As I mentioned yesterday, I had a chat with a rather splendid new thing called “imperica.com”. We talked about The Black Operatives Department, developing characters and breaking things. There are some splendid articles on imperica so make sure you follow them on twitter.
Sadly the web is dead. How annoying, my dad was just getting the hang of it. I did an interview last week, which should be going online this evening and mentioned, in passing, that I thought the web was a lot like CB-Radio (and I’ve linked that for the benefit for those of you who may be under 30 years of age). Yes, to me, the web is a lot like CB-Radio, but with pictures. Now I’m sure that wiser and cleverer people than myself have made this comparison before but frankly I can’t be bothered to search for them but one thing I think they may have missed, and this is especially true of twitter and to a certain extent Facebook, is the fact that, although the web is like a big archive with search engines and caches and things, it has become very “instant” or “time specific”. Let me try and explain.
I’d been playing with this idea for a while. One afternoon I was feeling a bit grumpy and listening to Pink Floyd (as you do) and decided that my twitter characters might like to sing along with what I was listening to. The picture gives a false impression of what was actually happening their tweets were, of course mixed up with all the other tweets of everybody that follows them. The whole thing only really lasted a couple of minutes too, so you really had to be following them and be online to see what was going on. I’ve used this a great deal over the last couple of years. At first I was concerned that people might miss something but over time I’ve come to enjoy the fact that smaller audiences experience or witness certain bits/moments in any given story. Twitter is good for this. Although it is kind of still “there” the moment has gone, especially when there is real interaction with other people because, when you’re in character, you’re forced to improvise.
Now then, CB-Radio. I used to do CB-Radio when I was a kid and I have to admit that I bloody loved it; I loved the language, having a handle and I loved having the kit and sending my dad up to the loft to fix the antennae. There was a community in our area and we would arrange to “meet up” on air and just chat and stuff. There was an emergency channel, there were freaks and there were some pretty creepy people there too. And it was random. I think I miss it a bit.
So I was thinking I might grab myself some kit, nothing fancy, just enough to get the job done and I was wondering if anyone else fancied having a go. Just to see if we could do anything with it. Any takers?
So, I thought it might be a good idea to get this all kicked off with a bit of a workshop; something to ease us all into setting up a framework, creating characters and learning to work together. I’ve had a bit of a think, dug into my old notebook of situations/contexts that I never got around to using and thought it might be fun to use the idea of commuting to be the basic backdrop for the first workshop.
So this is what I’d like you to try and do:
- Think about a character that commutes (planes, trains, buses, cars, underground etc).
- Think about what kind of person your character is; what do like, dislike? What makes them happy or sad? Where do they work? Why are they travelling?
- Try and write a small abstract of your character. This is something I wrote for one of the “wormwoods” characters: Gavin Toulson-Davey (about 40 years old): Gavin is a City drop out that may, or may not have more than one skeleton in his closet. Sick of the city, he has moved to Totnes to get in touch with nature. He bought the shop from Mr. Cecil Wormwood who died shortly there after. Gavin likes to think of his little supermarket as an “Eco2.O startup” and worships Innocent Smoothies and Howies and dreams of building a wormwoods in every town!
- I’d like you to document your thinking here.
That’s the first workshop and we will be working together on this over the course of the next week. This is actually the fun part of developing online characters and is usually the bit I do on my own.
I’ve set up a little research stream on friendfeed which is collecting commuter related tweets, pictures and articles. Subscribe and have a good dig through it. There’s no pressure on this. Try your best. Ask as many questions as you wish either here or on friendfeed.
Anybody can take part so if you fancy a try just have a go and join in.
Building an Online Character
I thought it might be helpful to put a little case study together to show how I normally go about setting up and deploying a character. This may not be new for some, but helpful for others. If you’ve got any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
To all those who expressed an interest in taking part in The Black Operatives Department, a huge thank you. If you’ve come here for the first time and don’t know what the BOD is, then you might like to have a little read of this. I have put together a couple of things for those who want to get involved:
I’ve created a Black Operatives List on Twitter. You can keep up with fellow members here: http://twitter.com/BlackOperatives/black-operatives/members . Over time, this list should grow and should you like to join us just click here and I’ll add you to the list.
Friend Feed Group.
This will be the main play ground of The BOD. I learned to love and respect friendfeed while working with @zeroinfluencer and it is a fantastic “place” to collect interesting things, discuss and develop ideas and “practise”. So if you want to get involved with the Black Operatives Department please make sure you join the group. http://friendfeed.com/blackoperatives .
Everything the BOD does is and will be licensed by the BY-SA license, the terms of which can be read here.
The Black Operatives Department by Marcus Brown is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at firstname.lastname@example.org.