I knew when the documentary hit the streets, I’d have to hit the ground running. I didn’t realize the running would then continue and I’d never be able to stop any time soon. It’s now been a couple weeks of release, and I am over here going in a thousand different directions, handling many related documentary issues, working harder than I think I’ve worked on anything in my life.
The documentary itself? I split the effort across years; I definitely was working every night for a good number of months, but the effort was progressive and I could stop and go to sleep and then wake up, and keep working. There were pre-orders out there initiating me to keep the pace going, but it wasn’t a relentless torrent of needs. Now it is.
A lot of this is because I chose to do the distribution myself. There’s pros and cons to this, mostly pros; I know the stuff is going out, is being treated well, and it’s easier to handle custom or specific requests by folks (autographs, included greeting cards, and so on). A couple orders were skipped from the pre-orders because I transcribed them wrong, and a few people who got pre-orders that were hand-assembled got missing discs. In all cases, I did my best to make up for those screwups.
An aside about customer service: sometimes I can’t believe what passes for treating people who give you money with respect. I recognize that for some people the $50 documentary is an impulse buy, but for others, it’s a walk-outside-for-a-while, bring-it-up-with-your-spouse-for-discussion investment. I am not being superlative; I have recieved letters indicating it was a bit of a hardship to pay this money, and some people had to save up for it, as others might save up for a new stereo or TV. For that kind of personal cost, people deserve and should get the best response from me they can get. If they are missing pieces, they get the pieces sent. If they need a question about shipping answered, I answer immediately or tell them I need to find out… and then tell them as soon as I can. Anything else is unacceptable, to me or to the people who are buying this documentary.
I have recieved a good amount of online attention at this point; articles in Wired News, BoingBoing, Creative Commons Weblog, and a bunch of other places. I’ve had some interesting mails come out of these articles, including a lot of corrections on the data on the website, and additional information.
With each wave of publicity and exposure, a new wave of people hear about this documentary for the first time. I can imagine their reaction, which would have been mine: an open-mouthed, stumbling walk towards this unbelievable pile of personal history, presented in a professional package and ready to bring home immediately. This was the reaction I had when I found out about the Mindcandy Demo DVD, which was a personal inspiration for this project. There’s so many projects like this out there for us, and getting the word out is tough. A bunch of online high-profile sites was relatively easy; it is going to be difficult for me to go in further directions. But I am trying.
I appear on Christopher Lydon’s Open Source Radio this upcoming tuesday, talking about a side archiving project I’m involved in. It doesn’t tell people about the documentary, but it does let them know who I am. I’ll be doing a few more appearances during the year, including at:
I’ll put these on the documentary page and keep that updated.
So yes, my days are full, full of packing and shipping, of labelling and sorting, of getting yelled at by the post office, and recieving dozens of letters, thank yous and insights and wishes and dreams.
It is a very nice life I live.
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