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Archive for May, 2009

mishra’s fusion

Posted by suneelgupta on May 30, 2009

Beginning today, I’ll be guest-blogging a bit for a MTV Iggy. This is the first post.

My parents would play classical Indian music during every car ride we ever took…ever. Before buckling up, my dad would carefully select from a well-organized box of cassette tapes, each of them neatly labeled with the names of classic Indian artists….”Lata Mangeshkar,” “Hemant Kumar,” etc. He would rap the steering wheel to the beat of a Bollywood tune, and even bust out a few notes. Sometimes, my mom would join in, turning our Ford Taurus into a mid-day Karaoke session, minus the Soju.

If it were a summer day and our windows were down, I would slump into my seat so that no one could spot and associate me with the ‘un-American’ music. I was embarrassed to be a part of it. Fifteen years later, I’m embarrassed to have been embarrassed.

Rolling Stone magazine once wrote that Sanjay Mishra‘s music finds a “distinct idiom”. For me, his uniqueness fills an important gap. He busts out my father’s kind of music, but does so on a nylon-string electric guitar. On the hour-long train ride from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, he reconnects me to car rides with my father, but with a style that the random person sitting next to me would appreciate.

Mishra is one of the classics. He cut an album back in the day with Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) called Blue Incantation, and more recently laid the tracks to Chateau Benares, which has one of my all-time favorite tunes. I won’t be able to fly out for his upcoming gig in Manhattan, but a friend will be flip camming it for me.

My parents recently came out to visit. On a ride through Twin Peaks, I popped Sanjay Mishra into the CD player, and out of the corner of my eye, noticed my father tapping his knee to the beat. That’s Mishra’s fusion.


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art and the browser

Posted by suneelgupta on May 4, 2009

Last week’s Mozilla all-hands meeting was both informative and inspiring. Nearly ever discussion I participated in was filled with healthy amounts of debate, and the end-result of each session was almost always generative. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to discuss the recent Personas launch, and collaborate with some highly imaginative folks on one specific Q2 goal: how to engage, scale, and support a community of artists that share the values of openness and participation.

Since the launch, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how quickly our artist community has scaled. Our gallery now contains over 5,000 designs from over 3,500 individual artists. Our all-hands discussion was focused on ways to increase the ratio of original art (vs. repurposed art) in the gallery, and provide our emerging community of artists with support and visibility. I have consolidated over a dozen ideas from this discussion (at the risk of losing some pearls) into a few actionable concepts:

1. Designer Profile and Dashboard: a couple of weeks ago, we implemented designer pages, which gives each designers a central spot to display their persona art and share it with friends. The next step is to make that page more valuable to each individual artist. We can do this in two ways. First, by adding an artist profile, so that people can learn more about the person behind the art. Second, by developing a dashboard to give each artist a set of controls to manage their art in the gallery and gain a better sense of how their art is performing.

2. Better Preview Functionality: Sean Martell assembled a strong tutorial for the most recent launch, but we have big steps to take for making the process of designing a persona more accessible. A good first step would be to provide designers with a simple preview of their design (across operating systems) prior to submitting it to the public gallery. A longer term step would be to learn and possibly incorporate some of the fascinating things already being done to make online art creation more accessible (check out Aviary).

3. Movers and Shakers: to be discoverable a design must be popular, but to be popular a design must be discoverable. This is the classic dilemma for a new piece of art added to the gallery. We can solve this in part by expanding our definition of “popular” to not only include designs have been hits since our product launch, but also designs that have gained momentum in the recent past (eg, the past week).

4. Collaborate with other Design communities: as stated above, there are other creative communities doing compelling things. Through talking and learning from several of these communities, it has become clear that we share a common goal: to provide a platform for artistic creations and promote the artists that create them.

5. Collaborate with other add-on authors: the AMO community includes dozens of art-related extensions. To the extent that there is overlap with mission and goals (see #4), there could be opportunities to sync art from the Personas community with offerings and distribution of these add-ons.

Like each session during the all-hands, the next steps for scaling and supporting a design community will be interesting and full of debate. Within a short session, we produced five actionable ideas, and I’m sure there many more will emerge as the dialogue continues.

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