Making art for good with, er, tech…

Some of the most exciting things about the development of the arts sector over the last 5 or 10 years have been the growing respectability of socially-engaged practice, the gradual convergence of different disciplines and the emergence of ‘art for good’ as a kind of thing. It’s an area that certain bits of Talking Birds’ work has slotted into and developed alongside over the years, probably most notably perhaps with our work on accessibility. That’s why we were so chuffed that the Difference Engine, our little invention to deliver subtitles and audio description (and much, much more!) to our audience’s mobile devices, made it into the final of the Tech 4 Good Awards. This felt like ‘art for good’ competing with the bigger tech guys (somehow tech guys seem big to us even if they aren’t really, being grown up people with ‘proper jobs’). Pretty awesome just getting there. But when we looked at the competition we were up against in our category, we realised there was not a particularly high probability of actually winning – for example, against a company 3D printing artificial limbs. Surely that really *is* tech for good, however you judge these things?

Anyway, we’re now into the final four days of voting for the People’s Award (our second chance at winning something) of the Tech 4 Good awards and, despite being in the top five last week, we’ve just heard that we’ve been overtaken by some of the other contenders (unsurprising given how good all the finalists are, but disappointing nonetheless after the slightly disbelieving euphoria of last week).

We always find it a bit tricky asking for votes for things – because you don’t need to be the best, you just need more friends – but we’ve tried our best to canvas as many as possible for this because we really believe in the Difference Engine as an idea and we know lots and lots of other people (users, artists and companies*) do too. Being a finalist in the Tech 4 Good Awards is a brilliant opportunity for Talking Birds because of the attention it points in the direction of our Difference Engine project – and the potential investors that this attention attracts. We really need financing to finish the development of the Difference Engine – without that, it doesn’t matter how brilliant an idea it is, how well it works, or how transformational it has the potential to be – it just won’t get out into people’s pockets.

So that’s why, unless you happen to be a rich investor moved to write us a fat cheque (which obviously trumps the votes), we need your votes! The more we get, the nearer we become to commanding the attention of someone who believes the Difference Engine is worth investing in.

And of course, you could look on a vote for Talking Birds’ Difference Engine as really good karma too…


* (just one example of a company who thinks its a good idea and wants to use it!)



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