Filed under: antarctica
Half a night’s sleep and a headful of painkillers, and the world looks a little happier. Or less angry, at least.
I had an idea for a Twitchhiker follow-up about a fortnight ago. It was brilliant. I tweeted how brilliant it was. I was so excited. But I didn’t act on it because it was unwieldy, I couldn’t pin down the rules and it had the potential to run my life into the ground. It involved everyone else having the adventure while I stayed at home, and it was exactly what Twitchhiker is about. I discussed it with a few people and it was the ideal way to stay true to Twitchhiker but take it in a fresh direction. I ran away from it because it was way too scary, which should have told me it was worth doing.
Instead a week later, I entered this competition at less than a fraction of a fleeting moment’s thought, thinking it could somehow repeat the success we enjoyed in March.
I got it wrong. One reason is that regardless of whether we win this competition or not, the true beneficiary won’t be charity, me, the second Twitchhiker or anybody following the project. It’ll be a private company that’ll have amassed a huge database and a considerable amount of marketing exposure for them to sell more trips off the back of. 10,000… 50,000 people could vote for me, retweet messages, whip up support amongst friends and the outcome could still equate to zero, for everyone except Quark Expeditions.
It’s not ourselves that ultimately determine the outcome here, and that goes completely against the grain of what we began in February. If the first project failed, it failed because of us. If this fails, then it does so regardless of our efforts, and allows others to profit by them.
The underlying reason was summed up by my friend Andy on Skype last night:
With the first Twitchhiker, you were flying by the seat of your pants like some kind of global pinball. All those who wished you well and provided help felt as though they were part of the adventure from the off, that you might stumble into their neighbourhood and bed down for the night, however remote that possibility might have actually been.
This time around, the impression I get is that the involvement of the Twitter community would be severely reduced, and that if you were lucky enough to win, their input would end there, unless they were lucky enough to be taken along with you. Which wouldn’t happen, because obviously you’d take me.
With Twitchhiker 1, there were ‘prizes’ galore, all of them inclusive – either offering help directly or knowing someone who lived in whichever part of the world you happened to be in and alerting them to your ‘plight’.
The first trip was a soap opera written and performed by Twitterers where anything could have happened. The prospective second trip would have a pre-fixed narrative, with Twitterers sitting back and reading your (no doubt hugely insightful and entertaining) blogs and nothing more.
And I think that’s the fundamental reason why the response has been so jarringly different this time around.
Bastard. Some friend he is. But he’s dead right. I had a way to get Twitter involved in raising money for a charity they chose, I wanted a stranger to represent the Twitter community and join the adventure, but in my haste I missed the entire point. Balls.
I’m going to withdraw from the competition this morning. This was entirely the wrong battle to choose for Twitchhiker. I’m happy to hold up my hands and admit I got it wrong. Not because the haters or the critics had a point – none of them bothered to argue a case worth listening to – but because I made a bad call.
If you did support this and believe in it, thank you. I can only apologise to you for your time and efforts spent, and for screwing up.
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