That's what Toronto celebrity chef Zane Caplansky and I are going to find out, and you're invited to join us.
We're collaborating at Storia.me (formerly named Selfish), the new visual storytelling service where I've been heading content and community for the past year, to create the foundation of a book about his adventures building a deli empire.
Zane's a great storyteller, and his quest for the perfect smoked meat sandwich has taken him on a personal and professional journey around the world, from dive bars and divorce into foodie business ventures on wheels and construction lots, and onto the shelves of Whole Foods and television shows judging donuts and national radio airwaves talking about what makes Canadian food uniquely Canadian.
He's changed his name and returned to his roots and now he's serving handmade, homemade Jewish deli food the way his mother and grandmother taught him, and sharing his biggest lessons about life and how what we crave -- yes, it could be a sandwich -- holds the key to our future.
It's a story we can all enjoy.
In fact, a major Canadian literary agent requested Zane's book proposal.
Two years ago.
Does that sound familiar?
It's a common story and nightmare of many promising writers. You're busy. It's a lot of material to get your arms around. It's overwhelming! It takes time to pick out a narrative, pin down the content you want to draw from when you start writing. It also takes time to compare and contrast other related titles.
So here's what Zane and I are going to try at Storia.me, with its topic-specific, ongoing stories and its moments of photo, video and text:
We'll start capturing chapter ideas for his memoir in an exclusive story, and in this collaborative story Proposing Deli Man we'll walk you through what we’re doing together. Kind of like a blueprint for how we're doing it.
If you're a writer you'll probably find it interesting in a behind-the-scenes-in-publishing kind of way (and you might want to try it yourself, right along with us).
If you're a fan of Zane's food and his life stories, you might like to see him put together this book like he puts together his lovingly made smoked meat sandwiches.
He'll also be sharing about this project on all his platforms -- like a media- and audience-savvy book author needs to -- and inviting people to come peek in and comment. That includes you. We want to hear your thoughts every step of the way.
"It's a good example of collaboration, as well as a brilliant idea and useful for me," Zane says.
I'm heading community and content in a new semi-private social networking tool for visual storytelling called Selfish. We're about to launch our beta iOS apps in Russia and Canada, then in the US and Android a little later, along with our desktop component. Big, global stuff for socially savvy publishers!
We're looking for digital media pioneers and adventurous, creative people to work with us as we get the kinks out of the technology, and gear up for a public launch. We're a work-in-progress, and we want to pay you for your own works-in-progress.
Our paid content creator program runs from August 25-October 25. Those dates may shift, so check it out no matter what. (See full details here, and get the link to download the app on your iPhone. You'll need iOS7 or iOS8 to use the app.)
You'll be using the tool to fashion a short, connected string of posts with photos and brief text on a topic, either alone or with other co-authors.
You can do this with your friends or family, in fact, we prefer you do it with other people since this is a collaborative tool.
Use informal language and conversational tone.
Ideal topics are a weekend road trip; details about your obsessions, hobbies or work or sports you play; attending a special occasion, an event like a concert or a wedding or a conference; events in an interest group you belong to.
You can repurpose previously published material.
You can use personal content.
The aim of this program for North American/English language creative communities is to attract diverse content into the app that reflects best uses of the tool.
I'd like to encourage creatives and bloggers out there to try the app and test its capabilities in telling a story that comes naturally to you, including stories that are happening in your life right now. Capturing real time, ongoing adventures is something this app supports well.
Also, we're going to pay you to start a story but you can always continue your Selfish stories after you reach the pay mark. We imagine you'll want to as you realize the value you've created and the new ways you discover to share your life and interests with the people who matter to you.
What are we looking for? The basics of a winning Selfish story in this program are:
has a good cover/title/story description,
a minimum of 10 moments total of photos and text,
uses hashtags and geotags and @ mentions,
with active comments, and
social shares throughout the creation process.
Presenting our content creator program in a Selfish story (see it here) is an experiment to show you how a Selfish story works, how it's an ongoing thread of small moments, how it's different than a blog post, how it's different than a tweet or a Facebook status or a Facebook photo album, or a Pinterest pin, or an Instagram photo.
As my fellow content creator, communicator, publisher, writer, transmedia storyteller, as my fellow friend, family member, and member of other interest communities, I think you might want to know about this new mobile, social, online option for connecting what you care about with how and what you capture and share, and with whom you choose to share it. If you have questions, just ask me. I'd love to try to answer.
This story about the program shows you sample screens of existing content and creation flows while you consider the guidelines. It also demonstrates what kind of Selfish powers you can expect to harness for your own storytelling goals:
a Selfish story has one link and is shareable everywhere;
a Selfish story can have multiple coauthors, all posting into the ongoing story;
a Selfish story is made of multiple moments of photos and text all linked together;
a Selfish story is created in the mobile app and displayed on the web;
a Selfish story on the web is displayed in animated moments with rotating images and blocks of text;
a Selfish story is interactive, with comments and likes on each moment;
if you’re a registered user, you can subscribe to any public Selfish story so you get all the moments in your feed;
and, Selfish is free;
there's more, because Selfish is all about user controls, but hey this post has to end some time.
Blogger and columnist Ezra Klein (formerly of the Washington Post) just announced in The Verge his new news venture "Project X" at Vox Media. It aims to address the question: "why hasn't the Internet made the news better at delivering crucial context alongside new information?"
"New information is not always — and perhaps not even usually — the most important information for understanding a topic," Klein writes in The Verge. That's the way news has functioned in the past, often due to space restrictions. "The web has no such limits. There's space to tell people both what happened today and what happened that led to today."
As a 21st century content creator with an old media background, I'm familiar both with the restrictions Project X's founders (including Melissa Bell and Matthew Yglesias ) have been bristling under and the avenues they want to pursue.
News is a natural field for building a rich new ecosystem of information around content.
For the past decade I've been committed to doing on a personal scale what Project X aims to do for news: Plumbing the content of deep interests and creating transmedia stories that can live and grow online.
People abroad have often turned to writing when other options for work and expression were limited. It tends to be a location-independent profession and pasttime.
Technology and the times now challenge writers abroad to do even more. Because we can -- and must.
We can make a bigger impact with less resources. Plus, even if we wanted to, we can no longer depend solely on high-barrier traditional routes. We writers are now producers, and directors, and engineers of content.
Revisiting all my entertainment projects in development in this new light: how to tell the story of my ‘forensic memoir of friendship’ using 25-years worth of multimedia? Can two screenplays be converted to enhanced ebooks for iPhone or iPad -- incorporating images, sound, text -- or even made into a graphic novel?
What recent technology or industry shift both lowers a traditional barrier for you and raises your game?
A round up of my quotes from interviews, profiles and articles by or about me that keep coming back.
"Expat Harem women are challenged to redefine their lives, definitions of spirituality, femininity, sensuality and self."
-- introduction to Tales from the Expat Harem, with Jennifer Eaton Gökmen, 2005
THE NEGOTIATION OF FOREIGN WOMEN IN TURKEY:Commitment Now asks: "Do you think many of the foreign women who have made Turkey their home have found that their adjustments are one-way?"
Anastasia: "Not in my life or for most foreign women I know. If anything we’re in a constant state of negotiating which way the street is going at any given time to accommodate both our instincts and those of the people around us.
"There's a huge spectrum of society in Turkey, all with their own quotients of modernity and comfort with Western traditions. My Turkish family is secular, modern to the point of being trendy, and highly Europeanized."
-- travel author interview with Commitment Now, 2009
TURKEY'S BOND OF METAMORPHOSIS WITH THE EXPAT HAREM: "Foreign women on Turkish soil are neither what nor who they used to be, yet not fully transformed by their brush with Turkey. Aligned in their ever-shifting contexts, both Turkey and the expatriate share a bond of constant metamorphosis.
THE DAMAGING CULTURAL FACTOR SEX TOURISTS EXPORT: "Writing from the sex-toured Near East, the damaging potential of each disposable liaison is empirical evidence that Western culture is morally corrupt. One forgettable fling has the power to affect systems far larger than the person, family, village or region which witnessed and absorbed the behavior.
"The environment of sexual predation many Western women face overseas is also bound to be heightened by the wanton and culturally inappropriate choices of 'sex pilgrims'.
"Travelers and expatriates striving to modulate their behavior to find social acceptance with native friends, families and colleagues must struggle to differentiate themselves from sexual opportunists who don't have to lie in the messy bed they've made."
-- book review of Romance on the Road: Traveling Women Who Love Foreign Men, Perceptive Travel, 7/06
ON THE PARALLEL IDENTITY STRUGGLES OF TURKEY, AND GLOBAL NOMADS: “Turkey is asking itself some of the world’s most difficult questions these days,” said Ashman, comparing the nation’s quest with her own identity issues as a global nomad and the questions central to her work. “Expat Harem asked 30 foreign women what modern Turkey taught them about themselves.
"Turkey as a crucible of the self, a mirror on our own possibilities as citizens of the world.
"We chose tonight’s topic because it is relevant to Global Nomads who are concerned with the concepts of personal identity, community and belonging, and the balance of cultural influences that can sometimes be at odds.”
EXPATS' AGILE AND UNIQUE NATURE IS KEY TO SUCCESS ABROAD: "Being an expatriate you’re naturally a person in transition. Your worst days can leave you feeling unmoored, and alienated. Your best days bring a sense of your agile nature and the qualities that make you unique from the people who surround you and the people back home.
"Working toward an understanding of what it will take for you to feel your best in your environment is extremely worthwhile.
"Your answers perfectly define you and the more closely they are incorporated into your business plans the better chance you have of career success abroad."
EXPATRIATISM AS FOURTH GENERATION IMMIGRATION: "Being an expat to me may be more akin to someone who simply isn’t living where they started. I’m just farther away. I guess you could say I’m a fourth generation immigrant, since my parents and their parents and their parents before them all left their homelands or their cities in search of better opportunities in the west. Coming to Europe completes that loop for my family.
"When I'm slathering Mediterranean olive oil on a wild arugula salad I am enjoying something a distant ancestor once did but that my closer relatives did not, as they served Spam in Chicago and tofu taco salad in California."
ON PUBLISHING AND THE DIGITAL WORLD CITIZEN: "Geographic disadvantage demands I compete in my home market virtually...and my global audience is now virtual.
"I’m shifting to new school thinking in distribution, promotion, and sales.
"Internet access equalized my ‘90s expat reality. Now Twitter closes the professional morass as Tweetdeck columns resonate thought leadership across publishing, technology, and marketing. I’ve got Web 3.0 plans for my second book not only because as a contemporary author abroad I must connect with readers and offer dynamic interaction with the material, but because as a digital citizen I can."
SOCIAL MEDIA ERASES THE TRADITIONAL DISADVANTAGES OF EXPATRIATISM: "Social media affords expats location-independence (work where you are and where you'll go), self-actualization (be an expert in whatever you choose), language (communicate in your preferred tongue), and flexibility (time and location become irrelevant).
"You can be current, involved, and a player in your field thanks to the new platforms. Once upon a time we expats were disconnected from our bases of operation that our countrymen back home had available to them.
"Now, the divide is digital. Virtual. Non-existent for the expat who makes use of technology."
WRITERS ABROAD BUILD NETWORK FOR NEW ROLE AS CONTENT ENGINEERS: "Reach beyond readers, other writers and even publishing folk. Seek out thought leaders in marketing, interactive tech people, small business owners and creative entrepreneurs. These are all fields that a contemporary author and content producer is entering whether she knows it or not.
"I’ve been revisiting all my projects to see how I can bring them to life in the most current way -- in terms of technology and distribution distinct from the low-percentage, high-barrier traditional paths.
"Writers are now producers, and directors, and engineers of content."
THE 'PROBLEM' OF GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP -- AN IDENTITY SUSPENDED BETWEEN MULTIPLE WORLDS -- CAN BE A SOLUTION FOR 21st CENTURY WOMEN: "We often dream about a spot where *our* kind of people live, where we can lead *our* chosen lifestyle.
"Today the bittersweet psychic limbo of global citizenship frees the multifaceted woman. Frees us to bond around common interest. Experience. World view.
"Through the digital nomadism pioneered by location independent people and use of self-actualizing social media, we can now operate independently of where we live and tap into a sense of ourselves both unique and as big as we can be."
-- She's Next digital media series, inspiring 60 second video interviews to cultivate happiness and leadership in 21st century women, 10/28/10
ASTUTE PORTFOLIO BUILDING: "I knew I could benefit from a more professional approach to the craft.
"[When I pitched a profile to the Village Voice I ended up publishing] a profile/book review/event announcement -- the managing editor’s hybrid idea when I emphasized the curating work my multimedia poet interviewee was doing at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, and an upcoming performance there of a new Brion Gysin book.
"If an editor was gracious enough to tell me exactly what he could use all I needed to do was accept the challenge."
HISTORICAL TRAVELOGUE CAN HELP FIND YOUR PLACE: "Long-term travelers, expatriates and global citizens often struggle to make sense of life's evolutions abroad, as well as find meaningful access to their new surroundings. Whether I'm simply passing through, or putting down roots in a place, I've come to crave a certain type of book.
"Historical travelogue and portraits of adventurous women travelers who came before me often helps connect me to the land, and remind me of the transformative tradition of female travel."