Thursday, July 5, 2012


Human needs

Human needs drive actions, however buried, delayed, distant or immediate. When I work with the team at Twitter on a product or launch, I try to identify the actual human need first, and then work to find the narrative to support it.

When I create animated sets for the ballet, I strive to understand the needs of the story, and the role of the set at that particular moment in time to augment, support or elucidate the human concern at play.

When I paint or write, human needs guide my decisions as much as my own desire to articulate a vocabulary or demonstrate a punctum hidden in plain sight.


Recently, I launched the community site I did it to try to address the human need to connect with people around a shared interest. It features publicly available information from social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

The classical community thrives on social media, but needed a place to congregate, debate, discover each other, consume the art and conspire to create more.

The automated site includes everyone who wants to join the breadth and depth of the #teamclassical community. I pull from public signals to find the best blogs, pictures, playlists, videos and events from the community's Tweets.

If you have something you want to feature on the site, just tweet it with the hashtag #teamclassical and the system will eventually pick it up and filter it in a smart way (equal parts human touch and hard science). Right now, I sort most of these by hand, but the community is so vast that I'll need to bring science to the scene shortly to help it along.

I work at Twitter, but this isn't a Twitter project, I built the site during my off-hours as a gift for the community. I really appreciate the bold courage that it takes for performers, composers, conductors and everyone else on #teamclassical to dedicate their lives to art; I wish I could do more for the community than just build a site.

Classical music is simply awesome music. In the future, I'd like to find a way to help elucidate the value to everyone. Let's fix the User Experience of classical music! 

Let's return chamber opera to its rowdy, visceral, intellectual roots. Let's make the premiere of a new symphony, song cycle, concerto or opera as big of a deal as the opening of a summer blockbuster. Let's have the courage to face up to our short-comings to iterate and move on to create a sustainable system to create tremendous art (and more of it!) . Let's fix the business model (a hard, but very silicon valley type of project). Let's build a recurring revenue pathway to create reasonable wages for more than just a few. Let's consider the entire experience (from parking to tickets to drinks to seats to digital programs to streaming media to instant downloads to augmented scores to the good old-fashioned roof-raising roar of 1000 people in the same room experiencing art together).

So far it's been a huge success, so let's celebrate!


I've registered and will announce details soon. The idea is to have a month-long festival online that unites the classical community.

Let's play all 1128 Bach BWVs together! (Or at least as many as we can!)

The plan:

1) Sign-up to play a BWV.
2) Upload your video to YouTube
3) Share the results on Twitter and all social channels.
4) The best will be cut together on the site.
5) Delightful venues (swimming pool? night club? barn? park? winery? brewery? bowling alley) are encouraged!

Together we can have an impact, have some fun, and grow our community.

I've had a weird career of teaching, fine art, cinema, writing, ballet, design, social media and more. #TeamClassical is one way for me to experiment with a big idea—a digital community for classical music—that brings it all together.

It will start small, and stay small for a while, but I live in the realm of the possible, and  will do my best to create something for the community over time that helps everyone achieve their best.

If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. Find me on Twitter.