Monday, February 20, 2012

Community-Building with Richard III

Kevin Spacey at BAM
I went over the weekend to see Richard III at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Harvey Theater and the production, with Kevin Spacey as the villainous Richard, impressed me on every level. And that includes an email BAM sent me a couple of days before the performance, which got me thinking about the opportunities organizations have in helping attendees prepare for events.

I didn't expect the email, which reminded me that I had tickets to the performance, which I bought months ago. It also included production notes, a map with directions to the theater, a list of nearby bars and restaurants, and an invitation to join a Facebook group for the event.

All of that is pretty standard. But where BAM excelled was in sifting through the available information on the Web about the production, finding what was relevant and reliable, and presenting it to me in an easy-to-digest way. I had intended to brush up on the history of The War of the Roses before the play; BAM sent me a link to blog post with a family tree of the warring British royal houses, two video clips, and a few additional links to articles and interviews. It wasn't exhaustive, but rather a thoughtful, "best-of" kind of list.

I appreciated it, and it reminded me of a Clay Shirky quote that I came across last week, which describes the contents about BAM's email perfectly:
Curation comes up when search stops working…[and] when people realize that it isn't just about information seeking, it's also about synchronizing a community.
I'm a fairly new member of BAM, and I joined, I confess, in order to have a better shot at getting tickets to very popular productions like Richard III. I know that the email is a marketing tool, but it made me feel like more than just a ticket-holder. And by not trying to sell me anything, but to give me something of value, I ended up more sold on BAM.

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