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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good old-fashioned ingenuity: Cleveland's Ingenuity Festival

I went to undergrad and grad school in the same city, two different schools. Very, very different schools. It's been interesting switching from a dynamic, private research university to a large, public urban university. Rarely do those worlds intersect. Today, at Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest, I am pleased to report they actually combined in a nice synergy. 

I went down with some undergrad friends and met up with one of my graduate school friends there. Located in Playhouse Square, the festival featured live music, interactive technology displays, art exhibits, and your standard fair fare. I love the idea of an ingenuity fest: show off cool innovations that were locally driven. My undergraduate university was one of the main sponsors of the event, yet it took place adjacent to my graduate school. 

The neatest innovations I saw were map-related. One was an interactive LCD screen table with a map on it. You could touch the map and it would pop up a little window that had some information about a video shot at that location and a button to vote for it. After the current video on the movie screen was finished, the video with the greatest number of votes was played next. Interestingly, we discovered one of the videos was shot at a bonfire that two of my friends were at! I could see a lot of use for urban planning with the touch screen mapping. How about a special map created for a master plan that citizens could play around with to learn more about it and build support for it? The other neat mapping invention was this rotating map table. You could rotate it one way and it would zoom in; spin it the other way and it zoom back out. Tilt it forward, it would pan up, and so on and so forth. The detail of the aerial shots was incredible. It was a very easy and fun way to play around with aerial imagery on maps. 

Other cool things: use of empty storefronts as temporary exhibition spaces, Amy Casey's paintings, bands playing in back alleys, playing Atari video games for the first time, going to AJ Rocco's afterwards and hearing local musician Charlie Mosbrook play (a folk musician and triathlete!), and best of all:  A TESLA COIL PLAYING PACHELBEL'S CANON IN D. No joke. And to top it off, it set the styrofoam robot scenery on fire. Never a dull moment.

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