Fail early, fail often. My first solo experience with dirty prototyping.


When we were requested to discuss a passion I became deeply concerned, alarmed in fact to realise that I wasn’t aware of having any deep passions. I can be very interested in something that catches my imagination, but it is not normally long lasting. In my work I can be very enthusiastic about developing a new title, but after a couple of issues the novelty wears off and I want to move onto the next thing. I now recognise I have a slight battle to get things done before I lose interest. I suspect that I may be best suited to roles where I might come up with ideas and nurture them, then at some point hand them over to others so I can move on.

When trying to think of a passion I considered a few ideas though none of them really stuck. I enjoy swimming, but in bouts constrained by time and opportunity. I can be quite geeky about technology, especially when discussing disruptive technology and its wider socio-economic impact with a fellow convert. However, by its very nature it either becomes commonplace or disappears. Anyway, in the end I decided I would make a list and weigh up each one to try and at least come up with something. With a thick black marker I wrote at the top of a clean sheet of paper, ‘WHAT AM I PASSIONATE ABOUT?’ The first thing I wrote down was ‘property’. At that was it. I didn’t have to write anything else. I immediately felt the passion rise up. The timing seemed perfect. I had seen a place just a couple of days before was on the market so I called up the estate agent an arranged a viewing. I now realise, the timing was not special. There are probably always a couple of places in the back of my mind.

Having arranged the appointment I got straight on here and wrote my blog. It seemed to just flow out. It was really quite cathartic!

This has come as a bit of a surprise to me – realising it as a passion. It crossed my mind, briefly, that perhaps I should have chosen an MA more in this area. It was brief though. For one, the very fact that we are only in week two and already I had this level of enlightenment must mean I am onto a good thing! What does the rest of the course hold in store? The other thing is that it can be bit of an unfulfilling passion. It’s like being an avid fan of a particular musician, but never being able to attend their concert – even when they are playing just down the road.

My inkling of an idea was creating complete documentaries of a building’s transformation. From the very first viewing with the estate agent to the final touch of paint. The videos would include little interviews with all relevant stakeholders during the process; builders, interior decorators, locals who remember its past etc. I envisaged that at the end of the project the future residents would have something to reflect on and help them empathise with the building and its heritage – they could even be part of it. The associated costs would not be very high, but it would add a special something extra. It might also help the developer with future projects. Their brand could become associated with doing a sympathetic job that takes the local community into account and provide a more humanistic face to the company. If combined with a blog, it might also act as marketing tool. It would generate interest long before the property was ready for occupation. It would also provide an important snapshot for generations to come.

It was a bit difficult to dirty prototype the idea and even know if it was worth prototyping. It was based more on just a flash of inspiration than well conceived idea. I did explain it briefly to the estate agent on site, but he seemed fairly nonplussed which wasn’t a great start. Then again, young estate agents aren’t necessarily employed for their interest in the wider opportunities of their profession.

What I learned was this:

For the vox populi video is great. But, filming it on an iPhone 4 at arms length is not ideal. For the imagery of the building itself moving video really didn’t capture its true hideous beauty. I should have taken a decent camera. I was really disappointed with how flat it looked and the lack of depth. However, I did like how some things seemed to loom out the dark in the back room like an exploration of the Titanic.

The venture would require a certain element of theatrics. A bit of knowing what to expect and acting like it was unexpected would make it more interesting.

Having a local historian along would really help explain what is being presented.

Doing it in fifteen minutes is not long enough.

Wearing a suit gave the right impression to the estate agent, but limited how I dirty I could get.

Having a gang of scaffolders clanging about opposite isn’t helpful.

Editing with iMovie on a phone is a pain in arse – I need to buy a Mac (Curse you, Mr Jobbs, you are reeling me in!)

People are generally interested in the buildings around them and feel a certain sense concern about their wellbeing. The vicar in the video just happened to be passing and struck up conversation because he saw me taking photos (I filmed the “let’s meet the vicar” clip afterwards). You learn quickly when you dive in at the deep end.

Some things are a private passion. I would really have preferred just to spend some time alone in there, picked over the artefacts and explored properly. But, were it not for MACE I would never have gone further than simply driving past and wondering.

Afterwards I did feel a bit down. The fan turned away from the gig. My relationship with the Chapel may go no further, unless I win the Euromillions on Friday. However, my little video record is now on the Internet so hopefully preserved for the future.

Actually, if I win the Euromillions the Chapel will have to wait. The property will become my project:

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