On Palm Sunday, at the start of the Easter(LIVE) project, I shared my critical thoughts and fears about approach the 2011 approach was taking, and suggested an alternative project to support. There were some great comments on the post and via Twitter: many in support of my critique, and some from people who wanted to reserve judgement (participants & skeptics alike).
So as both projects have ended, it seems right to reflect on them in light of my original comments & my experience.
Initially I feared that the Easter(LIVE) updates would swamp my Twitter stream (because at least 10 of the people I follow were participating in the project). This fear was realised. After a particularly frenzied start, the posts in my Twitter stream calmed down a little, to an almost manageable level. My twitter stream wasn’t completely overwhelmed, but was considerably busier than usual, which made catching up a chore and took much longer than usual.
I decided that I would try to follow two users’ Easter(LIVE) updates, and try to ignore the others. It didn’t feel right skipping over the majority of the updates (due to my slight OCD tendencies), but it was necessary, otherwise my productivity would’ve taken a serious dive last week.
Even though I was following just two versions of the story, I found the experience very confusing. One user created a story using a vast array of characters and tweets; the other used one or two characters and far fewer tweets. But I found the two stories following different time lines and the events they were describing not aligning with each other. This detracted from the overall experience. On Good Friday and Easter Sunday the updates (predictably) reached a peak, creating a ridiculous amount of Twitter updates.
During the course of the week I ‘overheard’ discussions on Twitter between two participants who were niggling about their different interpretations of the project (too many characters & updates vs single character and fewer updates).
Of the participants I followed, very few made use of anything other than text updates. The project had encouraged the use of other media too – video, images and sound. I recognise that text updates are easier and require less preparation which probably explains the proportion of text to other media (that’s not to rubbish the amount of time and creativity expended by everyone in creating their stories). I saw a few uses of images, and heard about one user who created a number of videos for the project.
So my fears about the project’s approach in 2011 were entirely founded. But of course that’s based on my own experience – I can’t speak for anyone else. But the team behind the project retweeted a number of messages on Sunday & Monday which expressed how helpful they’d found the project and thanking the team for their work. So it was clearly of value to and appreciated by many.
As I said previously, the number of participants and updates generated is clearly testimony to the fact that the project captured people’s imaginations. I still appreciate the project’s use of Twitter as a vehicle for such an innovative project, and still question the downside it had (for me at least).
I look forward to seeing what they have planned for future projects, but hope they tweak the approach to eliminate the downsides. I also hope they don’t simply keep innovating for the sake of it. If a project works well (as it seemed to last year – one creative telling of the story, great story-tellers, and a more cohesive approach) stick with it, making tweaks along the way.
The Passion Experience
At the end of the original post I suggested that people support the Passion Experience project as an alternative. It was following a similar approach to the EasterLive 2010 project, but encouraging users to sign-up to text updates on their phones (at no charge), or to receive them via email.
I signed up to receive the updates via text, and followed the instructions they sent back. Unfortunately, despite the process reporting that everything was OK, I didn’t receive any updates via text. I received them in my Twitter & Facebook streams, and by email. But not via text message. I had been relying on the text messages to break into my busyness during Holy Week and Easter preparations, providing a constructive disturbance and a chance to remember & reflect. The lack of updates detracted for the overall experience for me personally. However, I had encouraged others to sign-up (and 23 did via our Church affiliate link) and they successfully received text updates and found it really valuable.
So I received the updates via other means, and loved the content and found it really helpful (if not timely). It provided a manageable number of updates from one source, resulting in a more cohesive way that the Easter(LIVE) project.
On reflection, I think more people would’ve signed up if they realised they could follow in the Facebook stream (this didn’t appear to be made clear), rather than the slightly more complex text/Twitter sign-up process.
Both were innovative projects, attempting to use a new method for retelling and old story, and are to be commended. Both had weaknesses, but in spite of these, they were hugely valued by those who followed them. Each to their own ;o)
- Did you participate in Easter(LIVE)? What has the feedback been like from your followers?
- Did you follow any Easter(LIVE) stories or the Passion Experience? What was the experience like for you?
- If you could make one suggestion for an improvement to future projects, what would it be?