Idea #1: Advertise Change

Idea #1: Advertise Change
by: Tom Barrett

David Vogt wants to turn digital billboards into citizen media.

David Vogt is looking at the billboard-sized TV screen outside Vancouver's Canada Place and thinking about a place where Wizard of Oz technologies meet citizen journalism.

The eight-metre-high screen -- its official name is Canada's Storyboard -- shows touristy views of the country and information about what's happening at Canada Place.

Vogt sees another use for such screens. What would happen, he wonders, if we used giant TV screens to give a voice to people whose stories don't normally get heard?

After all, says Vogt, big screens like the one at Canada Place will soon be all over.

"As we continue to move through this decade, we're going to see hundreds of displays like that coming online. Every SkyTrain station will have its own large public display -- there's three or four already that do."

They're sure to be used as high-tech billboards to push advertising, he says. But maybe they can be turned into something more: what Vogt calls "community portals."

"If we can rescue the commons from a pure billboard kind of approach," he says, "we've created a new kind of channel for communities to understand who they are and for people to navigate through them."

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