When I think about my childhood, I return to the places which hold some of my earliest memories. In my mind’s eye, I walk down the streets where I grew up, just as they were back then. I see the park where my grandfather used to take me, and the hilltops overlooking the city. I’m revisiting my old school, walking along the river, looking out across the red-tiled rooftops of Florence from a skylight in my grandparents’ house. I watch the tops of the cypress trees swaying gently in the Spring breeze, and breathe in their fragrance. I smell, once again, the scent of freshly-baked bread as I walk past the baker’s shop, the tubes of paint in my grandfather’s studio, the scent of the street on a hot, sunny day. And I can summon, again, the same feeling of serenity and joie de vivre that I felt then, and which is forever tied to those places which now hold such meaning for me.
And almost every time that I do this, every time I take myself back to a particular time and place, I have the same exact thought.
Our earliest memories are the roots of who we are. And they are tied tightly to places. These places are the guardians of our memories. ….Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to capture these places, with everything they hold, for ever? To preserve this beauty, this feeling, this sensation – and to share it with others? To make others participant of what we have experienced through each of our senses, as we moved through these places in our lives, so these experiences could somehow be theirs as well? ….And what if we could partake of someone else’s experience, in the same way? There is so much to see, feel and experience in the world, and so much of it is lost to us over time, and so much of it is never shared. Could there be anything more valuable in our whole existence on this Earth, than taking the deepest, most authentic beauty of our experience in this world and turning it into a genuine patrimony for all humanity?
We obviously don’t have the means to keep a memory in a jar and then bring it to life, just as it was, whenever we open the lid. That is still fantasy. But technology is taking us closer, and moving faster all the time. It was not that long ago that video didn’t exist. Go back just a few centuries, and neither did photography. But today, millions of people across the world have a high-resolution digital camera in their pocket, and can instantly access and send photos and videos to thousands of people across the globe at once. We can even see live video footage from Mars.
Who’s never dug out an old photo book, and relived emotions from many years ago as they leafed through the pages? Or found some old photos from generations ago in a box, and wondered what it must’ve been like to walk through those places back then? ….Doesn’t this give us not just feelings, but meaning?
A blank digital canvas
Martin Luther King Jr famously spoke of having a dream. My dream is of a world where everyone who wants to can share their experience of the places where their lives are lived, even if they’re just passing through, as seen through their own eyes and heard through their own ears. A world where technology is genuinely used for the common good, and to enhance our experience of the world. A world where we can all share a sense of belonging and responsibility towards looking after our shared planet, through a celebration of its incredible beauty and diversity.
Not even the most avid travellers among us will be able to experience the world in its entirety firsthand. But everyday technology can now allow us all to experience any corner of it almost as if we were there. And not through some corporate clip, or a professional blogger’s narrated adventures, but through the eyes and ears of each and every one of us, all of whom become co-authors of this great, enormous canopy, like a million brushes together painting a masterpiece. And in this living canvas is the world we’ve inherited, and the world we’ll be bequeathing to the next generations.
C4Urselves is my attempt at starting to paint this canvas. Already, millions of people around the world regularly capture their experience of new places, and many of them share it regularly online. But each person’s reach is limited. And we’re still, largely, reliant on the templates and algorithms of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, all of which have a very specific business model which has little if anything to do with actually creating a genuine, shared experience of the world.
C4Urselves exists only to do precisely that, and to do that in an ethical, fully accessible way, underpinned by our values of authenticity, transparency and integrity. We’re not trying to be the next Facebook or Google, and we don’t want to take over the world. As a social enterprise, we want to make a difference – and demonstrate that there’s a different way to do things online. We’re starting with videos, but in time this could become a fully immersive experience.
Be part of something really big
I want to now put a call out to every person that has read this far, and who shares my vision for a single, fully transparent, fully accessible online community where each person can share an authentic experience of the world as seen through their eyes, and experience someone else’s.
Pick up your metaphorical brush, and paint a corner of this enormous canvas of the world.
Next time you go out, take a short video. When you get home, or sooner, upload it to our website. When you feel like virtually exploring the world, go to C4Urselves, explore, and share what you like with others. It’s all totally free. And then tell all your friends. Help us build a genuinely global movement dedicated to sharing and celebrating the world, as it is. And let’s capture as much of it as we can, before it changes forever.
Lots of places are today under threat – from development, climate change, neglect and more. By capturing these places as they are now, you are also helping to preserve them. And not just for posterity, but for today – because by bringing them to life, you make them worth fighting for.
if this vision strikes a chord, then join the movement. Register for free at www.c4urselves.com, and start sharing.
This is going to be a long, ongoing initiative, but it can be really huge. And every little contribution will make this cause more powerful, and make our overall experience of the world that much more valuable. You have the chance to be part of something really big, and really good, from its earliest days.
Let’s put digital technology to good use. Let’s use it to celebrate, preserve, and share the world. For real.