Communication Work Batch #2

Taking Notes from the Present, Learning for the future

A campaign to quickly build a book weaving together conversations we are having in different places on the internet

How have past experiences with crisis (e.g. the global financial crisis of 2008, European Financial Crisis, refugee crises, or even prior personal ones) helped shape our individual and collective responses to the current one? What are you learning from this crisis that informs how we’re thinking about responding to other crises, like global climate change?

We want to run a campaign to find and engage individuals to re-publish good content that they have produced and disseminated elsewhere onto our platform. As well as to engage people to discuss it here. So that we can grow a conversation around it, find/see the invisible threads that connect seemingly unrelated topics and conversations that are happening right now. The findings will form the basis for a series of summits to be held later in the year.

What we need help with

Prepare the materials for the campaign to make it engaging and easy for people to add their content, have it discussed with others and get it have it included in the booklet we will collaboratively produce out of this all (a simplified version of a Booksprint that takes place here on the edgeryders platform).

In parallel with this we want to reach out to different organisations that can partner with the effort to draw more visiblity and recognition for the participants who contribute to this work. Rather than have the clever insights the produce vanish into a facebook or twitter feed, we want possible collaborators, clients, funders, employers etc to acknowledge the value of their input and send more opportunities their way.

Wait, but Why?

Because if you want to go far, you need to go with others!

It is no secret that the Edgeryders scene skews eclectic and nerdy. As in: we are better at doing interesting things than getting them out there so more people can discover and support them. We have miraculously gotten some press coverage in international and national media over the years. Funders and clients have shown up at our “doorstep” unsolicited - amongst them fairly large ones. And we know what we do is dope.

We have been quietly acting at the fringes till now. But we are getting signals that our work could help a lot of people weather the current situation, and the storms that will soon be upon us due to climate change + ecosystems. It is high time to get the work out there in a more structured and consistent way - starting with the booksprint + summit activities taking place over the next 6 months.

Partnership building & Promotion work

So we are looking for a group of several people who can identify and engage relevant organisations to support the booksprint and or the summits that will follow. This includes potential media partners, funding bodies etc. This will require a team of people who can work together to make this happen.

We are a global community of people in 80+ countries, rural as well as urban. BUT: Our funding sources require us to ensure that we are engaging people in Belgium, Germany, Poland, Czechia, Serbia, France, Italy and Tunisia…

Creative Collaborative Research campaign

We need to find and engage individuals who have posted good content to participate in the booksprint. Some of this will consist of using search engines, hashtags etc. But in general the most effective way to do this is to crowdsource leads. So we need a clever way to do this, a kind of mini campaign that makes it fun and easy for people to help us find “best of” content that they have seen others post. And then reach out to people who are already following us on our different social media channels & invite them to the party :slight_smile: Have a look at Kelsey’s approach for inspiration: https://twitter.com/raeBress

Timeline

We want to get started with this immediately. We would like to start with a 2 month engagement to see how things work out and if all goes well we see this continuing till december. We are a small not for profit organisation: Our ability to generate paid work opportunities for everyone depends in part on the promotion and research crew doing a great job.

Resources we have at our disposal

A network & budget for Coordination + freelance Copywriters, illustrators, videomakers etc

Tell us how you would like to approach the work, and what you need to do this well. We can then reach out to our network to find the right people.

A team of researchers to help us turn our conversations into collective intelligence

@amelia @Leonie @CCS read all posts and conversation threads, then tag them. @Alberto then turns them into visualisations which allow us to get a bigger picture of what the conversation looks like. Together their work results in an easy to understand, visual overview of what connections people in the different discussions are making between experiences, topics, concepts and initiatives. These videos we made for a course give a good idea of what this involves:

If you want to learn more about this, get in touch with the crew by introducing yourself in the open research workspace: https://edgeryders.eu/c/research-network

Experienced community managers

@johncoate @noemi and @MariaEuler help ensure the space is welcoming and inclusive, connect people across shared interests and help move the conversations forward towards action. But what do we mean when we say “community” and “community management”? Again some materials from a course we developed to teach others how to do this:

Always-on video chat meeting rooms

These are intended for things like running online events where you need breakout rooms, running team meetings or even for just hanging. They are only available to people with edgeryders.eu accounts. If you want to create your own you can do so by posting a request in a comment below. We will follow up with a few questions in a direct message to be sure everyone is aligned in how the room is to be used and then open a room for you. Example here.

Active Online Community Forums with built in sensemaking tools

Relevant because: This enables us to easily connect with others interested in the same topics. Deepen the discussions. Build visualisations to show points of convergence with others as a foundation for potential collaborations around emergent insights.

Registration forms for events that smoothly onboard participants onto online forums

Relevant because: we want to make it easy for people to connect and start the conversations before, and after the event. So that the webinars are part of a fruitful, action oriented process rather than something you just “consume”. Example from previous event: https://register.edgeryders.eu

Tiered access online landing pages

Webinars or Screen videos with password-protected livechat. This is very useful for when you want to have different levels of access. For example you may want to limit access to people who participated in the preparatory conversations or participated in a previous activity. It is also useful if you want to do crowdfunding campaigns where one of the perks is to have one’s questions featured during the webinar. Example here: https://live.edgeryders.eu/

Campaign builder

We have developed a stack of modules that enable you to quickly set up a single purpose minisite and it with relevant content .This makes it easy and inexpensive to so things like set up a website around a specific activity such as conference or crowdfunding campaign. As well as present content picked from the online forum that enables your to feature discussion threads or high quality posts with little additional work. Everything is easily updated through the platform. Examples include: http://er-campaigns.surge.sh, work.edgeryders.eu, https://youthful-brown-c96bcf.netlify.com/ and crowdfund.edgeryders.eu

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Two points from me:

  1. Since our conversations on the platform span so many different topics and different qualities of content - it would be useful to have curators of each providing a benchmark for the kind of publication we have in mind. Is it high quality journalism, like the better stories on the platform (example - This CTO has lived off the grid in his truck for several years — here’s why)? or more spontaneous stories? The former would need editorialising efforts (see point 2) below) For the latter it could be easier:
    I really like this format organised by an indie magazine called ‘Only a Magazine’ (transl. from Romanian ‘Decat o Revista’): they crowdsource stories from readers:
  1. The campaign would need to articulate the benefits for contributors - especially if we are looking for new content, not just existing ones. Many good stories might exist in stub forms, in a comment here and there. I suspect some editing effort is needed, and it would be good to reward contributors.
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Agreed. The questions is how? it is going to be difficult to make a cookie cutter offer because people will be in different places in their lives and value different things. We can only really find this out from talking to would be contributors. Perhaps we should include this as one of the things that the collaborative research campaign should tell us?

Here the format I believe should be adapted to who we need to engage to meet our strategic goals. This might be something the PR crew can help us define. The audiences I believe we need to reach in order for this effort to meet our objectives are:

  • People who run pension funds. We want them to change investment priorities or criteria to include local actors that improve self sufficiency/ lessen dependence on complex supply chains.
  • People leading trade unions, and their members . We want them to pressure governance institutions to experiment alternative economic development models with an emphasis on resilience.
  • Leaders of public administrations, with focus on specific cities and regions. We want them to introduce and finance long term participatory experiments in their regions, cities and towns (at least one mandate period).
  • Heads of the largest philanthropies & public funding bodies. We want them to put money into funding models that incentivise cooperation and consistent information exchange and structuring to build collective intelligence and action.
  • Heads of advocacy organisations e.g Avaaz or Greenpeace (that are not dependent on institutional funding). We want them to channel some of their constituents energy into new initiatives to build local resilience to shocks.
  • Next generation entrepreneurs (post-capitalist/ deep green) : We want them to provide the examples of alternative economic activity models, and relationships to the world around them, in action.
  • Mainstream media (Influential Business and finance publications) : We want them to draw visibility to insights generated around the selected themes, as well as to the people and work featured in the booksprints, summits and hackathons. .

Me and @johncoate haven’t had great responses contacting people who had posted on edgeryders in the past. We don’t exactly have direct/chat channels that are now platform messaging. So far it’s been ‘let’s catch up’, here’s what’s happening in the community, we are curious to see how you are dealing with these strange times etc.
Most of the people coming into the calls:

  • have been pinged on other channels on social media or
  • are new to the community and curious. But curious doesn’t make for contributions automatically.
    During the calls, we make the same ask: share, and that takes time, some will do, some don’t, and that’s ok. but we need a better filter for quality content for this booksprint imho.

But say we make a list of 30 contributions which we would value and put some thinking into a better ask. I would really welcome a call at some point with you, John, Maria to formulate the UVP for individuals.

I think we need to really start the other way around.

From the individuals who are connected to resources that can support would be contributors’ work/mission. And here I am not referring to people already in the community, rather this is outwards looking - drawing in what can create tangible value before making an offer.

We need to understand what ought to come out of this in order for it to be considered worth supporting. Then reach out to people we wish to engage as contributors

@estragon and I discussed this the other day in the context of EarthOS. But maybe he has some advice to offer?

When @noemi says “I suspect some editing effort is needed, and it would be good to reward contributors”, the first thing that comes to my mind is when I joined and started up the Italian version of this in the era of citizen journalism, user-generated content and other lies.
That sentence that obviously comes across your mind Noemi, does not only worry but is THE big problem to solve. At the top of our visibility, we managed a global community of hundreds of thousands of people. Behind the scene, there was a big (very big) editorial effort. But I have to admit that everything was meant to go on TV, RADIO, Web, offline, in a different format (long-form, ads, transmedia bi-directional interaction and so on…). But this is not the case.
I think it is impossible to not consider a big editorial work and a big effort in building and creating the community you want. I mean, it’s also something you know very well so I teach you nothing. Communities don’t born spontaneously especially now that the “distractions” are so much and the offer is huge.

I follow Nadia in the approach. So, first thing first:

  1. Let’s start to define the community we are looking for (who are they, where they live, what values they trust, etc…).
  2. Then we understand why this community is called and what is called to do.
  3. Then we build and launch a campaign to engage them using some stories that we need to create attractive and cool enough to distinguish ourself from the noise the world is producing.

And this is the simple part.

The difficult part is to convince them to work on something knowing that only 20% of the people we bring aboard, will be active contributors. So, for sure, the content we use as “hook” must be super cool and focused on the right purpose and shared to the right audience.
With this I am not saying what you’re proposing is wrong, I am actually saying the opposite: what you are proposing is so important that the work we must do anyway to transform the stories that you/we came across is probably the most important one. So, once we know all the things I mentioned before, we need a method. The best method I know when we lack in resources (people and money) is to decide what story is the best to tell, then collect all the material we find without thinking to a distribution channel and then create, build and rebuild the content for all the possible channel/purpose we might need: eg. a long article, a video, an ad, an interview, a webinar, a book and so on…

Sorry for the long reply.

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I agree, @claurau got in touch about doing Audience research, and is sending us a proposal for this today. Would you mind posting a link to it in a comment to this so @estragon and I can have a look and tweak it together?

As for the editorialisation of the content @noemi - yes it does involve significant work.

Last year we did this for the Networked technologies & Justice conversation.

The process:

  1. @inge did in depth (1hr) interviews with a number of people that we approached, transcribed it and edited that down to a number of pages
  2. She then invited the person in question to edit it and then publish under their own name once they were happy with it.
  3. We then had a copywriter produce summaries for each article with nice headlines for each highlighting the key point of what the person was talking about. As well as one summary for the series.
    Summaries of 10 stories on topics relevant to AI & Justice workshop

The primary purpose of gathering this material was to prepare for a workshop in Brussels. Then follow up weaving it all together into policy-relevant recommendations: https://edgeryders.eu/t/5-new-principles-for-justice-in-the-age-of-ai-and-other-networked-technologies

I think one of the first things to do is to produce a nice looking booklet from the above materials since the work is done - but recontextualise it a bit to feed into the current discussion around contact tracing, surveillance etc.

Maybe @amelia and @alberto could help with this and you guys are familiar with the discourse and I think the pieces you both have posted recently are already in that direction somehow? We could then use this to drive conversation here…?



On a side note…

Impact: @J_Noga I think used this when talking to some policymakers/ trade unions I think - if yes, what happened? Justin correct me if I am wrong? Did it inform your own work or thinking? If so it would be super helpful to have an account of this…

@MariaEuler @alberto @johncoate @amelia : what do you think - Purhaps it makes sense to slightly/ recontextualise that collection of stories in light of the current development with the pandemic @MariaEuler and @johncoate, and then push out?

We pretty much have material for a little book ready. All we need is: someone to review/ make minor edits to re-contextualise them around the current situation

Any takers?

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Yes it did, thank you @nadia. Been pushing a different narrative (data not just a commodity, the difficulties of safeguarding rights and public interest on a network that is private and optimises for profit). I’m talking to MEP’s and policy people in the European Parliament (EP). You can find traces of that for instance in the vision document from the socialist and democrat group in the EP. The document is a difficult to read Christmas tree (dozens of MEPS and policy makers putting things in, sometimes contradictory), but it is a marked change compared to their previous strategy from 2018/19.

But the real work still lies ahead. On 6 May, the European Commission (EC) is likely to present a new work plan (given covid-19), so I can see if they still aim to come up with legislation on AI and platforms by end 2020, and what’s happening with their data strategy. This will significantly influence my activities for the remainder of the year (which are a bit up in the air, given Covid-19).

The EC also published its AI White Paper in February, and I saw @CorinneCS already pointing out how ambivalent it is (yes everyone needs ‘AI’ now!! vs. should be careful, lots of uncertainty and risks for peoples’ rights, freedoms and safety…). Actually, the EC is now consulting on that document), deadline 14 June. As a first step, it could be interesting to get people to respond to that, because normally mostly lobbyists and business do, which then gives the Commission cover to take a conservative/hands-off approach.

For the rest, now digesting Amartya Sen’s ‘The Idea of Justice’ :slight_smile:

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