You’ve got witty, interesting people with passion, expertise, and the ability to talk the bark off a tree. You wouldn’t expect it to be hard to get EVERYONE in your organisation using Social Media, right? Except sometimes it is.
It’s so hard, in fact, that several dozen Social Media Managers turned up to a workshop at SXSW to discuss nothing but.
Panel organiser Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Non-Profit, makes a compelling case that the most effective non-profits are those in which EVERYBODY in the organisation does social media promotion of the cause, from the Executive Director all the way up to the receptionist.
My Storified curation of a panel on musicians and activism, With Karen Scott of FitzGibbon Media, Mike Mills of R.E.M. Hillary Zuckerberg of Why Hunger, Mikel Jollet of Airborne Toxic Event and Brandon Deroche of Urgency Network. Continue reading “Raise your Fist: Music and Activism”
The Curmudgeonly Keynote which Bruce Sterling delivers every year at tech conference SXSW riffed heavily this year on the ancient past: the lost desert people of Walnut Canyon, Arizona, who, like the flannel hipsters in the audience surrounding me, were once the greatest innovators of their day. As their climate changed, they created adaptive technologies: they learned to carve into the cliff faces, to harvest condensation, to build clay pots to catch and channel snow and rain. They became “the Stanford of desert survival techniques, the MIT of clay pottery.” But they passed. The cold wind blows through empty stone rooms. Their civilisation burned.
For Sterling, there’s a parable here about technological advance. He had predicted a few years back that the blog would be dead by 2017. Four years early, he asked with some smugness, “where at this SXSW were the keynote panels featuring rockstar bloggers? What startups or rollouts for blogging software were buzzing at SXSW? Did any panel even mention a PC?” His point: you live by disruption, you die by disruption. And when you invent the future, you consume the past. So lets leave the shards of RocketBoom and LonelyGirl15 and the latest Dell Laptop on the floor of that adobe cliff home, and consider what was roasting and eating the past with a side of Nokia this year, and picking its teeth with Blackberry bones.
This was the year of the Wearables and the Printables. Tim Jordan demonstrated Google Glass. He talked commands to it and Siri-like, it took his dictation and acted on it. He tapped through email messages on his earpiece and sent images of the audience to Facebook. He looked up a word. He gave the salivating coders in the Audience tips on how to write a “Hello World” app and four principles for designing for Google Glass. There was a super cool video showing Pepsi-generation kids promising our eyeware will make roller coasters more fun. Continue reading “Broken Clay Pottery and Shards of Google Glass: SXSW 2013”
It truly is the place where the future gets marketed to death before it’s invented. Midpoint mini-take-aways: wearable devices WAY beyond google glass are coming soon and present a huge and exciting user interface design challenge: and a social integration challenge. I love BUMP’s new ability to bump a photo or video to your Mac by tapping the spacebar with your cell phone. Grumpy Cat rules. And I’ve learned tons about African mobile devices, Digifrenia and Present shock, tips and tricks for hacking internal non-profit culture to create a more social-media friendly ecosystem, Trigger-ties as a viral engineering principle, and stuff in the Shuttle busses, lunch tables, and coffee breaks about UFO& conspiracy theory, Wal-Mart’s social media strategy, NASA’s space camp, how to build a Lego Tardis, the history of Wired’s internal split over blind optimism and “The Long Boom,” how Sierra Club is structured, the art of making a smokey martini, and a Texas tradition called “Chicken Shit Bingo.” Who knew?
This is a storified curation of most of the panels I saw at SXSW 2013, in reverse chronological order. Next time, I’m going to break these up into individual panels, and hang those on a master file of linked storified stories. It’s difficult to navigate a long piece like this by paging through until you get back to the panel you wanted. These served as notes for my wrap-up blog, Clay pots and shards of Google Glass. Continue reading “SXSW 2013 Storified”
I’m flying from Amsterdam today to SXSW in Austin in one of your spankin’ new 777s, and just want to say THANKYOU for the wifi over the Atlantic, and for the promotional price of… FREE. You should keep it that way! Any marginal income you might get from a $19 pass would be peanuts compared to the goodwill and preference you’d get from people like me who live online. I’m plugged into a 220v socket so my MacBook’s battery isn’t racing the clock. I’m tweeting from 30000 feet about what a great experience this is. Please, please, keep it that way!
I can’t remember the last time I was seriously excited about an airplane. OK, the Wifi was slow of course, and cut out over the Arctic Circle, and the promise of iPod recognition and USB thumb drive media access on the USB didn’t work. The airport maps are unreadably detailed with no zoom function. The Stewardess told me there’s a system for seat to seat SMS-like communication that’s not implemented yet. And among the bugs yet to be worked out in the plane itself, seat 33C sticks out into the aisle as part of a 3 seat row behind a two seat row, making for tricky meal cart navigation. Ow. OW. Ow.
But the moment when I really felt like I was in the Matrix was on exiting the plane. You look out on a sea of seat-back screens and realise that every one is displaying a different steward or stewardess. Nice touch.
Today’s best ever workshop at the Digital Mobilisation Skillshare was the session on Social Media Monitoring with @Rachelannyes (Rachel Weidinger) of Upwell.
Upwell has the great tagline “The ocean is our client” and is funded to drive an increase in all kinds of action-oriented conversations about the ocean.
Health warning: What follows are rough notes. There are gaps. There will typos.
Rachel begins with, appropriately, an ocean metaphor: “We navigate the waves of a miasma of swirling internetedness in our small boats. But we don’t have a good way to understand the currents, the winds, or the weather. If we could have a meteorology of online communications we could make better decisions. Continue reading “Upwell’s social media monitoring secrets and superpowers”
They’re known as the Mob Squad: digital activists, fundraisers, face to face recruiters, direct dialoguers, volunteer and action coÃ¶rdinators — Greenpeace staff, volunteers, and fellow travellers from other groups whose job it is to rouse rabbles, to people power campaigns for the planet, to take issue and create movement(s).
Don’t bother reading this blog. Just watch this video. Share it. Send it. Like it. Comment on it. Get it on as many screens as possible.
And now that you’ve done that:
Back in the 70s and 80s, Greenpeace ran campaigns to drive toxic production out of Europe and North America. In those days, we pushed for government legislation and intra-governmental agreements to stop things like the dumping of titanium dioxide in the North Sea, factories that turned rivers red or blue depending on what dye process was running, and pipes that simply ran wastewater into whatever waterway was handy, contents often unknown and unmonitored by any government agency.
Thing was, while we succeeded in clearing up rivers across our homelands, we drove an awful lot of those processes and factories to China, India, and Mexico. Unfinished business! Team #Detox at Greenpeace have picked up the job, however, but with a #PeoplePower twist that illustrates a pretty big shift in Greenpeace strategy and the battlefield on which we engage across the last 30 years. Continue reading “#DeTox: Unfinished business”
Terrorists have attacked the US in New Orleans and New York. They sent thugs named Katrina and Sandy who destroyed millions of homes and businesses, took prisoners, took lives. In between, they set fire to much of the midwest and scorched the land causing major crop failures and billions in economic loss.
And what’s America doing to hunt down these terrorists and make them pay for the mess they’ve caused?
It’s pushing for more oil exploration, exporting record amounts of coal, building pipelines to the Tar Sands and fracking for gas. That’s like sending charitable donations and willing recruits to the Taliban post-9/11 and calling it retribution. Continue reading “Make Big Oil pay for cleanup of Sandy”
This is the horror film the world has begun to look like, the one that many in developing countries have already been experiencing for years, the one which we will all face more frequently in future. New York City has been overpowered. Winds that rip cranes from skyscrapers and record-breaking waves that surge over every defense. Empty subways and train stations. Shelves picked clean in hardware stores and supermarkets. Uncertainty and fear.
The US is under attack. Climate change has gone practically unmentioned this election season, despite growing alarm among scientists, the Pentagon’s classification of it as a threat to national security, and record-breaking droughts and Arctic ice melt. So Mother Nature has cleared her throat, and decided to raise the issue herself.
This is the horror film the world has begun to look like — one in which fake photos FROM horror films are indistinguishable from the real thing. One that many in developing countries have already been experiencing for years. One which we will all face more frequently in future. New York City has been overpowered, the Statue of Liberty brought to her knees. Winds that rip cranes from skyscrapers and record-breaking waves that surge over every defense and flood the subways, close the bridges and tunnels, imprison families in their own homes. Shelves picked clean in hardware stores and supermarkets. Uncertainty and fear.
We have someone to thank for this: the fossil fuel industry. The politicians who have ignored their responsibilities as leaders to respond to a threat to the entire planet in favor of pandering to short term interests and lining election coffers with oil money.
My favorite ad of all time is Apple’s “Here’s to the crazy ones…”
As someone who has personally worked with crazy, been accused of crazy, and sees the organisation he’s volunteered for and worked for regularly described as crazy, the only sane reaction is to not think of it as a pejorative.
Are you crazy? Here’s a test:
True or False?
1. I don’t believe that humanity is stupid enough to allow a few greedy oil companies to treat the retreat of Arctic ice due to the burning of fossil fuels as a business opportunity for exploiting more fossil fuels.
2. I believe we can stop them.
If you answered true to both those statements, by any reasonable standard, there’s compelling evidence that you’re crazy.
But maybe crazy like Einstein. Crazy like Jobs. Crazy like Gandhi. Crazy like Lennon.
Crazy like a little kid in a famous story, who every morning woke up among soldiers being taunted by the biggest, best equipped badass Philistine warrior telling the opposing soldiers they were losing the war, and if anyone wanted to settle it quickly he’d be happy to take them on, mano a mano, in single combat to decide the whole thing. When one morning, without warning, the kid took up the challenge, his fellow soldiers freaked. They tried to give him armour. They tried to give him a sword, a battle-axe, a mace, anything. The kid refused the best weapons of an entire army. He knew he’d never win on the enemy’s terms.
Instead, he picked up a slingshot. He stood out of range of Goliath’s sword, and figured out the one point where the giant’s fancy armor was useless. All of the sudden “crazy” was just plain smart.
That’s a 2000-year old story. Here’s a more recent one:
In 1991, some of the biggest multinationals in the world were poised to start exploring for oil and minerals in the waters of Antarctica. They were at the negotiating table with a dozen nations, sharpening their knives, tucking their napkins into their collars, salivating openly, ready to divide the pie. Antarctica was going to be the next big oil rush. Anyone who thought they could stop them was crazy.
Greenpeace… Greenpeace… white courtesy telephone please.…
For the most part, I was a mere witness to this campaign. But what I witnessed would change forever the way that I look upon lost causes.
The crazy I worked for in those days was the chairman of Greenpeace International, David McTaggart. With a handful of like-minded nutjobs — Kelly Rigg, Steve Sawyer, Jim Barnes, Roger Wilson to name a few — he shoved Greenpeace into a battle that was way out of our league. He bought a boat. He got a tycoon to donate a helicopter. He ignored internal democratic process and the opposition of our biggest office. He declared we were going to set up a permanent base, and figuratively piss in the snow that the Antarctic Treaty parties claimed belonged to no nation, and yet had divided up among the countries that maintained permanent bases.
In short, Greenpeace put a foot down in the snow, won a place at that table, and drew the world’s attention to plans to carve up the world’s last wilderness, a place that had been dedicated to peace and science. At a truly stupid level of human, financial, and reputational risk, we parked a base camp at the doorstep of McMurdo station. We cranked up a global media machine, a network of high level political ninjas, we recruited Ted Turner, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and Jacque Cousteau to speak out and work behind the scenes for the cause.
One by one, the nations that didn’t think anyone cared about the frozen continent woke up to the sound of voices raised in protest. One by one, they joined a growing movement of governments and organisations in saying “no” to the oil giants.
Against all expectations, including our own, we won a moratorium on oil and mineral exploration for 50 years.
“Crazy” won the battle for the Antarctic. But there’s a new battle looming at the other end of the Earth, and this time it’s against “insane.”
The Arctic is melting due to global warming. Faster than anyone predicted, with more devastating consequences on world weather, and the potential to so change the flow of ocean currents that England and Ireland could become as cold as Norway. The cause: the burning of fossil fuels. So how does humanity respond to this wake up call?
By seeing the quick buck to be made drilling for oil in those newly ice-free seas, FORCRYINGOUTLOUD. And once again, governments have stood aside, and only a handful of activists stand toe to toe with the oil giants.
What’s at stake today is more than just a frozen wilderness, however: it’s the entire future of our planet.
Scientists tell us we have a mere 50 months to slow the march toward a global 2 degree temperature rise. By 2020, we’ll need to be well on the road to fundamentally changing the way we power and feed our world, or risk a climate catastrophe that makes today’s droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis, storms and floods seem like child’s play. It seems almost impossible that we can meet that deadline and turn things around.
The hope lies in that “almost.”
And when I think about how we stop a juggernaut like the oil industry, I think back to how we did it back in the 1990s, and I come to this conclusion:
The defining battle of our time is whether we can draw a line in the ice, and keep the oil industry out of the Arctic.
Because it’s winnable. Because it’s a stage where the lines are stark and black and white. Because Polar Bear cubs clinging for dear life to shrinking ice floes provide an easy fable with mass appeal that speaks to the threat of human children clinging to a shrinking rock as the waters rise around them. And because the forces that are battling climate
change need a high-visibility battleground where we can take this giant down.
In the Arctic we can win a victory that emboldens the forces battling for wind and solar, a victory that causes the now-strong armies of coal and oil around the world to take one faltering step backward. We, like David, need to find Goliath’s weak spot: the place where our small slingshot of public protest can knock him down.
That place is the Arctic. If we raise a big enough voice, if we challenge the oil industry with the audacity of belief that we can win this thing, we will win this thing. But it’s going to take a big, loud, planetary voice. And it’s going to take action. And it’s going to fail unless you are all in.
If you’re like most readers of this blog, every day you get asked to sign petitions. Every day you get asked to send emails. What I’m asking you to do today is to do that, but do more than that: to join a movement — to figure out your own way to make this impossible dream come true. I don’t care, personally, whether you do that through Greenpeace, through another group, or through your own private efforts — this effort will only succeed if it’s broad and deep. Yes, it starts with signing up to an email list, but this is much more. We’re going to be challenging everyone who becomes an arctic defender to do things that go far beyond clicking a link or making a donation. This isn’t going to be just easy stuff.
We’re going to ask you to help slay a giant. We’re going to ask you pick up a slingshot.
2. Make this battle your own. Figure out your own way to lob a snowball at anyone who wants to drill the Arctic. Recruit more Arctic Defenders. Send this blog to someone who doesn’t think about this stuff. Create an Angry-Birds-like app in which Polar Bears throw snowballs at Shell Rigs. Write an editorial in your local paper. Dress up as a melting iceberg for Halloween.