EMAIL. What a fantastic, weird space.
‘N’ is giving me a crazy unique perspective on how much things have changed since I last used email to get in touch with people I didn’t (yet) know. Those days, I was writing for a newspaper, so I often reached out to random people for quotes, for references, for corroboration, for more expert opinion, and for photographs or samples or other things that I could use to illustrate a particular story. Quotes, yes, I said that, huh. Good quotes, enlightening and to point, were gold.
The world as I knew it from my standard-issue reporter’s desk was an open book; Internet was a way to find the people I needed to connect with to discover, step by step, what a story ‘wanted to be.’ Much like painting, you made a foray into the unknown territory, then through hunches and gut-feel, and sometimes messing up, and sometimes hitting on ‘the happy accident,’ ie a thing you didn’t expect but somehow gave you a new inspiration, writing a story was about discovering the gem.
‘N’ is the biggest (uncommissioned) story I’ve taken on to write, and I’ve only just begun preliminary note-taking, observation on my hunch. I’ll tell you that in a second. ‘N’ Phnom Penh was the first round of searching, of seeking, something that I had a gut feeling about. Here it is. The hunch: Space is disappearing for people to be heard. I mean truly heard.
Let me say that again.
Space is missing. To connect, for real. That means, to feel you are being heard.
I think we need more than ever a way that’s low-committment and low-key and just light.
To be heard. To connect. Quickly. So ‘N’ is short. And just once.
Creativity is inborn, everywhere
ASIA GETS A HARD REPUTATION for being ‘uncreative.’ But that’s not true. People just don’t value creativity, so they don’t practice. And they get stunted. That’s why you have Singapore (boring and plastic and dull) or fear of risk (ergo, boring and plastic and dull).
The creative in each of us is looking for new input, so as to put at bay some ennui. Because that which we are consuming online is far too skewed towards the bizarre (girl rolls down window to get picture of lion on a safari; is eaten), gross (video clip on autoplay about a guy who maims people and tapes it), or just plain dumb. I mean, really dumb. What about our brains? What about our hearts and hands?
As a person who has largely made a life and a living from creative work, I can’t stand by and watch this. I can’t deal with the way we are frittering and squandering the best of our potential; distracted by the likes of apps such as Invisible Girlfriend or games designed to manipulate and bend us to their will, a la Farmville.
So what to do.
Well, make ‘N’. Or, at least try.
‘It’s not for everyone’
A BIT OF LEARNING. Not everyone is into the idea of getting out of the box. So that’s what I’m finding out, in the responses coming back, some of them heavy-handed (‘There’s no way I’m paying you’), and some of them just weird (‘How do I tell my boyfriend? How do I know you’re not going to kidnap me?’) Uhhh…. What?
Rather than go into the long story about the oddness of internet exchanges (will do that in a private post—I feel like I’m finally able to relate to my friends who tell their horror stories about online dating), or expound on the exasperating feelings of the lack of quality on the internet, I will just share with you one quick response I gave to a person who said, very honestly, (and something that I welcomed was that honesty), ‘What is N? Seems abstract.’ Here is my answer:
As I get to talking to a lot of people about what it is (and try to go into why it matters), I realize quickly that something this unusual is definitely not in the mainstream consciousness. But it’s about mixing things up, meeting people you otherwise wouldn’t, and getting out of the silo of an industry/group. In America I hosted a lot of events that were far less designed like [DELETED] and [DELETED], in which I invited editors and bloggers and photographers in my hometown to get together and talk about what’s going on. They were surprised to find out how much they could learn in a very short time just by sharing their own take on a thing like ‘media, change, new media’. I like the efficiency of making a space where so much exchange can happen in a very compressed time. Who has time anymore?? That’s why there’s ‘N’.
Status of ‘N’ Bangkok
‘N’ CANNOT HAPPEN unless exactly 16 people join. We have 11.
Between now and the actual date, I’ll reconfirm with people. Tap a waitlist, most likely.
If Bangkok is less open to this than I had imagined (and it is way, way less open than I had imagined!), I’m not opposed to cancelling ‘N’, if we can’t get to 16. I am totally fine with changing ‘Bangkok’ to another city.
Maybe it’s just not the right time, or the right place, or the right people.
Except: 11 people think it is. Can I discover the next 5? Can I make it happen for all of them? I’m going to try.
As always, I will do my best. Let’s see.
Next ‘N’ events: London, Copenhagen
ARE YOU IN LONDON OR COPENHAGEN? Request an invite at the bottom of this page >