Last week I spoke with Jim Storey and Kelly Dennison of Horizon Lines, one of the container ship companies serving Hawaii. I made a proposal to document operations on a container ship traveling from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii as part of On Desire’s exploration of sustainability. Yesterday, I was decisively turned down by Kelly, Horizon’s Marketing Director. Her explanation was that Hawaii operations are just too overwhelmed right now to handle an observer, as this is the height of their season. She said that she might be able arrange port side interviews in between ships, but I wouldn’t be able to see a ship. She also looked into getting me aboard a newer ship traveling in international waters, but customs might prevent my boarding. I appreciate Kelly and Jim’s efforts and for Horizon Lines careful consideration of the proposal.
Of course, I have to evaluate the decision in strategically. It’s possible that the mystical flavor of the project (as presented here at http://artisthouse.com/domains_core/desire) didn’t impress management or that my personal filmography didn’t inspire sufficient awe. Maybe Horizon’s legal teamed balked at having no control over the final product. Perhaps an inquiry into the sustainability of container transport would raise difficult questions for the industry in general or Horizon’s Lines operations specifically. Do images of great black billowing clouds of burned bunker fuel jive with a companies ‘green’ web copy? Probably not.
There’s the rub – without transparency, the public imagination runs wild. Without transparency there is no way to check the veracity of green assertions. Corporate policy – We aren’t hiding anything so there’s no point in looking.
Later I’d like to discuss the end of advertising and the rise of forums in connection with whether open source translates to the physical world. This bears directly on the transparency of companies and the story of how I almost invented the internet.
In the meantime, there’s no still boat to Hawaii. What to do? Plan B!