Challenge: How to take a book site and make it the hub of a new community and movement.
Ron Suskind has been a client of mine for over a decade. He and I met when I was running the Hearst Interactive Studio and leading the creation the first website for Esquire for whom he was a frequent contributor. He wrote political books and before their publication he and I would work closely on how to represent them online often putting up lots of supportive original material. But through all of our communications there was a story that I didn’t know at all, I don’t think many did. That changed when he contacted me about his latest Life Animated. It was a different thing altogether. It is the story of his family and the way they reconnected with his autistic son Owen through Disney dialogue. A story told in a NY Times Magazine piece and in- depth in the book.
As we talked about the book and how it could serve as an inspiration and gathering point for an emerging community of people it made sense to have it on a stand-alone site versus being part of the Ron Suskind author site which we retooled to highlight the books and offer news and excerpts. LifeAnimated highlights Owen’s artwork, has a readers’ guide, and outlines some of the ideas and news around the idea of affinity therapy, embracing an autistic person’s obsessions as a way of communicating versus the more traditional approach of trying to suppress them. Most importantly it enables visitors to upload artwork and links to video that tell the story of other autistic artists and stories of people expressing themselves and communicating through their affinities.