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This is amazing.
April 12, 2001 7:48 AM   Subscribe

This is amazing. The project seems well underway already, but I searched and didn't find any link on MF. I've spent all morning picking through these designs, reading the updates and discoveries, and I totally wish I was involved. What do people think of this organic/digital media collision? And the anonymous project mythos? Has anyone seen one of the journals, or received one?
posted by legibility (32 comments total)

 
This is sooooooo cool. I wish I lived in SF so I could get one. If anyone is in possession of one and looking to pass it on, please let me know! I would love to participate in this.

It also reminds me of a project I once envisioned in college, about 5 or 6 years ago. I wanted to test the "6 degrees of separation" theory through email. The plan was to send out an email to 10 people with instructions that they send it to 10 people and reply to me with the list so I could keep track of the degrees. I wanted to see if anyone the email got to knew Rob Reiner (the director), Vincent Stuerzenberger (from Cleveland, OH), or one other name which I now forget. Never got it worked out enough to launch, tho'.
posted by starvingartist at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2001


I think it is pretty cool. I like that people are posting to the site so that they can be experienced by spectators like us. My favorite was one left in an Enchanted cave in the Northwest frequented by spelunkers.

It seems that there should be connections throughout a given journal, influencing itself by its own entries. The site updating might produce a homogeneity, though it seems that there have been a good bit of entries between updates in most, so probably not.

What I find most intriguing is that it will be shaped by physical limitation, thereby preserving the personal intimacy by association with its subjects, yet it will also have the unlimited web component. Because it is an opportunity, the content it seems, would be a special effort.

I couldn't find any rules, so it must be just a blank slate. I assume the web address is on it though.
posted by mblandi at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2001


Very nice.

Back in the pre-web days, folks who were into penpals would make little "autograph books", often just a few pages of stapled paper. They had to be small so they were cheap to mail. You filled out a page and sent the thing as far away as possible. When it was full, the last person sent it back to the originator.

Adding the web element and doing such a large number of journals is fascinating. Put me on the list of someone who wants in!
posted by frykitty at 8:57 AM on April 12, 2001


The staff and I of Infinite Race have had the luck of 3 different journals coming our way. Two are already en route with others. I still have one that I can pass on to anyone.

If interested, please mail me with your web site URL. I will be picky with who I send it to, but if I think you have the talent -- it will be coming your way.

Good Luck!
posted by I am Generic at 9:17 AM on April 12, 2001


<sarcasm>

Gee, thanks, I am Generic.

</sarcasm>

I have a website, but I'm not a designer by any stretch of the imagination. I just want to get involved in the project. I didn't realize that it was an elitist thing.
posted by starvingartist at 9:21 AM on April 12, 2001


Hey starvingartist,

Why not start your own? And send it on. What's so special about these particular 1000 journals?
posted by anapestic at 9:32 AM on April 12, 2001


an elitist thing?

for one I never mentioned that the person MUST be talented only in the design sense. Talented in anyway... (artist, writer, photographer, actor, etc). I have already passed two other journals to random folks. I think I have the right to be picky with this last one.

If you knew me, you would know the last thing I am is an elitist.
posted by I am Generic at 9:32 AM on April 12, 2001


I will be picky with who I send it to, but if I think you have the talent -- it will be coming your way.

Something about this statement rubs me the wrong way. It seems a bit exclusionary. How do you know that people who you don't think have talent will not be able to contribute something valuable? How are you going to prevent "talentless" spelunkers from adding to the book in the cave?
posted by dithered at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2001


I am Generic,

Bylaw 14 subsection C cleary states:

Attempts to include non-list members for activities only open to the group requires a majority approval vote of all members as described in Voting Procedures [3.A].

Failure to comply with this directive can result in disciplinary actions. See Punishments [8.F].

posted by A-List Moderator at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2001


Why not start your own? And send it on. What's so special about these particular 1000 journals?

Because it's their project. First of all, they've only sent out 500 journals so far. Second of all, at its basic level this is an experiment, and I don't want to introduce false data by making a journal that didn't exist in the first place. They would probably appreciate the fact that somebody was excited enough to start an additional journal, but still, it's the the principle of the thing.

As for doing a project like this on my own, I don't have the resources to do something like this on the grand scale required to get a return. One reason they chose 1000 journals is because a great deal of them will be lost along the way. I read the first 100, and at least half of them are effectively lost right now; no updates, no nothing. If I were to do this, I would never be able to send out and track 1000 journals. The small number I could handle would most likely be lost, probability-wise.

I am Generic, I apologize. You are absolutely right, you are in possession of the journal right now and have every right to decide exactly how the next receiver qualifies. I am in a bad mood right now and you caught the brunt. But when you make your criteria explicitly known like that, you're bound to draw some attention.

That said, I'd still like to get my hands on one of these journals.
posted by starvingartist at 9:59 AM on April 12, 2001


[ note ; this was written before I saw the above post by starvingartist, which I agree with]

If this person said "I will only give this to someone that I know personally", would that make it elitist?

He's being picky, but that doesn't mean he's trying to hold that over anyone's head. Considering the high demand for one of these journals, I'd be compelled to give the journal to someone (that I feel is) interesting over someone (that I feel is) boring.

Maybe that makes me elitist -- I think it makes me human.
posted by jragon at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2001


I am Generic: You can redeem yourself by sending the journal to me. I have absolutely no talent and am completely boring in every way. Elitist snob me without fail.

anapestic: I think this is really fun. I wonder how hard it would be to create a site where anyone could start such a journal, register it on the site and have it tracked. Hmmmm...... Let me think about that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2001


I also can't type: "Elitists snub me without fail." Sorry.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2001


I wonder how hard it would be to create a site where anyone could start such a journal, register it on the site and have it tracked.

I don't know y6, but I'm sure it's easily within your capabilities. I think this is really fun, too.

Oh, and starvingartist, I appreciate that you want to get in on a project that goes out to a select few (by its very nature elitist, no?), but "this is an experiment, and I don't want to introduce false data by making a journal that didn't exist in the first place"? That's just silly. What sort of data analysis do you reckon will be going on that would be corrupted by someone else starting a journal?

"Curses, Igor! The fiendish starvingartist has begun his own journal. My hypothesis can no longer be tested. My plan for world domination is ruined, ruined, ruined!"
posted by anapestic at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2001


The 1000 journals project is really quite a wonderful endeavor - run entirely by one guy with a really great idea. As I've participated, first as an observer, then as a distributor, then as a cover designer, I've been really impressed with how well thought out the whole project has been - the interaction of web technologies to track the journals and connect the journalers, and the offline distribution, some completely serendipitous (leaving journals in bars and airports) and some deliberate (handing to friends, posting on MetaFilter, etc.) The beauty in the sheer number of journals is that every one doesn't have to be some sort of sacred object. But some can. And that's the fun. And really folks, let's not trash the one person who offered one up here - look through the site - there are nearly 500 journals in circulation already - write to someone who has one and ask if you can have it next. Just not me - I've passed all of mine along.
posted by judith at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2001


Yeah, ha ha, make fun of my idiosyncrasies. Like I said, it's the principle.
posted by starvingartist at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2001


I will be picky with who I send it to, but if I think you have the talent -- it will be coming your way.

Well, I am a talented father, and a bright guy who is occasionally charming. Does this qualify? How will you tell?

I'll take up where starvingartist left off - this kind of statement rubs me the wrong way, and I won't apologize for it. Sure you've got it, so you're the one that decides the criteria for passing it along. But - I have a real problem with the whole attitude that goes along with that one sentence.

There are lots of people in the world who "lead lives of quiet desperation" - go to work, raise a family, pay the mortgage, and do all the things that regular people do. And they get no credit from people who are beautiful, or talented, or self-aggrandizing enough to get the spotlight in life. In fact, they get a lot of patronizing, disparaging crap, like being told that they have to be somehow "talented enough" to participate in something cool.

Normal people are interesting, too. Everyone has got a story, hopes and dreams. Everyone wants to give meaning to the world around them, too. Some treasures are just buried deeper than others. "Boring" people have stories, too.

You just have to listen harder.
posted by Irontom at 10:51 AM on April 12, 2001


That 1000journal project is too cool. It reminds me of Dana Atchley's Space Atlas project, which did a similar thing 30 years ago with (newly available) Xerox copiers.
posted by fraying at 10:54 AM on April 12, 2001


Wow. That one statement: "I will be picky with who I send it to, but if I think you have the talent -- it will be coming our way." -- has made me seem like such a bad guy.

Irontom says above, "There are lots of people in the world who "lead lives of quiet desperation" - go to work, raise a family, pay the mortgage, and do all the things that regular people do. And they get no credit from people who are beautiful, or talented, or self-aggrandizing enough to get the spotlight in life. In fact, they get a lot of patronizing, disparaging crap, like being told that they have to be somehow "talented enough" to participate in something cool."

If anybody believes in us regular folks out there -- it is I. In fact, my username admits it and so does my web site: I am Generic. OK maybe my statement was not said with the best tact, I am sorry. I did not mean to offend anyone. I just wanted a way to pick who to send the journal to considering I would get many requests....
posted by I am Generic at 11:17 AM on April 12, 2001


I remember reading something similar involving disposable cameras? I have since lost any information or linkage. I think there were only 5 or 10 disposable cameras that were sent out, with the instructions to take a picture, and pass along. Anyone remember or know of this project? Toss a link at me please.
posted by Hankins at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2001


What's the point of this experiment? That you need the Internet to prove to yourself that people could communicate globally before there was an Internet? Design wonks with too much time on their hands, I say - the same people who, thirty years ago, would sit through an entire performance of Laurie Anderson's "United States" and come out thinking they'd seen the future of Capital-A-R-T...
posted by m.polo at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2001


Laurie Anderson was/is great. You're just being a crank.
posted by argybarg at 11:49 AM on April 12, 2001


Hankins: Check out Kevin Fox's Cameo project.
posted by bradlands at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2001


Yeah, argybarg, but wasn't the entire "United States" some ungodly length? I saw her in concert and she did an excerpt from it, along with other pieces. "Sharky's Day" really rocked. But she could be pretentious at times, and "United States" was probably much better enjoyed as background music while I was doing my homework. It was the nature of performance art to be ephemeral, and I'm not sure that Ms. Anderson had much lasting influence.

But m.polo, I don't think I knew anyone so pretentious that he or she would capitalize more than the first letter of "art."
posted by anapestic at 11:59 AM on April 12, 2001


hankins: also, aaron's photo trust project
posted by judith at 12:01 PM on April 12, 2001


[Blasting across the off-topic salt flats on his jet-powered, monkey-navigated . . . and it goes on like this]

"United States Live" spanned 6 CDs. I used to own them, and yes, they were motherhuge and hard to listen to all at one gulp. On the other hand, they were CDs, not a live performance, so it's tough to say what the real deal was like. It was only done twice, I think, in LA and London. (I have seen her live twice, however, and she was a blast, particularly the "Strange Angels" tour.)

I would argue, anapestic, that Laurie Anderson's lasting influence might be that she brought performance art to a larger mainstream audience (some people are going to snarkily point out that we were doing fine without it). I, however, am of the opinion that her work will be remembered on its own merits, however. "Your eyes/It's a day's work just looking into them." Hell yeah.
posted by Skot at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2001


Be on the lookout for my spoken word album called "However." I just can't seem to say it enought.

Feh.
posted by Skot at 12:32 PM on April 12, 2001


The "United States" was on six LPs as well, but I distinctly recall the labelling saying "abridged." I wonder if the CDs were just dumped from the same masters as the LPs, or if even more squingy-greasy-Laurie was made available to her adoring fans. Don't get me wrong, I loved her then, and I still respect what she was able to accomplish, but now it just looks kinda... silly... Like, trying to watch "Easy Rider" for its "messages" instead of as just an acid flashback of a bygone time...

The first time I saw "United States" live, it was over seven hours long; this was at Brooklyn Accademy of Music about twelve centuries ago. The second time I saw it, it lasted just over four hours, in Chicago; I can't say I missed much from those other three hours of material. I don't know whether she tightened it up, or whether the work itself had merely "mutated" over the years, as in my experience performance art was prone to do.

If she did have any lasting influence, I'd say it was mostly negative: by bringing performance art to "the mainstream," she caused the spotlight to be focused on not only her work, but the work of others, more pretentious (if that can even be imagined) and decidedly less talented. The result was a kind of "Emperor's New Clothes" backlash against performance art and to this day, I can't see an electric violin (oddly enough, popular with country singers' backup bands) without just cracking myself up wondering, "Hey, where's his neon bow?!"
posted by m.polo at 1:40 PM on April 12, 2001


Just to bring things back to the original topic: I'm taking a trip soon from SF to Indiana. I'd love to take one of these journals with me. Who's got the hookup? E me at zettai(at)mailbreak.com pleez... (Artwork at Wiremommy for the picky & elitist among us. *grin*)
posted by Zettai at 4:23 PM on April 12, 2001


m.polo said: "What's the point of this experiment?"

Cuz it's fun. =)

Instead of one guy sending out a thousand journals, a better way to do this would be to get a thousand volunteers to each send out one journal. Give instructions on how best to do it, allow a wide range of creativity.

The instructions would be intended to help people understand what's needed to accomplish the task. Important pointers like, "get a post office box so whoever contacts you when the book is full you don't have to give them your home address" and stuff like that. The bare essentials required to participate and the rest is just open to imagination.

Maybe someone would want to try the idea with a used Volkswagon bug. Drive it for a day, make your mark on it somehow, give the keys to a complete stranger and then take a taxi home. Instruct them to do the same. Okay. That would probably be dumb.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:46 AM on April 19, 2001


What's up with the Texas books? Some of the ones sent to like England and South Africa have interesting journal updates in the website, but the Texas books each have one entry saying where they were sent, and then nothing. Grrrr..

Read about one in Conroe Texas but it's in a library there and I can't drive three hours there and back on the off chance I might be able to get one. And NONE of them have been sent to someone in Dallas, so I'm effectively screwed. I have a better chance winning the lottery than getting my hand on one of these.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:30 AM on April 19, 2001


Got one. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 1:03 AM on May 26, 2001


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