total time since arriving in Sweden...
 seconds
% of my life 
rob
nero
interaction designer
"EuroNero"

Purpose
In late 2005 I began planning the “once in a lifetime” trip that became known as Euro Nero. I began planning the trip early because I wanted to be prepared. Though it was not my first time in Europe, it would be the first time I traveled alone. Also, I was planning to be gone for one month, a length of time not ever seen within my friends and family.

http://euronero.blogspot.com

To keep my friends and family up-to-date on how my trip was unraveling, I setup a blog to update as I traveled. I was able to add an entry every couple days and describe what I was doing and seeing. It also gave everyone a chance to interact with me, ask questions, and stay involved the entire time. I was overwhelmed by how many people followed along and enjoyed my stories, even after I returned home.

Sense of Place

Nothing can help tell the story of a trip better than maps. Before I left, I created and loaded maps into the blog pinpointing all of the potential cities I planned on visiting. When I landed at each location, I would activate the corresponding map to give relevance to where I was and how far I had traveled.

Quantitative
Since I was traveling alone, and have a strong interest in photography, I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity for photos that was presented to me. I wanted to capture the unique, the different, and the bizarre, that I saw every day. I wanted to record each moment, each new environment, and every person I met, to eventually share with everyone I know.

The span of a month can offer many opportunities for taking photos, exactly 14,783 opportunities! Coming home with so many photos forced me to create a logical and systematic approach to managing and sorting through all of them, one at a time. The entire pool of photos was broken down by country, and then by a standard taxonomy describing all the subjects I photographed. Each category was then sorted into “delete”, “keep”, and “pick” sub-categories, describing the aesthetic qualities of each photo.

It was a tremendous amount of work to manage, but it did provide for enjoyable information design and fascinating trend analysis!

Photo Movie
So much interest was sparked by the blog, I wanted to continue to pull my friends and family into the full trip experience. A simple slideshow of photos would not have delivered the same impact I experienced though. Only an interactive evening of sight and sound would truly envelope the audience and help them feel what I felt!

Creating a photo movie from a collection of almost 15,000 photos sounds next to impossible. The approach I took initially to categorize and organize the photos proved invaluable and made this impossible task manageable.

Instead of looking at a pool of 15,000 photos, it became a pool of just the “picks”, roughly 7% of the total. I edited the “picks” once more and “green-lighted” the select photos that best depicted the themes, experiences, and aesthetics of the trip. Then I printed out small thumbnails of these select photos so I could easily lay them out and physically storyboard the movie as I edited.

Music native to each country became the baseline by which I edited the photos together. I wanted to further expand the impact of the movie by using music that people listened to in each country and that someone could expect to hear while visiting. This connected the people, places, and things in the photos to music that was created in the same environment.

Interactive

To debut the movie, I invited everyone to watch it on a big screen in my backyard. I hung lights, layed out blankets, and offered popcorn and warm cider to make everyone comfortable.

To everyone’s surprise though, I took the “full experience” one step further and invited two special guests... from Sweden!

How else could I show the people that I met on my trip, but to bring the people from my trip! What began as a simple idea of a live-webcam connection to my friends in Sweden, became infamously known as “The Swedes!” I tested the technological elements of the connection, and even talked with my friends beforehand to let them know what to expect. What I had not planned on, are the activities that happen late on a Friday night in Sweden while waiting for me to “call”.

The Premiere turned out to be an enjoyable and fascinating cultural experience, and brought the entire trip to a full circle. Starting with the blog to give almost-live coverage of what I was doing, to the photo movie to show what my words were describing, to a live unscripted broadcast of real people that I met; it all came together to bring each person as close as possible to experience the enormous impact this trip had on my life.

Watch the Movie!