For the Hewlett Foundation’s first-ever live webcast, the topic was–appropriately enough–how new digital media may change the work of artists, non-profit arts organizations and their funders.

The Foundation’s Performing Arts Program joined with the Northern California Grantmakers, a San Francisco Bay-area association of foundations and other donor organizations, in February to host “Web & Where 2.0+,” a webcast of a conference at Hewlett’s offices in Menlo Park, California, that explored the potential impact of the new media. It was the first-ever webcast for both groups, and it lasted all day.

“This is exactly the sort of conversation we need to be having now,” said Moy Eng, director of the Performing Arts Program. “We sit at the nexus of funding and artistic practice and need to be well versed in the potential of these technologies to reshape the ways we think about the creative act, performance and participation.”

Participants at the all-day seminar included Kevin Kelly, a founding editor of Wired Magazine in San Francisco; Barry Katz, a professor of humanities and design at the California College of the Arts in Oakland and a fellow at the design firm IDEO, Inc. of Palo Alto; Gordon Knox, the director of global initiatives at Stanford University Humanities Lab; and Dave Marvit, vice president of the Connected Information Innovation Center at Fujitsu Labs of America in Sunnyvale.

Discussion ranged widely, from how to define “place” in an age of global connectivity, to the growing role of amateurs in the development of new knowledge, to how the Web is likely to change over the next few decades.

Speakers discussed Web 2.0, which has shifted the focus of Web pages to make them more participatory, changing the way people create. Marvit offered a concise history of the development of the World Wide Web and Kelly suggested a provocative science-fiction-like vision of its emergence as an entity. Amid the opportunities that new digital media offer the arts and arts funders, Eng also was interested in the presentation of Sheila Davis, the executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, about the toxic waste that computer hardware creates.

Sixty people participated in the live webcast remotely, and about 50 attended in person, said Susanne Ross, a program officer in charge of collaborative initiatives for Northern California Grantmakers.

The conference currently is being edited for length, and Northern California Grantmakers plans to post the discussions at by March 21, 2008.


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