{book project} The beginning

I just read this wisdom from the most popular Medium post of the day:

Psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

So here we go: I have just started my work on my next book:

“Public Media for Social Change” (working title).

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.22.56 AMThe project is, in fact, a part of a bigger effort to rethink access, content, and impact in the new global media/comm tech landscape.
Background:
As a scholar, I have worked in public broadcasting as well as studied public service media around the world. For almost a decade now, some colleagues and I have been discussing the necessary shift from public media de jure (institutions) to different models of public media de facto. In this new environment, we feel, old institutions can’t respond to the societal challenges alone, or remain sustainable. New networked forms may be to temporary and too niche-focused to grain the kind of traction needed for social change. Yet, at the same time, commercialization of the Net and simultaneous government pressures threaten free expression and necessary knowledge for citizenry. Hence, new models and ideas of collaboration and multistakeholderisms are needed.

Book project:
I aim to collect success stories where institutional meets the situational, old media meets new platforms, different stakeholders collaborate, in the quest for sustainable social change. These are examples beyond social media-fuelled organizing or protests; more about the community-building, citizen-focused inclusive communication that aims to connect people to learn, discuss and debate common issues (the original ideal of public media).

I hope these cases, from around the world, will lead to a grounded theory of new models of public media de facto.

The manuscript will be ready by late Spring 2016.

(I have earlier written about public media and multi-stakeholderism, and am currently working on an article re: public media in the light of human rights and information and communication rights, as well as another one on the connections between public media and media reform and internet rights movements.)

Related initiatives:
I’m a member of the RIPE network of public service media professionals (managers, strategists, scholars). Until the 2012, the network focused mainly on Europe and North America. Since its conference in Sydney (@2012), RIPE has begun to make a real effort to globalize public media conversations. The Open Society Foundations have supported that process with some grants.

One of the grants projects is a global network of academic and applied researchers working in the field, an initiative I am helping with. This will first be realized as a pilot, a contact repository  for people to find like-minded scholars for exchange of information and future projects. Here’s a newsletter update where we are after a couple of months of network-building. The pilot repository will be completed at the end of this year.  After that, we hope to collaborate with others, the EBU included, to extend the repository to all kinds of institutions and organizations, projects, policy-makers, advocacy organizations, etc.

Stay tuned for more.

{discovery, research} Bridges Global and other forms of collaboration

Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 8.50.03 AM This post is inspired by the brand new venture, Bridges Global, by my friend Elizabeth Soltis. Her organization provides workshops and other kinds of training regarding empowerment, leadership, and collaboration, including:

  • Partnership Negotiation:  Practicing Nonviolent Communication
  • Service Excellence:  Exceeding Client Expectations
  • Trust and Innovation:  Developing Accountability and Creativity
  • Complaints:  Transforming Breakdowns into Inspired Action

 

In terms of media and development, social-media induced collaboration and participation have become crucial aspects, in many regards, as the below graph shows: Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 8.36.35 AM [Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oscarberg/ under Creative Commons license.]

 

Doing Good Together Online

In this field, we need much more research and education to harness the potential of participation fully. While collaboration is more possible than ever, it also causes challenges. Clay Shirky, in Cognitive Surplus, outlines three important aspects of online participation for common good:

  • Motive (think of, e.g., passionate fans — how to create that kind of motivation?);
  • Opportunity (This does not only mean access to technologies that allow participation. Shirky writes: “While treating one another well…we can create environments where the group can do more than the individuals could do on their own”); and
  • Culture (for Shirky, this means the trend dominating online communities: The opening up of knowledge, bypassing old definitions of who is an expert, the collaborative spirit).

But not so fast. As Shirky  also notes, there are different values of participation: Some forms of participation are motivated by mere joy and fun, some participate to engage with friends, some participate to make the world a better place. One question is, what kind of participation value due we want to and need to create? This may be very different for a brand of sneakers and a non-profit fundraising for micro-loans. Also, we should perhaps not expect the creation of ‘Cognitive Surplus’ from everyone, in every situation. There are questions of access, skills, even (self)censorship as to how we can and do participate. For instance, Henry Jenkins et al. (a team of famous scholars of fan and online participation) argue in their new book titled Spreadable Media (pg. 194) that:

[T]he nature of participation in the digital age is a complicated matter. For even those groups who have greater access to digital technologies and have mastered the skills to deploy them effectively…our capacity to participate can be complicated by issues of who owns the platforms through which communication occurs and how their agendas shape how those tools can be deployed. And, even if we get our messages through, there is often the question of whether anyone is listening.

Scholar-Activist Collaborations The other aspect is: How do we collaborate to support (democratic) media development in today’s comlex media environment? The past decade has seen a notable increase in public interest–oriented civil society activism and advocacy around media-related change. These activities represent a distinctive, developing social movement. These efforts have become a developing point of intersection between scholars and activists. And there are numerous examples, some of them known world-wide: Robert McChesney is the co-founder of  Free PressLawrence Lessig is the co-founder of  Creative Commons. Until lately, the practices of engaged research by academic researchers in collaboration with movement actors has been sparse, and such collaborations have been subjected to relatively little attention. Communications Research in Action: Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere (a volume is a collection edited by Phil Napoli and myself)  highlights the multitude of ways in which scholars can participate as members of the MR movement/s. This (latter) kind of collaboration is needed to promote (the former) opportunities for collaboration and participation to everyone.

 

[More about participation, collaboration, media development, and governance to follow!]