|The high-powered energy of the SmoothParos 2 Innovation & Ethics in Tourism Workshop that took place on 29-30 April at the Tao’s Center in Ambelas, proved to be an extraordinarily rich source of cutting-edge techniques and up-to-the- minute information about dynamic uses of social digital media that can be employed to effect dramatic changes in sustainable growth on the island. The community group Innovaros and other participants from businesses and local cultural organisations were left with an overflowing toolkit to help shape the future of sustainable development on Paros.
The fast-paced seminar was led by Jennifer Barth and Chris Brauer, directors of Smoothmedia, a London-based strategic advisory and interactive services firm solving digital media challenges for a global portfolio of clientele. Chris Brauer has also been responsible for creating a unique digital media studies programme at Goldsmith University, England. He is co-director of the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies (CAST) and looks forward to expanding professional links with other colleagues between Paros and London as our projects in Paros develop.
Seminar participants were given an up-to-date assessment of the shifting social digital media landscape, as techniques and online entities are constantly evolving. Many examples of campaigns, survey and analytic tools used to dramatically and economically affect tourism around the globe were examined. Chris and Jennifer used interactive techniques in which seminar participants tested out these new approaches in practical exercises.
Each day we were nourished with a delicious Thai lunch at the Tao’s restaurant and participants excitedly shared ideas about how they could put the new tools to use.
SmoothParos 2 bootcamps included project management, creating innovative content in digital and social media, marketing, anlytics and brand development and management.
The boot camp that focused on content included a dazzling array of tools, launching with the main question “What is my digital identity?” From there we looked at a variety of channels and aggregators like Posterous, Storify and WordPress to create community engagement. We also learned about Instagram, Audioboo, Bamboozer, SoundCloud, and Tagul and had hands-on workshops to test them out. The effectiveness of these tools is enhanced when more people are using them, consequently one of the ambitions of Innovaros is to run some short workshops on Paros to support others in their use.
What became self evident as we learned about tools such as Foodspotting (where you can post pictures of great dishes you’ve enjoyed and, using GPS, locate the restaurant where the dish can be found), or TripAdvisor, is that Paros is very poorly represented. With some concentrated effort, there is a great deal of untapped online potential where the many assets of Paros can be promoted and each one of us can make a significant difference to the Paros ‘brand’, affecting the type and quality of tourism the island attracts.
Many in the community have already worked hard to raise the bar in terms of the range and quality of cultural offerings available and collectively we seem to be at the cusp of creating something marvelous. Instead of downsizing our thinking, perhaps it is time to think boldly about who we choose to be and become. Sometimes in the darkest times the brightest ideas are born. That time is now, so let’s invent something better.
Working with a dynamic community group is invigorating and exciting, giving us the possibility to sharing the unique strengths offered by each participant, to find new approaches, make space for new ideas and become a living laboratory of ways to move forward. The seminar offered us a glimpse into so many possibilities, and we are eager to implement partnerships with other community groups to take advantage of everything we have learned. One of the key projects that Innovaros is already working on is a digital map with video of some of the exceptional people and locations of Paros. This project has been realised in collaboration with Professor Susan Tennant and visiting students of the School of Infomatics, Indiana University. We look forward to the project’s continued growth and launch.