Monday, November 28, 2005

RLI: Real Life Interface

RLI: Real Life Interface

In which the author encourages you to switch off your computer, do stuff and win other, real life, stuff.

I spend far too much time on the internet, and it’s a fair assumption that you do as well. It’s not healthy, and can only lead to a pasty complexion, a withered body and a right arm like Popeye. Time, then, to switch off your computer and go and do something more interesting instead.

And this is my plan. Operation RLI: Real Life Interface. A plan to cause panic, confusion and general running amok the length and breadth of the country. And abroad, as well, if we can help it.

Your town almost certainly has a local newspaper. And this newspaper almost certainly has a letter page. Most of these are screaming out for content that hasn’t been written in crayon or on the back of a beer-mat by the local nutter, and will publish virtually anything with a local angle. Try it yourself. It’s fun.

Actually, I do want you to try it yourself. Write letters to your local paper, the more outrageous the better. When they publish it, send me a scan, or a link if they are mental enough to publish it online, and I’ll put it on a special page I have planned just for the event. You will most likely have to use your own name and address – they check, y’know – but you can ask for an alias. Check their terms and conditions, but don’t be put off by bored sub-editors making it up as they go along. Local rags will kill for decent letters page content - give them what they want.

Extra credit for:

* Bizarre subject matter
* A poem, in the style of an aggrieved pensioner
* Prominent placing on the letters page
* Tying a local issue to an international story in the most tenuous manner possible
* Starting a letter with “So…” or “Why oh why oh why…”
* “I am researching a book on …. and I wonder if anyone in the area can help me” (particularly good for newspapers outside your area)
* Winning genuine cash money for “Letter of the Week”
* The words "mirth" and "woe"
* Getting an editorial reply, or better still…
* Starting a local controversy

I’ve found it’s the simple stuff that really sets the ball rolling, such as inconsiderate dog owners, or car/cycle/pedestrian arguments. If you’re good, you can fill the page for days, stoking the fires by insisting on a right to reply.

Did I say prizes? Oh yeah – prizes for the best ones. No closing date – let’s look at this as a long-term project of mirth and woe. Like Fight Club, only without the fighting.

You’ve got your work cut out to beat our local champion. This week’s controversy saw a superbly crafted piece of lunacy imploring the immediate evacuation of Weymouth and surrounding villages all the way inland to Dorchester “in case of a Tsunami which could kill us all”. Genius.

Here's one we made earlier. See? They'll print any old rubbish, redeemed by a superb Thin Lizzy reference in the title.

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