All our lives are made up of stories… Maybe thousands of them. In our time on this planet we go through so much that it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all. By the time we reach our forties we’ve probably already forgotten a large chunk of our lives, particularly our early years. So, to cut this short, before i get old and my mind starts going, I decided that I would start my autobiography… But I had the strange idea to make it somewhat different from the norm… to make it unique.
Most autobiographies are written in book form and that’s not a bad thing, particularly if you want to tell someone about your life. But it’s also limiting. It means, unless you want to go for a massive twenty volume epistle that only your most ardent followers will trawl through, that you have to miss a lot of things out and you can only give the broader strokes of your life. And usually only the important bits go in. The more insignificant parts of our lives are dropped, not because they are boring but because they aren’t relevant to the whole. Also it would be a chore to write and would distract from the usual day job. I didn’t want that. I wanted also those intricate details, I wanted all those thousands of stories. I wanted my autobiography to be one of the completest and voluminous that there has ever been… Which, in book form, would be the absolute nightmare I describe above. So I had to come up with an alternative… Something that can be that voluminous but at the same time easily accessible. And that’s when it hit me. Whoever said that an autobiography had to be in book form? Why couldn’t it be something different and more unique? Why couldn’t it incorporate, say, modern technology and even the internet?
Ahhh… Technology. What an age we live in. There are iPads and Android phones and tablets and a whole slew of wireless internet signals all around us and that technology is what I want to utilize in order to create my autobiography. There is so much I could do with a full technologically crafted autobiography… With technology I can include everything that I could ever want to. I can include all those trivial little stories and I can include all those broader strokes as well. Take pictures for example. A normal autobiography can include maybe a dozen, very selective images. However, a technological autobiography can incorporate maybe thousands, especially if it uses things like Flickr and Photostream… Using something akin to that I can show you almost everything from family photos to personal photos, profile pictures and other such guff (I’ve already built up a collection of one hundred or so). I’m also thinking of throwing in the best bits of my old radio shows in some way, once I figure out which pieces I want however. (I might use SoundCloud for that) But that isn’t for a while yet. First of all I wanted to start creating the framework around which to build the whole thing, the main body… In other words: Phase 1.
And that is what I have been doing for the last few months. I have been, very slowly, building up what is the first, and probably most important part, the stories… I have begun documenting some of those stories, trivial events and little pieces that have contributed to making me who I am. And I’ve found that the best way to do that, at the moment, is by video, through short, easily watchable clips in which I tell a particular story in my own words. And you can probably guess that the obvious platform to use for this is YouTube… It’s free, it’s easy to use and millions of people pass through it every day. With YouTube I can just sit in front of a camera, say what I have to say, edit it down to a reasonable length and then upload it. And the good part is that if you don’t think a particular story doesn’t sounds that interesting you can skip it and watch another one instead or if you only have a spare fifteen minutes you can watch one or two and then come back to the others later. And if you really liked one bit, say you found it absolutely hilarious/shocking/cringeworthy, you can share it with your friends and have a laugh. You can’t really do the same thing with a book. A book is a very personal thing and unless you sit with a group of friends reading aloud, which most people don’t, then you can’t really share the same experience with people. With YouTube you can all gather around a computer screen and have the same experience at the same time. You really can laugh and enjoy the thing together. There’s also the added bonus that, in another way, it’s more personal than a book in that it allows you to see more of who I am. You can see what I look like, my manerisms, what I sound like, how I dress… All things which you jsut don’t get with a book.
Now I know some people would say ‘Why don’t you just do it all as a single documentary then’ but my counter argument is that a single documentary would create some of the same issues as a book, especially in terms of the limitations, and it would also end up becoming very rigid and staged and carefully planned and everything would have to coheseively link together to form one narrative. It would lose a lot of the organicness that my method offers. The stories don’t have to link together with YouTube… They don’t have to follow on from each other and each part can be as different from the last as it is possible to be. One week I can be talking about my love life and the next I can be going on about how I almost got banned from Spar. I can spout the stories as they come to me and I can go anywhere I want as I please with it.
I have to admit that the whole YouTube idea was something that I had wanted to try out for a while and I’ve attempted to try it out a couple of times in the past, both whilst I was at university. The first time I tried it was for the Archaeological society (when I was VP and head of IT) and I had the idea of using it to expand the reach of the society, do trip and excavation diaries and just create a really good archaeological channel. As it happened I left soon after (in a really awful and shameful way, I’ll tell you about that sometime) and the channel never really got off the ground. The one (bad) video I put up might still be floating around somewhere though. The society website might still have the link… (It’s barely been updated since I left,) I can’t be bothered looking. The second time was radio related and the idea was to do the sort of ‘Extra content’ idea you see with programmes like Countryfile… It would have been related to my history show, Past Force, but once again I never got it off the ground because I had a mental breakdown which brought Past Force to a rather sudden and almost unexpected end. (Is this setting a precedent?) So when I started thinking about my Autobiography and all the ways I could make it different and do what I wanted to do I once again thought of YouTube… And this time, so far at least, it appears to be working. Yes, at the moment my videos are a bit dodgy in places (there was one that looked as though it were done by candlelight) and some ideas haven’t worked as well as I thought they would (one video has already been dropped because the idea behind it didn’t work and there’s something else I tried early on that I won’t be doing again because I don’t think that worked either). But they’re getting better with each new video I do. I’ve also established a few rules to keep it from becoming whorey or forced: No saying hello or goodbye etc, no scouting for comments, subscriptions or likes and no waxing godlike about my day job (though the occasional video or mention will inevitably crop up).
And speaking about the day job the whole technological autobiography can also act as a kind of appendix, a place where people can go to find out more information, as it were. I’ve already uploaded one introductory style interview video whereby I talk a little about the inspirations behind Dark Legend and a bit about how Semi-Autobiographical it is in itself (Worton is almost a mirror of the town I grew up in for instance) and I’ve got one filmed for when Rebels finally comes out. But I don’t want to put all that on YouTube because I have other plans for including the day job. eventually I’ll be releasing some of my notes (the early stuff is very interesting,) and artwork, 3D Models and other things in there as well. At some point (depending if the relevant parties agree,) I may stick what exists of the radio edition of Dark Legend in there, just so people can have a listen to how it was before it became the sprawling, epic book series it is today. My day job is a part of me, it’s what I spend most of my time doing after all. If I’m not writing I’m editing or promoting or planning or designing, so not to include any of that would mean a huge chunk of my life was missing. So it has to go in there in quite a big way.
So where do I see all this going? Well for a start this November is a big one this year. It’s the 10th Anniversary of The Morfassons (there will a little bit of stuff coming on that plus it’s looking like that’s when we’ll finally get The Rebels 😉 ) It’s the fifth anniversary of Past Force and I have something very special lined up for that- Something which will see the first extra branch of this ere autobiography I’m creating (and a making of featurette.) I’ve also got a whole raft of video ideas lined up and I’m constantly thinking of other ways in which I can expand this thing of mine, a full length movie idea for instance. Eventually, a long time from now, I want to bring everything together in one place, all the videos and the photographs and the sound bites and the notes and the special Past Force thing… In a kind of App perhaps. I know Facebook has the timeline thing going on and you can browse through someone’s Twitter feed but the trouble is Facebook and Twitter are very immediate… They’re more about socializing and who you are today rather than who you are as a whole or your past. And they don’t make it easy for you to look back more than a few weeks. You’ve physically got to scroll through everything in order to find what you’re looking for. Besides, my Facebook profile is limited to my friends and my twitter profile is more just about what I’m doing or thinking at one particular moment or about news updates. They aren’t places where people can go to explore my life in an easy, informative way. But with the app you could easily find what you wanted. Say you wanted to only know about my work or my love life or my childhood… It could all be brought up at the drop of a hat. Everything can be categorized in a number of different ways In the end it would be a place where people could go to find out about me as a person, where they could discover my life story… Just like an autobiography in book form but so much more at the same time.
I know what I’m doing at the moment is essentially uploading my entire life to entire life to the internet but that’s the price of success. Once successful the public want to know who you are. My family motto is I fod yn gorau, Yn debyg does neb erioed oedd, To be the best, like no one ever was. In order to be the best there is a price we have to pay and that price is a piece of our soul. People want to know everything and there’s a whole slew of celebrity magazines and tabloids dedicated to such stuff… If you give your soul willingly the people will respect you and your privacy and you can have a good life. If you don’t give your soul they will take it by force and you’ll always be looking over your shoulder wondering where the paps are and they’ll do their best to find the best dirt they can. By giving the people yourself, and your life, at least in some aspects you appease them and you can get the bad stuff out in your own way… And it also seems less bad.. I’m talking rubbish but you get the gist. When I eventually reach a certain point (as I aim to do) people will start wanting to know who I am and that’s essentially what all of this is about, showing who I am. Of course, there are some parts of my life that you will never see. Even though I’ve essentially sold my soul to the public there are still parts that will and must remain private. You’ll never see me on the loo or buying groceries for instance. You’ll never see me naked, in the shower, or having sex and you’ll never see me on a date (though if it ends up being serious and she’s agreeable to the idea you might get to meet whoever she may be, albeit briefly.) My daily life won’t be on show… But what I will do is reveal the parts that matter and the parts of it that are (at least remotely) interesting.
So the only thing that remains is to let you see it. ATM you can find it on YouTube under JPC ROCKS I’ll tell you of more branches when they come out but in the meantime you can enjoy things such as the tale of the mysterious elephant, the idiocy of the chavs I went to school with, how I lost my virginity and why I was almost banned from SPAR…