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Hmmm… that feels like a big title for something important. Well I suppose it is. In a way it’s what I’m thinking about all the time – how might I repeat the adventure of last March? Do I want to? (yes) Why do I want to? How to do it differently? What do I want to keep? What to I want to avoid?
And answering all those questions feel like issues of control. And what I learned last year is that what’s interesting in this space is what happens when you let go of control. What happens when you simply put yourself in a place with a few rules and structures ie where you can have only minimal control over what happens next? What happens when you willingly conspire with yourself to create an adventure where you end up in a hotel room in New York, writing on your blog that you don’t know where you’re going to stay in 3 days time when you arrive in New Orleans? What do you learn? What can you do differently if you come across this situation again.
Where’s the wisdom literature about this? Well it turns out that the great spiritual works boil down to life being a journey into the unknown and how you deal with the pitfalls along the way – but they do it at a very abstract level. There are principles in there that are useful, about staying in the moment, letting the process (God, the Tao, Flying Spaghetti Monster) happen, letting the universal power do it’s work and getting out of the way, surrendering to that power.
And then there’s movies. A much more socially acceptable way of exploring these ideas in the 21st Century than reading the Bible Pretty much everything is a Hero’s Journey, but some are more literally about a journey than others. Frankie and I asked on twitter the other day for favourite examples. We got:
Wild at Heart
Road to Perdition
O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Jason & the Argonauts
North by NW
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
The Blues Brothers
Kings of the Road
Thelma & Louise
Just a random Friday afternoon selection – chuck some more in – when we’ve got a fuller list and an idea of which are most useful, I’ll run some screenings/conversations to explore this idea a bit further.
Umm… so why might this be important beyond simply making something beautiful?
Well, consider you’re an established FMCG brand for example. You know you want something like the Old Spice campaign. You buy the *theory* that you should be involving customers and engaging them beyond a 2010 version of a caption-writing contest, but you also know that this means ceding some control.
Yes, the C-word again. It’s what freaks the bejaysus out of people in businesses like that – we’ve all seen it: they want to do the new cool thing, they want to play in this space, but they sit at the edge of the playground afraid to join in.
But what if there was a safe way of doing it, of practicing it in such a way that you could bring it into your every day work – mightn’t that be a way of sliding along the spectrum towards real engagement? What if you didn’t have to do it at all, but you could just hear the story of someone else doing it, not in a packaged, polished, rationalised case study after the dust had settled, what if you could watch the people doing it in real time (and maybe join in and give them a hand if you had something they needed)?
Firstly I’ve started to track the term “transmedia” on twitter and seen an awful lot of related and interesting stuff. There’s lots of excitement in the film, TV & videogame worlds about this. Advertising too. Exploring the value in the creation of fictional universes that can be expressed or explored in a variety of media, moving beyond the idea of this stuff as merchandise or spin-off material and seeing it as a part of the creative process. At least that’s my reading of where things are going. So instead of making the “game of the movie of the book” etc. ie taking an existing property and extending into another medium, they are planning stories that are told in a variety of ways for a variety of audiences, including those created by fans, the people formerly known as the audience.
Secondly, I’ve seen that Dave Winer is getting into his stride at NYU and “organising” a hypercamp this week on “Sources Go Direct” sadly it’s not on at a good time for me to watch & participate live, but it’s being ustreamed and presumably that will be archived along with everything else. The bit of Dave’s thinking that I’m most drawn to here is what he’s been saying for a while about opening up journalists’ processes and notebooks – “open sourcing” their stories and articles so that others might see what stories they might make out of the same material.
Then over the weekend, JP has written two important posts about digital curation. The second of which in particular deals with curation in the age of unbundling. What I’m talking about is unbundling in the sense that a book, film, photo exhibition, whatever is a bundle (with all sorts of preconceptions about how they are produced and distributed) and we’re not predefining which bundle we might choose to create when setting out to explore an idea.
My interest is more in the “real” world than in fictional universes. They’re amazing and fascinating and are giving us endearing and engagingly fresh cultural artefacts that help us understand ourselves better and yet, I’m left thinking “why not explore our own universe?” I’m also drawn more to the more reflective forms that we used to call features, factual and documentaries rather than the current affairs end of journalism.
That, I think is what #tuttle2texas was a prototype for – a series of explorations of spaces or ideas, a series of true (whatever that means) stories that help us understand ourselves better, expressed in a variety of media, open-sourced and unbundled for curation, remix, re-use whatever you want.