Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid wrote a book with a title that immediately put it at the top of my reading list: Evil Plans, having fun on the road to world domination. Maybe world domination is predominantly a manly hobby, but I guess it’s on everybody’s mind once every while. Mr. MacLeod’s book is for the (small) entrepreneur, but most of its lessons fit culture neatly. In fact, I believe we’re halfway there, if not closer. This post, thus, only repeats what we already know, and details some of the steps on the road to world domination we could take.
“It’s not what you make, its what you believe in” (p. 15)
As cultural institutions we’re competing for people’s time. It’s either a visit to a museum, or watching television, or a drink with friends. We’re not something extra; we’re something else. Culture (the stuff in our heads and habits, not the expositions and stuff) however, is always there, even when you’re watching television or having a drink with friends. You can add art to anything. Make stuff with a reason and believe in the greatness of what you do, and culture can be in the hearts of people, even long after they saw your flyer or exposition.
Tell a story that’s about your audience as much as it’s about you
Personalisation of expositions, making them meaningful to our visitors… Like in the Humanity House in The Hague, where you become part of the experience and they address you by name, so you feel it’s about you. This is an easy one; many of us are doing this already.
Make sure people can socialize around you
If an experience can’t be shared, it’s not going to help you dominate the world. (Are you the only one going to talk about it?) Beautiful artefacts, stowed away in a crate for years, are worthless on the road to world domination. Make sure the social share button is part of all designs so people will tell people who will tell even more people so everybody will know what you believe in, and what’s about them.
Cause ‘random acts of traction’
No matter how well you tell your story, and no matter how cool the stuff you do, there’s always a change it isn’t picked up by others. And sometimes you’re just lucky and something you do creates a lot of traction and helps you on your way to world domination. You never know for sure what’s it going to be, but by tying a lot of new and different things, you have a better change at hitting the jackpot.
Create expressive capital
Expressive capital, according to Hugh MacLeod, is the next step in the evolution of our economy. First we exchanged chickens, then we bought 5 Euro coffees, next we’ll hunt for stuff that helps us “find and/or express meaning, narrative, metaphor, purpose, explanation and relevance” (p. 132). And isn’t that what culture is all about? Again, this is about telling a story that’s about your audience. A valuable story.
Evil Plans is a quick read, won’t take you more than 2 hours to finish. Pick it up and apply whatever you find useful. I’d be fun to have some competition on the road to world domination! See you there.
Header photo by Alex Eylar on Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA)