People keep trying to persuade me to give up the train idea.

But it’s *the* idea!!!


Just to give you a picture of what we’ll be doing, I’ve been looking at how long it takes to get from place to place.  Here’s a first stab.

5th  arrive Boston from LHR.  Run conversation space in collaboration with Boston Tuttle (oops haven’t spoken to @hobbesoh about that yet!)

6th Train to NYC leaving about 9am takes 4 hours

7th Train to DC leaving about 10am takes 3.5 hours

8th Train to Atlanta leaves about 6.30pm takes 14 hours overnight (arrives 08.13)

9th Train to New Orleans leaves at 08.38 (tight!) takes 12 hours.

10th Day in NOLA.  Oh wait, when’s Taylor’s gang going over to Austin from NOLA? (a day’s drive at least…) Eeek!

Oh.  OK.  Looks like we ran out of time gonna have to rejig, maybe stretch it back a few days?  You see I’d really like to be able to spend some more time in these places on the way.  I’d especially prefer to have a day in Atlanta rather than hop off a 14 hour trip and onto another 12 hour one… hmmm….

in the meantime, does anyone know anyone in marketing at Amtrak who might like to give us some free rail passes to do this and publicise their fantastic service all over the interwebs?

I spent some time this morning on the Amtrak timetable site.?? I will never complain about again.?? Well I probably will, but when I do so I will likely bear in mind the fact that things could be worse.

Everyone has said to me "You know they really don't have a train system like Europe" and I'm like "Well duh!" but it wasn't until I actually started putting real dates and times in that I realised what a constraint travelling by train will be.?? Yipeee!?? Nonetheless, I am completely committed to making this work by rail.?? Loads of people do road trips across the States.?? Only a bunch of nutcases from London would attempt to do it on the railroad.

So there's a decision that needs to be made first of all, which is the overall shape of the trip. What is "firm" is that we take our time to get there, having conversations on the way, we hang out at the festival and then pull together our movie based on whatever happened in the previous week or so. At the moment I have a few alternative ways of doing this in mind:

1.?? The original idea was to return the way we came and use the time we have on the train to reflect a little on our experience and turn it into an interesting narrative.

2.?? Another suggestion was that instead of heading back east, we carry on across the desert (by train again) through Tucson and up into California, finishing our trip either in San Francisco (where we're likely to meetup with people from SXSW who flew straight back) or that place further south where we have friends in Long Beach.

3.?? We stick around and finish the movie making in Austin, taking in some of the music festival which starts after interactive, and then fly straight back home from there.

Hmmm…. pros and cons, pros and cons

homage to wankergirlSo here’s my poorly thought-out, unplanned, half-baked, undetailed, but totally awesome idea for the Spring of 2010.

I’ll be attending SXSWi in Austin, Texas again. My panel was not picked, but emotion aside all that means is that I’ll have to pay $blah or so for a ticket. So I’m definitely still going to go – it’s just well, you know, too lovely and awesome not to.

Last year we flew over a few days before and had some holiday time hanging out and getting acclimatimed and then flew back the day after interactive closed.

This time I want to take it a bit more gently. Here are the bare bones of the evil plan, which I’d prefer to do with a gang of tuttle-istas if we can find ways of funding it:

1. Find the shortest flight to North America possible (does that mean least-polluting? I don’t know but that seems like a good aim to bear in mind) and fly at least a week before SXSWi opens ie arrive March 5th at the latest.

2. Devise a series of train journeys from wherever I land, down to Austin, preferably going via New Orleans to visit that good friend of Tuttle, Mr Taylor Davidson and see how his Crescent City adventure is panning out. Yes, you read that right, train journeys. I understand that the US train system is not quite as beautiful or efficient as its European sisters. However, train travel rocks, it just does.

3. At stopping places throughout the journey hold Human-scale Conversation sessions with local people talking about differences between US and British culture – not trying to solve anything particularly, just getting the subject out on the table and seeing what comes of it. There will be heavy-duty social reporting of these conversations. Note that the format has been refined since July with some extra flourishes – this is how I introduced something like it at the Tuttle/Counterpoint event in December.

4. Once in Austin, continue to hold Human-scale Conversation sessions on the same subject and present #kebab-style what we heard, found, learned, saw along the way.

5. Make our way back to the east coast overland again, putting together a documentary film from the footage shot during the first part of the trip, so that we have something ready to show when we get back to London.

Howzat grab ya?


Here’s 8 ways you can help (and I’m sure you’ll come up with more)

1. Tell me how you’d improve on the plans and make them even more exciting.

2. Tell me why this is oh so very wrong-headed, misguided and stupid (I won’t listen very much, but I’d rather ask you for this than you just provide it out of the blue!).

3. Help me work out rough costings for each variation.

4. Provide money (just loads of it, regardless of the costs!)

5. Suggest routes and interesting stopover points, tell me why you think it’s interesting.

6. Volunteer to tag along and tell me how we’d pay for that.

7. Find other supporters with more money than time who’d like to see this happen.

8. Introduce me to sponsors who might provide help in terms of cash, food, shelter, transport as well as social reporting equipment.