Over the past couple of years Livvy and I have noticed that a lot of our favorite things to make have been media for really small groups of people. This isn’t necessarily in comparison to things we’ve made for large audiences (we haven’t really attempted that) but in paying attention to what kinds of things we keep doing for fun, a small scale has repeatedly been a factor.
We’ve taken to calling these things “micromedia,” a contrast to mass media. Other terms that could work might be “personal media,” or “small media,” or “local media”. The essence of it though is media crafted for a small audience.
When we create something for people close to us, we can tailor it based on what we know about them, because we have a sense of what their context is. We can make callbacks, understatements, reference shared stories. There can be overtones to the thing.
On the media side, we mostly mean produced content, or content wrapped in some kind of format like writing, video, audio, or a performance—formats which are typically used because of their ability to scale. But we also think of media, in this case, as anything communicated with some level of intent. That intent can simply be a framing or an elevating—the use of a some technology (paper, image, audio, illustration, a stage) to amplify or modify or bring attention to an otherwise fleeting moment. Or it can be premeditated care and craft put into a message. The intention can happen on either or both sides of the delivery. But the intent is what makes it “media” for us.
Some of my favorite things we’ve made that we think might fit this, that led us to think of this term: our wedding, which was mostly a story we told to our loved ones about how we got together; our endless series of small events in small places (Glint, Summery, The Low Bar Talent Show, PowerPoint Parties) and the pieces we’ve written and performed for those; audio documentaries I made about and for small groups (Leila, Said Timmy to the King, 88); and most micro of all, handwritten letters.
It’s likely we gravitated to these things because of temperament and personality. We are creatives, and we are also extroverted, and we are more motivated to create things if there’s a social component (see Moonlight). But it also seems like something we might have inherited from our Adventist cultural heritage. Growing up in church, which was mostly (though maybe regrettably?) communities over-investing in events for themselves, there were skits and videos and sermons and plays and songs that were crafted by and for a very specific community.
While we’re not a part of that kind of built in community anymore, we find ourselves continually trying to recreate it. Our ideal life would involve spending most of our time on these kinds of little projects—creating things around community. Whether or not we understand the impulse, it’s part of us, and it’s in our future.
And so we wrote this definition for you.