Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Activism

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Friday 11th March 2011

  • Lessons Learned from the Arab Spring Revolutions

    by Azmat Khan, Habib Haddad, Vadim Lavrusik, Susannah Vila, Katherine Maher and Russell Dubner

    The current events in the Middle East and North Africa have shone a spotlight on how activists and ordinary citizens are using social media and connection technologies both to organize for social change and as to broadcast information from the streets in near real time. Our panelists will address questions such as, "What have been the most innovative and interesting uses of 21st century technologies in the recent campaigns?", "What are the ways activists are effectively leveraging 21st century technologies for their benefit?", "How could they use these tools more effectively and what lessons can protesters in other regions of the world learn?" and "How do we think these tools can be leveraged in these societies to improve democracy and open government?"

    At 2:00pm to 3:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Town Lake Ballroom, Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin-Town Lake

Saturday 12th March 2011

  • How Many Rungs?: Social Change & the Engagement Ladder

    by George Weiner, Patty Huber, Robert Wolfe, Robert Rosenthal and Jacob Colker

    Slacktivism versus real engagement is a false dichotomy - the fact is that smart technologists who care about the world are innovating new ways for people to get involved in the causes they care about. Get used to it.

    Now, however, as we enter the next phase of this trend, questions still circle around the relationship between the new, less tested forms of involvement and traditional forms of volunteering and service that are still the bedrock of thousands of social change organizations.

    If new technologies are adding more rungs to a ladder of engagement in the form of sharing, viral promotions, micro-volunteering, and micro-giving, what's at the top and the bottom? Where do these actions live beside other innovative, non-technical forms of volunteering -- such as pro bono and skilled models? And what are the right business models for social enterprises that are innovating these technologies?

    Join moderator Robert Rosenthal from the pioneering social enterprise VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org) as he discusses these issues with technologists from three bleeding edge social change Web services: Dan Jacobs, founder of Everywun (www.everywun.com), Jacob Colker, co-founder of The Extraordinaries (www.beextra.org), and George Weiner, CTO of DoSomething.org.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Saturday 12th March

    In Room 6AB, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage slide deck

  • Tech Power to the People! Digital Community Engagement

    by Miriam Perez, Latoya Peterson, Salina Brown and John Keefe

    How do we ensure no one is left behind in the tech revolution? This panel is designed to provide a look into the best practices for using media to engage with communities, particularly minority outreach and low income/low access areas. This panel will feature a variety of activists explaining the ways in which they have used mobile campaigns, apps, blogs, and other methods to engage their communities and transfer skills, as well as tips for evaluation and measuring results.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Room 10AB, Austin Convention Center

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Local: The Next Big Thing in Online Advocacy

    by Ben Rattray

    Online advocacy groups traditionally focus on demanding change from Congress, which is largely unresponsive to these efforts. Find out how citizen activists are changing the face of civic participation by using social media to mobilize people in their neighborhoods, schools and cities to successfully fight for local change every day.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Town Lake Ballroom, Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin-Town Lake

  • The User Generated Revolution, Social Media Overcoming Censorship

    by Julian Siddle

    In 2009 the Iranian government expelled most foreign media organisations and jammed international broadcasts. For the BBC's Persian TV emails, video, Twitter and facebook postings from Iran became the main source of news. Groundbreaking stories were complied using material from viewers and listeners - often sent in with great personal risk to themselves.

    The current protests in Egypt, seem to have begun on Facebook. In the Xingjian province of China government censors were defeated by a tweet - news of a popular uprising amongst the regions Uighurs in this remote province leaked out to the world's media. A military clampdown ensued, but not before foreign media got to the region and heard the Uighurs grievances. Conversely the oppressors use the same social media tools, partly to spread disinformation about their activities, but also in the cases of groups such as the Taliban, to push their beliefs.

    The panel will discuss how censorship and suppression is made more and more difficult to hide by the social media revolution, and the impact of this for traditional media organisations.

    Julian Siddle the inventor of the BBC's technology programme Digital Planet leads the panel with journalists from the BBC Chinese and Persian services who were actively involved in these stories. Examples of UGC - user generated content; videos produced by the public in places with repressive regimes, will be shown during the panel.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Hill Country AB, Hyatt Regency Austin

    Coverage sketch note

  • Getting Advanced with Social Media for Social Good

    by Jordan Viator and Tammy Gordon

    Online supporters are working to save the world one Tweet at a time. But how can nonprofit and philanthropic causes take their efforts to the next level and stand out from the crowd to increase the success of social campaigns? Hear from technologists and nonprofits on how to define and implement the ideal strategy and get advanced with metrics to make social a key component of online fundraising and advocacy campaigns.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 8A, Austin Convention Center

  • How Social Networking Is Changing Advocacy

    You may have heard it called online word of mouth, peer-to-peer organizing or online grassroots outreach, but one thing is for sure: online advocacy movements can be started now more easily than ever with the ubiquity of social media and the power of internet organizing. Learn how innovative nonprofit organizations are paving the way for driving social change through the use of social technologies and how you can emulate these strategies for you own personal causes.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 8A, Austin Convention Center

  • Urban Technology on the Dark Side

    by Molly Wright Steenson and Benjamin Bratton

    Urban computing isn't just fun, games and mapping. There's a dark side to urban technology, with surveillance and subversion in operation and in opposition. It shouldn’t be a surprise: most technologies we use were originally developed in the military before making their way to the civilian side. But mostly, when we talk about urban computing, we tend to focus on its optimistic and entertaining uses.

    This panel confronts the relationship of cities to technology. Some things it will discuss: how soldiers literally cut holes in walls to through houses in urban wars; how the government creates geographically dark spaces on the map and launches secret satellites; and the role of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in giving rise to urban technologies we use today – to name a few. In balance, we’ll look at the ways that artists, activists, designers, architects and hackers reveal and challenge these shadowy-seeming technologies in their work.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Go Here, Do This: Location + Collective Action

    by Sam Altman, Clive Thompson and Jill Okawa Fletcher

    Grassroots movements, flash mobs and now group purchasing--they all have an intimate relationship with location; it’s the linchpin that ties the movement together.

    For some time now, advertisers have tried to say “Go here. Buy this. Do it now.” But as consumers, we’ve been pretty reluctant to give in easily—there’s always another holiday for a car dealership to celebrate, and a liquidation sale at a furniture store just doesn’t motivate us anymore.

    Flash mobs, grassroots movements—they have been exceedingly difficult to create. They’re purely organic movements, born out of internet chatrooms, with a bitter reaction to rigid organization. The holy grail—a sudden influx of consumers—has always been just out of reach for most businesses.

    But more and more, brands are finding interesting ways to cultivate flash mobs of their own. Location based services play an important role in aiding these movements. Whether it be group purchasing sites created around local communities or mobile check in apps with flocks of users descending on a bar or restaurant, new tools continue to emerge for businesses and brands to create their own mobs.

    We'll look at what tools are available for building mobs and how they are being focused towards completing a specific action. We'll envision what tools have yet to emerge. And we'll explore the delicate balance between pushing an action or a message while maintaining the organic feel that characterizes these movements.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • People-Powered: Technology's Role in the People's Revolution

    by Eric Kuhn, Joe Trippi, Pete Snyder and David All

    The people-powered revolution, fueled by the Internet and technology, are changing everything -- especially the worlds of activism, media and politics. Today, the conversation about the Internet’s role has never been louder or more distributed.

    Activism, media and politics have always gone hand in hand. But thanks to the tools we now have and will continue to develop, their speed and influence are limitless. New technologies are emerging every day that strengthen the people-powered movement, giving individuals the tools they need to make their voices heard.

    Join us for a discussion about the latest technologies and how they are bolstering the people-powered revolution by empowering people to make a difference.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 10AB, Austin Convention Center

Monday 14th March 2011

  • #Hashtag Takeovers and Successes in Innovative Virtual Activism

    by Andrew Blair, Sean Bonner, Chris Eaton and Royale Ziegler

    The goal of this panel is to uncover new and exciting ways to use social media as a means for social change. This session will go beyond the basics—sending targeted action alerts and creating online petitions—and discover fresh and innovative virtual campaigning techniques for real results.

    When NASA public affairs specialist Stephanie Schierholz was speaking on a customer service panel at TWTRCON, PETA asked monkey-loving supporters to hijack the #TWTRCON hashtag with messages of about NASA's plan to fund cruel experiments in which dozens of squirrel monkeys would be blasted with harmful space radiation. Tweets about NASA's radiation experiments began appearing on the conference’s large projectors meant to display tweets about the event.

    In another example of a non-profit getting the upper-hand online, Greenpeace created a parody YouTube video, calling into question Nestlé’s methods for acquiring palm oil, which spread rapidly through online community channels and eventually caused Nestlé to meet their demands within just a few weeks of the campaign's start. Mainstream media covered the video and Nestles failure to manage dissent on their Facebook page.

    Using inventive tactics to leverage social media for good means creating the possibility for millions of passionate people to band together and create tangible change, wherever, whenever, whoever they are.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In TX Ballroom 2-4, Hyatt Regency Austin

  • Behavior Design: Stop Being Neutral, Start Influencing Decisions

    by Nick Disabato and Chris Risdon

    Design traditionally focuses on creating products and services that recognize an existing behavior and work to support it. The next wave will be products and services that motivate and incentivize change. Design can help us be better at what we do and make us do better things.

    We are in the age of aware tech. People are receiving vast amounts of data about their own actions and patterns. We need to provide them with clever ways to act on that information. Moreover, companies and organizations are seeking out ways to influence customer choices and create social impact, but many designers are hesitant to pursue work that makes choices for people.

    Design has always had an influence, whether recognized or not. It’s time to start seeing that all design choices have an impact, and to start working towards changing the way we live for the better.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 6:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Capitol A-D, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

    Coverage slide deck

  • Building Human Rights Into Your Social Site

    by Danny O’Brien, Ebele Okobi-Harris, Jillian York and Rebecca Mackinnon

    No matter how narrow you think the use of your website or service will be, if it's successful, it'll be used in ways you'll never expect - including life or death fights over human rights in foreign countries. The design of your sketchy PHP code might make the difference between a free press or a government clampdown, tortured dissidents or a bloodless coup. Twitter aids activists in Iran; Facebook helps the independent press in Ethiopia; World of Warcraft is policed for sedition in China. What is happening on your site that you don't know about? And how can you design it so you help the good guys?

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Room 10AB, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage audio clip

  • Design Intersection - Cultural Sustainability, Activism, Social Entrepreneurship

    by Peter Hall and Beth Ferguson

    Our focus is the designers’ role in combining cultural sustainability and social entrepreneurship to find creative solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Innovative strategies, systems thinking, distributed production, open design and creative risk-taking are yielding meaningful outcomes regarding climate protection, clean mobility, renewable energy, waste reduction, and social equality.

    Effective utilization of social media, web based maps and the internet have made much of the world dependent on mobile communication devices, which need a constant supply of power to keep roaming. Balancing their impact, new tools such as the Kill-a-watt, energy monitor mobile apps and solar charging stations visually link users with their home/work energy consumption. Others, such as Green Map, livingprinciples.org or Treehugger, put an environmental and social perspective on local resources and developments, motivating action that benefits the commons.

    Designers and social entrepreneurs are forming strong communities of practice and collective identity as desire shifts toward sufficiency and well-being. Entities willing to take a creative risk and a leadership role in adopting holistic design processes are becoming the leaders of our future development. Providing tools for educators to restructure the pedagogy is essential for preparing future creators to face the challenges with sanguine, innovative solutions. Join with us on a journey towards redesigning design.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Room 8A, Austin Convention Center

  • Internet Activism Vegan Bloggers Take Over the World

    by Stephanie Bogdanich

    A surge of vegan bloggers has been using the internet to make change in the way people think about animals through new forms of activism. VeganMoFo (the vegan month of food) and worldwide Vegan Bakesales to raise money for causes and promote veganism are just some of the ways that we are breaking out of the stereotypes of the past and creating a revolution. Learn creative ways to promote your message and engage your community on and off the web and more about food activism and using your culinary skills to promote compassion.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Room 5ABC, Austin Convention Center

Tuesday 15th March 2011

  • Techies Can Save the World, Why Aren't They?

    by Rebecca Moore, Joel Serface, Brooke Farrell, Graham Hill and Jack Hidary

    Techies are plugged in. We're cutting edge. So, why aren't we more green? Why aren't we the ones using our special power to save the world? Are we too busy working on the next hot i-phone app? Do we not care? Are we just avoiding the guilt over our higher than average personal electrical requirements? Maybe the environmental movement just isn’t our battle to fight. Their ‘triple bottom line’ lingo sounds like a foreign language. And it doesn’t sound much like PHP.

    A kick-ass panel made up of a rare breed of successful environmentally and socially focused tech pioneers provide insights, examples and practical inspiration for techies, bloggers, entrepreneurs and web-business people who are looking to do a world of good. Our expert panel includes founders from major web based businesses, founders of the new generation of successful social and environmental start-up ventures, and major VC’s who are all focused on the triple bottom line – making a bunch of money while doing something positive for the environment and society. A well respected news media editor at the intersection of green and technology will moderate this panel of innovators. Come ask our panel how you can be the change you want to see!

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Tuesday 15th March

    In Room 6AB, Austin Convention Center