Zeega is where it started: not only a software project, but a conjecture about the internet’s capacity to empower shared stories and meanings, the motivating spirit at metaLAB’s origins. From 2011 to 2014, a team of grad students, media artists, technologists, and scholars strove to create a platform to allow users to easily create immersive, participatory projects with media from across the web. The project’s core audience was media-makers—professionals and amateurs curious to explore new forms of producing and sharing media online, on mobile devices, and in physical spaces. The Zeega team was also motivated by an unusual challenge: to take a software project begun in the humanities, fueled by criticality and meaning, and powered by the reflectiveness and provocation of the liberal arts, and bring it to market.
From the start, Zeega’s course was unpredictable. Its core elements powered the storytelling modes behind Sensate, our experimental multimedia journal platform; the team sought ways to bring its tools to bear for a variety of institutional partners at Harvard and beyond, from the DPLA to NYU Abu Dhabi. Zeega won a $500,000 grant from Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge in 2011. The generous funding gave the team a chance to set Zeega on its own course as a software product; at the end of this grant, the Zeega group joined Matter, a Bay-area accelerator program for mission-driven media startups. Ultimately, Zeega was bought and sold, integrated and remixed; elements of it have found their way into powerful, playful tech at BuzzFeed and other media giants. In metaLAB’s ongoing adventures, its spirit lives on.
Zeega-based projects (selected list):
extraMUROS, online platform, 2009-2011
Sensate, online journal for experiments in critical media practice, 2012-ongoing
GHOST, networked installation, 2013
Mallarmovie, networked artwork/multimedia edition, 2013