Deadbeat Darling, McAlister Drive Dominate Xconomy’s Battle of the Tech Bands 2008

1/25/08Follow @wroush

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two tickets from Bedford, MA, to Nantucket Island donated by Concord, MA-based air taxi service Linear Air (a fascinating company that we wrote about in October). One of the Rock Band Special Edition bundles was won by our friend Tito Jackson, industry director for information technology at Massachusetts Office of Business Development; Tito informs us that he’ll be donating the prize to Freedom House, a community development center in Dorchester, MA, that includes a computer learning lab.

Our headline event sponsors were Akamai, Microsoft, and Invest Northern Ireland (a rowdy crew who definitely know how to have fun). We also had help promoting the event from Bandsintown, Nextcat, and MITX (the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange).

And while I’m acknowledging everyone who helped with the event, I have to single out the extraordinary crew at Cambridge, MA-based Aerva, builders of a software and communications system for interactive digital displays. Aerva CEO Sanjay Manandhar, engineer David Crow, designer Rafael Mendiola, and technical architect Mark Renouf were all on hand throughout the evening at the Middle East to manage the text-messaging-based voting system we used to determine the Audience Favorite band.

Aerva’s SMS-driven voting screen. Photo by Mark Renouf.Aerva’s system added immeasurably to the evening’s geeky coolness. The company set up a big flat-screen TV near the stage, and audience members could register their votes for each band by texting messages such as “banda,” “bandb,” and so forth to Aerva’s short code (227359—I’ve got it memorized, after repeating it so many times on stage; apparently, 867-5309 was taken). The audience could also use their phones to send text shout-outs that appeared in a chat area on the screen, and were able to e-mail photos to the screen from their camera-phones.

All in all, attendees sent nearly 1,000 messages over the course of the evening, according to Aerva’s logs (about 800 of those were votes). The voting system added a special sheen to the whole event, as well as an interesting layer of strategizing: since listeners could vote up to three times for each band, and could cast their unused votes at any time up to the very last minute of the competition, the tallies kept changing until the very end.

It turns out that Aerva’s Renouf is also an ace photographer, and Aerva has posted a slick slide show of his shots. Speaking of photos, audience member David Fisher posted an amazing Flickr photoset with more than 60 photos of the event. In fact, we’ve been psyched by all the attention the Battle has gotten across the Web (for example, here, here, here, and here). The Boston Herald previewed the Battle last Sunday, and Boston Globe reviewer Jonathan Perry gave the competition a nice writeup in yesterday’s edition.

To everyone who attended the inaugural Battle of the Tech Bands: thanks for coming out on an icy January evening and showing your support for Boston’s talented musician/technologists. You can bet we’ll be back next year with a bigger, better version of the event. Until then, rock on!


Top photo by Mark Renouf, courtesy of Aerva.

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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