It all started with a promo video on the FB. Jeremy Clarkson promised something great to come into being. And something car-related. This made me apply immediately and... The Holy Trinity opened the gates to Heaven. This happened on 25 November 2016. Three days ahead of the Drivetribe official launch. Since then I am proudly identifying myself as a tribal mammal of the petrolhead jungles.
The first impression after the logging in was: “Wow, I’m thrilled to be lost!” The network reminded nothing I could compare it to. Then the cautious curiosity took an upper hand and I started my jungle exploration. Only few tribes and posts existed at that time. That “informational underdoze” looked odd, but that also allowed me to read major publications and identify the alpha-males and females I wanted to follow.
The Academic Driving tribe (#Acadrive) was created on 28 November 2016. Hours after the official Drivetribe launch. This came as a hard decision, actually. At first, I had no intention to create anything as I never considered myself as a worthy tribe leader. I had comparatively little to say about cars. Moreover, I felt myself disastrously uncompetitive to (humiliated by?) the renown automotive journalists whose tribes looked neat, refined, and catchy.
However, the more I explored the primordial jungles, the better grasp I had what the Drivetribe was evolving into. The renown automotive journalists with their sophisticated texts represented the minority. The majority consisted of the dedicated petrolheads who posted hundreds of pictures with capitalized headlines “LOOK WHAT I DRIVE.” In a way, I started noticing “weak” points in the existing tribes and the “missing bits” in the Drivetribe narratives.
You may ask: “How did you arrive at ‘The Academic Driving’ name?” That was simple. There exists an Academic Writing module at Lazarski University, where I am employed at. The module is about basics of research and proper presentation of ideas. I decided to play with this and ended up with the Academic Driving. The conceived name is supposed to deliver the following message: “This is a tribe full of academic researches on drivers and automobiles; the researches which are presented in an entertaining, provocative, and easy-digestible way.” And now these are you, my dear readers, to judge whether this message broke through. Another reason behind the tribe name is related to my narrow interest. The University professors have always constituted a unique class of car owners. I thought it would be interesting for the wider audience to know what cars academics drive and what is their automotive culture. Bitterly, I was wrong.
In the first week of the Drivetribe existence I was impressed by the magnitude of that machine. I noted down dozens of observations, as well as discovered no fewer challenges and opportunities. Some of the latter were listed in my first article ever: drivetribe.com/p/tribal-sociology-CGaeKWQJQKKzaaoY87Zd7Q?iid=Q8cjg8dvRpuM9CU2rd-lJw
Then there came a fatigue. I kept the Drivetribe tab closed in my browser for around nine months. Numerous reasons stood behind this. On the one hand, there was a lot of things happening in my real life. In particular, an authoritative US publisher contacted me and asked whether I could write a book on my geopolitical researches. Surely, I could. On the other hand, the first weeks of the Drivetribe were monotonous. Pictures and reposts of pictures. Personally, I found very little value added in this. Then, there were very few readers interested in what the #Acadrive offered. I lacked meritorious feedback and feeling of satisfaction.
In late August 2017 the book manuscript was ready and I decided to drop into the Drivetribe again. What I discovered intrigued me. The reader changed and became more demanding. The diversity and quality of the content grew incomparably. Therefore, having some free time, I decided to compose an article and give it a try. That's how the first Lada Riva story came into being. It was noticed! It started collecting comments and caught attention in the chat (the introduction of which, by the way, was a mega-needed improvement). So, I wrote another article. And one more... At this moment there are ~20 articles published in the #Acadrive only. And counting.
To be honest, I can boast with some background in journalism. One of my MA degrees is in Journalism and Public Relations. In 2004-10 I worked as a reporter for a couple of Ukrainian regional and national papers. Then I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on media propaganda and manipulations in political texts. But that was not the dissertation to be defended (long story). Here, on the Drivetribe, I try myself in a car journalism. It is much more thrilling and involving than the one on “generic” issues. It also opens new perspectives!
I see my Drivetribe “mission” in the amalgamation of good storytelling, science, and automobiles. My experience in journalism, lecturing, researching, and moderate petrolhead-ness seems to make it possible. I aim to widen the reader's horizons through the means of infotainment. Bring new bits of knowledge through incorporating them into the familiar automobile context. Tell stories, draw analogies, find examples, and apply theories to explain the woman-man-machine relations in a unique way. I arrived at this “mission” in September 2017.
I see my “target reader” as a young individual who wants to develop a broader perception of the world and understand that it is not only his / her opinion which matters. My “target reader” is an imaginary high school graduate who desperately needs information (but denies it publicly) to decide where to invest his / her life. An imaginary Jeremy May, a student of Ripon Grammar School. I want to “give an unobtrusive advice” to him through covering a variety of academic and scientific phenomena on the examples of cars.
But Jeremy May is not the only! Everyone who is curious enough to know more about science and automobiles is welcome. In a word, thank YOU for being here and reading this!
It is also worth mentioning that I am inspired by other Drivetribe contributors, such as John Coleman, Patricia Pedrosa, Angelo Uccello, Ryan Christensen, Aurelie Saboureau, Jared Unger, and many more (including The Holy Trinity). Reading what these ladies and gentlemen produce make me want producing something worthy in my turn. Their articles also justify the time I spend surfing through the Drivetribe instead of doing some “serious” stuff-I-am-paid-for.
The #Acadrive got a huge boost when Matt Parsons joined the team. A meritorious, talented, and hyper-productive illustrator from South Africa (thank you, Internet, for making the flawless connection between Warsaw and Durban possible). Every week he sketches a hero image to my articles. His sketches are always better than I can imagine! Moreover, we agreed to adjust every sketch to the generic black-and-white Drivetribe design. I'm very happy with the way our cooperation develops. I also hope this will make our plans feasible.
By the way, speaking of our plans. Once I had no clear idea where the #Acadrive should head to. Now we decided with Matt to publish a book. If to collect all my articles, we have ~30K words already; this is enough for a proposal! Not to mention that there also are numerous illustrations. But this is not the limit. The book, as I see it, should be a ~60K words long illustrated artifact with an affiliation to the Drivetribe. It would be nice if James May, or Jeremy Clarkson, or Richard Hammond, or all three wrote the preface. If everything goes smoothly, I plan to generate ~60K words by March 2018.
This being said, we are also fine to start cooperation with renown car magazines or newspapers. If the latter are interested.
To draw some kind of conclusions, the Drivetribe re-opened journalism to me and introduced into its automotive dimension. It also allowed me to interact with dozens of cool people (including Matt, who draws hero images, and James May, who seems to read my posts sometimes). At this moment, the #Acadrive is an unalienable part of the Drivetribe. Hope our further co-existence (co-operation?) will be even more productive!
At this point let me switch to the Drivetribe Awards 2017. As hundreds of other network contributors, I'm interested in participation and – fingers crossed – winning a bunch of dollars. It seems I have fair chances only in one category, which is the Best Article. To boost my chances even more (hopefully), I decided to engage as many readers as possible to help choosing five best articles. Everyone could vote in a poll between 12-25 November 2017. The results are as follows:
The results were crucial for the submission. Here you have the #Acadrive TOP-5:
The last two texts were my “improvisation.” Number 4 did not score that many votes, but I find the article original and competitive. Number 5 was Patricia Pedrosa's recommendation. This is my latest article, which collected numerous positive feedbacks, but was not included into the poll.
Honestly, I'm very satisfied with the voting results, as well as with the TOP-5 submitted articles. On the one hand, the readers voted for those texts which I also like very much. On the other hand, there is a notable diversity in genres: one may find a reportage from a motoshow, an essay on man-and-machine relations, a research on steam-cars, a life-story of Gary and Richard, a review on Christine who is my personal vehicle. Moreover, looking at the submissions of my competitors, they do not seem to be that diverse.
Now let us wait for 1 December 2017 and see.
If I get this money, Christine will never regret. And not only Christine!
And here comes the most important bit: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DRIVETRIBE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY #ACADRIVE!
P.P.S. It is a bit unfair that the “Best Drawing” category does not exist in the Drivetribe Awards. Such great people as Matt are out of the game. However, if I am successful, Matt will also get his share for the brilliant work he did and continues doing for the #Acadrive!
P.P.P.S. Matt Parsons can be reached here: www.behance.net/Matthew_Parsons_SA