One of the great things about putting this work in front of a wider audience is that people are engaging with it who don't already know me, like me, understand what I'm doing, get the way that I work. That means I have to keep explaining it from different perspectives and not only does that hopefully help them understand what this project's about, it helps me understand better too.
I think there are a couple of ways in which my approach is unusual.
Firstly this really is an experiment. An experiment in which I truly don't know how things are going to turn out. We generally don't do this. In school when we do experiments, we're actually repeating a specific step-by-step process that someone else has gone through that has a known outcome and an intended educational point.
I don't really do things step-by-step, I resist structure and rules like that. If I'm doing anything step-by-step exactly the way that someone else has done it, I'm not aware of it.
According to his blurb
, Paul Smith set out to get as far as he could around the world for free with a target of New Zealand, while holding certain rules about the circumstances under which he would accept help, including that he could only take help from people on Twitter.
That's not what I'm doing. I'm improvising a journey through my online social network where some of the nodes are already known to me and some aren't. Paul seems to have done it to show that it could be done and the extent to which you can find help on the road. I'm building on that to look at what all these relationships mean and what the value is.
And while I know that my outcome is that I will return home at the end of the month, I don't know what the overall outcome of the project will be, I don't know how my relationships will be altered, augmented or diminished, I don't know what I'll learn about America, Americans and myself. At the end, I'm expecting to be able to say something interesting and useful around the nature of social capital, its dynamics and value, but I'm entirely open-minded as to what I might say.
The aspect that makes all of this more novel is that I will also be writing about it as I go. I'll be doing the equivalent of publishing my notebooks and source materials as I go. So when I say I'm going to write about my journey the question is how does that differ from any travel writer? Well most travel writers (film-makers) don't write their book (make their film) in public, they squirrel away lots of notes and draft scraps and then pull them together for publication (screening). And mostly they don't involve their "audience" in what they're doing until the travelling bit is done. I've been involving you in this from the start.
For most people out there, this way of working is unusual. It's not new, but I think that it produces more interesting work than traditional approaches. It's certainly the only way that I seem to be able to do anything.
Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman