I went to Japan over new years and it was amazing. Here's an indulgent and overlong video montage of the places I saw and the things I did.
I'm very pleased to announce that a little movie I made last year, Spirits of the Past, has made it into the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival.
It's not the catchiest name for a fetsival admittedly, but considering the concept behind Spirits of the Past - a film made entirely online, from first draft to final cut - getting its festival debut at a festival which only exists online is quite fitting.
For more info on the festival, its origins, and how you can get involved, check out the neat video below and visit them online here: http://www.ugpff.com/
So now that I've met everyone I intended to, I wanted to try and dive in and talk about some of the people I met. In particular I wanted to showcase the wealth of creative endeavours. It took me much longer than expected to create the list, but what a list. Annoying and inspiring in equal measure, it's filled with gems. I've broken down the categories below. If I've missed you out or if the link I've used is old/wrong etc. just drop me a line and I'll update it. Thanks!
Look at all these beautiful faces.
This final tally of 15 takes me up to the fabled 150.
I have reached my goal.
This is THE END!
It feels oddly anticlimactic doesn't it? More of an epilogue that a climax. Let’s compare it to something in the zeitgeist so when I look back when I’m 70 all ‘What was I thinking!’ I’ll be able to culturally date it. This ending is like the end of Breaking Bad. The story going viral and the media frenzy was the Ozymandias episode. This is Felina. Subdued, quiet, neat. Ties up the loose ends.
It's quite fitting though I think. I never started this whole project aiming for any kind of recognition at all. I just thought it'd be a fun thing to do. Meeting these last few folk in the wake of the media frenzy was quite a nice return to a much more low key & happy chat with friends and strangers.
Tangent: I had to explain what A/S/L? meant to somebody last week. I mentioned in passing how it had just slipped quietly out of parlance once social networking really took a hold and they looked at me with a vacant stare that broke my heart. ‘What the hell is A/S/L?’ I can’t really blame them, A/S/L was a millennium ago in internet time.
This was one of the reasons I started this though. Back when A/S/L? was a thing almost all internet socialising was an engagement with a stranger, it always had that frisson of adventure, even more so when you took it out into the real world. Social networking has become so prevalent that it’s just a background hum. It’s no longer strangers or mystery; just a sideways glance at your family and peers hoping they’re not doing something cooler than you. Twitter was the first social network to recapture the thrill of strangers.
There is a bit of post-rationalising there. I just did it for a lark, but as soon as I started to meet people I wanted to try and use twitter to it's fullest potential; not to spam people, not to inflate my Klout score (*boak*), just to use a social network like it's supposed to be. The way I used it before social networking. When people would connect on forums and MSN and IRC without the backup of a social profile etched in stone.
So now what? Now I start working on the show. I should have some practice runs later this year, but will almost certainly be doing a run at the comedy festival early next year and make a video of the whole thing . Next week I'm going to put up a post profiling all the amazing people that I've met and in particular all the great stuff they've made. It's sickening & inspiring.
It means Age/Sex/Location? if you don't know. If you don't know, I probably hate you for being young.
I'm only kidding, I love you all.
Did I get my epiphany? No. But I did learn some things: Trains are too expensive. Strangers are almost always cool. The internet lets you take a stupid idea and make it a reality in a matter of minutes. Modern technology is amazing.
All the best stuff happens offline.
If you've started following me off the back of the news stories and you're all 'Man! What a jip! He's not meeting us all!?' don't fret too much. I'm going to attempt and carry on with the meetandtweets as a semi regular thing. Maybe a monthly update with a bunch of new folk each month. I'm not going to promise anything concrete because I've got an incredibly busy year ahead, but I've had so many cool messages from folk I'd love to chat to, so I should hopefully find some time. I will be in touch!
As far as the original project goes though, this is the end. The fullstop.
I, I promised myself I wouldn't cry.
Sincerely. Really huge thanks to everyone who took some time to say hello and come out and meet. Thanks for reading along with the story too. It's been such a fun adventure. I encourage everyone to do the same.
(& special thanks to: @dodson_review , @teenytinylisa, @jamieswb, @dan_phreak, @samuelbaker, @redeyetommy, @impyooo, @fitzhelen, @toomjourno, @betenoiresmash, @paddydineen, @angelicangela8, @johnsrichardson, @cello_anderson, @jonmarmstrong
I've been waiting to do a big montage of everyone since the start. Look at all these beautiful faces!
Below you'll find as complete list as I can of all the news reports about #meetandtweet from around the world.
Partly because I'm quite OCD about these things, partly because of my rampant narcissism but mostly because all the people I've met seemed to get a kick out of seeing their faces plastered across news sites around the world, and I'm sorry about the Daily Mail.
As a double extra bonus (?) there's the video of me being interviewed by a Alhurra TV in the middle east. So thrilled to get Tom in there too.
Well then, this is a thing huh?
There have been all sorts of twists and turns, so for my own benefit as much as anyone else's, let's break it down.
Thursday. The story hitting the BBC was where it started. I got a few new followers, a bunch of kind messages. This is cool. This is totally cool. Well written, fact checked, a nice little fun story. Something you'd see on That's Life. I'm a dog that says sausages.
Then thenextweb.com picked up the story, and from there, the internet news cycle sent the story worldwide. I started getting messages and followers from Mexico and China and Spain and Russia.
There was a crucial difference between the two stories though. The BBC pointed out that I was going to stop at 150. That was my end goal. Thenextweb reported that I was meeting EVERYONE. My follower count doubled overnight.
I'm 4 followers away from hitting 150. Part of me was quite looking forward to finishing so I could start working on writing the show. Also, I start a masters degree in two weeks so I kind of need to focus a little.
But now I have all these new people following me from all over the world. I'm sure they're all fascinating and smart and I definitely want to chat with them, and clearly a bunch of them were keen to chat with me. So I came up with a compromise.
150 is the end of the story. It's the punctuation mark of a project I started back in January. However, I'm going to continue doing the #meetandtweet's with new people too. Maybe make it a monthly feature on the blog. This is totally manageable. I only have 450 followers, I could just take my time with it. Plus now all the news stories were out there so I wasn't getting anymore followers.
Friday. Around 5.30pm my follower count exploded. In twenty minutes, it went from 470 ish to 12,800. This is ridiculous. I was bemused as to how this happened. I sent out a tweet asking anyone who had followed me in the past 20 minutes how they heard about it.
I only got one response, and it was incredibly offensive, but the tone was basically 'Hey man, I didn't follow you, you're cheating, you're buying followers!'
I initially dismissed it as just regular internet aggression, but when I started checking a few of the people who had followed me, I noticed many of them had been inactive for years. Or had only 1 or 2 tweets. They were zombie accounts. The exact type of accounts you'd get if you were to buy them.
I'd been trolled.
Imagine you're some mischievous dude with skills and time, and you see some story about a guy who wants to meet his twitter followers. What would be funnier than buying 12000 followers and latching them onto his account?
Again, this is all an assumption, but it seems to make sense. Both the nature of the people following, the sudden explosion, and the logic of the troll To be fair, it is quite funny.
The main annoying thing about it is that the story has popped again today after being in the Independent and the Daily Mail. (Please don't take this as an endorsement of the Mail. The guy that I chatted with was really nice but It's a terrible newspaper with no morality.)
Anyway, the point is I've got a fresh batch of new followers today that are probably cool and interesting but trying to parse them from the 12000 fakes is going to be tricky. I'll figure it out though.
Saturday. I've got a bunch more nice messages from folk today. (Some brutal ones too thanks to DM's comment section.) I appreciate them all but for real I'm not inspiring or amazing. It's totally cool if you think that, and thanks, but really I just had an idle notion on an afternoon, somebody noticed and THE INTERNET did the rest.
So yeah, we're up to date.
When I started this whole thing the only goals I had in mind were that I thought it'd be fun, and I thought it'd be a good story to tell. It's delivered both in spades.
Right, I'm gonna step away from the internet for a bit because to be honest, I'm getting pretty sick of the sight of me.
I was featured in a news segment on the radio last week, and yesterday I got a call from the BBC asking if I wanted to do a quick interview for the magazine piece. We had a brief chat yesterday afternoon, it went up late last night, then today this happened.
It's slightly overwhelming. Part of me started to panic earlier because my follower count doubled and I was only 6 people away from finishing the whole thing and now here's a new influx of smart and funny people.
I do have an idea of how to finish at the 150 whilst still including all the new people who have joined in though. I'll post about it in a day or two.
The ballooning twitter account was always a risk but I honestly never thought it would be an issue. I didn't think people would be that interested. This is a lark!
Today has been mental.
This translated quote from one of the Russian sites sums it up best:
"One day I will die, and so at least will have something to tell you,"
So I was on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday morning. If you skip to 2.20.56 you can take a listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03903n6
The radio link is no longer live but I have an mp3 of the interview and of the subsequent mugging off which I've attached below:
It was a 45 minute chat truncated to just over 5 so it's a bit choppy but hopefully I don't come across as a total dick. Go and take a listen, I have a few things to say about it. It’s cool, I’ll wait.
You done? It’s OK right? Positive chat, people are good etc. I should have said asymmetrical rather than asynchronous but whatever. Big thanks to Sarah Toom for being interested enough to get in touch and for the great chat.
That bit after the chat though eh? Oof. Mugged off by Kay Adams and the news team. Not the best advice? I hope my children don't hear that? I take umbrage.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the instinct. I don’t have any kids but I’ve got a huge family and I’m currently looking after a budgie so I can fully understand the natural instinct to shield them from danger. I don't want to discourage you from being safety conscious, but I hate to think of the great things you might miss out on. Listen: I have met a lot of strangers from the internet, and nothing but good has come from it.
Your mileage may vary, etc. but this completely rings true for me. It is an objective fact. I don't just mean the meetandtweet thing either. In many ways my history with meeting strangers on the internet is one of the reasons that I was so keen on starting the whole endeavour. My life, job, friends, relationships & location would all be completely different if it wasn't for people I met online.
The first internet strangers I met were from forums, which was where I spent much of my early internet life after some brief trolling of AOL chat rooms in my mid teens. It was around 1999 I joined my first forum. I made friends. After a year or two of daily interaction we decided to meet up. It was like university in microcosm. Everyone was a bit awkward and uncomfortable and we all drank too much and by the end of the night many people were best friends forever and had a bunch of stories to tell.
Since the advent of social media, this type of meet up, while it certainly still exists, doesn’t feel as prevanlent to me. Despite the fact that there are siginificantly more people online now than there was in the late nineties, I feel like fewer people are connecting. Facebook doesn’t really work for this because it’s essentially just an extended address book but twitter totally does.
Now granted, when you meet people on a forum there is generally a reason you’re all there, a common interest (videogames in my case) that you perhaps don't get with twitter. Still, by following people and engaging with them about things you're interested in, it's easy to gradually pick up on the things they're interested in and find common ground.
So go and meet some strangers.
Kay, I know it was just an off the cuff remark and you probably didn’t really think about it beyond stranger=danger but I’m certain your kids have enough wits about them to know when something is a bit iffy. I have probably met at least a thousand people in my life and yes some people have been weird or annoying but not a single one of them has been any danger to me.
Just don't be an idiot: I don't want to get a message from someone telling me they went and met a bunch of strangers and now they're on heroin and called Starchild. Meet somewhere public, meet in groups, have an exit strategy. But please don't assume strangers are a threat. You're a stranger to most people in the world, and you're cool, right? Be safe, but be bold.
You will have a good time or at the very least have a new story to tell.
Only 9 more to go!
Look at all those beautiful faces. 135 down. 15 to go. 15! So close, I’m going to miss it. Even though recently it’s become a little bit routine. Wait wait! Don’t get upset! You’re still awesome and I’ve had amazing chats with amazing people. Routine is natural. You do anything for 6 months, no matter how brilliant, and it becomes just another thing. You think Bon Jovi isn't sick of Livin' on a Prayer? Actually that's a bad example. Nobody gets sick of Livin' on a Prayer.
It’s totally natural though, evolutionary even. We have to keep our eyes peeled for the new thing in case it’s dangerous, so anything that hangs around for a while automatically fades. It’s why you aren’t constantly aware of the feeling of clothes against your skin, or why you don’t focus on your breathing, or why the divorce rate is so high. (Thankfully this project allows me a new partner every few evenings. Hey O!)
It’s not a nice thing to admit. That’s why the phrase is 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder' and not 'Presence makes the heart grow then maintain then fade into the background.'
Just look at the technology aspect. We sit surrounded by some of the most amazing devices ever conceived and it becomes old hat so fast. In the past month I've used video chat to have a casual conversation with a designer in New York and a hilarious woman in Paisley and an animator in Bucharest and it’s just cool, whatever man. Video chat! Like in fucking Star Trek!
Before I go too deep into Louis CK territory let me change gears.
It's not all been internet chats lately. I want to meet as many people face to face as possible. Recently, this meant I had the 'pleasure' of spending the day in Edinburgh during the festival.
I love the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I've performed there three times now, and the vibe of the city is electric. There is nothing like the feeling of stepping off the train from Glasgow into the sea of fans and performers. Everyone excited, buzzing about their next show, drinking into the night, sharing stories. When you're part of the Fringe, Edinburgh is just magic.
When you're not part of the fringe, and you have lots of folk to meet all over the city in a short space of time, it's a hell hole filled with time vampires.
I was meeting 6 followers, bookended by two shows, one at midday, one at seven, with a stressful rush around the city in-between trying to meet everyone. It was stressful because it seems the city decided en masse to collectively obstruct me at every opportunity. The stress meant I drank too much, and the rushing made me lose track. This will go some way to explaining why I woke up the following morning on the sofa, fully clothed, sans glasses and with the tell tale stains of vomiting on my shirt.
I was not proud of myself. But I did meet everyone and I did see two great shows which were both performed by some old friends and followers. It’s too late to see them now so this seems a little futile but I give them both five stars. You can put that on the posters.
James is one of the magicians on Help! My Supply Teacher is Magic and he's excellent and the show was a riot. In stark contrast, tonally at least, Tony Dunn’s show in the evening was all about psychopaths. We were chatting after the show and I told him a story of earlier in the month where I was worried someone thought I was a psychopath. (I don’t mean in the clinical sense of having no empathy or emotion, more in the bogey man way.)
Listen: I've contacted every single person who follows me. With 15 people to go I have 8 for definite lined up, but those last 7 are a waiting game. I know what you're thinking. Who wouldn't want to get involved with such a streamlined and well thought out social experiment ? Well, as much as we all know I'm an all around good guy (look at all the smiling faces!) clearly not everyone shares that view. Check this message:
Wow meeting all your followers sounds like an undertaking! I appreciate your friendship and interest to engage. Let's stay in touch here.
What bothered me about this message wasn’t that they’re not interested. I've said before I'm fine if people aren't up for meeting. What bothered me was the tone. It’s not that they think it’s stupid, it's not that they're shy. No: that is a message of fear. You can picture them slowly backing away and picking up their belongings as they type.
Am I a crazy stalker?
I’ve joked with some of the people I’ve met that this whole project is actually an elaborate plan to murder all my followers. (That is not true although it would make quite a fun movie.) I don’t really know why I’m doing this except that I thought it’d be a good story and I’m painfully aware of my own mortality.
I was genuinely concerned. I don’t want to make anyone feel weird. We spoke again afterward and I assured them it wasn’t anything creepy which is of course the exact thing a psycho would say. I left it, but it nagged at me.
I was cheered up after speaking with Jon though (top left) Aside from being a good guy, he also out psycho-ed me in glorious fashion. He has a great blog which you should read, and as I scanned some older entries I remembered he made this video. And it is staggering. It made me feel better because much like me, it wasn't that he was a psycho, it was just that the person viewing the message interpreted it in the wrong way.
To be fair though, when you watch Jon's video, you can maybe understand why: http://impresswomen.tumblr.com/post/20897080437/ladyinred
I think I laughed for a solid fifteen minutes when I first saw it but I didn't get the punchline until I read the blog. I haven't stopped laughing since. My concerns melted away.
You should read the rest of Jon's blog by the way, it's really good. In fact, the sheer volume of great creative work from the people who follow me is daunting. I'm going to do a blog post collating it all once I'm done but seriously, can everyone just stop making cool videos and articles and films and games and music and magic? Some of us have lives to lead.
See you at the finish line.
Special thanks! @crouchybro, @jon_cybernet, @miaouxmiaoux, @daninski, @tont_coles, @duncanm, @mitchellhart, @amynoonan, @mcguireolaf, @therewillbegin, @geo_lit, @ohagangirl, @galluseffie, @owenjwhite, @claire_suzanne, @dalradian, @charliemoments, @thetonydunn, @sladeDJ, @oliwelsh
Look at all these beautiful faces!
I’ve not really done a big update for a while so this is likely to be long. If you can’t face the wall of text and who can right? Here’s the tl:dr version.
TL;DR I've been meeting people on the internet because of time and distance and money. This is a cheat but I'm framing it as Phase 3 and recording all of them so I can do something cool. I'm going to stop the project at 150. Also, I'm doing a show.
Man, even the TL;DR is TL;DR. Brevity is my enemy.
Okay, now the kids are away let’s luxuriate and indulge in my self indulgence.
Firstly, the photos. Some of them are of course the classic double selfie but I can tell you're suspicious of the others. Those ones that look like I've just pulled up somebodies profile pic and pretended they were talking to me like some delusional psycho.
I haven’t. All of those meetings are for real, albeit on Skype or Google Hangout. The reason is that I've gone international. As well as a handful of folk I missed on my tour, I have met people from America and Finland and France in the past month.
It is a cheat, and it does make for a slightly less pleasing photo montage but there is a benefit. Aside from the fact that when meeting people in person you rarely get the opening gambit of 'I think I might be naked, is that OK?' There is a reason I can justifiably call this PHASE 3 and act like this was my plan all along. VIDEO.
Whilst in London I met up with a number of fine people, many of whom were professioanlly involved in social media in various capacities. They understand the potential. When we talked about the project they got very excited and animated and said, 'Oh cool, so are you asking everyone a bunch of questions and comparing the answers? Have you asked them about how they use social media? How are you tracking the stats?' I had no answer other than a shrug and 'Not really, I've just been going out for drinks with people and talking.' They nodded and said, 'Oh OK, well that's cool too.'
They were being polite, I could tell they were disappointed, but I really hadn't thought it through that much. I just thought it'd be fun to meet everyone. I had no plan or agenda when I started this. Now that I'm at PHASE 3 though I have a chance to do all of those things. I can ask everyone the same questions and compare the answers, not just on paper, but in some kind of neat video montage.
I'm not showing any of that yet. I know, I know. First I write an update about my trip around the UK but don't go into detail of all the fun things, then I talk about video but don't actually post any video. Here is why: I’m doing a show.
As I reflected on my journey around the country I thought a lot about why I was doing this and what the outcome might be. I was hoping for some kind of epiphany but so far nothing has come. Unless the epiphany was that evening I sat in Leicester Square close to tears questioning my choices in life. Let’s hope not eh?
I have all this stuff though, all these people. What should I do with it beyond sporadic blog updates? Since I'm in the business of writing movies & TV it seemed like the obvious route to go, but I don't think the narrative would hold up. There's no real drama to it. Nevertheless it's a great story to tell and meander through and go off on tangents so I’m just going to tell it. A slide show, a presentation. You mean like Dave Gorman? YES I DO LETS FIGHT ABOUT IT.
And yes, I'll be stopping at 150 people. WTF? You have 264 followers!
OK OK, this bit is trickier. I’ve already said that 264 followers doesn’t equal 264 people. Cut out spam and businesses and shows and you’re immediately down to about 200. Then you cut out people who haven’t been active and you’re down to about 185. Then cut out people who are into the idea but don’t really want to take part, and people that I've messaged a few times but I've never received a response from, and the number dwindles even further.
I'm continually chasing folk, but it means that the finishing goal is always fluctuating, and I want a hard edit point so I can tell the story and 150 seems about right. Plus it's the Dunbar number (a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships) which is quite poetic.
This project has already rapidly become one of the grandest and delightful pieces of procrastination ever. I need an end goal. It's in sight.
If you’ve come this far you’re beautiful. If you like it, please do share it around, tell your friends. Pretty soon I'm going to have some rooms I need to fill with people.
Special thanks to: @martinpierre, @arfurrabbits, @w_muffinstuffer, @electricleo, @claudette_bp, @appetiteofdest, @ParkerFlowWow, @jamiemchale, @littleredrhino, @jameslawrenson, @steishere, @stiff, @timfountain, @sorrell, @ukdazs
Look at all these beautiful faces.
This is fourteen days of fun. This is 50 followers. This is Birmingham, Stafford, Derby, Nottingham, London, Brighton, Bournemouth, Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, Port Talbot, Cheltenham and Manchester.
It feels like I've been away for months. There's almost too much to write about.
I could talk about travel: I could tell you about the lock in I had in a pub in Dalston with a wonderful array of people and faces from around the world. Or the spectacle of spectacles and haircuts in Brick Lane. Or how I met a University. Or how the joy of adventure when leaving sunny Glasgow was crushed by bleakness and storms of Birmingham New Street station. Or how Brighton was foul thanks to bin strikes. Or how my hometown is now a shadow of it's former self. Or how brilliant Manchester is.
I could talk about the people: The magic of seeing old friends and colleagues that I'd not seen in a decade. The thrill of putting faces to names I'd been conversing with online for years. The sheer volume of skills, talents and occupations: writers, musicians, magicians, artists, sportsmen, councillors, lawyers, coders, designers, charity workers, lobbyists... The common threads that started to emerge from the chats I had; social media starting to become a bit of a grind, the logistics of trying to make a mark creatively with a culture that is increasingly democratised, how for many of the people I've met meeting strangers on the internet has completely shaped their lives.
I will tell you all about that. Later. I promise. First I need to rest. Then I'll begin with the followers that are left: #meetandtweet PHASE 3.
Really, huge and serious thanks to everyone who came out to meet me/gave me somewhere to stay/ didn't attempt to kill me.
@lynchja73, @hawkerem72, @UniofNottingham, @BenSherw, @da_watk, @danielnaca, @mike_denney, @nickyj800, @deanslogash, @barrym, @joffB, @DavidSteer, @OliveRocks, @Blibblobblib, @usherette, @jonattaway, @boothjop, @FlashBangBand, @armyoftrolls, @ScriptwritingUK, @boomruinBMRN, @JohnSelf, @KeironDineen, @Daniel_Dineen, @jameswent1981, @chrispevans1, @rhea_stevens, @TimRooney1, @netocconnell, @adamdineen, @BenLikesMusic, @purple_amigo, @Mariaz84, @chantzgriff, @samledabb, @GlynnNimron, @huwman, @GingeKnievil, @joseph_dineen, @anndineen, @HelReynolds, @sdrhod, @Philomena_95, @aclueaday, @stuttardminx, @mickhowarth, @amycytic, @juamei, @adammarkrose
Well, that's 50 down so I thought I'd take a second to tell you all about my favourite...
Ha! No. I'm actually in the midst of organising my #meetandtweet trip and getting mildly frenzied as I realise I have 14 days across 14 towns to meet around 70 people and make sure not to miss any trains.
What am I doing?
It'll be fine. People have been brilliant so far and I see no reason for this to change with travelling. My main worry is I won't have time to spend as long with people as I'd like. That's really all this is. Just hanging out, talking to people.
I was talking with Sergio (Update no 3, bottom right photo) and relaying my idea that its such a shame that just asking somebody from the internet if they'd like to go for a chat seems weird, but placing it within a proscenium of this silly project somehow makes it OK.
'But it is weird.' he said
'Asking someone online to go for a drink. Unless it's a romantic thing it is weird. Why would you want to meet in real life? What do you get out of real life you can't get from a message? You want to say hello, you just say it. What does meeting in person add to the experience?' (this is not a direct quote, I'm paraphrasing.)
This has been playing on my mind since. What does meeting in person add that you don't get from email or messenger? I haven't come to a conclusion yet.
There are obvious things like tone and body language, but if its someone you know well enough you'd hope that they understand the implied sarcasm or irony even in text.
A big part of it I think is that you're adding an experience to the experience. You're placing the chat in a place and time, you're locking it in a room with just the two of you. It's not a background task, it's not something you're doing whilst doing something else. it's a moment in time. a place. a thing in and of itself.
Its the same way that listening to a record on vinyl is often better than an mp3, or going to the cinema is the best way to watch a film. You cannot help but be consumed by the thing itself. It creates a moment in time, a physical event. It's harder too. It takes organisation and planning. It's not a flimsy thing that you can do at anytime like email. It's a purposeful, planned event which immediately gives it more purpose, and makes us value it more.
Also, what with all the PRISM hoopla it is perhaps one of the last truly private means of conversation and discussion, which would make me feel slightly uneasy if it wasn't such an amazingly sci fi thing to type. We talk to keep secrets.
Anyway. Onward. 12th June. Let's make it a thing.
Fourteen days. 74 followers. 1852 miles. It's not dark, but I am wearing sunglasses.
Look at all these beautiful faces. Another 15 down. Feels like a ‘thing’ now.
So in the last instalment I was talking about how much I hoped I’d meet a psycho, or at least a bad person. Any kind of dickhead would do. Well this month I got lucky. If you’re among the gallery of stars above don’t worry. This isn’t about you. The dickhead, dear reader, was me.
Check out the centre photo above. It's a good photo, we both look happy! This is PJ. He is an excellent guy. What has this got to do with me being a dickhead? Listen: I've only updated the blog once every fifteen meets so far but I take detailed notes of every meeting I have with people. I make a note of how we came to know each other, the things we talked about, anything interesting about the day or the meet itself. We're not talking essays here, I just like to have a good record of everyone. Here's the note I made the following morning after meeting with PJ:
Pj - We got covered in beer? Shameful snippets of conversation. Council estate? Making films/being a director? Is that a thing? Did I totally mistake him for someone else? Oh god.
That's it. That's my detailed notes. What a dickhead.
There are reasons. For starters, I had no intention of meeting up with PJ because at the start of the night he wasn't following me on twitter. I had headed out to meet a different follower, friends of some previous #meetandtweet pals. Upon arriving I quickly realised that the night out itself was a shining example of 21st century socialising. PJ is part of a loosely formed group of pals that have emerged from twitter.
Now I’m no stranger to meeting people from the internet, but in the past it’s always been people from forums. With a forum, you have a collective hub. A wall around you. You can see when people join or leave, you can trace friendships. Everything is public to everyone. Also there’s a baseline for interest, a reason they're all there, be it gamers or bronies or bears (Oh my goodnees I’m not a hack.)
Anyway, you know what you’re getting into, at least a little. With groups formed from twitter, particularly coalesced from a particular area, there is no obvious baseline. Depending on who you follow, only certain conversations may be visible to you. It’s a fragmented mesh of interests and styles and any kind of common theme can be a loose as ‘creative’ or ‘religious’ or ‘political.’ This is a long winded way of saying I met up with a bunch of people who met up through twitter, and it was weird.
Not weird like eww, just odd. A brand new social experience. Because of the nebulous way people have grown towards each other, it's impossible to know how close certain people are. Maybe some of them were pals for years? Maybe they only met tonight and they're just really friendly? Maybe it's nothing to do with twitter and they're just a nice guy in a bar? It's a minefield.
I already knew a few people from the group, indeed I'd already met them in previous months and as my previous blogs will tell you, they are all good people. A few of them were complete strangers, PJ included, but by the end we got on well (I think.) But then there were the other ones. The strange ones. The people that I follow on twitter who don't follow me back.
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a bitterness thing. I have no problem if people don't follow back. The problem is when the asynchronous relationship is revealed in the cold light of day. This is, to me, one of the most socially awkward things that twitter creates.
I mean think about it. By following someone you're getting a glimpse into their life, or at least their narrative of it. You know where they've been, what they do. If they're a sharer you get their worries, their drunken rants and their relationship problems. All of this seems OK until you meet them in real life, then it becomes impossible not to sound like a creep.
THEM: So are you going anywhere on holiday?
YOU: I'm thinking I might go to Japan in the New Year.
THEM: Oh cool! I was actually there last year.
YOU: Oh yeah, yeah, I know. I saw.
THEM: You saw?
YOU: Yeah, I uh, I follow you.
THEM: Oh, right.
YOU: So how is that rash turning out?
Even the language of it is weird. I follow you. Gross.
Anyway. All of these things made me a little unnerved. Despite how lovely everyone was, it was impossible not to feel a bit weird, and there were amazing beers and I got drunk.
The person I had originally arranged to meet was grand, and we had a fine chat about movies & elitism and rapping that I have notes of. By the time I got to PJ and we were smiling outside and covered in beer, memory holes had begun to form. As a clear indicator of my narcissistic tendencies, I can remember 'most' of what I said, but almost nothing of the responses.
Such a dick head.
But this is the project, and we're all learning as we go.
So what's next? Well at 47 people I'm quickly running out of locals so on the 12th of June, I'm going to start travelling around the UK. We're going national. I'll be tweeting and blogging from the road so please do check back and feel free to tweet the links around.
As an addendum, I've been asked what happens if this becomes a thing and I suddenly get thousands of followers overnight. Would I still go and meet them all?
I mean, of course I'd like to, but for one I don't know if it's logistically possible and two, i feel like it would kind of dilute the original project, because people would be getting involved knowing what they're in for. My relative anonymity is what makes this possible (and thankfully impossble for Dave Gorman or Danny Wallace.)
Still, I don't want to put people off. So here's my proposal. 250 is the limit. (I currently have 252 followers, but at least 60 of those aren't human beings.) So I'll keep going until I've met everyone who follows me who's into it OR I hit 250 meetandtweets. That's the plan anyway. This was an idle thought on a Saturday afternoon that I thought would make a cool story, so who knows where it'll end.
Special thanks to:
@mark_boggis, @shoneski, @weeman83, @M_Franchetti, @SharonEThompson, @KittAlpha, @ReadyUpDan, @TheFatConsoler, @IDcanary, @tammclaughlin, @RoddyMcMagic, @DerekHamilton82, @miksforkicks, @1030, @sergiocasci
Look at all these beautiful faces. So I said I'd do an update after the next 15 and here it is and yeah it has taken too long but I've been busy. I made a film, and if you haven't already checked it out you should scroll back to the previous blog and watch it because it's great and unique and scary and funny.
This isn't about me though, this is about them. They are great. Once again, an eclectic mix of good friends, acquaintances and strangers. I can't state it more: Go out and meet these people. It restores your faith in humanity after reading about the snoopers charter that cost £300m and Art cuts that couldn't be avoided that cost £10m and Cameron's lies and. Stop. I can't start thinking about it because I'll just end up stomping about the room in a fury. The point is, 90% of people are better than that, 100% of the people I've met.
I am still hoping for a lunatic or two, if purely for the sake of a narrative. Even just someone a bit racist. Instead I've found smart thinking, empathic, funny and cool people at every turn. YAWN. This is Glasgow, this is the violenceopolis. For the love of god someone headbutt me! (Please do not headbutt me.)
But what if you did headbutt someone? Maybe as an ill advised youth pepped up on hormones and societal pressure and hooch? You'd likely get in trouble. If you're lucky you might end up meeting Lesley, who has been one of the more memorable meeters I've met. I do take detailed notes of every meeting, and they will go up in some fashion, but my meeting with Lesley was a special one.
Lesley's on the far left of the middle row above. Looks lovely right? Someone's mum you're thinking. Maybe a teacher? Sure. We get chatting. What is this twitter thing all about etc. etc. Neither of us can think how we ended up following each other. Doesn't matter. Then I ask her what she's been up to:
'I'm just back from a workshop I was doing at a prison, teaching folk to walk on hot coals and bend bars with their necks.'
'Oh cool, so how did you get into wait what?'
We really got into after that. She's a life coach of a sort. She helps people who have lost their way, either through crime or drugs or just through the grind of life. She helps give people focus and she uses mad skills to do it.
The conversation was wild: confidence and beliefs, Tasoism, Buddhism, the fear of living up to potential, how everything is connected, how existence is the universe trying to understand itself. I hadn't had such a speculative and careening conversation in years, and never completely sober in a Costa Coffee on a wet Tuesday afternoon with a complete stranger.
I came out of the chat buzzing. Also, it turns out we are all connected. Kind of. Arwen, who was one of the first people I met, turns out to be on a quiz team with Laura, who I only recently met, despite her being friends with one of my oldest pals in Glasgow. Also, Caitlin and Gav both knew Laura from Uni. They all followed me for completely different reasons at completely different times. Now granted, pretty much everyone I've met so far has been local so these connections are kind of expected, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays out once I hit the road.
Still not sure what I'm going to do about the foreigners. Not in a UKIP way, just in a travel way. I'm on a budget. The UK is doable though. I'll need to route it, and it'll be a mess of stress and organisation, but I'm in deep now, there's no going back.
*Crack's knuckles, opens Excel*
Time to organise.
Postscript: If you do follow me I will inevitably be in touch if I haven't already, but if you happen to live far away and are planning a visit to Glasgow or Edinburgh anytime soon send a DM and we'll arrange something. Similarly if you want no part in this ridiculous sub par Dave Gorman project that's totally cool, you don't have to unfollow me, just say so. I'm not just springing myself on people. Not for this project at least.
@yelpglasgow, @JackKFriskey, @peterrooney, @lilcakeparlour, @chezwad123, @SaorsaAlba, @lucy_e_avison, @ewanleckie, @JARock, @AbbyGunn, @LauraKane_, @TalonSword, @WantonItalics, @JustRobKane, @Josephine91
#meetandtweet - Update number 1 - HERE
Impatience is a virtue. After filming my first short last year, I was keen to make another almost immediately. Just something fun I could throw up on youtube. As I started working through some ideas, I started to think about how long the previous short took. How much time I spent sourcing the cast and crew, organising locations, scheduling the shoot, editing the raw footage. Too much. I wanted it to be faster. I didn't want all that hassle. I'm a writer, I'm inherently lazy. Isn't there some way I could make a film, from initial idea to final cut, without ever leaving my sofa?
Spirits of the Past is what came from that idle notion. A movie made entirely online. The original script, the auditions, the table read, the rehearsals, the editing, the whole thing was done from my sofa. I've still not met half the cast in real life.
We did the whole thing live, a 15 minute take. Much of the editing was done live too. I was part of the hangout but hidden, and from there I was able to control the camera and move between the characters without Google forcing my hand. Once it was done I made a few tweaks, tidied up the sound as best I could, cut out some noise, and stuck some credits to the end. Aside from that this is essentially a raw live performance.
This is not the future of film. The audio and video quality isn't nearly good enough yet and the frame is limited (you can't record live hangouts on an iphone yet, so movement around locations is inherently tricky. I tried.) but as an experiment, as a proof of concept, I am extremely pleased with the results.
Huge thanks to all the actors who gave their time. Let me know what you think, share with your friends. Call up some old pals maybe, it'd be nice to catch up right? Stay gold.
I had forgotten when this was originally published, but thanks to a reference to Chico Time within it, I'm able to be certain it was published in February 2006. It may have taken 7 years but finally that song has found it's use.
Cities make music. Geographical and social situations coalesce and from the melting pot musical genres emerge. The production lines and diverse population of Detroit’s motor city led to Motown, and the civil rights movement and anger at the government led to the MC5. Liverpool was one of the first places in the UK where rock n roll records hit our shores thanks to the vibrant shipping industry, and a few plucky young lads got inspired and started their own rock n roll band. But now, for the first time in history, a new musical genre has emerged from the ether. As much as many creators of the mashup will claim it was their city that started the trend, the natural home of the mashup isn’t geographical.
Mcsleazy: It’s the first style of music
that owes its popularity and current existence to the internet. The collation
of acapellas, the meeting of like minded folk, the distribution of the finished
article – the internet is integral to all the stages of the creation of the
bootleg There’s no other style of music where this is the case
I had the 2manyDjs album, I had heard and enjoyed Freelance Hellraiser's Stroke of Genieus. I even had a copy of the whipped cream mixes by the evolution control committee on vinyl, but I don’t think I truly embraced the mashup until I found it online. As far as I knew, mashups had come and gone. But then someone sent me a link to the Sixxmixx, a weekly San Francisco radio show by partyben, devoted to mashups and available to download. It was a revelation. It was harmonious, exciting, and current. This wasn’t just a comedy mashup, this was something more. Using the Sixxmix as my first landmark, I’ve been able to back track from this point and discover a thriving and very much alive culture of mashup artists that have amazed me with their skill and imagination. Partyben of course, but DJ Riko, Pojmasta, Lou and Placido, DJ Zebra, the cassette boys, and of course, Glasgow’s own McSleazy.
Mcsleazy started the Get Your Bootleg On website in 2002, and in just a few short years it has become an icon. It's the natural home for the mashup, where old veterans and kids just getting started all share the same space, it’s a singularly original place in the music industry. It’s democratic, and the respect you earn comes from your genuine skill and how you treat others. Anyone can make a mashup these days, the internet provides the raw materials in p2p software, gybo gives you a place to share.
Mcsleazy: Technology is a factor too.
It’s like the first time someone made a cheap, easily accessible guitar.
Suddenly everyone bought one, but 98% of the tunes people wrote were crap.
In mashup’s case, the guitar is a program called ACID by Sony, in recent years seemingly tailoring itself to bootleg production, making it ever easier, ever simpler for someone to go from idea, to finished article shared with the world in a matter of hours. Indeed, on McSleazy’s radio show he does just that, asks the listeners to choose some tracks and gets someone to mash them together into a new song before the show is finished.
Do you think it’s as strong now as ever? How sustainable a genre do you think it is?
The quality ratio is the same. The level of originality wavers. They’ve been very successful recently.
for sustainability – it’s a unique genre. It bounces off every other style of
music, so if any style of music becomes fashionable or popular, then the
bootlegs can reflect that
it’s constantly evolving and bouncing off styles. It’s always fresh
Why do you think many people don’t take it too seriously? Do you take it seriously? As a genre in itself?
Companies dismiss it. They used to embrace it, but then they didn’t know what
to do with it. They thought that because it was an underground style of music,
they could exploit it. But how do you commercialise something that’s
fundamentally a bastardisation of what the record companies do?
They couldn’t figure out how to make money out of it.
Bands generally liked it
Radio stations loved it
The press jumped on it too
I kept doing it cos of the reaction when I was DJing
I mean in more of a public perception. I was thinking that it’s difficult for people to see beyond it as a bit of fun. Perhaps because there is no original voice within the music. Even something as sample heavy as hip hop has a some personal voice in it, however slight
but the wider public have just put Chico Time at number 1 for the second week
But do you consider it important to be taken seriously? I think mashups can be very disarming, they can strip a track of whatever message or meaning it may have already had. People get cross about that.
can strip a track of whatever message or meaning it may have already had” –
that’s a 2 way street – it can add meaning too.
The best bootlegs – I think – are ones that mix genres, messages, styles
and create something new
A bad mash-up can ruin two songs at once. A good mash-up takes two songs that you already know, and makes a completely new track that the listener is already familiar with. Like I said, the main outlet I have – apart from the radio – is DJing live. When people hear the intro to a track, then something new kicks in, it’s always, always a good reaction. I’ve played tracks that I thought may be too sacrilegious to abuse, but there’s not been an instance of that yet.
No, it should absolutely not be taken seriously. It’s party music.
Party music, absolutely. The joy of the mashup, the thing that separates it from other entirely sample based music, is the familiarity. When you’re out at a disco you are waiting for those first few bars of that song you love, it’s all about expectation and delivery. Mashups give you expectation, then surprise, then more expectation. It keeps you on your toes and makes you laugh and smile as well as dance and shake your ass.
This constant battle between what you love, what you think you’ve heard a thousand times and suddenly hear for the first time all over again is what makes mashups so wonderful, so powerful. Also it’s a democratic artform where everything is welcome. Nothing is cool and nothing is sacred, it’s all music there to be enjoyed.
Yeah – I’ve done some really slow downtempo bootlegs that I still think are really good but the dance floor friendly ones are the ones everyone remembers and people always come back to you a week or so later telling you songs that they think will go well together
How do you get away with the copywrite stuff?
Get away in what sense?
Like, I see what happens to a lot of bootleg
sites, the cease and desist orders etc
and yet here you are, with your own website with your own stuff on it, plus a radio show and that stuff you’re doing for the film, you are quite high profile in the scene, and yet you don’t seem to have been targeted
It’s possibly because of the major label
affiliations that I’ve not been targeted
How can the BPI claim to represent the very people who are employing me ?
and try and stop me doing it?
It’s an irrelevance. Let’s say I mix Gorillaz
with Franz Ferdinand. I’m not putting out anything which the public can go out
and buy I’m not affecting any sales
I’m surely introducing some people to the music of these artists I’m not costing the labels anything
Inevitably, as the mash up scene gets older and larger, people will tend to drift away from the simplicity of A vs. B, tend to float more towards a style of glitch pop or perhaps some kind of atonal experimentation, like these pursuits are somehow more worthy. I think, at heart, the simplicity of the mashup is what makes it so wonderful, the accessibility of it, how something can be so familiar and so strange all at once, it’s a beguiling form. There are often misses, no doubt, but when they hit they hit hard, and you forget how the original songs went, there is a moment of serendipity, and you think, fuck art, let’s dance.
SELECTED MASHUP DISCOGRAPHY
Look at all these beautiful faces. I'm about a month in, and things are going swell. 15 out of a potential 176 ( it's a moving target since I get the odd new follower so this may well turn into some Sisyphean task but what isn't, you know?). That's not too bad going. I mean, it's not super efficient but whatever, give me a break.
Only 3 have been total strangers so far. I think that's where the real guts of the experiment is. Of the rest, some are very dear friends, some are people I've met just once or twice. All of them have been delightful. Honestly, not one boring chat. I suppose the very nature of trying to meet strangers from the internet for no reason other than to say hello and have a chat gives the whole meeting an unusual frisson.
The weirdness is a shame. I feel like I'm already building up to some grand conclusion in my head and it makes me a little sad. The fact that framing this whole thing as a project is the only way to make meeting people seem slightly less weird. If you've just met someone once, or if you only know of them through twitter, then asking them to go for a drink seems inherently odd (unless you have some kind of ulterior romantic motive). The immediate reaction from the somebody who isn't really your friend is, 'Why?' As though the act of just sitting and talking and being with other humans isn't enough. We're all so proactive trying to build lives and careers and I don't have time and who is that guy again? We lose track of why we're doing the very... I'm getting ahead of myself.
Of the fifteen so far, seven of them were from outside Glasgow, where I live. Two of them live in Hong Kong so I got lucky that they were home visiting because I don't have Hong Kong ticket money. I do have Edinburgh money though, and I took the first trip solely for the purpose of meet and tweet. Sadly, I chose the absolute worst day to travel. Rugby. My train from Glasgow to Edinburgh was the busiest train I've ever been on in my life. I spent the 45 minute journey belly to belly with a man twice my age, breathing into one another's mouths. It was so awkward I even tried to feign sleep. I don't think he bought it.
It's not all been easy going. Two weeks after starting, I wrote the following in my notes:
I hate this. I've created my own albatross. I don't have time for this. Will everyone will respect me less if I just quit (pro tip: NOBODY CARES) but I care, or I should care. Just keep going. It's a subquest. A way to farm xp. Increase your charm.
This was after I'd created a spreadsheet (five columns - twitter ID, date contacted, date chased, possible date, date met) and contacted about ten people who never got back to me. I didn't give up. I used a videogame analogy to convince myself not to stress about it. Also, what the hell am I even giving up? It's just meeting people. It's easy and it's brilliant and I encourage everyone to do the same.
I'll do an update after the next fifteen. Special thanks to the following:
@bennywebb, @jendavies, @cporteus, @raphski, @_insomnius_, @tightlinebar, @alabamaslim, @ukaser, @hot_piping, @guyphenix, @gavininglis, @keyeri, @verdandiweaves, @scottama, @billyrmagician
I want to meet all of the human beings who follow me on twitter. I've made a list, I've been at it for a week. I've met 5. It's been terrific. Why do I want to meet all the human beings who follow me on twitter?
The main reason is simple. At some point I'm going to be dead and wouldn't this be a fun thing to do and a cool story to tell. When I had the notion I then went ahead and started asking people before I chickened out or rationalised it too much. Begin now etc.
There are more intellectual reasons I've made up since arranging to meet people and feeling like I should have some kind of formal explanation. Stuff like how Twitter is a tool, but people don't use it to it's fullest potential. Sure it's great for marketing and in some senses measuring success, but at heart it's a social network, and more so than any other offers the potential to meet all kinds of new people.
But what if they're a psycho? People generally aren't psychos. 99% of the people you've ever met have been good people. Some of them may have been stupid or ignorant or boring or smelled bad, so you wouldn't want to hang out with them more, but none of them were a danger. Even if they were, so long as I didn't die it'd make the story even better.
I'm not a danger, I just want to meet everyone who follows me on twitter.
HMV going into administration was inevitable. Over the past few days I’ve seen a bunch of people online talking about how much of a shame it is and posting their #hmvmemories. There’s a huge store where I live in Glasgow in a prime city centre location. The very few times I’ve been in there over the past year or two it’s felt like a tomb. No doubt someone will buy it, but unless they drastically change what they do, it will just be delaying the inevitable.
Here’s why I go to the high street, I’m not including supermarkets or corner shops in this:
1 – I absolutely need something NOW. Usually a last minute gift.
2 – I want to test something out or try something on.
3 – Exploring the city. Checking out the people, looking for something new.
Number 1 and 2 I still do, but regarding the stuff HMV sell I don’t need to. Everything is digital, and it is BETTER that way and will not change.
Number 3 I do very rarely, because in most high streets there's nothing to see. Looking through all the #hmvmemories stuff on twitter, a lot of people are lamenting the loss of HMV, claiming that it was the place where they first discovered X band who changed their life. I can sympathise.
I grew up in a relatively small town in South Wales. Despite being serviced with some great indie record shops in addition to the high street, there was still a lot of stuff I couldn’t get. A trip to a big city with a big record shop was a big deal. They had all that stuff that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Usually you’d go with a pal, so they’d be pointing out stuff to you too. It was an exciting social experience. All of that happens still, but it’s online and it’s better.
I do think there is still a place in the highstreet for a shop like HMV though, but by trying to replicate the online models it will already have failed.
Here’s what I think. The growth of online has been a huge blow to the high street and has no doubt been a factor in the fall of HMV, BUT it has also led to an explosion of creativity and new talent. There are more bands, artists, t-shirt designers, dress makers and every kind of artisan worker than ever before. The tools and the knowledge are readily available. Every city in the country will have its own collection of makers and creators, really good ones too, the issue is exposure.
So why not convert these dusty cathedrals to old media into something new? Why not take an HMV, a huge complex in the centre of a city, and use it as a constantly updating showcase for the absolute best that the city has to offer.
Essentially a big market with stalls and tables and wall space available to rent at realistic prices. Give local creators, makers and designers a chance to showcase themselves. Stalls for jewellery makers, demo pods for indie game developers, racks and displays for local dress makers made by local cabinet designers. Allow artists and photographers to display their work on the walls, allow local filmmakers to screen their films. Keeping the old HMV ethos alive, they could showcase local bands, give them a chance to play some songs and set up a merch table and have links to their website.
To use one particular case study based on Glasgow: http://getaroundglasgow.spreadshirt.co.uk/shop/designs
These are brilliant t shirts that will mean nothing to anyone outside of Glasgow. I imagine the notion of setting up a shop on a highstreet wouldn’t even cross their mind. The rent would be astronomical and they wouldn’t make enough money. How about instead they can book a table at a huge megastore in the middle of the city. Maybe rent it for a month. Give them a chance to raise their profile, show off their wares and make a bit of money.
This would reintroduce the social aspect of the high street too. It would give people a reason to explore and discover and as a bonus it would help local businesses flourish and make the high street something that sits at the heart of the city.
It would also make visits to other cities more exciting, because every one would have its own unique features, and give you a much broader sense of the place rather than just another huge warehouse filled with DVDs you’ve already seen that only cost £5!
His Master’s voice doesn’t work anymore. The image of the dog staring amazed at the disembodied voice coming from the gramophone. Everyone has their own voice now, and their own way of projecting it. It’s not one voice shouting to many it’s a conversation, and it should be public.
I had to see Declan Dineen Lies for Money, not least because I found the title of his show refreshingly honest in a festival where every show is, it seems, ‘five stars’, ‘unmissable’ or just ‘brilliant’. Declan describes himself as ‘a magician, writer and all around good guy’ and I spoke with him before his show. When you learn his early inspirations were James Randi, the American mathematician and science writer Martin Gardiner and cult magic de-bunkers Penn & Teller you understand where his show gets it edge from. Declan first performs then deconstructs a series of card and other tricks, alongside a narrative demonstrating how easy it can be to get taken in by charlatans. Part of Declan Dineen’s charm for me was the recognition that, intelligent as we all might like to think ourselves, few of us are truly immune from some sense of wonder or mystery at the seemingly inexplicable. The other part of his charm is that, having explained the trick, you still can’t help but admire the skill with which he performed it.
Skeptic Magazine - Link