Advertising Philosopher: An Interview with Faris Yakob (Part One)

When I first published my book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, in 2006,  two of the first people to respond publicly to the book — Faris Yakob (then with the London-based Naked Communications group) and Grant McCracken (ethnographer, media consultant, cultural analyst) — came from the world of branding and advertising. I wrote about their perspectives on transmedia branding here at the time (see also Part Two) and I’ve continued to maintain an ongoing correspondence with both of them through the years. They have both had a huge impact on how I think about the world of contemporary advertising practice.

For those of you who know advertising in terms of Mad Men (or before that, Hidden Persuaders), you may be surprised to discover that the advertising industry has produced its own theorists or as Yakob prefers, philosophers, who are helping to think through the ways branding operates in a changing media landscape.  My experience with these thinly ad-men shaped my controversial choice to publish Spreadable Media, which is probably being taught today more often in branding and business courses than in media and communication classes. And I now find myself teaching occasional courses through the Strategic Communication Program at Annenberg and drawing insights from Yakob, McCracken, Robert Kozinets, Budd Caddell, Sam Ford, and many others.

These advertising and public relations gurus are asking hard questions about the future of media, about the value of historic branding practices, about the emancipation of the spectator and the emergence of participatory culture, and much more. And they are writing about such questions for a general readership and thus may have a greater impact on how the public understands these media changes than anything academics are producing.nGranted, they often start from a different vantage point, embedded as it were in the corporate world, but they have also often been ready to question their own values and interrogate their goals in a way that has been fascinating to watch.

When I learned that Yakob has a new book coming out this spring —Paid Attention: Innovative Advertising for a Digital World, I asked if he’d be willing to share some of his thoughts via an interview for my blog.  Some of what he shares here may rattle some of your preconceptions; some of it will give you insights into the philosophy behind contemporary branding practices; all of it is thoughtful and engaging. So, this…

You note early in the book that you have been characterized as an “advertising philosopher.” What does that phrase mean to you? What do you see as the value of theory — or philosophy — in the advertising world? 

Advertising is an amateur “profession” – there are no required qualifications to enter the industry, you learn on the job. One of the ramifications of that is that you see a remarkable amount of money spent on what are essentially hunches and bodies of folklore. This is also one of the reasons there are so many vigorous debates in advertising – some of which revolve around seemingly fundamental concepts. So, I’ve always looked to build on a body of theory, academic or otherwise, to provide a foundation for praxis. The role of the “planner” in advertising traditionally includes the responsibility to “make the work, work”. Without understanding how things work, how can we possibly aim to do them well, or make them better?

So an advertising philosopher – self aggrandizing appropriation of an intended insult though it is – looks to build a body of knowledge about how things have worked that we can learn from, together.

On the job training can be excellent for learning how to make advertising, but isn’t very good for learning why, or indeed when, to.

Perhaps we can open this up broader — many of my readers would be interested to know what you see as the potential value of humanistic education for those entering your industry? Grant McCracken has gone so far as to argue that companies should hire a Chief Cultural Officer who helps them to understand how their brands and products relate to the process of cultural change. How would you respond to that idea?

In the UK, advertising was one of the natural homes of those with humanities degrees, alongside journalism, publishing and so on. Advertising obviously deals in relevant concepts, from basic literacy, through semiotics, cultural studies, art, art history, sociology. I like Grant’s book, and a ‘companion’ text by Holt and Cameron called Cultural Strategy. Cultural understanding is a key part of what makes work relevant for a certain time and place. So I see great value in it.

In fact, this is one of the big differences in academia in the UK and USA. Educations in the UK, at least in my experience and I think until today, are aggressively NOT vocational. There is a classist taint to this – the old, red brick [IVY] universities wouldn’t dream of offering vocational courses. This means that big companies have structured robust training programs because an Oxford or Cambridge graduate will definitely not have had any business instruction.

In the USA, there is more of a focus on vocationally learning, even more so now due to the cost of university which makes it sadly a business decisions about lifetime earning impact. And there are post graduate advertising schools, which don’t really exist in the UK as such, to prepare graduates for the jobs.

No doubt some combination of both academic and business acumen is helpful, so I’m a big fan of humanities degrees, perhaps more so because it’s a time to think, not just to sharpen a resume.

Let’s start with some basic vocabulary here. You offer your own definition of brands in the book: “A brand is a collective perception in the minds of consumers.” Can you break that down for us a bit more? What relationship are you positing here between brands and meaning-making? What stress are you placing here on the role of the consumer in creating or identifying the meaning of a brand? Why is this meaning described here as collective rather than personal or idiosyncratic?

The language we use defines, delineates, codifies captures. The brand idea is a newish one, and you see it sort of evolve along literary criticism lines, from utterance through symbolism to reader response. The big shift in mindset from the 1990s onwards was the acceptance of the role of the audience, the customer, the user, in creating meaning [something that art and literature worlds had considered for a long time.]

So the idea of a brand as distinguishing mark evolved to the engram model – the idea that a brand was a network of associations in the mind of a customer or prospect that gave a product or business some kind of “position” – cognitively, and in the marketplace. This is the idea at the heart of brands – based on the key insight that led to evolution of the strategy discipline: humans naturally anthropomorphize everything, including products they buy. The role of advertising then was understood to be building specific personality associations in and around products and experiences in a more structured way.

My small build was part of an argument designed to connect this conception of brand that marketing people were using to the financial equivalent that CEOs and CFOs look to – that of goodwill that generates financial returns, price premiums and so on.

A brand cannot be exclusively inside a consumer’s mind – it is inherently socially constructed, otherwise it doesn’t have meanings that can be leveraged commercially. A personal meaning only works in relation to cultural meaning, or set of meanings, so meaning itself is also somehow emergent.

Faris Yakob is co-founder of Genius Steals, an itinerant strategy and innovation consultancy he started with his wife, Rosie. He is the author of Paid Attention, which come out in April 2015, and a contributing author of Digital State [2013] and What is a Brand? [2015], all published by Kogan Page. He was named one of ten modern day Mad Men by Fast Company but hopes he is less morally bankrupt than the television show characters. Despite living on the road, you can reliably find him on Twitter (@Faris) and on his blog: www.farisyakob.com. For more information on Genius Steals head to www.geniussteals.co

Minecraft and the Future of Transmedia Learning

Barry Joseph has long been at the forefront of experiments in the use of virtual worlds and games for educational purposes. He helped suck me into the rabbit hole which was Second Life in its prime through asking me to engage with students from Global Kids via an avatar they crafted for me, which I still use as my portrait on Facebook. He now serves as the Associate Director of Digital Learning at The American Museum of Natural History. He shared with me today a blog post he developed for the DML Central website, which applied some ideas from the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s T Is For Transmedia report to discuss how “transmedia learning” works in the context of Minecraft. And I asked him if I could cross-post it here, since I felt it would be of interest to a range of my readers. So, enjoy!

 

Minecraft and the Future of Transmedia Learning

by Barry Joseph

 

minecraft-600

 

EPIC HEADSHOP: The Evolution of Minecraft
When my 8-year-old son typed “epic headshop at 31;65” into the command prompt, I realized the Minecraft I knew was dead. In its place something new had emerged. If I wanted to keep using it as a vehicle for advancing learning goals, it was high time for a serious reevaluation.

BEYOND GAME: The Rise of Transmedia Learning
“Minecraft is not a game.” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that since first learning of the worldwide phenomenon in Spring of 2011 at the Games For Change Festival… well, I’d have enough to run my own Minecraft server. My wife asked me, when she saw me writing this, “Isn’t it just like Legos?” I see her point. Legos are not a game. They are a toy. Minecraft offers little in the way of points to earn or levels to beat. You can’t really lose. It can look to an outsider like a giant digital sandbox. So yes, I get how understanding Minecraft as a toy can be of value, even accurate. It’s just less useful.

Calling Minecraft a “game,” however, seems to be a useful way to conceptualize the experience, not just for me but for the world at large. For those who monetize it, it’s a game; it’s listed as the No. 5 top-selling video game of 2014 by Forbes. For those who report on it, it’s a game; when Microsoft bought it in September for $2.5 billion in cash, the New York Times described Minecraft as “the world-building computer game.” For those who use it for teaching, it’s a game; the educator’s version of Minecraft, called MinecraftEdu, is the primary product of a company called TeacherGaming. In using Minecraft to teach everything in recent years from the power of poison to global injustice, in both libraries and museums, I’ve always understood it as a form of games-based learning. It’s not just that it was created by a game designer (Markus Alexej “Notch” Persson), or sold through a video game company, Mojang; understanding Minecraft as a game has been the most effective way for me to conceptualize what Minecraft affords within my informal learning communities.

Not any more. When the history of the 21st century is written, 2014 won’t be remembered as the year Microsoft bought Minecraft. Instead, it will be understood as the beginning of the wider understanding that Minecraft is more than just a game. Yes, it CAN be played like a game, it relies on technical components similar to games, it supports a user community around it in a manner similar to other games… but, the metaphor of “game” is no longer useful. It misses the bigger picture. It distracts us from the broader disruptions it is causing in the social fabric. So now I, too, will join the quiet chorus saying Minecraft is not just a game.

What then will I say?

This: Minecraft is our first look at the future of transmedia learning.

But what is transmedia learning? A 2013 report by the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, “T is for Transmedia: Learning Through Transmedia Play,” sheds a needed light on this emergent practice. “Transmedia,” the report notes, “by itself, means “across media” and describes any combination of relationships that might exist between the various texts (analog or digital) that constitute a contemporary

entertainment media experience.”

Henry Jenkins’ seminal 2006 White paper explored how transmedia navigation is a crucial digital literacy required by youth to understand life in the 21st century, in which a narrative is generated through combining elements expressed across multiple media. Pokemon is often offered as an example, which is a video game, animated series, and comic book, all at the same time, each piece reinforcing the others.

“T is for Transmedia” builds on that concept but takes it one step further, from transmedia storytelling to transmedia play. Transmedia play “involves experimentation with and participation in a transmedia experience, but also applies to media that has no storyline, such as open-ended video games.”

Open-ended games like Minecraft.

MINECRAFT CAMP: What My Son Learned During His Summer Vacation
The shift for me began last summer, when my 8-year old son attended what my wife and I considered a week-long Minecraft camp. The course was called “Adventures in Minecraft Game Design.” The program was run by iD Tech, which offers computer summer camps in universities and colleges around the country. I calculated that amongst their seven locations within and around my home in New York City, there were 80 different week-long sessions focused on Minecraft (and most were sold out).

My son entered the program already in love with Minecraft. He loved constructing his own buildings and structures, creating his own design challenges and solving them, imagining creative ideas and bringing them to life. Over the course of the program, however, his understanding of what Minecraft was, and what he could do with it, changed. He was not experiencing it just as a game but as a transmedia experience.

This went over my head for months until, one day, he asked me to join him in typing “epic headshop at 31;65” into his Minecraft command prompt. To understand what this meant, and the virtuous cycle that drove it, I first had to understand two major aspects of Minecraft that came to prominence in 2014: Minecraft Server Owner Communities and Minecraft Youtube Celebrities.

MINECRAFT SERVER OWNER COMMUNITIES
One of the first thing my son learned during camp was how to log into Mineplex. Most people understand that Minecraft, like all games, can be played in a solitary or on a multiplayer mode, the latter with friends through a local network connection (imagine students in a classroom or friends at a sleepover) or amongst strangers across the Internet (imagine, if you can, 1980s Bulletin Board systems, dialing into someone’s computer). Across those options, creativity has flourished, as a custom map created once can be infinitely distributed; MinecraftMaps.com, to choose just one website, offers more than 500 maps for free download, with categories ranging from Adventure and Puzzle to Creation and Parkour. But, something new had developed that was off my radar until my son brought it to my attention: Minecraft server owner communities.

For-profit server owner communities (and there are many nonprofit ones as well) make a business out of designing original and interesting Minecraft-based experiences then, charging players for premium access. No need to download custom maps — just log in (through Minecraft) and the server owner will take care of everything for you. And, each server — while still using Minecraft — offers different experiences, using software that allows them to technically mod (“modify”) the standard code.

According to the YouTuber treestompz (in his informative history “Minecraft Servers: Why They’re So Great”), the server owner community is in the size of thousands, or tens of thousands, but serving millions of users, each utilizing tens of thousands of publicly available plug-ins. The most popular servers, like Mineplex and Hipixel, reach more than a million players, supporting thousands of concurrent users. They offer new creative ways to experience Minecraft and, through competition with one another, set “the stage for a whole new level of innovation,” featuring parkour challenges, amusement park rides, “Hunger Games”-themed battles, scavenger hunts, and more. “People are using Minecraft as a sandbox,” treestompz reports, “almost as an entire game engine to create a whole new experience within Minecraft.”

Many even offer personal plots of land, like in the days of Second Life, where residents create their own economies and social activities. Players can shop in all sorts of stores, like headshops, both mundane and epic.

No, not “headshops,” as in stores that sell drug-related paraphernalia, but “headshops,” stores that literally sell heads. Not costumes an avatar might wear, but really more like busts, sculptures of some of the most famous people within this transmedia community: MineCraft YouTube celebrities.

MINECRAFT YOUTUBE CELEBRITIES
Some day, a book will be written about the relationship between YouTube and Minecraft (and how one made the other famous). Long story short, surf over to YouTube and do a search for “Minecraft.” This portmanteau is unique enough that you can be confident that the bulk of the 45,500,000 resulting videos are about this game. But, keep in mind, these are not the number of times these videos have been viewed, but simply the number of unique Minecraft videos on YouTube. If we turn to view counts, the numbers are equally astonishing. The official trailer for Minecraft has received more than 114 million views in just over two years.

More importantly, the bulk of the views are not going to “official” Minecraft videos, but posts by users. The most famous user is perhaps Stampy Cat (aka Stampylongnose, aka Stampylonghead, aka Joseph Garrett). Born in 1990, Stampy frequently creates videos of himself and friends playing Minecraft (whether in his own world, custom maps designed by others, or within the server owner community described above), targeting an audience of 6- to 14-year-olds. In 2014, Stampy rose from almost nowhere to become one of the 10 most watched YouTube channels in the world. His most popular video recently surpassed 33 million views.

Stampy might be one of the most popular Minecraft YouTubers, but his approach is common across the community. A typical Minecraft let’s play video (which is just one corner of a vast genre mashing gameplay with video production) involves demonstrating the latest and greatest in Minecraft — a fun new mod to explore, a challenging new map to play, a creative new server to visit. As Minecrafters learn to move seamlessly between these two modes of engagement — video consumer and game player — they take on a third identity, that of creator, as they try out techniques first viewed in the videos. Once players install that mod, or download that map, or visit that new server, the videos transform from entertainment to educational resource, with players often jumping between the two. And, eventually, they might make and post their own let’s play video. The virtuous cycle spins on.

If you visit a Minecraft server, you might be logged in at the same time as a famous Youtube celebrity who has also featured it within one of their videos. For my son, things don’t get better than that. He’ll take a screenshot showing the logged-on status of the celebrity. He’ll visit “shops” run by other “residents” of that server, which offer objects you can acquire. Some of those objects are the heads of Youtube celebrities, sold in headshops, which can then be offered, in turn, within his own shop. Which is located at coordinates “31;65.” But, to advertise it, he needs to type it repeatedly into the public chat space to attract new customers.

But, I type faster than he. So there I am typing into Minecraft, over and over, “epic headshop at 31;65,” to help my son pretend to sell cubes colored to look like the Minecraft characters of famous people who post videos on Youtube of their having visited this very same server. He’s blending gaming with video watching, celebrity culture with entrepreneurial activity, 3D construction with advertising. And, coming to terms with all this is what makes me realize, this is NO longer his dad’s Minecraft that I introduced to him only four years earlier.

This is the future of transmedia learning.

MINECRAFT FOR LEARNING

This virtuous cycle between consumption and production has been, in many ways, the holy grail of the emerging digital media and learning (aka connected learning) community. It perhaps should come as little surprise, then, that one of its most important movers and shakers, Mimi Ito, recently announced a new educational initiative, Connected Camps and their Summer of Minecraft. Unlike with iD Tech, however, these camps are virtual, with counselors and campers meeting on shared Minecraft servers.

They are one of the first to explore the scale and potential of Minecraft at the center of a transmedia learning ecosystem.

But, let’s step back a moment and recall what most educational programs look like using Minecraft. Let’s use my world, for example, that of museum education, where we’re all about buildings. Well, buildings and objects, which makes sense: we are destinations and our buildings display objects. A quick survey of Minecraft in museum education highlights that the majority of these programs are focused on asking youth to reflect back our institutions in a mirror made of Minecraft. We ask, Rebuild our museum in a Minecraft map. Or: Use Minecraft to make museum-style exhibits to teach others. I’m no different. The first project we led at the American Museum of Natural History, FoodCraft, recreated the ideas from a new exhibit on food within a Minecraft map.

This is all fine and good, a perfect place to start exploring the educational potential of this popular and powerful new medium. But, now, that I have this new perspective on Minecraft I wonder what it will look like when we realize it is so much more than a game, that it is just the central point within a vast interconnected transmedia experience. What will happen when we start tapping into not just its game engine but all of its components — like its server communities and Youtube fandom — and start building our own virtuous cycles? What will happen when the current “Minecraft generation” grows up expecting engagement to carry them across multiple platforms, support their seamless transitioning amongst roles of consumers, players and creators, and require self-directed learning in order to pursue their passions?

Whatever it might be, if we do it right, expect it to be no less than epic.

Banner image credit: Barry Joseph

Barry Joseph is Associate Director of Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2000, he has developed innovative programs in the areas of youth-produced video games, mobile and augmented learning, virtual worlds, digital fabrication, alternative assessments models, and more, always seeking to combine youth development practices with the development of high profile digital media projects that develop 21st Century Skills and New Media Literacies. Now, at the Museum, he is helping to guide youth learning programs to leverage digital tools to advance informal science learning. He has been hugged by Oprah and is writing the first history of seltzer. This work can be followed at http://Mooshme.org and @MMMooshme

 

East Los High Pays Tribute to Convergence Culture

After serious reflection, I am declaring intellectual bankruptcy — at least as far as the blog is concerned. I have been having an incredibly demanding semester and have a huge mound of dissertations to review before the end of the academic term. I don’t see any way that I can maintain the regular schedule of this blog on top of those other demands. I was planning to post content through some point in May (before taking off for the summer) but I think I need to discontinue regular postings as of now.

I do have a few outstanding interviews and when and if they come back to me, I will be posting them.  I will also be posting videos from Transforming Hollywood and the Cyberpunk event when they become available. But, I suspect things will be erratic from here until some point in the late summer or early fall.  I am going to be on the road this summer — visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains region in June, India in July, and Indonesia in early August. And then I will be having the first academic leave I’ve enjoyed in more than a decade, spending time in residence at Microsoft Research New England. I will be sharing details down the line about all of the above.  So, have no fear, I will return.

Today, as a parting gift, I wanted to share with you a video which warmed my heart. It was a tribute/gift from Mauricio Mota and Katie Elmore Mota, who are among the producers behind Hulu’s hit series, East Los High. Both are good friends, who I had the joy of introducing to each other shortly after I came to LA, and who are now working together professionally as well as married and raising a son together.  In this video, East Los High actor Gabriel Chavarria reads a passage from my book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collides.

If you are not watching East Los High, you are missing something significant. It’s a dramatic series — a kind of teen soap — produced on an independent scale here in Los Angeles with an almost-all Latino/a cast and writer’s room, seeking to tell stories that are meaningful to second and third generation Latino/a youth for whom English has become their preferred language (a group especially underserved by a English-language media which rarely offers representations of their culture and a Spanish-language media which also does not address their experiences). We are at a moment where diversity in representation is entering television from many different fronts, and East Los High is one of them. Not only is it telling stories that matter for the Latino/a community (and far beyond) but it is also doing so through the effective use of transmedia production practices in the service of entertainment education.

The series emerged from research which showed how urgently this Latino/a  community needed frank and reliable information about sexual health, nutrition, college readiness, voter participation, and a range of other topics, and the series has been produced in collaboration with a range of nonprofit organizations which seek to address these concerns. A growing body of  research shows that its mix of high gloss entertainment and serious conversations about important topics is having a highly constructive impact on how its viewers think and act around some of these issues.

When I am asked to identify contemporary transmedia projects which I think are important, I often speak about East Los High. I am anything but the target audience for this program, but I was engaged enough with it that I watched all of the first season, and I hope to spend time with Season 2 later this summer. So, given this history, I was deeply touched by having the cast and producers create this video for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

 

The Future Started 10 Minutes Ago and You Are Already Late To the Party!

 

I have teamed up with my USC Cinema School Colleagues  Scott Fisher and Howard Rodman to organize a special day-long salute to the legacy of the cyberpunk movement, which is being sponsored by the USC Visions and Voices Program, with help from the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Geek Speaks series.

We are lucky enough to be able to pull together an astonishing mix of key science fiction authors (including Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, and Nalo Hopkinson, with key creative artists from the realm of television (Wild Palm‘s Roger Triling), comics  (Black Kirby Project‘s John Jennings and Stacey Robinson), Games (Prince of Persia‘s Jordan Mechner), films (Sleep Dealers‘ Alex Riveria), robotics/street theater (Mark Pauline from the Survival Research Lab), and audio (YACHT’s Claire L. Evans, who is also editor of Terraform).

Steve Anderson has curated a video extravaganza showing how cyberpunk media has dealt with immersive technologies; we are also holding workshops where Jeff Watson and Geoffrey Long help coordinate the collective design of a future society.

If you live in the LA area (or can get here by the futuristic transportation system of your choice), you will not want to miss this, but be sure to register first since seats are limited. Priority on registration is given to USC affiliated folks but there are some general admission tickets available.

 

Why? Because the street finds its own uses for things. Because the future is already here and is just unequally distributed. Because mind, body, and machine are one.  In short, because cyberpunk gave us a new way to see the changes that were taking place in the world around us (and under our own skins).

 

Cyberpunk_EmailFlyer

Showcasing the Civic Media Project (3): From #Destroythejoint to Far reaching Digital Activism

This is the second in a series of three entires, cross-posted from the Civic Media Project website. Check out the site for many more examples of the ways groups around the world are using digital media to help foster civic change. The site was created by Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis, the leaders of Emerson College’s Engagement Lab, in anticipation of their forthcoming book for MIT Press, Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice.

FROM #DESTROYTHEJOINT TO FAR REACHING DIGITAL ACTIVISM:

FEMINIST REVITALISATION STEMMING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA AND REACHING BEYOND

Jessica McLean and Sophia Maalsen

Introduction

Civic engagement in digital activism involves diffuse yet powerful networks of individuals and organizations uniting, at least in some form, under a common interest. This case study of Destroy the Joint, a largely online group of over 52,000 people on Facebook and 14,800 on Twitter, shows how what began as a humorous turnaround of sexist comments on national talkback radio, is now a broad-based and effective unified but not uniform organization that aims to shine a light on sexism and misogyny. In analyzing its origins and accounting for its ongoing relevance nearly two years after the birth of #destroythejoint, we show how feminist activism in social media and elsewhere is growing in Australia, and other parts of the world.

The Origins of Destroy the Joint

The #destroythejoint movement began after a conservative Australian radio host, Alan Jones, declared on August 31st 2012 that several leading women in politics were ‘destroying the joint’ by their efforts to support gender equality and other miscellaneous acts. He had said:
“She [the Prime Minister] said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating. Women are destroying the joint—Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly.”
Jill Tomlinson, a surgeon and writer, ignited the campaign in conversation with education activist and writer Jane Caro, with the following tweet exchange:

 media-20141019 folder

Tomlinson responded with an invitation for others to contribute and originated the new hashtag:
 media-20141019 folder

Within one day, thousands had tweeted their own versions of acts and intentions to quash sexism and misogyny and a new digital activism moment and movement had begun (McLean and Maalsen, 2013).

First Destroy the Joint Actions

Initially, the Destroy the Joint (DTJ) hashtag was an online meeting point for people reflecting on the absurdity of claims that women in political life were destructive forces because of their gender, but grew to encompass critiques of gender inequality and lampooned sexist and misogynistic acts.
Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, experienced frequent public sexism, from conservative commentators and politicians alike. In early October 2012, during a debate in parliament about the behavior and role of the then Speaker of the House, the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, accused Gillard of sexism.  This accusation prompted the renowned anti-misogyny speech where Gillard declared to Tony Abbott that “I will not be lectured on misogyny and sexism by this man… and the Leader of the Opposition should think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society because we are entitled to a better standard than this.”
Being entitled to a better standard of gender equality is a key objective DTJ’s activism. The first substantial intervention Destroy the Joint contributed to was against Alan Jones’ radio station, campaigning for advertisers to withdraw support for his show in response to his ongoing sexist behavior, particularly directed against Gillard. Over 100,000 people signed an online petition within a week and Jones’ radio station lost between AUD 1 and 1.5 million. The feminist campaign action enacted through social media thus affected a corporation in a material sense.

Micro-Campaigns under a Unified Anti-Sexism and Anti-Misogyny Collective

Multiple, micro-campaigns characterize the ongoing productive space that is Destroy the Joint, and extend its reach contributing to a feminist revitalization that operates in social media and beyond.  While DTJ started as a hashtag, now there is also a Twitter andFacebook presence for this digital activist collective.
Some of the micro-campaigns DTJ organized are shown in Table 1:

Digital Activism in DTJ: Connections to Global Campaigns 

Currently, feminist moments and movements are proliferating around the world, many emerging in digital spaces, such as #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen and often spring-boarding from these to other activist modes, including book publications, anti-corporate interventions, walks and gatherings.  For the Facebook supporters of DTJ, a prominent campaign to stop violence against women presently focuses DTJ activity (see Figure 3).
  Figure 3: Current Facebook home page for Destroy the Joint (March 2015)

Revitalizing Feminism?

Similarly to #destroythejoint, #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen provide meeting points for further engagement with feminist issues. The feminist revitalization has global reach and works to reinforce simultaneous campaigns and interventions. For instance, Destroy the Joint social media pages frequently cross-reference #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen and invite followers to contribute to these globally linked discursive feminist spaces. In this way they allow for distributed feminist networks to converge in online spaces to focus support on contemporary gender issues and create a community around this. Furthermore, despite being “online” their campaigns have physical and material effects as demonstrated in Table 1, suggesting that campaigns facilitated through new media are effective and useful ways of producing change.

References

McLean, Jessica and Sophia Maalsen. 2013. “Destroying the Joint and Dying of Shame? A Geography of Revitalised Feminism in Social Media and Beyond.” Geographical Research 51: 243–256. doi: 10.1111/1745-5871.12023
For Destroy the Joint on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint
For Destroy the Joint on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jointdestroyer

 

Showcasing The Civic Media Project (1): Website to Weibo

Over the next few posts, I will be showcasing the Civic Media Project website, which Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis, the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of Emerson College’s new Engagement Lab,  launched a few weeks ago. The website was developed as an extension of a new book, Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice , which MIT Press is are releasing later this year.  My Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics research team has written an essay for the MIT Press book, which centers on the ways that the figure of the superhero has function as a resource for fostering the civic imagination, looking at examples of how such characters have been critiqued, remixed, reimagined, and re-performed across a range of different activist movements — from the DREAMers to Occupy — in recent years. (You can get a taste of our approach via this blog post we recently developed in collaboration with Fusion).

The forthcoming book includes essays by some of the key thinkers on contemporary media and politics and we will be hearing more about it via this blog when the book is released.  As they were preparing the book, the editors solicited dozens of case studies, representing political movements from around the world, and written by scholars representing a broad range of disciplinary and ideological locations, and they have used the Civic Media Project website as a platform for generating discussion around these examples.  Here’s how Gordon and Milhailidis described their understanding of the concept of Civic Media:

Civic life is comprised of the attention and actions an individual devotes to a common good. Participating in a human rights rally, creating and sharing a video online about unfair labor practices, connecting with neighbors after a natural disaster: these are all civic actions wherein the actor seeks to benefit a perceived common good. But where and how civic life takes place, is an open question. The lines between the private and the public, the self-interested and the civic are blurring as digital cultures transform means and patterns of communication around the world.

As the definition of civic life is in flux, there is urgency in defining and questioning the mediated practices that compose it. Civic media are the mediated practices of designing, building, implementing or using digital tools to intervene in or participate in civic life. The Civic Media Project (CMP) is a collection of short case studies from scholars and practitioners from all over the world that range from the descriptive to the analytical, from the single tool to the national program, from the enthusiastic to the critical. What binds them together is not a particular technology or domain (i.e. government or social movements), but rather the intentionality of achieving a common good. Each of the case studies collected in this project reflects the practices associated with the intentional effort of one or many individuals to benefit or disrupt a community or institution outside of one’s intimate and professional spheres.

The editors have given me permission to re-post a selection of the pieces in the hopes that giving you a taste will encourage you to hit this link and check out the site as a whole. Given their involvement not only in participatory politics but also media literacy and civic education, they have also developed a learning guide to encourage educators to incorporate these resources into their teaching and to inspire thoughtful conversations about the role that new media platforms and practices might play in contemporary political life.  I strongly encourage my readers interested in new forms of political expression to check out and drill deep into this site’s rich collection.

Today, I am going to feature a report developed by some of my colleagues here in USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism — Daniela Gerson, Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, and Michael Parks. “Website to Weibo” describes some of the work they have been doing working with the Chinese-American community in Alhambra, California.

WEBSITE TO WEIBO:

ACTIVATING THE LOCAL COMMUNICATION NETWORK AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN A DIVERSE CITY

Daniela Gerson, Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, and Michael Parks

Elections were canceled in the predominantly immigrant Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra in 2010. Nobody entered the race to unseat five incumbents. The city faced a challenge that is increasingly common across the United States: How to engage diverse residents and instill in them a sense of community (Ramakrishnan and Bloemraad 2008).

Two years earlier, a research group from University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism began investigating how a local news product could improve civic engagement in Alhambra. The group, the Alhambra Project, defined civic engagement in three ways – residents’ feelings of attachment to their local community and neighborly behaviors (neighborhood belonging), their belief that neighbors can be counted on to solve shared problems (collective efficacy), and their involvement in civic activities (civic participation). This research was informed by the communication infrastructure theory (CIT), which elucidates the role of networked local communication agents (e.g. residents, local media, community organizations and public institutions) in enhancing engagement (Kim and Ball Rokeach 2006a, 2006b).

weibo4

Clockwise description of images: Alhambra Source, a community news site in suburban Los Angeles, worked with the police department to develop an outreach initiative using Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

Within weeks of the elections being cancelled, the Alhambra Project launched the Alhambra Source. This local news outlet was set up to achieve several objectives, principally to promote a more engaged population and create connections across linguistic and cultural barriers (Chen et al. 2012). Alhambra is 53 percent Asian, 33 percent Hispanic, and 11 percent Anglo, according to the American Community Survey 2012 3-year summary data. Seventy-five percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home, with nearly half speaking an Asian language — primarily Mandarin or Cantonese — and 30 percent speaking Spanish. Research indicated that residents had overlapping local interests, but ethno-linguistic barriers had prevented them from engaging in information-sharing and civic dialogue. Without this type of communication, it is difficult to develop a sense of community and the capability for collective problem-solving (Anderson 1991, Friedland 2001). Consequently, the site’s coverage has focused on topics diverse residents identified as common concerns – such as crime, education, and city government — and these topics provided the basis for building virtual “communities of interest” across ethnicities.

To further cross language and cultural barriers, Alhambra Source provides select trilingual content through original reporting and translation. To reach the area’s substantial Chinese population, Alhambra Source editors created connections with the Chinese ethnic media in the area. More than a half dozen Asian outlets covered the site’s launch; content exchanges were created with the leading Chinese language press in Southern California, World Journal; and the editorial staff hosted multilingual community forums. Within three years, the site has developed a network of 90 community contributors who speak 10 languages. They have written hundreds of articles, attended scores of editorial meetings, and been critical for meeting the objective of enabling participatory local storytelling through new technologies. Still, while content contributors and readership comes from diverse backgrounds, both groups remain primarily English dominant.

Annenberg Agenda_4.indd

A USC Annenberg graduate student, Chi Zhang, tests out Weibo on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.

Another objective was to help create connections among communication agents in the area, and this has led to one of the most interesting outcomes of the project. The strengthened communication network was the catalyst for the first US local law enforcement agency to launch a Sina Weibo account. Weibo is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and one of the most utilized social media platforms by Chinese at home and abroad1. The Alhambra Police Department, in launching its Weibo account, added a linguistic and cultural layer to a practice that public agencies across the country are increasingly adapting to reach marginalized residents.2

The use of Weibo is an example of how connecting with immigrant residents via their preferred social media platforms can impact civic engagement. Five days after launching, it attracted more than 5,000 followers, about five times the “likes” for the Facebook account the police department had spent more than a year building. Within four months, followers grew to more than 11,000. The immediate impact is clear: Cantonese and Mandarin calls to the department requiring translation increased 64 percent since launching.3 In an e-mail survey of users, more than 90 percent said they felt closer to and know more about local policing as a result of Weibo[i].

The Weibo initiative was triggered after Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama read an article in Alhambra Source on engagement techniques to reach the Chinese community.4 The chief asked for a meeting with the editorial staff and the author, courts interpreter and site community contributor Walter Yu. To reach younger and more recent immigrants, Yu suggested the department develop Weibo. He also offered to help make it happen by sharing his social media skills.

weibo2

Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama presents the department’s Weibo initiative.

While many of the recent Chinese immigrants in Alhambra did not read the site, some influential ones did. Yu is an example of how incorporating local voices into the communications outreach strategy can help activate and enhance Chinese local storytelling and connect it with mainstream outlets and government officials. The Alhambra Source, Yu and the police chief developed a system for taking in questions, translating them, and sharing them with the public, and Yu also created an #AskAmericanPolice campaign for the Alhambra Police Department. When questions arrive, at the height of dozens a day, Yu and a team of volunteer translators[ii] translate them into English and send them to the police chief. Yokoyama responds and sends them to Alhambra Source staff for a copy edit. Once approved, Yu translates them back into Chinese for Weibo and for cross-posting on the Alhambra Source.

weibo1

The former mayor of Alhambra, Stephen Sham displays the Weibo screen.

The Alhambra Police Weibo is both local and global in nature. The questions come from immigrants living in Alhambra, Los Angeles, across the country, and from people in China curious about how American policing works. Various local residents expressed relief, and sometimes surprise, to learn that they could actually call the police for help.

“We’re answering those questions that have probably been on the minds of people for a long time. They just didn’t know how to ask or who to ask,”Yokoyama said.

“It tells me people have some sense of trust in at least asking the question of the police.”5

With the dialogue also started to come tips, as the police realized this was a key population segment that could be activated to help solve crimes. When there was a Southern California Edison phone call scam, the police department put out a warning on Weibo. Soon people were reporting that they had been scammed. Others reported prostitution and drug sales. “I believe sometimes people are just afraid to report to the police because of repercussions,” Yu said, referring to different relationships with the police in China.6

weibo3

Alhambra Police Weibo page

The impact of the Weibo initiative has spread beyond social media to provide a bridge for the ethnic media to increase coverage of the police department and Alhambra. One prominent LA-based Asian-language TV station, for example, produced a feature story by shadowing the Alhambra police department for a day. The Weibo initiative is one of the many ways in which the Alhambra Project has put into practice the network perspective of CIT, where a participatory local news website helps forge connections between a key public agency and a major population group previously underserved due to ethno-linguistic barriers. As illustrated, this type of virtual connection has offline consequences, and it can be beneficial to creating an informed, active citizenry while enabling public institutions to better serve their diverse constituency.

References

Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso.

Chen, Nien-Tsu N., Fang Dong, Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, Michael Parks, and Jin Huang. 2012. “Building a new media platform for local storytelling and civic engagement in ethnically diverse neighborhoods.” New Media & Society 14 (6) (September): 931-950.

Friedland, Lewis A. 2001. “Communication, community, and democracy: Toward a theory of the communicatively integrated community.” Communication Research 28 (4) (August): 358-391.

Kim, Yong-Chan, and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach. 2006a. “Community storytelling network, neighborhood context, and civic engagement: A multilevel approach.” Human Communication Research 32 (4): 411-439.

Kim, Yong-Chan., Joo-Young Jung, and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach. 2006b.”‘Geo-ethnicity’ and neighborhood engagement: A communication infrastructure perspective.” Political Communication 23 (4) (December): 421-441.

Ramakrishnan, S. Karthic, and Irene Bloemraad, eds. 2008. Civic Hopes and Political Realities: Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Sandra Ball-Rokeach is a Professor of Communication and Sociology in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, at the University of Southern California. She is also the Principal Investigator of the Metamorphosis Project. Sandra is author or editor of six books: Violence and the Media (with R. K. Baker), Theories of Mass Communication (with M. L. DeFleur), The Great American Values Test: Influencing Belief and Behavior through Television (with M. Rokeach & J. W. Grube), Media, Audience and Society (with M. G. Cantor), Paradoxes of Youth and Sport (with M. Gatz and M. Messner), and Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears that Shape New Technologies (with M. Sturken and D. Thomas). Her published articles appear in such journals as Communication Research, Journalism Quarterly, Mass Communication and Society, American Sociological Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Communication, New Media and Society, Social Problems, and The American Psychologist. She has been co-editor (with C. R. Berger) of Communication Research from 1992 to 1997, a Fulbright scholar at the Hebrew University and a Rockefeller Fellow at the Bellagio Study Center. She also serves on the advisory boards of the McCune Foundations, Southern California Public Radio, and the Research and Learning Group, BBC World Service Trust.

Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen is an Assistant Professor in Communication at California State University Channel Islands. She was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California when this chapter was composed, and she has been involved with the research and development of the Alhambra Source since 2008. In addition to new media, civic engagement and intergroup relations, Nancy’s other research interest pertains to health communication with diverse populations.

Daniela Gerson directs the Civic Engagement and Journalism Initiative at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She is the founding editor of Alhambra Source, and developed Reporter Corps, a program to train young adults to report on their own communities. Daniela’s reporting focuses on immigration issues, and she has contributed to the Financial Times Magazine, The New York Times, PRI’s The World, Der Spiegel, WNYC: New York Public Radio and was a staff immigration reporter for the New York Sun. Daniela was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Fellow and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow, researching contemporary guest worker programs in Europe.

Michael Parks is a journalist and educator whose assignments have taken him around the globe, and whose “balanced and comprehensive” coverage of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa earned him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. From 1997-2000, Parks served as editor of the Los Angeles Times, a period during which the Times garnered four additional Pulitzer Prizes. Parks joined the USC Annenberg faculty in Fall 2000 and served as Director of the School of Journalism from 2001 to 2008.

Scaffolding & Sustaining Participatory Politics Webinar/Twitter Chat Series: Highlights from Round 2

The following post was written by my Media, Activism and Participatory Politics research team, including Alexandra Margolin, Diana Lee, and Raffi Sarkissian.

At the end of February, the Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics team at USC wrapped up a 4-part webinar and twitter chat series on  Scaffolding & Sustaining Participatory Politics in partnership with Connected Learning. We recently shared a blog post that showcased highlights from the first webinar and twitter chats from the month. This post focuses on the second half of the month, as we shifted our attention from defining and measuring success to creating an action plan to achieve set goals. You can view a complete list of Webinar 2 participants here.

We had a few departures from both the scaffolding and thematic connections of the first webinar and twitter chat. First, we were excited to have two members from our research team take a more prominent role in the second half of this webinar series. Raffi Sarkissian and Diana Lee, two Ph.D. students at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who had previously taken a more behind-the-scenes role within the MAPP project, moderated the live webinar discussion. The second shift was in the connections between our second webinar conversation and twitter chat.

In our first webinar and twitter chat about defining and measuring success in participatory politics, the twitter chat served as an elaboration of webinar themes. In the second half this was not necessarily the case. Rather, in discussing what an action plan for engaging in participatory looks like webinar speakers focused much of their attention on steps that can be taken in the classroom or in collaboration with teachers. In the subsequent twitter chat, the focus shifted to outside the education system. The juxtaposition of these two conversations provides an interesting snapshot of where young people are engaging in participatory politics, the structures in place, and the challenges of engaging in this kind of work.

You can check out both the full webinar and twitter chat below. We have also provided some highlights if you don’t have time to watch and read it all.

 

Webinar 2: An Action Plan for Achieving Success in Participatory Politics

 

Some highlights include:

  • Nicole Mirra, a Postdoctoral Scholar at the UCLA Graduate School of Education (GSEIS) kicks things off by discussing some of the challenges facing youth-led research projects, particularly the perception of young people as “cute” or “fun,” rather than as truly engaged, active members of the community that should be listened to. Citizenship does not start when you turn 18 and young people participate in many different ways politically, often through digital media. Check out her comments 4:45 into the broadcast.
  • It is important to establish safe spaces for young people to explore topics that they care about (which may be different from what adults tell them to care about). Between 6:26-8:09 political science doctoral student and Black Youth Project coordinator Allen L. Linton II discusses some of the stigma around digital media tools in schools.  From 11:16-14:09 magazine editor Marium Mohiuddin outlines how the establishment of youth summits for American Muslim youth have provided a space for young people to find their own political voices.
  • Allen points out that it is important to work with schools and school districts. However when doing so it is imperative to gauge teacher attitudes and comfort levels in engaging with new media and participatory politics. The important part of participatory politics is participating, not going viral. Check out his comments at 17:45.
  • It is often difficult to know what things will go viral. At 32:29 Talitha Baker, former staff member at Invisible Children discusses how perception matters.
  • At 35:08, Marium emphasizes the importance of building relationships: “Networking and socializing are all part of building relationships, and it’s so vital to what we do as far as being civically involved, community activism and organizing. You can tweet, snapchat, and all you want to, but it always comes down to picking up that phone call or having coffee with somebody.”
  • The challenges of activism and organizing, are not “new” because of social and digital media. The structures are different and things move faster, but many of the core challenges are the same (45:26).
  • When engaging in participatory work, we often forget to take care of ourselves. See what the webinar participants have to say about sustainability and burnout at 50:03.
  • Learn what campaigns the participants look to for inspiration and insight starting at 53:36.

 

Twitter Chat 2: All questions were facilitated by the Connected Learning team (@theCLalliance).

  • Do you have any advice for youth activists who are not taken seriously because of their age?
    • TeachThought (@TeachThought): “Focus on “branding” the effort/function rather than themselves.”
    • Samantha Close (@ButNoCigar): “Some outlets will feature you bc young activists are ‘surprising’ – can be condescending but take advantage”
    • ByAnyMedia (@ByAnyMedia): “Stay on message- condescension is often used as a distraction from the powerful content of youth activism”
    • Raffi Sarkissian (@rSark): “Persistence should often pay off; if not in achieving your goal, then at least in showing the strength of youth . . . @TalithaBaker was mentioning this on webinar about youth persistence with changing govt representative’s stance.”
    • Diana Lee (@MsDianaLee): “@ButNoCigar Agree. Learning to navigate and code switch speaks back to condescension and other forms of discrimination”
  • What rookie moves should be avoided in modern civics and action? What advice do you have to someone starting out?
    • Samantha Close (@ButNoCigar): “Burnout – not knowing how or feeling you can’t take breaks to sustain . . . Maybe reaching out to those inspirational orgs we talked [about] at beginning can help Take advantage of their institutional memory and/or mentorship, grow #activist network & don’t feel alone”

As we wrap up this discussion, we are excited by the depth and introspection of the conversation. Thank you to all of our panelists and facilitators for sharing your insights. While the webinar series has concluded, the conversation is just getting started and we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. You can join the conversation about Scaffolding & Sustaining Participatory Politics on Twitter by using #byanymedia. We look forward to additional conversations and collaborations in the months ahead.

Scaffolding & Sustaining Participatory Politics Webinar/Twitter Chat Series: Highlights from Round 1

The following post was written by my Media, Activism and Participatory Politics research team, including Alexandra Margolin, Yomna Ali, and Ritesh Mehta.

In February, the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) team at USC organized a series of conversations on Scaffolding & Sustaining Participatory Politics in partnership with Connected Learning. It had been a year since our last webinar series (see “Storytelling and Digital-Age Civics: First Sessions As Seen from the MAPP Situation Room”) and it felt like an ideal time to check back in with many of the activists that MAPP has partnered with in the past to tackle the often elusive concept of “success.”

This time around we also introduced a new component to the conversation: the twitter chat. Twitter has always been a part of MAPP’s webinar conversations, with members of the MAPP research team live-tweeting highlights from our webinar conversations. However, rather than operating as a back channel we decided to bring these twitter conversations to the forefront. One week after each of our two webinars, we hosted up a follow-up conversation on twitter using the hashtag #byanymedia to highlight questions and themes that emerged from the previous webinar conversation.

This post highlights some of the key thoughts and themes from the first webinar conversation and twitter chat from the series (see Webinar 1 Speakers here). The full webinar recording is embedded below, but if you don’t have time to watch it in its entirety we have also included some highlights.

 

Webinar 1: Measuring and Sustaining Participatory Politics Success

We wanted to kick off the series by raising the question of what does success look like in participatory politics? As an individual or organization, how do you define what your successes are and how do you determine if you have been successful? Some highlights include:

  • Harry Potter Alliance co-founder Paul DeGeorge discusses the success of the Occupy Movement at 5:48. Maybe Occupy “did not effect change at that moment, but I am hoping to see implants of those seeds of change, and you see grass roots levels are starting to pop at local levels.”
  • Longtime immigration rights activist and Miguel Contreras Foundation Director of Programs Ilse Escobar highlights the power of narrative and the agency that comes with communities of color knowing their histories at 9:30. To Ilse, the bottom line was to be realistic about who will be included and who will be left out, and helping immigrants understand the reality of their situation.
  • Zachary Cáceres,  entrepreneur and current Executive Director of the Startup Cities Institute and MPC Creative Learning Community at Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala City, discusses connecting with your intended audience (starting at 13:40) through “targeted media outreach. We were trying to figure out how to translate certain ideas that were very abstract very theoretical into language that people would understand” while still stay true to their own mission.
  • The participants discuss the role of learning with some differences in perspective. Is learning an end in itself, or a means to reach a specific goal? See their responses 16 minutes into the broadcast.
  • Sometimes successes can be clearly demarcated. Host Henry Jenkins asks Paul about the recent successful conclusion of an HPA campaign. See Paul’s answer at 22:10.
  • However, not all successes are so clearly measurable. As Zachary mentions it is easy to fall into the trap of traditional methods of measuring success which are not truly indicative of behavioral change. He suggests that this “comes with the territory of nonprofits.” See the clip at 25:40.
  • Once you reach an endpoint, what comes next? According to Paul (at 50 minutes): “We continue to learn from what we do. We continue to be ambitious in our thinking. But moderate that ambition from what we’ve learned from our past campaigns. . . What is the best fit for us going forward, not necessarily what other people want us to do.”

 

Twitter Chat 1: All questions were facilitated by the Connected Learning team (@theCLalliance).

  • How do you move beyond numbers to measure #civics success? What metrics do *you* use?
    • Diana Lee (@MsDianaLee) : “Some successes are less quantifiable, but that doesn’t make them less important . . Things like belonging to, building & contributing to a community, and self-efficacy, hard to measure but vitally important.”
  • How do you show that minor/singular successes (campaign, events, etc.) are part of a larger success story?
    • Alexandra Margolin (@msmixedmargolin): “Narrative and framing [are] huge in demonstrating success or needs.”
    • Raffi Sarkissian (@rSark): “First the ‘larger success story’ should already [be] visible as larger goals of organization/activist, i.e. mission statement . . . [so] you can build on an ongoing narrative of the movement and its ‘movement’”
  • Knowing your community’s history can give you power/language to act. How do you use history in your work?
    • Samantha Close (@ButNoCigar): “Making sure your action ties back to things important to your community–not only to pundits or funders”
    • Alexandra Margolin (@msmixedmargolin): “Working in communities of color, knowing your history is imperative to grasp the context in which you are working in. . . Knowing the histories of your community/those around you, allows you to understand structures of power.”
    • Diana Lee (@MsDianaLee): “My work centers on people’s everyday lived experiences. “’Know history, know self. No history, no self.’”
    • Civic Paths (@civicpaths): “Many, multilingual & diverse are the voices of time’s passage. We can make them converse w/ each and other & w/the present.”
  • Civics/social justice work is never done. After achieving your goal(s), how do you start setting new ones?
    • Civic Paths (@civicpaths): “Sometimes it’s not about goals. It’s about staying with the aftermath. Re-presenting & appropriating for future history. . . ‘The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those who follow.’ – [Finding Forrester] (2000)”
    • Samantha Close (@ButNoCigar): “See what worked tactically and what new problems it can be applied to #byanymedia that are important to you”
    • Raffi Sarkissian (@rSark): “I think reevaluation at every step of the process is a good practice. Successes [shouldn’t be] taken 4 granted nor overestimated”
    • Samantha Close (@ButNoCigar): “That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

Look out for the next installment on this topic as we shift our focus from conceptualizing success to tackling the more concrete steps of achieving set goals.