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Amid the fantastic digital signage debate that’s ensued over the past few days, I wanted to call up a passing reference I made within the comments section and go a bit more in depth.

I brought up the works of Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, specifically their concept of The Electronic Cafe. For industry folks and viewers alike, we owe them clear deference for their ideas about digitally-mediated human-to-human interaction within and among public spaces. In creating the first “cybercafe network,” Galloway and Rabinowitz were pioneers in introducing mediated conversations into social places, and then massaging these nodes into a rich, collaborative lather.

I want to highlight a few passages from their original manifesto, if only to prove how ahead of their time they really were:

New creative activities must emerge such as multi-media creative solutions networks, not simply computer networks for Artists, but rather multi-media telecommunications networks with agendas that can engage multi-disciplinary constituencies.

The dark side of the “new world information order” suggests that a new scale aesthetics be created. It will take several years from the time this work begins for creative solutions networks of appropriate number, scale, velocity, and dexterity to evolve to maturity.

All of this implies that there is a new way to be in the world. That the counterforce to the scale of destruction is the scale of communication, and that our legacy or epitaph will be determined in many ways by our ability to creatively employ informal, multi-media, multi-cultural, conversational, telecommunications and information technologies.

And when was this written? 1995? 2000?

Nope. 1984.
How fitting.

So, to loop this back to the thread from earlier this week… Galloway and Rabinowitz inspire me to make signage more interactive and as “non-creepy” as possible… What inspires you?
(And totally feel free to admit that you’re actually just creepy.)

[image sources: top- www.ecafe.com, bottom- www.nydigitalsalon.org; both linked to original src]

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One Response to “Before Digital Signage, We Had The Electronic Cafe”

  1. Kit Galloway Says:

    Thanks for memory and good words!

    (Still waiting for a broadband world with negligible latency.)

    -Kit

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