mtvU and Cisco Launch Groundbreaking Digital Applications Developed by College Students
Online Hip Hop Battle, Social Networking Party Game, and Other ’Digital Incubator’ Projects Unveiled on DigitalIncubator.net
NEW YORK and SAN JOSE, Calif.- Offering college students an escape as they settle into a new school year, mtvU and Cisco(R) today launched five groundbreaking online applications conceived, developed and run by digital pioneers from within the college audience. To counter the hassle of buying books and adding classes, the new Digital Incubator projects give students a chance to crush opposing nerdcore rappers on campuses across the country or join in a mysterious game of mobile-phone-based espionage. Five new interactive projects from mtvU and Cisco’s Digital Incubator program, which each year offers students up to $250,000 in grants and a national platform to shine, launched today on www.digitalincubator.net. The applications include:
RapHappy - New York University
This new online and mobile-phone-based hip-hop community enables members to easily record, collaborate on, search and listen to freestyle or written raps, without any need for software or file uploading. RapHappy can be used as a self-promotion tool for aspiring musicians, a communication tool for recording private audio messages for friends, or simply as an artistic medium. Members can dynamically collaborate with other artists, rate and comment on submissions, and participate in battles for a chance to collect cash and other prizes.
Osiris - Brown University
From the phonograph to the PC, technology is constantly revolutionizing the way music is distributed and enjoyed, but very few technologies have ever tackled the visualization of music. That all changes with the launch of Osiris: a first-of-its-kind MP3 visualizer using song lyrics to dynamically generate music videos, using images pulled from Flickr and a user’s own hard disk. This free application gives users a whole new way to enjoy their music, using each song’s lyrical narrative to tell a visual story.
Casablanca - New York University
This free online and mobile-phone-based ice-breaker party game combines elements of social networking, espionage and alternative-reality gaming. In Casablanca, two teams square off, with members messaging each other online and off, making friends and forming alliances as they vie for control of a virtual city. Players begin with connections to four other people - whom they’ve never met - and use these contacts to create a social network that grows as the game unfolds. Members of the Resistance are trying to liberate the city by finding each other and organizing networks to identify the Occupation agents hidden in their midst; while the Occupation must infiltrate and undermine the Resistance networks. The game is played online, through text messaging and email. Anyone can start their own game at http://casablancathegame.com.
Selectricity - M.I.T.
An online communal ranking technology, Selectricity focuses on preferential decision-making, shifting away from a winner-take-all paradigm to a more democratic standard. Using a drag-and-drop mechanism, users rank choices in order of preference and the Selectricity application generates a winner that is most acceptable to the group as a whole. Anyone can set up a Selectricity question in under 30 seconds and tap their friends to help settle daily dilemmas such as, “which restaurant should we eat at tonight?” “what bar does everybody most want to go to?” and, “who are the best indie rock bands out right now?”
How Do I Say This? - UCLA
Building on a breakout pilot year, the award-winning “How Do I Say This?” re-launches better than ever today. The site is an interactive Web-based advice wiki, where users help script and create video messages for people with problems that have left them at a loss for words. A new topic is selected every month and members weigh in with advice and suggestions, in the form of user-generated videos, illustrations, photos, prose, poetry and cartoons. The feedback accumulates and inspires a final video, which is created by the student-led production team, and can then be sent to friends from the site (anonymously or not). Past episodes have addressed quandaries such as a user wanting to tell a friend he’s a terrible actor, a smitten student with a Valentine’s Day crush, and an ex still in love with an old flame. HowDoISayThis.com was so successful last year it has been greenlighted as an mtvU series, and short-form content from the first season - “How Do I Say This? I’m Gay” - is scheduled to start appearing on the channel in October.
Each of this year’s Digital Incubator teams has already received upwards of $30,000 in funding from mtvU and Cisco to get their projects off the ground. The teams have also submitted detailed business plans and are in the process of competing for a supplemental Digital Incubator grant of up to $100,000. The field will be narrowed to two in the coming weeks, and the finalists will be invited to pitch their projects and business plans to senior executives from MTV and Cisco. The $100,000 grant winner will be selected and announced in mid-October.
The Digital Incubator initiative was developed jointly by mtvU and Cisco. Digital Incubator 2.0 programs represent the most innovative ideas received in response to a call issued last year for new media games, applications, programming or any other original content that would thrive in the digital world. More info on the program is available at www.digitalincubator.net.
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