What you need
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The following list looks quite long, but in reality it's easy to get everything together and to get started.
You are cosiddering a project like this in your town/city? Great and others might too or are already planning it. One tool of finding people and to know if others are already working on it are social networks. Post your plans on Facebook, write about it on blogs, send emails to friends and likeminded people, tweet about it.
The more people you have in the team for your town, city or region - the better! Although we tried to make it as simple as possible, it's not trivial at all. You will need lots of different expertise in your team:
- Technical know-how: You need one friend who knows how to setup Wordpress on a web space, keep it secure and does a bit of HTML-Design.
- Graphical know-how: You need to design flashy stickers. We provide you with a layout-example which can be opened and redesigned to your needs in Adobes InDesign CS4+ (see section "Stickers"). A little bit of know-how is also need for designing your ebooks (.epub and .mobi-files) and knowing how Photoshop works is always a good thing.
- Contacts: You will need people in your team with contacts to the artist's community as well to other institutions. In Klagenfurt we put more than half of our initial stickers on bus-stops. Good contacts with the local utility-company turned out to be very useful.
- Media relations: You will find out that especially local media will love your project. But you have to talk to them, send them press releases and stay in contact with journalists.
A cool name
If you like Ingeborg Bachmann too, we are happy to host your site under the pingeb.org-umbrella for free giving you a subdomain (e.g. vienna.pingeb.org or berlin.pingeb.org). In this case: send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, you can do whatever you want under whatever name you want. A short domain name is always good, but not necessary. Thanks to NFC and QR-codes, people out in the field don't have to type the domain name.
Like every website your project has to have some space on a webserver. The requirements for hosting a project like this are not gigantic, you can get a hosting-account with a domain name costs for as cheap as 5 Euro a month.
Or you could ask a local internet service provider (ISP) who maybe will sponsor this. If you mention at the website "proudly hosted by ...", the company gets good reputation too. Art-sponsoring brings always good karma.
Even in big cities with a few hundred stickers, you will not have too big traffic, since you have to optimize the mobile website for short loading times anyway. For a Wordpress-installation your hosting account should have the following features:
- PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL version 5.0 or greater
- 500 MB of storage space
Accounts at third party services
While you have to have a hosting-account, you also need accounts at various different web services. Don't worry, all of them are free.
- Soundcloud: We host our audio files at Soundcloud. The services is often described as "YouTube for audio", which nails it pretty much. Since it is not possible downloading music files on the iPhone, we place them as a widget on the mobile website. Soundcloud is almost perfect for this, having just one downside: In the free version you cannot keep your content secret. People can follow your account and see what's going on at your project without going to the stickers. But in our experience: no one really found out about that loophole within our first two months.
- Wordpress.com: Even if you host your own Wordpress site, you still need an account at Wordpress.com. The reason for this is a plugin called Akismet, which comes from the same company. You do have to have a so called "API key". If you do not know what that is, just contact your techie team members.
- Twitter: It's always a good idea having a Twitter account for every web project. On the one hand you can publish news regarding your project. On the other hand it gives you other great possibilities. In Klagenfurt for example we tweeted (@pingeb_org) every single content download. But be aware that in bigger regions or cities this can be rather spammy.
One of the most important parts, since you should want to be ubiquitous in your town or city. Our first goal was make artists present in the public place. No sticker should be locked behind doors, every single sticker should be available to interested people 24/7. This turned out to be the biggest challenges of all.
Before we started, we wanted to put those stickers on every street light, but as you already guessed, this is not allowed - at least not in Austria and if you want to stay out of trouble, you should not break this rule.
Identify places where there are a lot of people and where they have time to kill. Good ideas for locations are:
- Windows of shops and bars: This is good for the owners as well. Why? When people scan the codes, they see through the shopping windows! Just ask owners, most of them will love your project.
- Bus stops: Just ask your local transportation company. Make them feel that they are providing a good service for their clients. Best locations are inbound stops toward city centers. While people have to wait here, they hurry home on the other street side.
- Railway or subway stations: The same applies here but people here are often in a bigger hurry.
- Hospitals: Nowhere else people have more time to kill.
- Schools and universities: Teachers will love your project if you could motivate kids and teenagers to read (and listen to good music).
- Leisure- and recreation facilities: I have not spent more time anywhere else than queuing up in theme parks. Youth centers, libraries, churches, beaches or other tourist attractions are also good places to put stickers on.
But please, avoid troubles and do not put stickers everywhere without asking. Since it is not always obvious where the sticker is located, we put little pictures in the map. More on this in another chapter.
The stickers are the core parts of the project. They consist of:
- A plastic label you can get in almost any office supply store
- Some artwork on it with an QR-code printed on them
- Before applying the actual sticker, put on the NFC-tag first (we always put it behind the "X")
If you want to save money and reduce complexity you could only use QR-codes. In order to reduce complexity further, you could only use one URL for all QR-codes and NFC-tags. But this reduces functionality as well. Why you should use different URLs for each tag, code and label as well as all about the stickers itself, you can read at the section "The stickers in detail".
Since your project is all about distributing content for mobile phones you obviously need one. The good news: any smartphone will do the job.
If you do not have an NFC-capable phone, one of your friends most likely has one that she or he can borrow you for an evening to write the tags. A list of all NFC-capable phones can be found at NFC world.
Without them your project is just a bunch of flashy labels next to a street. Every town or city has loads of artists. Just go to a gallery or concert and ask people there for contacts. Most artists will love your project as they want to be discovered by locals.
This comes from artists as well. It is not a bad idea to ensure a certain level of quality and don't just try to promote friends of yours.
It's always a good idea to ask artists for participating when they released a new album or book. Then they need the most pr they can possibly get.
We found out that musicians (MP3-downloads or Soundcloud-widgets) and authors (ebooks) are easy to promote this way. But you can also feature photographers, videographers, painters or sculptors. You name it!
Time and passion
Most certainly this is the most important ingredient!
Image credits: cc Jean-François Schmitz