Interactive Plaza

What is it?

A future global network of urban spaces with very large screen high-definition interactive videoconferencing that is free and open to the public.

YouTube Video - Tholos Systems - Interactive Plaza

In 2005 Tholos Systems, based in Vienna Austria, introduced its vision for a global network of free and public video conferencing technology called THOLOS. It had some good success with a presentation to EU government and business professionals, but ultimately did not bring its business and product to market.

The business model was based on free 24/7 public access with a very small percentage of screen time sold to global brand companies for messaging thus creating a revenue stream to pay for the enterprise. Tholos Systems made a milestone achievement in communicating the “interactive plaza idea” and its technology platform in a way that is instantly understandable and very attractive.
Just like radio and telephone networks, the development of global network of Interactive Plazas is not a matter of if, but of how and when.

Brian Webster and Associates has been active in producing videoconferences to promote the idea of the Interactive Plaza, a global network of urban spaces with very large screen high-definition interactive videoconferencing that is free and open to the public.

For more information on Interactive Plaza ideas, organizing, development and marketing contact: Brian Webster, brian.e.webster@gmail.com 1-415-243-8900

Joseph Goldin and the Origin of the "Interactive Plaza"

The term "Interactive Plaza" was coined by the late Joseph Goldin, a social entrepreneur and tireless evangelist for the idea of bringing people from all over the world together using large screen interactive videoconferencing.

Joseph Goldin was born and raised in Soviet Russia. His first appearance in California was in 1982 during the first live television "Space Bridge" between Russia and the United States. This was a historic occasion in the annals of both US and Russian citizen diplomacy and communication technology.

In September of 1982 Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computer organized the US Festival in Santa Barbara and gathered 250,000 people for a concert festival and celebration of new creative technologies. It was decided to attempt a two-way television broadcast of live music between the US Festival and Moscow to demonstrate a spirit of human unity. Henrikas Yushkiavichus, the head of the Moscow television system, recruited Joseph, who had independent artist connections, to find and deliver a Russian rock band for the occasion of the Space Bridge. The Space Bridge was a huge success.

This experience of citizens of the world having the ability to interact directly through interactive technology that communicated a common humanity and essential unity transformed Joseph Goldin. He spent the rest of his life traveling the world and evangelizing his idea of the Interactive Plaza.

Joseph Goldin used these words to describe his concept:

Interactive Plazas are large video screens set up in prominent public places all over the world that could constantly broadcast live images of people going about their daily lives in other countries. These large ground-level screens will be accessible to everyone from children to top-level scientists for direct communication by random meetings or by making prior arrangements to meet at the plaza.

This new form of human contact, if used wisely, could give birth to a planetary consciousness that until now has been realized only by an enlightened few. A worldwide network of satellite-linked Interactive Plazas will act as a cosmic mirror with which we, as citizens of the world, could look back at ourselves and grasp our humanity and essential unity as never before.

"Humanity", according to Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, is too wide a term to adequately represent the sphere of activity of most types of social information, because any community is always limited by the extent to which its information can be transmitted. From this it follows that "humanity" - in the true sense of the word - does not yet exist. The myth of "humanity" appears in the form of political declarations, humanistic images, religious beliefs - but "humanity" has yet to emerge as a real, living community.

The proposed worldwide network of plazas could turn out to be the informational resource with which humans are at last able to transform the myth of "humanity" into reality. The plazas would soon become a traditional element of the environment, just like the public squares in the Greek City-States or the well of rural villages. The new feeling of "distant proximity" experienced by millions of people all over the world will create a new self-awareness and inevitably lead to a radical transformation in the way we deal with global and local problems.

While digital video and broadband Internet technology had not yet developed to the point where an true Interactive Plaza was a viable social or commercial enterprise, Goldin organized many international videoconferences and state of the art public demonstrations of the concept to showcase its potential.

In the late 80's he arrived in San Francisco and connected with an active community of people in the "citizens’ diplomacy" movement working on developing US and Russian citizen-to-citizen relationships to ease to military polarization of the cold war. At that time a US-Moscow Teleport enterprise that used new video conferencing systems was operating out of 3220 Sacramento Street in San Francisco. In 1988 under the name of Mirror for Humanity, Goldin helped produce an international videoconference featuring chamber musicians in San Francisco playing and interacting with musicians in European cities.

In 1994 he initiated and helped produced a series of international videoconferences focused on citizens’ peace building initiatives to the city of Sarajevo, which was under the siege of war. Working with the United Nations Association, UNESCO and San Francisco's Unity Foundation a video conference was organized for San Francisco that featured Zlata Filopovich the child author of "A Sarajevo Diary". Following that, another videoconference between San Francisco and Paris brought together citizens in San Francisco, including the City Librarian, Ken Dowling with Mr. Henrikas Yushkiavichus, who by then was the Assistant Director General of UNESCO in Paris, to discuss international reconstruction efforts for the recently bombed Library of Sarajevo.

In July of 1994 Goldin and the Unity Foundation produced a live festival-to-festival television broadcast from the Unity Festival in Golden Gate Park to the Baby Universe festival in Sarajevo, which was organized by Sarajevo artists under the siege. In August of 1994 Goldin traveled to New York for the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock festival and received permission to connect that festival to the artist's festival in Sarajevo. Unfortunately, the television station in Sarajevo was cut off by snipers preventing the production of that television Space Bridge.

Joseph Goldin produced his last public demonstration in the US of his humanitarian vision of interactive video technology in 1995. It was a large group video conference from San Diego to Moscow during a conference of the Institute for Noetic Science and on the occasion of the centenary birthday of Buckminster Fuller. There he outlined a vision for a global network of Interactive Plazas in 60 of the world’s largest cities. He called it transforming the planet into a "Global Bucky Ball", referring to the Carbon-60 Fullerene molecule. He then returned to Russia where he was offered an option on a parcel of land in Moscow's Gorky Park to build the first hub in his proposed global network of Interactive Plazas.

Joseph Goldin died of a heart attack a few years later. To his friends in San Francisco he was affectionately known as the "slightly mad Russian visionary" for his unbridled enthusiasm for communications technology and the human potential to harness it for peace and global unity. When the global network of Interactive Plazas is finally created, as it surely will be, and they become as common as internet cafes, Joseph Goldin's vision will be fulfilled.

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