Monday, August 17, 2009

how a story can add meaning to an insignificant object

although this is unrelated to my current thesis idea, I think it's a valuable lesson...people attribute value to objects when there is a story associated with it:


  1. The project’s curators purchase objects — for no more than a few dollars — from thrift stores and garage sales.

  2. A participating writer is paired with an object. He or she then writes a fictional story, in any style or voice, about the object. Voila! An unremarkable, castoff thingamajig has suddenly become a “significant” object!

  3. Each significant object is listed for sale on eBay. The s.o. is pictured, but instead of a factual description the s.o.’s newly written fictional story is used. However, care is taken to avoid the impression that the story is a true one; the intent of the project is not to hoax eBay customers. (Doing so would void our test.) The author’s byline will appear with his or her story.

  4. The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story. Net proceeds from the sale are given to the respective author. Authors retain all rights to their stories.

  5. The test’s results — photos, original prices and final sale prices, stories — are cataloged on this website. The project’s curators retain the right to use these materials in other venues and media. For example: Maybe we’ll publish a book.

First found on SFGate:

Monday, August 10, 2009

my conversation with myself and "the doubter"

I'm working with Elle (my communications professor who is an artist/corporate vision coach) to help her update her website. In return, she is giving my coaching sessions.

My first assignment was to have a conversation with myself. For the goal setting course I took earlier in the summer (also taught by Elle) I had mapped out my goals and then had to write a list of stumbling blocks that would prevent me from reaching my goal. Elle personified these stumbling blocks, calling them the work of "the doubter." SHe asked me to stage a conversation with "The Doubter" and write it down. Since I apparently prefer typing to writing by hand (my handwriting has deteriorated, unfortunately), I sat in front of the computer and typed out the conversation I was having in my head in a very non-judgemental way. I typed exactly what I "heard" from the conversation that was going on in my head. It made me feel pretty insane, but in the end, I am pleased with the results and the sense of ease the exercise created. Some of the "conversations" actually turned out quite amusing and for some unknown reason, I will air the results, right here, on my thesis blog, since this is definitely part of my project and part of the process I am following.

Some excerpts:
Doubter: That's true. But don't you want to have an "amazing thesis"?
Me: I do. But this direction doesn't mean that I won't. This direction means that I have a place to start, and nothing more.
Doubter: Fair enough. But I'll be back in a few months to second guess you.
Me: I have no doubt that you will.

Doubter: That's true. But will people be honest? Will they tell you it sucks?
Me: I think so. I try to encourage all kinds of feedback--negative and positive.
Doubter: Hmm. sometimes.

Doubter: You might not be good at other stuff, you know.
Me: I know. I am scared about that. I don't even think I'm good at design. I still don't think I know what I'm "best" at. My dad has always said "anyone can make things with your hands. Not everyone can use their mind." That's biased me.
Doubter: whoaaaa family issues. this is about you. what does it mean if you fail?