Do the Mix & Mash

DigitalNZ—the country’s two-year-old seedbed for making NZ digital content easy to find, share and use—has recently completed its debut run of the Great NZ Remix and Mashup competition, with some stellar results.

In an online world awash in unlocked data, both the mashup and remix illustrate how you can creatively combine, visualise and aggregate multiple content sources with enhanced presentation and functionality. The competition is a chance for individuals, teams, and organisations to strut their stuff in terms of what they can make with New Zealand digital content and data.

A mashup that makes it possible to zoom on, browse and search all New Zealand walking tracks—utilising DOC data in new ways—was the supreme mashup winner, generously sponsored with a $10,000 windfall by InternetNZ. The judging panel, led by Nat Torkington, noted that while it used government data it wasn’t about government.

“It’s about tramping in the great Kiwi outdoors, and the government data makes it easier to find and enjoy those tramps.”

The newbie mashup award went to ‘Tax Receipt 2010’—a visualisation that provides a tailored breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent, and a discretionary prize was won for a practical web-based service for building RFP documents (requests for proposals).  

Other mashup winners included:

  • a tool to visualise demographic data from the 2006 census
  • Grid Watch’, an interactive info-graphic that shows power usage 
  • ‘Yachter Mobile’, a geo-application for yachties
  • an iPad app that turns the cards on our MPs at Parliament 
  • a GPS tool for swooping on rental properties.  

The remix section included categories for remixing cartoons, a poster advert for ‘the great kiwi summer holiday’ and alternative music video. 

Boost New Media's Courtney Johnston, one of the competition organisers, says the decision to bring in a remix side to the competition provided a unique balance.

“By drawing on the work of people like Cilla McQueen, the current poet laureate, it brought some real mana on board and widened the focus”.  

Jem Yoshioka took out the Creative Commons award for the supreme NZ remix with a remix of Katherine Mansfield’s poem ‘The Opal Dream Cave’.  

Johnston says there are too many data release bottlenecks and the use of commons licence material is a key way to unblock those bottlenecks—a way to boldly explore new digital frontiers and services. Anything to increase the impetus to free up more digital content sources and to incentivise innovative use of those sources has got to be good.

Andy Neale, the programme manager for Digital New Zealand Ā-tihi o Aotearoa, says the results were a demonstration of what can happen when creative people are let loose on public content.  

“When we put this out there we weren’t quite sure what the response would be. Getting 40 entries was a great start and certainly measures up well against the Australian equivalent which ran last year and got 83 entries.”

After a successful event attracting big name sponsors like Microsoft, Google, Codec, Infoconnect, Pixton and MusicHype, as well as partners like the Creative Freedom Foundation, NZ OnScreen, Webstock, Open New Zealand and Flying Nun, Digitial NZ is considering a 2011 repeat of the event.

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