I recently watched the Blair Witch Project and was struck, again, by how prescient the project was. The film producers used the Internet to build anticipation and continue the story online. The way they blended theatrical and Internet storytelling was impressive. A blend that successful remains impressive today.
With found footage as one of the major threads of the movie, the actors had to justify the non-documentary filming that was necessary to tell the story. Someone had to be the bad guy who was obsessed with filming everything.
Mike: Nothing, I don't understand why you have to have every conversation
Heather: Because I'm making a documentary.
Mike: Not about us getting lost! We're making a documentary about a Witch!
Heather: I have a camera. It doesn't hurt, because I'm sure we'll look
back at this and laugh heartily.
Constant documentation of the mundane was not a part of our lives in 1994 (when, according to the story, the footage was filmed). If the Blair Witch Project was made today, the documentation justification wouldn’t be necessary. One of the characters would be wearing Google Glass and recording (and maybe even broadcasting IRL) the film.
It’s fascinating to see how quickly our culture morphs to integrate technology into our lives. I rely, heavily, on recommendations I find on my smartphone when exploring a new city. I take photos of things throughout the day almost everyday. I video chat with friends around the world. I use my phone as a music player. I’m reachable by almost anyone in the world at almost any given moment. And my behavior is not unique. We’ve all welcomed these devices into our life because they make our lives easier, or more fulfilling or whatever.
The average person has been building a life that includes the internet for almost 20 years; yet we’re all still novices in almost every form of electronic communication.
Things like blogging and social media caught on quickly because the skills required to those things (the ability to type and use a computer) are inherent skills for most people who use the Internet. Internet users have a strong desire for the internet to facilitate collaboration, but the tools aren’t ubiquitous and don’t seem to satisfy every need. There is tons of untapped potential for tools that help us edit and create video, music and graphics -- or anything which can help us break through that screen and experience something “real” with someone who is not in our physical location.
We often lament that technology is changing us for the worse. Instead, I’d love for us to celebrate one of my favorite things about the Internet; we all have the potential to create a new way to make personal connections.
We've got a lot of power. Let’s do something awesome.