Mail Bag

In the comments of one of my previous posts, Scott Fitchet wrote

“I have no idea where this project will go” … I hope you pick some kind of angle for your “show” that has some kind of positive affect on the world. “here is a photograph/video of everywhere on earth” is just “i touched it first”. what else do you have in mind besides the fun tech aspect?

I’m responding here just because my answer was getting too long (and Scott went to Hamline so I figure I should post it where he will see it…..)

When I say I have no idea where this project will go, I’m don’t mean I have no idea of what I want to do, but rather I have no idea how big or involved it could get.

I have a very clear idea of what I want to do. The technology is not going to be a focus; it’s just a means to accomplish what I want to do. I talk about it a lot here because it’s a planning issue I have to deal with, but hopefully everything will be transparent to the people who read the site.

First, I should make clear that I’m not doing this to make a positive effect on the world. Maybe I will, but that isn’t my motivation. I’m doing first and foremost because I want to see the world. In particular, I want to see it in a different way than I have before. Prior to any plans of making a website or doing video, that was the original motivation.

The idea for the project isn’t all that unique. There certainly isn’t an “I touched it first” aspect to what I’m doing. I think I’m just going to take it to another level from what has been done in the past. It has been done before to a certain extent by Jim Rogers and Mike Pugh. I got a large amount of inspiration from The Jason Project, which I remember watching Tivo’d episodes from the National Geographic Channel. The Jason Project did live shows for classrooms on location from wherever they had set up their science camp that particular year. It was very interactive and even though it was aimed at children, I was fascinated at what they were doing and how they did it. It was some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

As I thought more about what I could do and what had been done in the past, the more I began to realize that I could really make something much more out of this than just a trip around the world. I think most travel shows like you see on the Travel Channel, are boring and predictable. They provide no depth, and really can’t, given the limitations of the medium. Most travel blogs are nothing more than “we did this today” summaries of what the travelers did that particular day. Not very educational.

I don’t just want to take photos of the Taj Mahal. I want to talk with other visitors, I want to talk to the groundskeeper, I want to talk to the guy who runs it, I want to talk about the history of it, and I want to talk about what it means to India, I want to see the places where most tourists can’t get to go and I want to see all the vendors selling cheap Taj Mahal souvenirs. I want to put up all the content that would otherwise make the cutting room floor of a travel TV show, as well the photos and thoughts of my time there.

I also think, in my humble opinion that I’m in a unique position to pull something like this off. 1) I have the means to do it. 2) I have some experience with international travel, so I’m not doing this totally green. 3) I have enough exposure to science that I could speak intelligently on such subjects. 4) I have enough exposure to business that I could speak intelligently on such subjects. 5) I have enough exposure to politics and international affairs that I could speak intelligently on such subjects.

There is a reality TV element to what I want to do also. I want people who will never be able to make such a trip to be able to follow along every day (or every few) and be able to communicate with me while I’m on the road. I want to be able to meet people from the website, eat dinner with them, and record what they have to say. I could also get people to travel with me for certain legs of the trip.

When I was in Argentina, I met the husband of the colleague we worked with from the University of Buenos Aires. This was a fascinating guy. He was an Argentinean of Swiss/Italian descent who worked for an Italian company which ran a water utility in Honduras, which he ran. Talking to him over the several times we had dinner was really interesting, and while I was I doing it I wished I had a camcorder with me to record it. It was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to put on the site.

If the project can gain momentum, I think there is lots of neat stuff I can do. I have no idea how many people would watch or follow something like this. I think I could get enough video footage to edit together something interesting for a cable channel on a regular basis. I could write a book. The primary motivation for all of that would be to cover the costs of the trip and allow me to go places where I might not otherwise get access. I could do interactive things with classrooms too. I think that would be fun.

But I’m not planning on the project gaining any momentum. If it does, great, but if it doesn’t, oh well. I think it’s possible to do something beyond just taking tourist photos. As with any project of this type, I’m probably the only one who can see the potential of this if it is done properly.

I do have one big concern. I don’t know if I can pull this off alone. I’ve been around the world alone before, but I did it in 3 weeks and had people to meet me at each stop. Even if I have people back in the US as support, I won’t always be able to be in contact with them. There are some issues as simple as working a camera by myself and trying to talk or interview someone that will be hard. It’s not like you can just ask someone to drop what they’re doing and follow you around the world for a year, even if all the expenses are paid. It’s not just being away from home for that long, it’s having no home at all for that long.

Anyway, this is a more fleshed out answer to what I want to do and why I’m doing it. It might not be totally coherent, but there it is.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

4 replies on “Mail Bag”

I’m really looking forward to you doing this and pulling it off Gary. I do think just traveling for the sake of traveling (and taking boucoup pics) is one of the best parts about being alive. Most reality television is not.

If your “show” (for lack of a better word yet) is as interesting as your blog has been the last few years (especially the geopolitical stuff that I’m able to follow) then we’re all about to learn a lot more than we do watching just about anything else (which is no small effect).

One great thing is that by the time you are doing this we’ll probably be able to view the video aspect on our TV sets in a fairly high resolution.

So, it seems like a book is the way to go — with a companion web presence. The book is still the vehicle of choice to get some basic exposure in the press, and the web site is what would make it a “phenomenon”. So, while you are gone you will of course take a lot of photos and lot of video, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be edited in real time — it could be after the fact.


With a new software technology the computer software, so far rather…

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