The ones that didn’t make it

Often when people describe projects or activities they’ve developed they will only focus on what was actually delivered…which is not always the same as what was intended! I’m as guilty of that as anyone, so I thought it might help people wanting to get involved in planning our festival, further to inspiration from the “Glory of Failure” by @commutiny and “how to fail successfully@wemakethemclick, if we surfaced some of the activities we got really excited about but we didn’t or couldn’t make happen (and if you think you could, then do get in touch!)

When we first planned the treasure hunt, we thought of how we could combine online and offline interaction without it being tokenistic or excluding. How could we know whether people passing by the market had smart phones, let alone whether they had the type of mobile that would enable them to play an augmented reality version of the treasure hunt — like a Grand Theft Auto for pedestrians?

And how could we give people only taking part online the sensations people would experience setting foot in the market? Should we have created a Foursquare version of the market or just had missions online so people in the village would all be heads down looking at their smart phones to see who was the mayor of their mission?

But of course, not everyone could come to Brixton, so we created the #transeuropa hashtag so people could share their thoughts with each other, whether they were in the market or at home or on the bus. We thought of creating a physical twitterfall — a physical version of this rather than those garish fake water fountains — where people could handwrite tweets on random thoughts.

Others would have been able to “favourite” a tweet with a star or reply with another handwritten tweet and we would tweet them with our smartphones so people online could respond and interact. But when I was introduced by @tinich to Emily and Laura, they came up with “Come to Your Senses” a mission with a similar purpose and even more exciting experience for people taking part!

Live link up

Through prototyping, you will test out different ideas rather than the “chosen one”. We didn’t have the live link up with the other cities in the Festival, so instead we invited people from the other cities to take part in the treasure hunt itself.

Find your character

What we didn’t have time for was to create an activity telling the story of the different characters of the market. After all, they shape the personality of the market and give it meaning. The use of imaginary characters can be very effective to embed social norms — looking out for others and wanting to make dreams come true. I remember that even when I began to no longer believe in it, I wanted to continue believing in it, because I liked the idea of Father Christmas. There is nothing more powerful than trying to make people’s ideas come alive. What we did instead is work with Spots of Time to capture these snippets of personalities with the “Sounds of the City” mission.

So maybe next year, we’ll tell the story of the imaginary heroes of the future!

What can we learn from this?

Share your success and they will commit even more to you

You need to think about why you’re developing projects and what you’re doing this for — this means you need to accept to share in whatever success you get with the groups that have worked with you. They will be more interested in spreading your message if their ideas have helped shape it.

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