Everybody knows technology is distorting social interaction into a strange new beast that will bring the world to ruin. The art of conversation is lost and soon we'll all be isolated within our own personalized bubbles, incapable of physical human interaction. Put us on a spaceship with floating chairs and we'll happily recreate the world of Wall-E. The Internet promised to bring together people from around the globe, but has it separated those right next to each other?
As a mother and daughter who are both active participants in our respective online communities, Keelin and I disagree that the web builds walls between people. To prove it, we will fly halfway around the globe to spend an entire summer living on the kindness of the Internet community in the physical world.
Can the Outernet catch us?
Barring any dramatic price changes, our backers will choose from London, Paris, or Frankfurt for our journey's commencement in June, 2014. A hostel will be booked beforehand in the first city for initial orientation and planning. Other than our return flight in August, the summer will be spent with minimal pre-scheduling until the trip itself is underway.
Using online resources, we will meet old and new friends for the first time in a physical space and conduct interviews about web-based friendships. We'll also be reaching out to nearby experts and academics for interviews as we travel.
Driving a narrative-style documentary will be the growth and maturation of the mother/daughter relationship as we move from location to location. Since this trip will be run on a tight budget to encourage online help-seeking, the stress is bound to lead to fights, tears, and bonding moments between mother and daughter. We will both learn lots about history, various cultures, each other, and ourselves...and it will all be recorded.
The world will be able to follow the trip in real time from our website (yet to be created) which will be updated with journal entries, pictures, and video as we walk our way across Europe with only an Android smartphone and nearly-strangers to guide us. Upon return to the U.S., the video footage will be edited into a documentary.
Any amount above and beyond our Kickstarter goal will go toward improving the documentary experience. Example stretch goals include the addition of a camera person for third person POV footage and organizing the first ever get-together of a decade-old Internet forum community in a city of the backers' choice. We'll create individual stretch budgets for the backers to choose from if and when it comes to that.
Post production costs aren't figured in because I already have access to those tools without additional funding. (To be clear, I do not mean the video editor app I used for the Kickstarter video above. Though if you need to edit video on your phone, I really recommend that app!)
My process improvement work experience spans three years and over a hundred successful projects--many international--so I'm confident in my ability to pull off a project of this scale. That said, if you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to shoot them my way!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk of this project is that the web can't support us and we must spend the summer paying for places to sleep. As this wasn't the goal of the project, very few housing costs have been budgeted in. However, I refuse to travel halfway around the world with my child and no reassurance that she will be safe. If it becomes necessary, emergency hostel stays will be funded personally.
While I firmly believe that most people are good at heart, it's impossible to plan meetings of this type without confronting the fear of meeting a wackadoo, for lack of better term. Precautions will be consistently taken and reassessed to ensure that all documentary participants--us, our friends, and those around us--always feel safe. (e.g. use of public meeting spaces, not meeting with unaccompanied minors, private communication with off-site allies before leaving public spaces)
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