Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This is a new kind of HOBBY

As part of investigating the viability of what we were about to create, I was curious about the social and leisure aspects of web-based activities. During my lunch hour at work one day, I started to look over the Google postings for leisure activities. Reading, of course, is clearly one of them, but people also include “watching movies” in the list, and even count “surfing the web” as one of those “pleasant time-wasters”. But I quickly started to see a particular term show up repeatedly: the word “hobby”. Now, to me, hobby had a sort of, I don’t know, smallish kind of feel, as though one’s hobby is not really anything important. I enjoy woodworking, and I’ve made some nice things, particularly for my children, but I’m not terribly intense about it. But after reading the online materials, especially Wikipedia, it turns out that hobbies are really pretty important in the larger scheme of things. Hobbies are non-income activities people enjoy in their leisure time. These activities give them great personal pleasure. They let people learn new things and share them with others. They provide personal fulfillment. They are creative, social, and educational. They are fun, relaxing, and yet exciting. Hobbies fit that empty space that we all have that is “not-work”. And with these thoughts percolating in my head, I went to sleep that night.

I was awakened between 2am and 3am with one of those fits of creativity that sometimes move our thoughts out of fevered sleep and into feverish action. I went into my study and grabbed a piece of yellow paper and began to write and sketch. And for 45 minutes, idea after idea went down on paper, crystallizing the general musings I’d been having about what the site was supposed to do. I realized that I was on the threshold of a completely new thing – a new kind of web-based hobby. It was something that was already part of some people’s leisure time, but was as yet barely formed and only done casually, not in any particular place and certainly not by any identifiable group of people. The emerging hobby of storycasting (used here as a generic term), was about to tap into a powerful personal and social drive that is unknowingly shared by millions of people. Not everyone will “get” this hobby, any more than everyone “gets” model railroading, birding, or fly-tying – but the need and drive is very real for those who enter, and they will spend hours of time (and probably a few dollars) participating with all the others who “get” storycasting. And, like the other activities, this has the potential to drive a whole new industry, with it’s own players and lexicon. This is the first hobby that is so closely linked to both books and movies. In fact, this hobby is going to drive readers to rent more movies, and drive movie people to read more books. The reason is simple: the more actors you see and the more books you read, the more fun the hobby becomes. And it is going to have global appeal, because it works for every culture that has stories and a movie industry. So, I’m perfectly happy to be the creator of something as seemingly small as a “hobby” – something that gets included in those pleasant time-wasting not-work activities that bring pleasure and thought to our reading and moviegoing.

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