A walk

Here is the impressions from today when I was out and about seeing the little nature path that I will be trying to get upgraded as part of my next project.

Play with me, begs the wind,
and tugs at the copper,
pushes the golden,
orange and green
into a clay-grey puddle
of captured autumn sky.

Time-lapsed clouds
race over molten lead
above the capony.

Catkins and nuts
burst like campfire
explosions
under my feet.

Puffballs spiky white,
Oysters clammed up beneath bridges,
Jew’s ear listening for the sound of elderberries
swaying in the wind
and 3 pheasant torpedos,
offset over rows of ditches.

Deer at dusk…

Dusk at midday in the drizzly
airborne dampness
of late October,
bridges leaning –
compartmentalised compartments
at Wounded Tree.

Scented Sitka.
Sudden reminders of
chainsaws, stuck trailers,
sore backs and silent rain
just like this.

The warm smell of oily
tangible fumes,
wood chips warm to the touch.
The first snow
melting down my back
and caught in dad’s eyebrows.

Accending, under sizeable oaks,
fields lie narrow
with borders of blue-deep
coniferous mystery.

Fire. Light.

Darkness wraps around me,
a blanket knitted with stars.
Hands curl
around mugs of hot chocolate.

Mind calms
restless senses
sitting beneath the ticke-ti-tick
of rain on leaves
behind me.

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Workshop in Switzerland

Next month, I will be going to Switzerland to participate in the ACEEPT workshop, where will we be working with the the ‘Improving the Tourism Experience through Authenticity’. I will be travelling with fellow students and a lecturer and we have been asked to solve some pretasks – a presentation of ourselves, a best practice example from Denmark and so on.

Video
This video by Alpage Productions has just been put on the webpage – maybe you want to have a look at their teaser?

I’m looking forward to the project week and meeting all the new people. However, because I am also busy with lots of tasks around my new project, I can feel a bit busy at times – but hey ho!

Authenticity
Authenticity is such a complicated concept. It seems that the objective authenticity is extremely hard to find anymore, and maybe that’s not the most engaging form either. The constructivistic sense of authenticity where my experiences are created and my feelings are true, regardless the authenticity of the objects is perhaps more suitable – and easier to locate. However, the existential form of authenticity where I can be my true self, where I feel like I have come home to myself – probably that’s the form which appeals to me more.

It will be interesting to see how I feel about it after the workshop.

Creating Unique Experiences

Not too many years ago, it was a struggle for most people to get their basic needs met. My dad, for instance, started working on the neighbouring farm when he was 6, in return for 2 meals a day – oatmeal, potatoes – simple things to fill your stomach. His parents did not have the money, nor the forethought, to care for him among many other siblings. His children, however, have had all that they needed, and we, like most of our generation are not concerned with the basic needs, or the simple foods. No, we have had access to it all just like most people in our generation in this part of the world.  

Thus, when we want to do something special, we look for things which are different, unique, things which have an air of exclusivity. We look for experiences shared, not with everyone else, but with a select group based on our interests and our identity. Maybe we keep it to ourselves until after the fact and then post pictures on social media as support for our persona, the face we show the world. In the Western world, goods and services are commoditised at an ever increasing rate and at the same time, we wish to stand out from the crowd, we want to feel special. 

Indeed, as Pine and Gilmore have explained, we have gone from commodities and goods (the economy of things) over services (the economy of actions) to now experiences and transformation (the economy of meaning). That means that for the most part, the steps up until the economy of meaning are taken for granted. 

Model of Experience Economy

From Commodity to Transformation

In order for experiences to appeal to people in this situation, when designing experiences it should be considered what can make this experience unique. In most cases, it won’t be possible to make a brand new category of experience. Most fall into categories such as meals, travel, music, culture, nature and so forth and probably that is how it will largely stay, so if you as a business want to make money by creating something exclusive, something unique, you have to identify some areas which could make your product stand out from the rest of them. 

An obvious example often used as an example is the location: You offer people a coffee, not only served hot in a beautiful cup, by pleasant staff, but you offer it in the Eiffel tower and as such, you’re offering something which people can only buy from you. The experience of eating an Italian pizza in Italy is more unique than eating it in London, probably. A potter around where I live, incorporates local seaweed and other plant material into his work – you can’t get that anywhere else. 

Another aspect could be time – your event only takes place once a year, or once ever. Miss it and well, you’ve missed it. The experience of fishing mackerel around where I am from is unique as well. Under certain circumstances, mackerel will come very close to the coast. When they do, you can catch them very easily and it’s a right mayhem of people landing mackerel by the bucket load and it’s quite strange to witness (or take part in). But if the weather is not right, there will be no such event, regardless what we might have had in mind. 

But there are other aspects to consider when you wish to make your product unique, such as the social setting it occurs in, whether it can keep providing new experiences for people visiting more than once, and whether to allow co-creation. And much more. 

What makes the things you work with unique?

What I’ve learned from playing video games

Apart from making lasting friendships with people from different countries, strengthening my language skills, getting better at problem solving and teaching myself a bit of html coding because we needed a webpage and databases because I needed a way to track my industrial efforts, what’s the best thing I’ve learned from playing video games, in my case particularly EvE online, a sci-fi strategy MMO?

EvE Online

EvE Online – Copyright CCP

I think the main thing is that in the right setting, I can do things I did not think I had the ability to do. I used to think I wasn’t a very good leader, but I ended up leading people anyway. I used to think I wasn’t very good with people, but I noticed that people would value my opinion, come to me for advice and spend hours of their free time doing things just because I asked them to. I coordinated events including many people from a lot of different nationalities, solved conflicts and probably created a few as well, because there are so many conflicting interests in these games. I stood up for my values, practiced my skills and saw real (virtual) improvement because of what I had done. I learned that I can change.

It also taught me another thing: It doesn’t matter what job you have or what social class you are, it matters what kind of person you are. I’ve worked with all kinds of people – self-employed, unemployed, managers, cleaners, students, teachers, aussies, kiwis and yanks and in a world where you don’t see each other in your physical form, either you are a nice person and people like you, or you are not a very nice person and people don’t like you. In EvE, we call our avatars ‘characters’, and that’s pretty telling. Character.

I still play, but more laid back and for an hour or two in the evening. Instead of watching television. But I’ll always carry with me this insight, that if you dare look at someone’s character instead of their appearance, you might end up very pleasantly surprised. I sure surprised myself, at least.

Mingei

The other day, we had a guest lecture on the Japanese folk art, Mingei. The concept influenced by the UK Arts and Craft movement and the ideas of Morris and Ruskin thrived in Japan and our guest lecturer, Gregory Hamilton Miller, told us about Mashiko, a pottery town not too far from Tokyo where division of labour, an inclusive society and local materials merged together to give the town the ability to adapt to change and experience several boom periods over the past few centuries – in a Japanese society which was highly stratified, this teamwork and openess was quite unique.

We also heard about the female potters of Mashiko and how they were the first generation to choose a career over marriage. The women in Tokyo were buying the ceramics of these young women – buying the freedom and the dreams that they themselves could never realise.

I liked seeing the ceramics by the great potterers of Mashiko in the books that were passed around during the lecture. The tension, we were told, between the great masters and the new, modern and experimenting artists that later came to Mashiko was what created the great spectrum that made room for so many different artists and kept things evolving.

Unfortunately, modernity pushed aside some of the traditional values – like the Japanese tea ritual. Finding a balance between innovation and progress while still keeping the values and the connectedness to your specific location, with handmade, crafted items which have a soul and a history anchored in time and space is important. It carries meaning, identity and authenticity.