Monday, November 12, 2007

Poked - a documentary about Facebook...

Some of you may have noticed this whole Facebook thing that has slowly but surely started to take over the world over the last three years. Originally started as a way for college students to keep in touch - Facebook now has nearly 40 million users worldwide. Probably more to be honest....

As someone who's probably a mild to moderate level nerd when it comes to the Internet, I've always been reasonably interested in the whole social networking phenomenon. Though, to be perfectly honest, it never really seemed like the kind of thing I would particularly enjoy. With that said, I do have profiles on Bebo and Myspace - but those were more experimental exercises. I never really used them too much to be honest. I just set them up to faff around. When Facebook came along, that changed. I got hooked, and I wasn't the only one. I was far from it....

Back in the midst of Dublin's Indian Autumn of 2007, Steve McCormack of Wildwave and I (Eamonn Carey of, amongst other things, Random Thoughts Media), met on a sunny day to talk about a variety of digital media projects. As was par for the course at the time, our conversation never quite made it as far as business - there was only one topic up for discussion. Facebook. In the space of three or four months, Facebook had become the most popular conversation piece in workplaces, bars, dinner parties and just about everywhere else where the 20somethings and 30somethings of Ireland met.

That 'meeting' ended up turning into a meandering conversation about stories we'd both heard and read about Facebook. Stories about exes freaking out at their former boy/girlfriends when their relationship status changed. Stories about the new etiquette for employers and employees - after all, who really wants to be friends with an employee on Facebook, only to find out that the report you're waiting for has been delayed because someone has been playing scrabulous and creating pirates. Stories about relationships beginning and ending because of the site, and stories about the darker side of things - stalking, identity theft and loss of privacy.

That meandering conversation was the genesis of this whole project. We decided to make a documentary about Facebook - but not just a bog standard talking heads project. This was going to be different. Steve and I are both involved in the digital media industry, and we've both endured countless conversations about User Generated Content and 360 degree ideas, but here was a genuine opportunity to see if we could harness the camera phones in people's hands and the spare time they have when they're supposed to be working in order to make a documentary that wasn't just about Facebook - it was largely by the community itself. We also thought it would be good craic....which generally helps.

The whole idea behind this project is that we're going to try to use as many different means of dissemination as possible to get your stories and ours out there. This blog is just one part of that. This will document the making of the documentary. Hopefully we'll be able to keep you up to date with proceedings, and we'll share some of the more bizarre, hilarious, humiliating and heartwarming stories we hear along the way (anonymity will be protected - just in case you were wondering). Pretty soon, there'll be a Youtube channel which will host videos sent in by punters all over the world. We want people with camcorders and camera phones to become the talking heads in this documentary. You don't have to know how to edit - just how to send us the footage. If you don't know how to do that - just ask. Once the Poked website is up and running, we'll have instructions on how to send video files over the internet.

When the Youtube channel is set up, you'll be able to see some videos of our early production meetings - all filmed with my trusty cameraphone. As time wears on, we'll update these to show behind the scenes footage of the filming of the documentary (not just the dull stuff that hit the cutting room floor). If we have time, we might even put together a couple of occasional Podcasts from the meetings so you can get a sense of how something like this comes together.

Anyway, the point of all this is to get you guys to send us your stories. We're looking for anything and everything. You can check out our facebook group for more info, or you can email us at pokeddocumentary (at) gmail dot com. Incidentally - this isn't some massive scam - the plan is that everyone who sends in footage that gets used in the eventual documentary will be properly credited and hopefully properly rewarded!

Just so you know - this is probably the most po-faced and dull posting I'm going to put up here. Everyone has to set out their stall - now ours is set out. Future postings will hopefully contain less sincerity and more hilarity as we post the good, the bad and the ugly of Facebook stories....

Eamonn

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