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Big Brother's Name Is... Bonnaroo?

Friday, July 20, 2012 - 10:56 AM

RFID wristbands from Bonnaroo 2012 (Photo from PSFK.com)

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival released a statement this week announcing that this year’s event, held from June 7 through 10 in Manchester, Tennessee, “saw the largest integration between a live music event and social media in history.”

As I finished yawning my eyes fell on a paragraph lower down in the release.  Apparently, instead of actual tickets, concertgoers were given RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) bracelets, which they could link to Facebook and then – and here’s the part I should be finding scary – whenever they passed a Check-In point they could swipe their wristband and it “would post to Facebook noting the attendee's corresponding activity.”

Just what we need – another way to keep track of where people are, where they’ve been, and what they’ve been doing.  If you “checked in” at a band’s performance, your Facebook friends would see that you’d been at that event, and they could see a playlist of and actually hear the music you were listening to.  Plus complementary Photo Stations allowed you to post your pictures with a swipe of your wrist.  (No explanation given for how that worked.)

I am concerned about this technology.

Actually, no I’m not.  I’m impressed as all hell, though I probably will be concerned the first time some wristband reveals I was at the racetrack watching the horses when I told the crew I’d be at, say, the Bonnaroo Festival. 

A couple of things: you had to activate your wristband for it to do all this cool social networking for you.  Nearly half of Bonnaroo concertgoers did just that.  Slightly more than half did not; possibly these people were worried about having their movements recorded, or maybe they just didn’t use Facebook.  Or maybe these losers wanted the “traditional” Facebook experience of actually using their very own fingertips and smart-phones to keep in touch with their “friends.”  (These people probably also read “books” and listen to “albums.”)   

Anyway, the RFID wristbands could potentially be a godsend for any kind of ticketed event.  The 2010 World Cup in Germany featured all kinds of hi-tech gadgetry designed to cut down on scalping, to make sure known hooligans were not allowed in, and similar laudable goals.  These wristbands could potentially make that sort of thing easier. 

And mystery writers just got another plot device for their next screenplays/scripts/novels. 

But I’m curious to hear from anyone who was at Bonnaroo this year.  Did you activate your wristband?  Why or why not?  Leave a comment.

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Comments [2]

Beet Farmer from Michigan

I love the idea of tracking people on Facebook. That way, when I know my Michigan "firends" are in Tennessee, or wherever, I can go to their apartment and steal their stuff.

Jul. 20 2012 02:06 PM
geoff from Buffalo, NY

yes I activated mine, for the sole reason that Bonnaroo said it was mandatory. As for "checking in", no thanks

Jul. 20 2012 12:30 PM

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