What did I learn last year?
In March 2010, I traveled, sometimes with others, sometimes alone, coast-to-coast across the USA from Boston to Los Angeles. Our main method of transportation was the train – We chose to pre-plan our itinerary a
nd to organise tweetups wherever we could in order to meet people and make new connections. One of our goals was to visit the SXSWi festival in Austin TX via a more interesting route than direct flight nut primarily we wanted to see whether it could be done and what help our online social networks could be.
I learned that letting go of control of where we were staying and what we would do led to far richer experiences. Yes it was interesting and exciting to meet new people and those I'd only ever tweeted at but the highpoints of the journey included not knowing where we were going to stay in New Orleans until a friend of a friend lent us her house for four days or when I unexpectedly found myself playing ukulele with 25 Hawaiian-shirted senior citizens in Maryland.
Above all, I learned that the journey is more important than the destination and that the social capital I've built over the last few years of engaging with the social web is a valuable resource.
What's happening next?– The Bare Facts
I will begin my journey somewhere on the West Coast of the USA on March 1st 2011
I intend to visit Austin for SXSW between March 11th 15th
I will leave from somewhere on the East Coast for home on March 31st
Everything else (the route I take, the transport I use, the people I stay with) is up for discussion, negotiation and facilitation my online social network.
What do I expect to get out of it?
It's an adventure of exploration – I'm certain that in partnership with all the people I know in the US I will make it from coast to coast in the timeframe, but I have no idea what route I will take or what might happen on the way. I also haven't ruled out taking detours into Canada or Mexico...
Going deeper, it's also a look at the nature of these online relationships and what exactly is the return that we all get from engaging in them. What is the nature of the social capital created? How do you use it? What is it worth? How do you avoid depleting it? How can you grow more?
Finally I'm interested in exploring new ways of telling stories using a variety of media, of how to tell stories like this in near real-time, how a journey like this can spawn other stories and whether it still makes sense to talk about an “audience” when anyone has the opportunity to be a participant
What I need
In return for prominent association with this creative exploration, I'm raising money to cover my overhead while I'm away, for a contingency fund in case I do get stuck plus some kit to facilitate story-telling on the road and my travel there and back.
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