Test-Driving a New Interview/Engagement format: AMAs!

I have an idea for a new kind of engagement format, which is somewhere between an interview, a webinar like we had at European Regions Week, and an on-platform conversation. I think it suits our style at Edgeryders very well.

It’s called an AMA – “Ask Me Anything”. For those Redditors out there, this will be very familiar. If this is new, you can read about them here: Reddit - Dive into anything
Example: I’m Adam Bandt, Leader of the Australian Greens. AMA about the 2020 Budget, the path out of the COVID recession, and the Green New Deal!

The way it works is that we schedule a date and time for someone to be on the platform – say for two hours, from 6-8pm on Friday October 16. They post a provocation/introduction: Hi, I’m Amelia Hassoun. I work on Smart Cities. Ask Me Anything! Usually the post also includes a paragraph of information to generate questions around a specific topic. For example, I could post a shortened version of my talk on Citizen Participation. For Adam Bandt, it was this:

The government’s handed down its 2020 budget, and boy, it’s a doozy. Great if you’re a big corporation or a millionaire; but if you’re out of work and relying on public services, you’re shit outta luck.
This could have been a budget of hope – instead, it was one that gave tax cuts to millionaire and public money to the Liberals coal and gas donors, while further fuelling insecure low paid work.
At a time when we’re in a once-in a lifetime recession, this budget makes all the wrong choices. It’s a middle finger to the millions of people who are unemployed or under-employed right now, including more than half a million young people, and could create a lost generation.
The Greens have got another plan - for a green recovery that creates hundreds of thousands of good jobs, ensures everyone has an income they can live on and creates a strong, clean economy by investing in the care economy, education, affordable housing, renewables and sustainable infrastructure. You can check it out here.
We’ll keep fighting for a green recovery, and push to block the Liberals plan with everything we’ve got. AMA about the government’s budget, our plan, or how we fix politics and the world in general.

Then we tell people about it – hey, this person will be on at this time, come ask them questions! It happens on platform – they respond in real time, for as long as they can stay on. And the conversation continues after the fact when interested parties stick around, to talk even when the speaker has left (and often the speaker comes back to answer more questions asynchronously).

Benefits – it generates a rich conversation in real time, creating a lot of text around a focused topic. This is better than an interview because a) no one has to transcribe it and b) the community themselves are doing the interviewing.

And worst case scenario, if no one but our core team show up for some reason, we still have a rich interview with someone already transcribed onto the platform into chunks that are very amenable to SSNA coding.

What do you think, @MariaEuler @johncoate @Leonie @katejsim @alberto @nadia @noemi?

I’m happy to be the guinea pig for this – or we could go back to the idea we had a few months ago and do an AMA with someone among one of our consortium partners. Ideally we do these with a wide range of community members, each experts in their own right :slight_smile: And we could schedule these to happen on a biweekly basis, even. I think it’d be most useful for NGI at the moment, but could definitely work for POPREBEL too.


Worth trying. I tended to assume that AMAs require some kind of star status of the protagonist, but maybe I am wrong. As you say, this is easy and cheap to try, so we should try it.

Some of my favourite AMAs/popular ones have been with non-stars but people with random experiences — like this one with a vacuum repair technician.

The ones with people working on interesting research are often more popular and engaging than the celebs/stars, who give a lot of boilerplate answers. Science AMAs are the coolest, imo. Here’s even a journal article on the way that Science AMAs on reddit suggest a model for changing the format for public engagement with science to a more two-directional one! One of the mods on r/Science also was interviewed at the American Chemical Society annual meeting about them. Loved this one about life on other worlds by researchers from NASA FDL.


I’m convinced :slight_smile:

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…have I given myself away as a reddit nerd yet :laughing:

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I used to be one. Maybe I should take back up with it. Anyway, yes worth a try. I think some background material on the guest would be valuable. I know there are no dumb questions, but some info to help prep is helpful.

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Great! Who should we start with?

Which topics do you think should we try to adress? Maybe we can go from there?