Comments on: Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003 Thu, 31 May 2018 07:56:57 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jonathan Stray » How can I help? Sat, 21 Jun 2014 22:56:21 +0000 […] and easy for them to engage or else give them some expectation of a big payoff. Ethan Zuckerman divides civic action along two axes: thin to thick, and symbolic to impactful. In that language, what I’m proposing is in the […]

By: Schedule | English 1102 Tue, 07 Jan 2014 14:35:31 +0000 […] Digital: Reconfiguring Postcolonial Knowledge” Zuckerman, “Understanding Digital Civics” and “Notes” This American Life, […]

By: Remembering Aaron: activism and the effective citizen | ... My heart’s in Accra Fri, 08 Nov 2013 21:25:27 +0000 […] as is Christian Science Monitor. In most cases, they are pushing readers and viewers to fairly thin modes of engagement, but it’s a start, and a recognition that news organizations can do more than identify […]

By: The “good citizen” and the effective citizen | ... My heart’s in Accra Tue, 20 Aug 2013 01:16:36 +0000 […] to think about some of the big questions behind our work at Center for Civic Media, specifically the questions I started to bring up at this year’s Digital Media and Learning Conference: How do we teach civics to a generation […]

By: Randy Thu, 18 Jul 2013 03:03:51 +0000 I really like your two-dimensional analysis of activist engagement. As you noted in your reply to Matt, there is also something about whether someone is trying to affiliate with her/his tribe (and perhaps build inter-tribal solidarity) or is trying to persuade the opposition. This might be a third dimension. Thinking about the audience of an action, you might like the little chart on this page:

Seeing your 2-D model made also me think you might find the work of Bill Moyer (the deceased activist, not the famous journalist) useful:

“The Movement Action Plan: A Strategic Framework Describing the Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements”

And his four roles that activists play:

By: Linking news and action | ... My heart’s in Accra Wed, 12 Jun 2013 21:05:21 +0000 […] In a talk I gave at the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference, I suggested that one way to consider civic engagement was in terms of engagements that are “thin” or “thick”. Thin engagement requires little thought on your part: you can sign a petition, take a pledge, give a contribution. Campaigns that use thin engagement are often launched by organizers who have chosen a solution to a problem, and see the challenge as lining up support behind their solution. Thin activism relies on scale for impact – actions are easy to undertake in the hopes that thousands will take part and that their collective small actions will lead to significant impact. Some of my students at Center for Civic Media recently made the case that 2 million Facebook users changing their profile pictures to a variant of the Human Rights Campaign’s red and pink equality symbol was a form of engagement that was thin but effective, demonstrating how many friends and allies gay people had. […]

By: Goodspeed Update » Blog Archive » The Trouble With ‘Civic Media’ Studies Fri, 31 May 2013 16:36:54 +0000 […] etc.). (It looks like what I heard was very similar to his keynote at a recent conference, see notes and a video of the […]

By: Kate Fri, 29 Mar 2013 20:44:41 +0000 The missing thought in all that: Some kinds of change may come from within a micropublic — some may come from separate micropublics working together.

I owe that idea to Anthony Leiserowitz, talking with Bill Moyers about climate change, identified ‘six different Americas,’ six different micropublics and six different ways of talking with them and turning talk into action. The show re-aired earlier this week.

By: Kate Fri, 29 Mar 2013 20:36:11 +0000 Thank you — you’ve asked and identified vital questions. I think of my job, as a journalist, as building community.

In witing about the arts community, I am, or I hope to be, contributing to it: supporting the museums and theaters and artists, encouraging people to come out and support these places and people, encouraging people in the community to meet each other. People care about communities, and they can do a better job, I think, the more they can feel and see that a community is, and what it is.

On the teaching of civics, I think of efforts like the local elementary school teacher who gave each of her students $5 and challenged them to use it to help, in some way. They each chose different causes and actions, they raised funds, they gave presentations, and according to their responses, they felt involved.

Could we teach civics by getting students involved with the politicians they can meet — selectmen, state officials, the governor who lives in our county? I had never seen a town government in action until, in my first job out of college, I was assigned to cover a local select board — and it taught me volumes. I’m not suggesting that a nine-year-old should sit through a two-hour town meeting, but a nine-year-old who cares, for example, about the town debate over fixing the soccer fields could talk to the people involved.

Giving people the feeling that they can do something in the community, at any age, is one challenge, and ideas like these are fairly simple ones. The harder challenge I think you’re pointing to is deciding what to do — finding a way of speaking or acting that may help.

My dad told me that the hardest arguments are conflicts of values or priorities. Group A wants to help employers, and group B wants to help employees. Group A wants to save open space, and group B wants affordable housing. Each side has a valid argument. How, in this case, do you work for change?

You’ve pointed out that social media can group people by their values: “Social media has helped people find micropublics, circles of friends who share an interest or a common history and tend to be highly responsive to each other’s posts, updates and online sharings.”

I agree with you: this kind of communication can have immense strength and influence. People working in community can topple giants, fund microloans, restore the prairie, redesign irrigation, build schools … and change the Spanish Inquisition into the Renaissance.

But I also agree that it has dangers.

One thing print journalism, as I’ve learned it, is supposed to do — emphasis on the supposed — is to show more than one discussion, to talk to different micropublics. In is also supposed — same emphasis — to challenge all of them. It is supposed to test different arguments, to find strengths and weaknesses, and to show the weight of different ideas and the consequences of different plans. Douglas Adams argues passionately against the idea that all opinions are created equal. I would put that argument at the core of journalistic ethics.

Within activist groups who share the same goals, the question of what to do is, of course, infinitely varied and heated. After a forest fire in a National Park, the Arbor Day Foundation wants to plant a million trees, and the Audubon Society wants to let the land alone to regenerate (source, an Audubon Magazine article from 2007) … and each is afraid that the other’s approach will devastate thousands of acres of land.

So … do we plant a native tree, join the conservation commission, get a farm share, buy efficient light bulbs, hike the Taconic Crest trail, teach a child to recognize a maple leaf, support the local land trust, write a novel? I don’t know. And I’d better go put together the April “Live Green” Supplement while I think about it. Thanks very much.

By: …My heart’s in Accra » Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk | Dr Jane's Blog Thu, 28 Mar 2013 20:10:11 +0000 […] …My heart’s in Accra » Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk. […]