The most touched, least controlled storytelling device in the world

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One of the most incredible social apps to emerge in the past few years only existed for one day. The app was called Exit Poll Live and it was produced by Casey Neistat, Matt Hackett and the people behind Beme. The premise was simple. After your vote in the 2016 election, you open the app, look into your camera and explain your vote in less than 30 seconds.

The result of Exit Poll Live was an experience that felt like the inverse of Twitter. Casey got thousands of strangers to calmly express their politics online, in the cadence of their own voice, without any of them calling each other cucks. People were civil but the output was also something raw that I had not gotten anywhere before. Seeing person after person defend their vote for Trump on video was, more than any other piece of media in that election cycle, the thing that helped me understand how deep I really was in my own social media bubble. The stream, by the end of the day, was viewed by millions.

When I think about what made Exit Poll Live special, it was the artfulness of the control. Casey knew the right time window to enter, he knew how to build the right frontend and backend interface, he was also trusted by the audience to hand edit the live stream. In a way, Casey was the conductor. Instead of artfully pulling music out of his orchestra, he was pulling raw, structured, civic commentary from the internet.

It’s thrilling to watch people conduct an internet audience in real time. It’s true for Casey but I think it also helps explain the phenomenon of Scott Rogowsky on HQ Trivia. Or the early live interactive shows from Super Deluxe. Doing things together with other strangers on the internet, and having it not devolve into pandemonium, is refreshing. Tapping a button on your phone and having it affect the outcome of something in the real world feels amazing.

The prerequisite for all of these experiences is control. Exit Poll Live doesn’t work inside a feed where everyone can respond to everyone. HQ can’t send questions or money out on Instagram Live. If you’re going to make a new format work you need audience control and interface control. You need a space where your users can focus.

Announcing Tellie

Today, I am excited to announce Tellie, a new company dedicated to interactive storytelling on your phone. 

Our bet is that there is a new kind of creator out there. Someone who knows their way around both javascript and Final Cut. Someone who has been banging their head against the platform constraints of Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat and wants to break free. 

Tellie exists to help champion and attract this new kind of creator. We want to carve out a place where format experimentation and focus is accessible. A place that explores what a richer one to many relationship with your audience can be.

If that’s what you’re into, say hello. 

hey@tellie.co

And if you’d like to sign up for our beta, add your email below. We’ll be in TestFlight soon. 

cody brown