Erin Faulk plans to travel across America starting June 27 to meet each of her Twitter followers and create a documentary about the adventure.
The 2001 Hanford High School graduate, a young filmmaker living in Los Angeles, is approaching it as a experiment in sociology. Inspiration came from a recent study.
"A friend and I were talking about why 72 percent of people would trust the recommendation of a stranger online almost as much as a trusted family member or close friend," Faulk said in a telephone interview this week. "I find that fascinating and decided to find out if it were true."
She'll be accompanied by friend and Los Angeles cinematographer Matt Sordello, and they'll be joined by industry friends to help with sound recording and scheduling. She named the project for the weekly Twitter game -- #followfriday -- that entices people to find and follow other users.
"Follow Friday the Film is a documentary about the strangers we trust to help us make day-to-day decisions," Faulk said. "What is it about online reviews and recommendations that encourages us to trust the opinions of someone we've never met? How many degrees of separation before we start to doubt the credibility of these people? And, if we met these people in real life, would we even like them?"
She plans to travel 8,000 miles in 28 days and interview 140 of the strangers she follows every day on Twitter.
"And I have no set agenda for the trip because I know its going to change along the way," Faulk said. "I have no idea who I'll be meeting, whether I will like them or they will like me. I know it all sounds crazy, but like I said, it's going to be a fascinating experience."
Whenever possible, her decisions each day will based on the recommendations of these strangers via social media and websites. That includes where to eat, places to stop and things to see.
She also plans to meet with social media experts and discuss the power of online reviews, she said. That includes interactions that change how businesses and consumers communicate.
She'll start in Las Vegas, then move through the Grand Canyon, Texas, Louisiana, Atlanta, the Carolinas, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York City, Wisconsin, Chicago and Midwest states before returning to Los Angeles on Aug. 4.
She plans to visit the Tri-Cities on July 29 to visit with family and friends. Few of them -- including her dad, Patrick Faulk -- follow her on Twitter.
"I must confess that even though I work in information technology, I don't have a Twitter account," he quipped.
"We are always interested to see what Erin's next adventure or project is going to be. She grew up traveling the world on my international assignments with Bechtel.
"But Erin's project has really piqued my and her mom's interest, so we'll be following her adventure on her blog," he added.
"And who knows, maybe I'll even try Twitter myself."
One of his daughter's biggest supporters has been kickstarter.com. The site that helps fund the arts donated $15,000 to Follow Friday the Film, but she's also looking for assistance with travel expenses.
"We're hoping a car dealership or rental outfit will help us out on this," she said.
Those interested can find more information at followfridaythefilm.com. Donations to the project can be made at kickstarter.com.
Once completed, Faulk plans to enter her Twitter documentary into as many film festivals as possible.
In the meantime, anyone can follow Faulk's adventure -- @erinscafe.