Monday, January 21, 2013

Halsey Burgund gets a-Round!

I've used this blog over the years to present a number of innovations from the social media world.  Some have related to health care, but many have not, in that the health care field is a bit slow to accept innovation.  At the IHI National Forum this year, for example, I asked a group of 300 people if their hospitals blocked Facebook, blogs, and other social media.  Well over half raised their hands!

But I plan to persist in these presentations, in the hope that my readers might be stimulated to adopt ideas from other fields into their hospitals or practices.  After all, the social media world is based on the democratization of information flows and participation.  We have been learning that much of the advancement that could occur in medicine likewise could emerge from those kinds of communications patterns.  As e-Patient Dave has said, a true partnership between patients and doctors is the aim.  Let's think creatively how to use new tools to help reach that goal.

So along those lines, I want to present some new work by sound artist/musician Halsey Burgund.  His artist statement notes:

People say interesting things; and they say them in interesting ways. The voices I collect from otherwise uninvolved individuals become the raw material as well as the inspiration for both my installations and my musical compositions. The nuance of the spoken human voice has a unique ability to communicate much more than the words themselves, and I try to tap into this power and enhance it with the music I compose using the voices.

Halsey's latest project is called ROUND:Cambridge:

ROUND:Cambridge is a new piece of public art, commissioned by the Cambridge Arts Council, that not only exists in the public domain like the sculptures, murals and other public art in Cambridge, but also is created from the raw material of thoughts, ideas and commentary collected from the public in an actively inclusive way. By allowing people to leave their mark or tag on the landscape in a non-destructive way, Cambridge is transformed into a collective audio work.

The installation ‘inhabits’ the entire city of Cambridge by creating a location-sensitive layer of audio consisting of a musical composition along with commentary recorded in-situ by participants. Using a custom smartphone app, participants are able to tag any location in the city with their own recordings about the public art (or anything else!) and those recordings are immediately available for other participants to hear within the context of the piece when in the same location. Each participant experiences a continuous, unique, real-time audio stream as they walk, weaving location-specific voice content in with a location-aware instrumental composition.

Here's what it looks like on your iPhone:

At the top of this post, I have included a small part of the voice map for the city.  You can see the whole thing here and listen in on the conversations and comments people have left behind.

Now, imagine a hospital that allowed people to do the same thing.  Think about what we would hear from patients about the quality and safety of care being delivered, or physical features of our buildings, or whatever.  But we have to want to listen.

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