This afternoon @journalism_live ‘twinterviewed’ the Twitchhiker, aka Paul Smith, a freelance journalist from Newcastle. The background here is that on March 1, 2009, Smith will set off on a 30 day mission – to see how far he will get with the Twitter community as his only aid. Yup, he’s truly in the hands of Twitter altruism. And it’s all for charity: the same charity supported by Twestival, Charity:Water. Full details on his site, Twitchhiker.com. You can follow him, and his conversation with this search tag ‘#twitchhiker’.
So here’s how it went. When @twitchhiker ‘met’ @journalism_live
twitchhiker: Yes, hello. Good afternoon from a rather snowy North East of England.
Journalism_Live: So. No. 1. In 140 chs. what is @Twitchhiker all about?
twitchhiker: Twitchhiker is an attempt by me @paul_a_smith to travel the world in 30 days relying only on Twitter users
Journalism_Live: aha. so you have a real name,@paul_a_smith. And was this @dave_gorman style mission dreamed up in the pub?
twitchhiker: No, the slightly disappointing answer is the bread aisle of Gateshead Tesco about a fortnight ago.
Journalism_Live: Only a fortnight? You’ve acted fast. Has it been hard to organise?
twitchhiker: In terms of travelling, nothing’s organised. One of the rules is I can’t plan my route more than 3 days ahead.
twitchhiker: In terms of everything else, Twitter users are currently helping me to compile a list!
journalism_live: blimey. so let’s hear the other rules…
twitchhiker: I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation on Twitter, from Twitter users. No third party offers.
twitchhiker: I only spend money on food and what I can carry. If there’s more than one offer, I choose. If not, I don’t.
twitchhiker: Finally, If I’m unable move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
journalism_live: do you reckon people might join Twitter in order to help you out?
twitchhiker: I’ve had messages from people who’ve seen the press coverage and joined up, so here’s hoping they’ll help!
journalism_live: and we hear you’re a journalist by trade…?
twitchhiker: No formal qualifications, but I freelance for the Guardian, write and edit for other sites and iPhone apps too.
journalism_live: ever worked as a travel writer before?
journalism_live: (impatient! – ed) it ain’t over yet. Can your thumbs keep up?
twitchhiker: A feature for the Guardian site, the iPhone app, some unpaid stuff, that’s it. More radio, tv and consumer.
journalism_live: aha! now we see the Tweet! So could this be a venture into pastures new for you?
twitchhiker: Possibly, but it’ll be an aside. Anybody who writes can lend themselves to writing about their experiences.
journalism_live: so money: you want to get sponsored? For water? Pray tell us more…
twitchhiker: Charity: water is a brilliant charity supported by today’s equally brilliant #twestival. Hope to do my bit too
journalism_live: nice. And how will you be reporting back from the field?
twitchhiker: Hopefully a mix of blogs, video, images and tweets. Not sure of the detail yet – mobile tariff’s [sic] aren’t cheap!
journalism_live: indeed! and making it to NZ – a realistic goal?
twitchhiker: I think it’s possible -it’s more important we’re all in this together and prove Twitter can make a difference
journalism_live: ‘we’re’ – you’re on your own! @journalism_news will be in the warm eating toast when you’re rummaging in dustbins
twitchhiker: If I’m on my own, I’m going nowhere. That’s the point really. There are 3,175 followers who are here too
journalism_live: ok! let’s wrap this up if not Qs from the crowd? Your biggest fear… and your biggest wish?
twitchhiker: Biggest fear – not enjoying the experience. Biggest wish; make this work, raise the money, meet great people.
journalism_live: @twitchhiker lovely! That’s us done. And woo-hoo – a Q from @DannyDougherty: @twitchhiker?
DannyDougherty: OK, how ambitious are you. I’m over in Wash, DC — any chance you’re going to make your way out here? Do you have travel goals?
twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty Twitterers offer to get me places, I have to go to one of them. So I might come the States
DannyDougherty: So, you’re free as the wind, no personal goals you want to hit, eh?
twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty I am, but as a freelance, I still have to work. I’ve got my full time workload to fit in too
twitchhiker: @journalism_live There you go! Thanks everyone! That’s why this will work. It’s a brilliant community. Global but together #twitchhiker
journalism_live: Send any new Qs to @twitchhiker; have to get back to work. We’ll post link/s later via @journalismnews. Cheers @twitchhiker!
and then the party continued without us…