According to writer, speaker and consultant Steven Johnson – a specialist in behavioural change, sustainability, and social innovation – “digital technology is creating unprecedented opportunities to encourage, enable and empower more sustainable behaviours. (…) The true potential of technology lies in its ability to do things that nothing else can do. (…) Human beings are inherently lazy and self-consciously changing our behaviours requires great effort and energy. As such, the initiation of a change effort might be relatively easy to trigger, but the maintenance and consolidation of that change is where the real challenge lies.”
The TRACTION project aims to help our societies rise to that challenge by promoting real, sustainable change in artistic communities, notably opera professionals and groups at risk of exclusion, including migrants, prison inmates and citizens in depopulated rural areas. The project will actively engage them in the co-design and co-creation of new operas—a form chosen for its emotional resonance and creative energy. As a rich and relevant marker of European cultural heritage, opera must quickly adapt if it is to overcome social, economic and education-oriented barriers. The project will help transform and consolidate a real change in traditional opera houses and in doing so, it will help opera to become more inclusive and engage a broader audience.
In this context, TRACTION will research, design and implement a novel workflow and toolset to support the community dialogue of diverse individuals and collectives through a collaborative and participative production process. Among its consortium, TRACTION has cutting-edge technological research institutes, such as Vicomtech (leading the project) and CWI (leading the technological toolset), as well as Dublin City University (DCU), who will address most of the scientific and technological research regarding the development of technology. Moreover, an SME such as Virtual Reality Ireland will contribute by exploring novel audiovisual formats and digital representations.
The technological contribution of the project will be a collaborative and participatory production workflow and toolset as a main enabler to conduct an efficient dialogue towards the co-creation and co-design of a social opera that will foster an active involvement and engagement of opera professionals and communities at risk of exclusion. To achieve this goal, the project will design and implement:
A new production workflow to establish an efficient conversation between diverse individuals and collectives for the co-design of a participative opera, enhancing traditional opera representations with digital elements which foster the participation of the audience and provide fully digital, immersive capsules and representations to consolidate and disseminate the participatory art works.
A toolset, including UX tested interfaces and stimulators to foster the community dialogue; mechanisms, engines and algorithms to capture, edit and create interactive adaptive narratives; and technologies for an adaptive distribution of novel, immersive audiovisual formats and art representations, securing accessible productions with accessibility services.
 Recognising the true potential of technology to change behaviour
The Guardian, Steven Johnson – December 13, 2013