When conducting an interview, one can't help but wonder: "What if this doesn't get published?" Surprisingly, or, perhaps not so much, the likelihood of an entire interview being printed is pretty slim. As a writer, this hurts. It hurts even more when you know there is something juicier, something genuine lying beneath the surface. It's even worse when you've already transcribed it, aka, listened, and re-listened, and re-listened to yourself sounding stupid on the tape recording.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Conversations don't need to end up on the cutting room floor, or in a shoebox of old tapes, or on a dusty harddrive. Blank on Blank, a new initiative to take shelved interviews and bring them to life, exists so that these special encounters and chance anecdotes aren't just in the old shoebox, rather easily accessible for all to enjoy. As they describe it, Blank on Blank is "part This American Life, part TED, and part Library of Congress." A few of their already available pieces, like Brian Raftery's interview with Thom Yorke (above), drive the concept home.
YouTube's Hunter Walk recently took to his blog to talk about the project, and the importance of recording history, especially in a world where new events are happening every milli-second. Walk notes, "In a realtime world, archives are undervalued. That's to say, we get so obsessed with what's happening now, that's there's actually a lot of great content which didn't find it's maximum audience but isn't getting surfaced in our social newsfeeds." And such is the wonder behind Blank on Blank — it forces you, as a viewer, to stop what you are doing, listen to what is being said and digest it with mental clarity. The stories it shares urge you to think critically about the content. These stories are not scanable headlines, anecdotal bits, or click-bait tweets, nor can be they be summed up in a simple 'Like.' Rather, they shed light on the beautiful minutia that make life worth living. As David Roth put it in The Classical yesterday, "a world with Blank on Blank in it seems a lot more interesting than one without it." Just like a world with stories is a lot better than a world without them.