Gone But Not Forgotten

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What The Wall and toronto.ca have in common

NOTE: This is content from the web re:Brand posts going back to November 2010. We have kept the re:Brand posts as a legacy archive but, on a go forward basis as of October, 2011, the new DATA eh? content takes over this space.

Roger Waters (ex of Pink Floyd) made three appearances in Toronto last week touring The Wall Live. I saw the show and it was, in a word, spectacular!  I'm always trying to come up with interesting analogies for the re:Brand effort and there are several items worth mentioning coming out of the show.

In the first instance The Wall is all about alienation/isolation and how to deal with issues surrounding alienation/isolation.  If you look at our web you might say we alienate users whenever we provide bad web or bad web experiences.  We sometimes isolate ourselves and users by not providing enough information. We may not be as brutal as the Pink character's teacher or mother or wife but users do get alienated all the same.  

Roger aters and band on stage - picture taken by Keith McDonald

I took this picture at the show

Is There Anybody Out There?
One of the most powerful moments in the show is when the wall is built across the stage and the band is performing behind it. In song, Waters asks the question: "Is there anybody out there?"

I'd ask the same thing but in the context of social media.  While there is some pick up of the opportunity to dialogue with City players, in general, social engagement hasn't brought in the masses. Even the "We Want It" video I mentioned recently is far below the potential reach possible and pales in comparison to traffic at our static website.

That says to me a few things. People may not have heard we are "here" - as in the City of Toronto using YouTube, flickr, facebook, twitter and blogs (see our subscribe page for links). OR, people may just not care that much to engage. It's pretty early in the shift toward open dialogue to make a real conclusion but, it is something to ponder.

Do users want such opportunities from their local governments? Perhaps all they want is to find information about garbage collection times and not to discuss it. So, do we integrate social media inside toronto.ca or stay away from it?

That brings us to the song Mother.  Here, Waters has a line asking should he (we) "trust the government" The audience adds a response that I'll edit somewhat here ... "no &%#&^*@ way". That's interesting - it's really an out of context response to the problems the character is experiencing.  But, I have no doubt people feel this way. I think, however, users do trust our content. Would you agree that information about the flu and flu shots would have more credibility here than, say, toronto.com? Just asking.

The Show 
As I said , The Wall is a spectacular presentation. Underneath the film projections and inflatable pigs and characters, the light show and the great sound, you had really great content. Bringing this thought back to toronto.ca, I think lots of people want some of the peripherals on our web but, deep down, it's still all about great content. What I'm getting at here is we could move toward a much more spectacular presentation but, unless we get our content straight, it won't matter that much. Am I wrong?

Shot from the show with hammer projections on screen

Another shot from the show

These are just random thoughts while contemplating the experience of seeing the show.  As the wall gets torn down by the end, and the band comes to the front and sings about the experience, I think the audience gets it that connections, no matter how difficult, are important.  To quote from another Pink Floyd song ... "all we need to do is keep talking."  Much better than putting up more bricks! 

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