I Hear Ya

Wow. I really thought my little experiments were done yielding results. But the really good stuff is coming in now.

The emotion behind the opinions is the biggest surprise to me. There are many points of view and a ton of anger.

I wish I were smarter and could make sense of all this, but that’s one of the great and amazing things about the internet. So many smart and articulate people get focused on a topic and you can learn so much from them. Not to mention all the wonderful new swear words that come to light.

There are people out there who think I shouldn’t apologize, those who think I’ve apologized for the wrong thing and those think I’m not taking responsibility. I’ll just say now, I am responsible and the thing I’m sorry about is the distress that this caused people. Saul Colt says that people’s sense of trust was involved. I certainly don’t want to contribute to the level of cynicism in the world. If I have, I am truly truly sorry.

Then comes the charge of lack of transparency. I think of transparency as a business concept. I don’t want to play the A-card because I don’t want to give myself airs, but this is way closer to Art than it is to Business. One of the things art does is confuse, blur lines, make people think and feel and react. Mission accomplished.

I am not selling anything. I haven’t made a penny on Story2Oh! However I have spent quite a bit of my own money doing this.

Oh yes, I do hope to make some money with it one day. And I really think that businesses with lots of money and clients should be the ones who pay me to do it. I think it should be part of their deal with the people who buy their products and services that they offer them a little free entertainment in return.

I do NOT want to make extended ads for products and pretend it’s entertainment. I want to create stories and invite companies to give them away for the benefit of their clients.

One of the things that so interesting about this little flurry around Story2Oh! is that people aren’t upset at sneaky underhanded sales tactics. They’re not all upset that I was trying to sell them something. They’re angry because art infiltrated their lives. They got swept up into a story and didn’t realize till later that these were characters and not real people. The characters didn’t do anything to them, they weren’t evil or malicious. They just tried to be friendly, funny and entertaining.

The blurring of the lines between reality and fiction caused a lot of this furor.

Going back to CaseCamp, no one in that room minded that the TD Bank used Facebook to market to 18-24 year olds — a sort of vulnerable age group. The bank rented buses to take kids away from home for the first time shopping, they plied them with coupons and gifts, all in the hopes of making them bank customers. A roomful of 400 marketers didn’t bat an eyelash.

But when a fictional character sent them a friend request on Facebook?! That was stepping over the line.

I’m not saying the bank is wrong. And I’m not failing to take responsibility. I’m musing, processing, looking at the world we live in and at the digital space and how we’re using it.

I still plan to use the Internet to tell stories. I’m so glad I am getting to hear what all of you think and feel about that and I will take it under advisement. That’s what I love about the Internet, you can’t get closer to the audience than this.

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12 Comments on “I Hear Ya”

  1. collin Says:

    I agree with you.

    I have an enormous amount of respect for most all of the people who commented on your previous post, even some of your biggest detractors, but I am going to take your side on this one. At first, this may seem strange from a guy who writes about trust.

    If you ended up being a shampoo company and tried to sell me something at the end of this, I would “wigout”. But your motives are in the betterment of art (in this case fiction) in this space, not a capital gain on messages or products. You made your motivation clear at casecamp, and re-iterated here. You stated your case, and you presented a very interesting project in online fiction. Good on you. Thank you for doing so.

    I don’t believe many of your detractors are mad at you for duping them, I believe they are mad about allowing themselves to be dupped. Good art often reveals inner truth, that is why it is so emotional. That is why it time, some people have defended a piece like Guernica with their lives, yet others would die to see it destroyed. I won’t comment if I believe yours is good art or bad art, but you certainly achieved a dialogue much bigger than you probably intended, so kuddos for that.

    Your critics might say that you lied to them, or that you broke facebook policies. You did, and you suffered censorship with extreme prejudice. Not sure I will ever be able to get behind censorship of something who’s motive are as obvious as yours. But those are the rules. I am saddened by them in this case, yet understand the need to have them to keep advertisers and PR people, like many of your detractors at bay. Many of the people in the room have lied in thier work, myself included to audiences much largers than your program reached. You are right to call us on it.

    The reletive harm that comes from an artist that disguises fiction as fact illustrates a much greater harm of a corporation or government willing to do so. Know any governements or corporations willing to do that? I do. Almost all of them.

    This may be the Quaker in me, but as a social media enthusiast we have to be very careful not to become what we hate… instruments of control.

  2. connie Says:

    I am glad you are able to take a step back from it and look at it on its angle. It is all fascinating. I am sure one of your goals was to push the envelope and provoke on some level. I’m thinking you didn’t expect to be provoked in return.

    The commercial and artistic viewpoints on social media are very different. And there are many, many other perspectives out there.

    Do keep on exploring these issues!

    Connie Crosby

  3. tamera Says:

    For the record, I have no issue with the use of art, or the story, it’s an interesting concept, akin to an ARG, and does push the boundary’s somewhat. Good for you. My response last night was more strident in tone because no one likes to be attacked and called names as some of the original comments did and the other blog post that Mathew Ingram references in his post.

    But, this is where I have a serious problem, you’ve admitted you hope to make money on this, and were presenting to a group of advertisers, or ad agencies; somehow that doesn’t strike me as being more towards the art side than the business side. There is nothing wrong inherently in any of these goals and its an interesting medium. No one is saying “fuck you to the creative community”, but it’s amazing to see the temper tantrums and name calling on display here.

    What we *are* saying, is that, as business people, and responsible to consumers *and* shareholders when we represent a company that may be interested in “purchasing” your stories as you reference above, we have a responsibility to *our* community to ensure every aspect of it is above board… and that includes not violating a social network’s terms of services, it includes not deceptively friending people and pretending to be real before the story even began (because to be honest, until case camp I had no idea there even *was* as story going on since I tend not to pay attention to the status updates of people I don’t know well, but may have met at a conference or event, or perhaps we’ve interacted on Twitter. These are the “rules” of the space your experiment is taking place in… your story would have been just as effective if you were upfront and followed the rules of “opt-in” and “transparency”.

    It’s about trust and about following the rules of the ‘net. That should be a business concern to you because it will be to any companies you eventually work with. We aren’t the devils here, we’ve just been working online for a while now and helping to “sell” that creative and to push innovation to various brands.

  4. tamera Says:

    Oh, and ps – I’m also a copywriter & creative strategist, so it’s not as if I don’t sympathize with what creatives have to go through with account people/ marketers. It’s frustrating, I know, but that’s life and we have to deal with it. Sometimes business realities get in the way of pure art. Since I’m also a marketer, I get both worlds.

  5. jill380 Says:

    Okay, you guys have your ways of doing things, but why not just offer me the rule book? Why yell at me in public? The raised emotions started at CaseCamp not with the creative community defending me. I was spoken to extremely harshly to while I was still on stage and again, when I tried to apologize in person, which is when I first heard the call to have my material removed from Facebook.

    When someone breaks what you consider a cultural norm, adults don’t go tell the teacher, they advise the rule breaker on what they’ve done wrong. A little kindness might have helped.

    “Deceptively friending” — I think not. If there was any emotion behind the clicking of the key to send the friendship request if was one of friendly invitation. You put the sinister spin on it. I was just offering to show you my project which you’d signed up to see at CaseCamp, but which frankly you could see more easily from your computer by friending the characters.

    I’m sorry so many people did not notice that they were fictional. It was very obvious to other people. I don’t understand why finding that invitation in your notifications is so sinister to you.

    I took my skills as a writer/producer to the net. I used my own money. A marketer invited me to CaseCamp. By the end of the presentation, the people at CaseCamp were threatening to call Facebook and my stuff removed the next day. I’m sorry you think I was entirely but I don’t see it that way.

  6. davefleet Says:


    I commented on your other post but thought I’d throw my two cents in here too.

    First up, I’m very impressed with the way you’ve handled yourself through this. There are lots of vitriolic and hateful comments/posts out there but you’ve handled yourself with dignity and grace, even though you’re at the centre of this. It’s a small thing in the big picture, but it reflects very well on you. If only other people would follow your lead…

    I find it fascinating that there’s an assumption that someone contacted Facebook to have the profiles removed. Sure, that might have happened, but it’s also entirely possible that there was a Facebook employee in the 350/400-strong audience or that someone at Facebook picked up on the controversy that erupted at the event. All of the people I know who have commented here – Eden, Connie, Tamera and others – pretty much *live* online. I know they would much rather discuss this openly than report it to Facebook.

    The assumption that someone went “running to the teacher” is a little premature, I feel, but regardless it has spread to the comments on other posts too. That’s a shame, because it detracts from the debate that’s going on. I’m on the PR/communications side and I had issues with the transparency, but I feel like I’m learning a lot from this. Hopefully other people are too.

  7. Rob Clark Says:

    [crossposting to http://www.onedegree.ca/2008/05/facebook-keeps.html ]
    Leaving aside, for a moment, the issues of trust and identity, there is a very important issue that this whole kerfuffle raises, and that’s one of ownership of data.

    Many of us are playing in these assorted walled gardens and sandboxes building significant value through the addition of our content. While these tools make it very easy to import your data, there’s scant options available to export your data in an easy and meaningful way.

    While Jill can keep a copy of the words she inputs into facebook, what options were there for exporting the contents of her wall … or her photos … or videos. Nevermind all of her contacts. Let’s not forget Scoble got tossed off of facebook for trying to export into Outlook the birthdays of his friends. Yet another way to violate the TOS.

    Even if we all play by the rules, nothing says Microsoft can’t buy out Yahoo and shut down delicious. What options then for all the bookmarks and tags and comments you’ve built up over the years. Should Google suddenly decide YouTube was a bad idea, what then for all the video content and community that’s been built.

    Unless your data resides on your own machine, there is scant recourse available to you at this point of time. The discussions and debates over data-portability and ownership of data are important ones that any of us in this space should be keeping a close eye on – and more to the point, participating in the discussion.

  8. Robin Says:

    I know that a rule was broken for these meetings and you could hear it with the hush of disapproval when you uttered the words of contempt, “I am sorry if you are offended.”, in response to someone speaking their feelings of concern rather than offense. I think the audience felt the person speaking was not actually offended.

    I actually believe you are genuine in having contributed to the body of knowledge and doing this little social engineering experiment. Everyone is running pilot projects to learn how better to do things in social media and what it is that the social space supports.

    There’s a social experiment for you. Try a New York attitude in a Toronto crowd and you feel the love. You were telling the crowd – hey if you’ve got feelings that’s not my problem – it’s a big tough world and I didn’t ask you to have feelings so quit whinging you big baby. OK well you’ve got to know that what was understood by the crowd. Well, at least you know it now.

    That said, I reiterate that you were genuine in wanting to contribute and learn for good and common reasons. I think it was just one of those Howard Dean “Yeehaw” moments when you bitchslapped the audience’s concern and the hush went out. Soon enough a preemptive clap began – that’s what they call the “slow clap” in the UK – here we applaud despite the fact that your time isn’t necessarily over on the stage.

    No applause please. I’m finished.

  9. jill380 Says:


    I am shocked by Robin’s comment above. Did I seem contemptuous from stage? That’s certainly wasn’t how I felt. I was a little nervous in front of that crowd and your question really did take me by surprise. But if I did come across as contemptuous and dismissive, I see how this all started.

    I know I’ll never convince Robin that I was genuinely sorry, but I hope by now you and I have come to an understanding of the humanity behind the situation.

  10. Robin Says:

    I really do think you were genuine also in feeling bad but once the “offended” comment was launched there was a second round from you – that, despite your obvious desire to show you cared , and you did I am sure, you said something more that returned to the attitude of “hey sorry you were “offended”” it was after that point that people in the audience near me said things like any second now they’re going to boo her off the stage. Really I think there was just a misunderstanding twice on the part of the audience that you interpretting them as having suffered an offense as being insulting to them. The whole time I was quitely thinking this Toronto audience cannot handle a NY style of talking – and I haven’t any idea if you’ve ever even visited NYC but you seemed tough with criticism. I feel fine on the matter – just wanted to add some helpful feedback.

  11. Denis McGrath Says:

    Jill Jill Jill, every time I try to be more like you and turn the other cheek, this is what comes next.

    Jill Golick is probably one of the most generous people, with her time, her patience, and her talent, that I’ve had the good fortune to meet in this industry.

    Don’t second guess yourself here, Jill, please. You were invited. I cannot for the life of me believe the crust of this group. It sounds like things are fine if you’re in the bubble with them, and toxic for everyone else.

    Clearly, judging by the subsequent reactions online, “offended” was not an out of line word to describe the reaction. Either by the Casecamp’ers or the Creative community.

    I also am going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the poster above is not repeating the dark lesson within the pilot of the West Wing when she talks about that “New York Attitude.” That would be truly ugly.

    One thing is perfectly clear to me though. Taken at face value, the “New York attitude” is right. The preciousness of this group does not make them innovators.

    When we seek our partnerships down the road, we creatives must remember that. Toronto might just be the problem that everyone says it is.

  12. […] broke the rules (unlike my brother’s friend) and paid the consequences. She knows this, and she has been nothing but professional and diplomatic about the situation that blew up in the blogosphere the following few days. I wish the same could […]

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