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Thread: How to make media appearances not fail

  1. #1
    Member Erik's Avatar
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    Cool How to make media appearances not fail

    Intro
    Cubing receives more and more attention from the media which in my opinion is a good development. Many of you have seen or taken part in radio interviews, newspaper articles and TV appearances.
    I think we can all agree that the purpose of any of those is (from the cubers' perspective) to show how cool/interesting/awesome cubing is. Sadly lots of media appereances fail to do this.

    I don't claim to be good at this stuff at all, I just like to share my experiences and hope you can share yours so we can come up with some good strategies to make any media appearance a success (or at least not a total fail).

    Failing causes
    Here is a list of the most common types of media-failes that I have experienced myself or saw somewhere else. Of course mixtures of these are more realistic.

    The too serious interview
    Probably the most common one. The reporters goal is to make an article that people like to read and be entertained by. The same goes for TV stuff of course. Reporter asks something, the cuber replies in the best way he thinks is possible. The cuber starts explaining algorithms and stuff, the reporter does not understand anything of it, the audience for which the interview is ment will never get what the cuber is trying to say.
    Result: audience is puzzled, not convinced that cubing is fun and for everyone, they were not entertained...

    The anti-interview
    The cuber being interviewed in this case is already tired of people not understanding his answers which clearly can be found back in the way he answers:
    Reporter: 'so how do you approach a cube that's not solved yet?'
    Cuber: 'I just twist it and hope it'll get solved somehow' / 'I got a computer in my head' / 'I learned all cases, you wouldn't understand it'.
    Reporter: 'can you give us some tips on how to solve it yourself?'
    Cuber: 'centers don't move'
    This is maybe a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. The cuber is trying to be quasi-funny, maybe some cubers with laugh at it, but the audience surely isn't.
    Result: everyone is annoyed.

    The genius/nerd interview
    The reporter asks the cuber questions about numbers and results:
    Reporter: 'what have you all achieved?'
    Cuber: 'meh 4 times world champion, and about 10 WR's'
    Reporter: 'wow this kid must be a genius, how many hours do you have to practice a day??'
    Cuber: 'about 4 a day'
    Reporter: 'are you really good at math or what??'
    Cuber: 'I kinda am really, but it doesn't have to do much with cubing'
    Reporter: 'ya right, so how do you solve a cube, do you learn many formulas?'
    Cuber: 'there are 42 quintillion possibilities, which is too many so I learned about 75 and use the Fridrich method' (trying to impress the reporter)
    Reporter: 'that sounds like a lot! Explain this method please?'
    Cuber: 'you make a cross, then pair up corners and edges after which you solve them, orient the last layer and then just do a PLL'
    Reporter: 'errr.... right, ladies and gentleman cubing is probably not something for the average joe'

    Good interviews
    A good interview is mostly good/motivating people to start cubing/entertaining when there is a good balances of humor/information/coolness. It's not about getting the fastest time on TV or impressing people with your knowledge.

    Being informative does not mean you have to explain the ins and outs of the fridrich method or explain the difference between world champion and world record holder, but give the right bits of info that people are interested in. As far as humor and coolness goes, I'm not sure about this, but it's best to trie to act as normal as possible: don't wear witty shirts with 'I solved it in 10 sec and you?' on it for example.

    Reporter: 'how do you solve a cube?'
    Example better answer (at least better than the fails described above):
    Cuber: 'you kinda solve it layer by layer, you can find tutorials on the internet on how to do it so everyone can learn how to solve a cube. Figuring out how to solve one on your own is really hard and not many people in our community have done that.'
    You can argue about wheter or not the cuber has given too little information on how to solve it itself, but this probably depends on the audience and the goal of the interview.

    Reporter: 'do you need to be good at math?'
    Example bad answer: 'there is the group theory, fewest moves calculations, algorithms blablabla'
    Example better answer: 'no not at all, it's more important to have motivation and don't give up when learning how to solve a cube. A bit of spacial thinking doesn't hurt though, after all it's not called a puzzle for no reason'.

    Your ideas to frequently asked cubing questions:

    Reporter: 'I used to peel stickers'
    Example bad answer: 'n00b' / 'oh god not this again'
    Example good answer: 'sure is a big temptation to'

    Please reply with a good typical question, bad answers and some better answers!
    Last edited by Erik; 02-11-2012 at 04:50 AM.
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    This is very useful for anyone cuber dealing with the media. I've seen all these types of interviews. Depends of the cuber, his personallity. The ideal is the reporter already had a basic idea of ​​what he is treating, but it almost never happens.

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    I agree. TimMc, Feliks and I were in a radio interview and I remember Tim explaining the ins and outs, introducing Sune, Sune + Sune mirror for U-perm, etc. Do NOT use notation, especially if you haven't even talked about it. Sorry for using you as an example Tim
    Keep any explanations short. If they say "I used to peel the stickers off", don't get angry, or annoyed, relate to them, maybe say "sure is a big temptation to".
    Don't criticize or shoot them down. They're interested, treasure that, and go easy on them.
    Other than that, nothing to say. You said it all brilliantly.

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    Member ressMox's Avatar
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    I'm a noob, and have never really done interviews, so my opinion probably doesn't count for much. However, I think that as long as people approach these interviews with a final goal of motivating others to pick up a cube, then everything should be fine and dandy. It's not a forum to show off how much you know (or think you know), and you can't expect someone to be able to solve one at the end of the interview. I think they should be more focused on getting others interested in cubing, or at least giving them some insight into the world of cubing. Nobody (or at least nobody that I know of) started cubing because someone told them they had to memorize a bunch of algorithms and repeat them over and over just so they won't forget. People mostly start out of curiosity. All you have to do is give them enough information to make them think they can actually do it. If act like you need to be a genius to solve one, then a lot of the people who are watching the interview won't bother trying, because they think they could never do it. I think, like Erik said, explaining beginner's method at a very basic level will help to get them curious. Pointing out that anyone can solve a cube after a bit of work probably can't hurt either. On top of that, I think you also have to make it seem fun. Cubing is great, but people don't think so if you start giving them a full blown lesson on group theory, then they will lose interest. Show your passion for cubing instead, and make it seem enjoyable (because it is), and hopefully others will be convinced to join the world of cubing.

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    ressMox the fact that you might not be very fast is totally irrelevant on this topic I think. Making it seem enjoyable is indeed a logical trigger. What are the things that make cubing enjoyable? Is it the fact that you can solve the world's toughest puzzle (lots of ppl think that) very fast? Does it look cool? Is it the being together with other cubers?
    getting lucky is not a crime....

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    I think this is a decent approach even when people ask you about it on the street. I usually say something like "I solve the left layer, right layer, and then the middle layer".

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    I think there is a disconnect between how speedcubers and the general population view the cube.

    Most of the world sees the rubiks cube as a puzzle. They have probably tried it, and couldn't get anywhere close to solving it. They are assuming that you are totally figuring it all out, all by yourself, each time you solve it. As if you could pick the puzzle up for the first time in your life and just suddenly solve it. This is why there are comments like "you must be really smart" or "you must be good at math".

    Most speedcubers probably learned it from a tutorial on youtube, and could have never solved it on their own. For us, this is not a puzzle of intelligence, its just a competition to do something faster than other people. Methods such as CFOP are designed to remove as much thinking as possible from the equation, to allow one to solve by following a set sequence of steps which will always lead to the solution.

    A lot of speedcubers are quick to get fed up by the notions held by noncubers, but we are probably quick to forget that we probably held those same notions before we got into speedcubing.
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    Member ressMox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik View Post
    ressMox the fact that you might not be very fast is totally irrelevant on this topic I think. Making it seem enjoyable is indeed a logical trigger. What are the things that make cubing enjoyable? Is it the fact that you can solve the world's toughest puzzle (lots of ppl think that) very fast? Does it look cool? Is it the being together with other cubers?
    What makes cubing enjoyable is...I think a difficult question to answer, and maybe someone else could do a better job answering it. The only reason I brought it up is because I've seen interviews where people make the mistake of treating it like a lecture and anyone watching just loses interest. Instead I will try to answer why I think people cube (or do anything, really). I hope you find that satisfactory.

    Why I think people start cubing
    I think the biggest reason people start doing anything is curiosity. When it comes to cubing, everyone at some point thinks "I wonder if I can do that". However, curiosity also requires some motivation. As I mentioned in the previous post, if the cuber tries to come across as a genius, everyone will think that it is impossible for them to solve. People need to know that they can solve it without being Ryan Heise.

    On top of that, the cubing community is great and one of the friendliest I've encountered....except to non-cubers. As you mentioned in your original post, people make the mistake of getting annoyed when people ask the usual questions and make the usual sticker peeling comments. The problem is, if the cuber acts like a jerk, anyone watching will think they will be looked down upon if the can't pick up on something like Layer-by-Layer instantaneously.

    As a side note, I will pose this back to you. The majority of us heard of the cube long before we learnt how to solve one. So what triggered us to learn how to solve it one day?

    How can the cuber motivate people?
    Now it's been a long day and I'm extremely tired, so I hope you'll forgive me if some of these don't make sense or don't seem practical. And I'm probably missing a lot of really obvious ideas.

    1. If possible, explain where and how you started.
    The goal of the day is to make it seem possible, and I don't think there is a better way to do it than this. Everyone (I mean everyone) has to start from somewhere. Some may grasp is faster or progress quicker than others, but everyone starts from somewhere. One of the things that still motivates me to continue cubing is looking at the WCA profiles of people who are now in the top 100, and seeing really slow times in their first competition. Mats Valk (if you see this, sorry to use you as an example) got a 1:13 average and 53.43 single on the 3x3 at his first competition in 2007. Now he's 10th in the world for 3x3 average and 3rd for 3x3 single. I know some cubers may be embarrassed by these stats, but I think it's great. It's nice to remind people that you were once in their position, and if they can relate to you, they are more likely to pay attention.

    2. Explain how to approach solving one, in very basic terms.
    As you said in your original post, Erik, mentioning a layer-by-layer approach would be ideal. Most people think that cubers just look at the cube and know what we call God's algorithm just by inspection. I think it would be good to point out that, like anything else, the solution can be broken into steps and simplified. I would even go so far as to demonstrate what you mean by a layer, in order to give them a visual interpretation that is easier to remember.

    3. Give them ideas for where to go for more information.
    Now I'm not saying cubers should go up there and start plugging specific sites or anything like that. People need to know that solving a cube is something that can be taught. This can be as simple as saying "I bought a cube on day and found a tutorial on Youtube that explained how to solve one" (paraphrased from one of Feliks' interviews because I don't remember the exact quote).

    There are many other ways to motivate others to go out and grab a cube, but I think that keeping these ideas and goals in mind during the interview can go a long way.

    Why people continue cubing is more about Mastery, but the discussion for that is probably better left to another thread

    Also, I kind of went on really long, but I hope my logic is sound. Feel free to correct anything I've said.
    Last edited by ressMox; 02-11-2012 at 11:12 PM.

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    Having been a sort of media manager over the last couple of years I have come to the conclusion that it is best avoided. They seem to turn it into some sort of freak show. And they are really bad at research. These days I would give them a whole bunch of links and mention that if they dont even understand the difference between a single WR and an avg WR then there's no point talking to them.
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    Well, most people think that you have to be a genius to solve the rubik's cube,
    when in fact it's mostly following others' example.

    Maybe just say:
    "If you want to learn how to do a rubik's cube, or anything for that matter,
    use Google."

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