Wow! THANK YOU everyone who voted in the People's Choice competition for our climate site, Love Letters to the Future, to win a Webby award -- we just found out we won, not just the People's Choice, but the Jury award as well!!! A sweep in the Green category for the "Oscars of the Internet."
Love Letters was born during the outpouring of efforts to get the world to pay heed to global warming talks in Copenhagen last December. Some of you who are Greenpeace supporters may remember seeing a link in your email or via Facebook or Twitter to the site, where David Suzuki and a gaggle of celebs asked you to upload a picture or a video or a text message which would be sealed in a time capsule, to be opened in the year 2150.
The site was beautifully executed, thanks to the folks at HiRes! in London, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that was it. You upload your message, it goes into a time capsule, aaaand done.
But to those who knew how to look, there was something more hidden behind that pretty face. It was in fact something called an ARG, an Alternate Reality Game, disguised as an activist website.
At one point, the future started talking back, in the form of coded messages from a woman named Maya, alive in the year 2050, who had found the time capsule. She had an imperfect, and illegal, means of messaging back through time via the Love Letters site. There she left a string of clues that unlocked a series of video clips, fragmented and scattered by their trip back through time.
Some of the clues that Maya left behind were really, really hard -- you can see a thread of how they were solved at this gamer's site -- and ultimately involved clues hidden in Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, and Beijing which required a phone equipped with augmented reality software to work out the final mystery. (To unlock the secret site, type "me2109" into the search box.)
The concept was born at new media conference SXSW a few years back when Thomas Wallner, head of Xenophile Productions, wandered up to me following a panel on Alternate Reality Games. "Are you the Greenpeace guy..." From there, we bounced around concepts and crazy and not-so-crazy ideas until Mike Townsley came up with the idea of an ARG framed around the Copenhagen climate meeting. Thomas put together a crackerjack team that included Amit Breuer, Patrick Crowe, Ralph Dfouni, Maayan Cohen, Irene Van der Top, and Afzal Huda.
Custom Protoypes produced a real time capsule designed to be shockproof, waterproof and to last above ground for 500 years, containing the best of the Love Letters submitted.
The game playing community assembled the final message on the eve of the Climate Summit's conclusion. It described a world ravaged by climate change and containing a desperate plea to those of us alive today, at the tipping point, to take action.
Ultimately, of course, that didn't happen -- and in that sense, our website failed in its mission to bring the voice of the future to bear on the decision makers of today.
An award winning website? We'll take it, of course. But a world-changing website? That's our ambition.
Big congratulations to Andrew Davies who oversaw development here at Greenpeace, and the core team at Hi-ReS!: Florian Schmitt and Alexandra Jugovic, Barny Sheeran, Mike Tucker, Rachel Hunt, Stephen Donnelly, and our very own (forever, no matter where she works) Adele Major.