hal tweets ·11:28 AM

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The Cork Chronicles :comments

Posted by Hal
Tags: production, Video sharing, Voyeurism

All this documentary peeping is playing havoc with my blog peeping. We’ve been working 12 to 15 hour days, getting up early, going to bed late, and I just haven’t been able to sit down to a blog post. And it didn’t help that I accepted a last minute assignment from the Globe and Mail to review Free, the new book by Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson, who wrote The Long Tail. (Review miraculously got done on time…coming out Saturday I believe…)

Anyway, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you’ve been getting a little bit of an update on my exploits. (And if you haven’t you should be.) But here, at least, is a longer report on day two.

It was the day after the Google trip, and the plan was to spend the day with CorkAngel76, a lifecaster named Sean who had been broadcasting his life on Justin.tv for the last 8 months. Sean lived in a distant suburb almost an hour from San Francisco.

We met at 7am and headed out. Had a quick breakfast in the area, then pulled into his subdivision, a cluster of identical houses seemingly populated exclusively by hired landscapers.

Inside was Cork, a slightly portly fellow in his early thirties who lives alone with his ongoing audience. As soon as we stepped into his house, all of us we’re immediately conscious of the cameras. We were filming, and being filmed. Very meta!

We toured Cork’s setup and had a chat upstairs in his office. He talked about how he is someone who just goes out there and fulfills his dreams. Lifecasting, apparently, had become one of those dreams, though I’m not sure Cork, in the end, could say exactly why.

One thing was clear though — Cork relished having an audience and had very quickly developed a retinue of dedicated watchers/followers/friends.

The day hurtled along and before we knew it, we were at the nearby local airport. Cork owns 8 businesses, by his count, and one of them is an airplane rental company. Cork has his pilot’s license and director Sally was VERY KEEN to film a scene featuring me and Cork cruising the California skies in a rented Cessna.

The reason Sally wanted us to go up in the plane was to film Cork lifecasting from the skies. There was only one problem: Cork hadn’t actually started lifecasting from the skies yet, due to various technical issues as yet unresolved. (He does lifecast from his BMW convertible, though…which is brand new and gleaming because he apparently gets a new one very 9 months.)

Undaunted, director Sally had a plan! She would rig up the secondary video camera we were using to make the documentary about the making of the documentary to look like a webcam. This turned out to involve wrapping the camera in tape and sticking it to the plane’s dashboard. The angle was off though, so cameraman Mark had to provide his t-shirt to wedge under it. I took pictures with my phone and helpfully pointed out that Cork didn’t actually lifecast from his plane, making the whole scene kind of dubious. Sally shot me a few dirty looks before muttering that, well, by the time the documentary was ready to air, Cork would, indeed, be lifecasting from his plane. (Apparently we are not just film makers, we are also time travelers.)

We were almost ready to go up into the blue skies, when another problem emerged: Cork thought it was just me and him going up, and didn’t realize that the cameraman would also be joining us on the jaunt. He wasn’t sure the plane could take that much weight, since it was fully fueled. Dramatics and debate ensued. After all, there wouldn’t be much point in the whole airplane scene if it wasn’t on camera. Finally, Cork relented and allowed director Sally to climb into the back, because she was the smallest. We took off, circled around, and landed. Total time in the air: six minutes.

We head back to Cork hq for a heart-to-heart. Cork told me some surprising things, including the fact that his mother, who he is close to, doesn’t know he lifecasts and that when she comes over, he leaves the cameras running, turns of the giant screen in the living room that displays his broadcasts and their accompanying ongoing chat, and, basically, tells her nothing. Cork’s attitude is that when people come over to his house, they are subject to his rules. He may or may not tell them about the broadcast, depending on the situation or mood.

The final scene was a dinner party. Cork’s friends were coming over. They turned out to be his neighbors, married fifty-something suburbanites who power walked with Cork every morning. Cork plied them with 70 dollar bottles of wine (he has studied wine in France) and we all had a great time yelling stuff at the chat screen and discussing which of his neighbors, regular guests, had the biggest fan base on CorkVision. Among those watching was Peepwife, who turned out to be none other than my own dear W. Her identity was confirmed when she wrote on the chat: Hi Hal. Don’t drink too much.

 

 

Comments: -2-, Add yours…

The lifecast was incredibly strange and interesting to watch.  You guys were literally doing NOTHING for the first 20 minutes I was online, and I couldn’t turn away…because you may have done SOMETHING, and I wanted to know what it would be.  Such an odd thing to be captivated by…and yet, the chat room was full of regulars (some of whom seemed far too deeply involved in the lifecast, in my opinion).  Super weird.  Especially when you would read a message from the chat and reply to it by shouting into the air.  “Yes, we are filming a documentary.  No, I will not dance.”  Amazing. 

I actually find it VERY creepy and disrespectful that Cork would allow someone into his house without alerting them of the lifecast going on - particularly his mother.  That does not sit well with me - it takes it from interesting to sinister, on a level.  He posted a message about consent (actually, “concent”) on the chat line so that people’s WORDS were not posted without their knowledge (as they sat hidden behind computers, as I am now) but he doesn’t let his own MOTHER know?  Creepy, inappropriate, and wrong.

Very interesting part of your project, though, and cute that your wife dropped by.

By Erin on 2009 07 14

This article is truly a good read for me! Informative and very interesting!, Cheers wink
Wall Stickers

By jony on 2010 09 09

 

  

The Bloggist

Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...

 

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