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‘Tis the Season

August 05, 2008 By: Nick Keenan Category: projects

It’s time for some more CTDB’ing it up.

There’s been some really surprising (to me, anyway) buzz on the project in the last week, and most exciting to Dan and I, there’s been some ideas coming forward about how exactly the darn thing is going to be useful to people.

Of course, like any project this complex (like say, a production!) it needs be tackled one step at a time.

This week’s step involves you. As Dan has mentioned, we’re teaming up with Performink to create a cross-referenced survey of all the productions and the people and companies doing it for the upcoming season. Because the user interface is still in progress, we’ve decided to run the survey through another site that will allow us to compile the data and merge it with the existing information on the CTDB.

What does this mean for Chicago theater companies? This survey is your first shot at entering your own data into the CTDB and seeing what you can learn from that data.

What do I mean by “what can you learn?”

How busy is the venue that I’m renting at? What other shows are going on at the same time as mine? Are they LOUD shows?

How many people are doing the play that I’m doing, and how recently?

How busy are my performers and designers? What else are they doing this year? How can I support their work as they support mine?

What other shows open on the same day as my show?

These questions are running around in my head today because I just listened to a rather stellar interview that Anne Nicholson Weber conducted with Chris Jones, Tony Adler, and Kerry Reid on the question of what gets reviewed in this town and why. There’s a lot to be learned and culled here, and before now it required let’s say a decade of experience to really be able to predict if producing say the Cherry Orchard was a good move for a young storefront. Of course, adding in historical data into the mix may make that experience easier to come by for younger companies. In any case, Anne’s been really notching up the quality of the industry news on the Talk Theater in Chicago podcast, and if you haven’t heard it in a while, just grit your teeth through that theme song and give this episode another shot.

We’re going to be putting together some quick and dirty reporting tools in the next few weeks to help answer these questions in a single click – and as we all see what becomes useful and revelatory in the data, I encourage you to ask your own questions of us on the CTDB Forum. We are learning, as we collect this data, how to process the data as fast as possible into a granular form that is more and more useful – the $2 programmingspeak word is “extensible.” We are learning that when you have data like this captured in one community pool, there is a lot of quick and efficient coordination that can be done that just wasn’t possible before.

But it all starts with the data. So jump in and good luck in planning your season.

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1 Comments to “‘Tis the Season”


  1. That WAS a great interview. Anne Nicholson Weber did an excellent job with her questions and the conversation. Thank you for pointing it out and welcome back!!!!

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