fair use.” Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, and is essential for commentary, criticism, news reporting, remix, research, teaching and scholarship with video.

As a medium, online video will be most powerful when it is fluid, like a conversation. Like the rest of the internet, online video must be designed to encourage participation, not just passive consumption.

Discussion Panel

7:30pm - 8:15pm
Picking up on Lessig's talk our panel will share takes on participatory media culture and the changing nature of content ownership and usage in the Digital Age.

We will also be joined by videoconference for an address by Kaltura co-founder Dr Shay David.

w/ McLean Greaves / Zoomer Media,
Mark Surman / Mozilla Foundation,
Brett Gaylor / RiP A Remix Manifesto + EyeSteelFilm

Moderated by: Qasim Virjee - Principal, Design Guru

& Social

8:15pm - 10:00pm
Attendees will have a chance to mingle with panelists and each other over refreshments.

PRESENTED BY:
Design Guru & the Open Video Alliance

EVENT SPONSOR:

Kaltura Logo