“Taking Culture Online…” - 23 nov 2008

“Taking Culture Online…”

On Facebook some months ago, I joined a group called the Independent Media Producers Association of Trinidad & Tobago (IMATT).  I joined because I was invited by my friend Nadella Benjamin Riley.  Mrs. Riley is a respected ‘cultural entrepreneur’ so I thought that since the invitation came from her – it has to be something positive!
IMATT is comprised of industry professionals and emerging practitioners in the field of visual media production.  On their Facebook group, they say that the association aims to promote and support the development of independent media producers in Trinidad and Tobago. 
It was when I was looking at this online group that it hit me just how powerful technology was becoming in promoting local culture.
Last week, the Ministry of Public Administration held a two day Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business and innovation symposium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  The symposium was held in partnership with the University of Trinidad & Tobago, the Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company (E-Teck), and other sponsors.  This ICT symposium was intended to raise awareness and promote the uptake of the new tools available in the global knowledge-based economy.  Kudos to the team behind this conference.  By all accounts, it was well received.
Going back to culture, the internet is proving to be a forum where cultural entrepreneurs can meet, network, exchange ideas, and even do business.  Nadella has been asking IMATT members to support the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company’s effort to create a Production Directory. 
This directory will soon be published online and when that happens, it should serve as a great resource for anyone (local or international) trying to make contact with our local talent.  Have a look athttp://www.trinidadandtobagofilm.com/  for more information.
Also looking to get online is the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Association (TUCO).  The interim President of TUCO, Eric Taylor, is working hard to launch a new TUCO website next month.  TUCO can clearly see the impact that ICT in general, and the internet in particular, is having on the music industry.  They are determined not to be left out. 
Eric tells me that he wants the new TUCO website to not just carry media releases and artist profiles but to also have the latest information on TUCO supported events as well as music samples and event ticketing. IRS Singapore
On the more commercial side, most of the bigger carnival bands already have full e-commerce websites.  In fact, after our national airline, I would say that carnival costumes may be responsible for the second biggest (in terms of value transacted) online industry in Trinidad and Tobago.  New carnival band Spice, for example,http://www.spicecarnival.com accepts online payment for costumes that masqueraders add to their virtual shopping cart. 
For music there is much choice.  When I was living abroad, I relied heavily on the internet to sample the latest in Trinbago music.  To sample specific tracks, my favorites were http://www.toronto-lime.com/ andhttp://www.trinijunglejuice.com.  Trini Jungle Juice (TJJ) in particular offers a great online experience complete with podcasts, a virtual Party Advisor and TJJ TV.  These sites allow you to “sample” selected tracks only.  Of course, when we hear something we like, we should go buy the entire CD legally to help support our local artists!  Right?
In terms of radio broadcasts, many of our local stations offer internet streaming of their broadcast.  But the undisputed online leader has to be http://www.boomchampionstt.com which also features Boom TV and is kept up to date with the latest in entertainment news.
The Boomchampions’ website and Trini Jungle Juice are worth a visit next time you are online.  If only for a demonstration of the level of technical expertise that our people have to offer.  It is technology meets culture.  Simply amazing.
In terms of online ticketing for carnival events, some carnival promoters are already in discussions with various ICT companies about the best way to make it happen.  Already in the space ishttp://www.caribbeanboxoffice.net and there are rumors about other technology and communications companies getting ready for a carnival launch.  There is much excitement in this space – stay tuned!
Like any Trinbagonian, I feel proud to see all these efforts.  It is about taking our culture and our people forward.
The internet is transforming our daily lives in so many ways.  ICT probably impacts on nearly all of the 5 Vision 2020 pillars.  Let us continue to embrace technology as we move forward in our journey to Vision 2020.

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