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SXSW Interactive 2014

Can Stories Turn Texas Blue? Digital Media And HB2

Citizen activism is at an all time high, using digital tools such as Twitter, Storify, and Vine to immediately telegraph and signal boost stories from the ground to the cloud. In 2013, the Texas Legislature held two special sessions on one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US. Initial hearings were held and citizens were cut off from being able to speak. Because of this, thousands of pro-choice Texas citizens travelled to the Capitol to testify. While the stories were told in person, and by Wendy Davis during a filibuster in the first session, digital media elevated the testimonies to a national and global level. The use of storytelling technology, old and new alike, allowed cititzens to change the very nature of the debate and call attention in a bold new way to how politics can work at the state level, all while invigorating a brand new generation of activists.

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  1. What was unique about this particular moment in time, use of social media and intersection of race, generations, and gender that caused activists on the left to rise up and organize so effectively?
  2. How did the use of Vine, Storify, Twitter and other digital media work to signal boost stories in real time, and what effect did that have on the debate state-wide and nationally?
  3. How did traditional media succeed or fail in supporting citizens as the protests grew, and did they truly reflect the actual activism on the ground?
  4. What dynamics made the pro-choice activists use of the digital media more effective than the anti-abortion side, from trending hashtags and national media awareness to motivating citizens and more importantly, how can these dynamics be used to shift state political power?
  5. How does storytelling, even without digital amplification, create spaces for healing, examination, community and bearing witness, while influencing the creation of activists and leaders?



Julie Gillis, Producer, BedPost Confessions

Meta Information:

  • Tags: storytelling
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Policy and Civic Engagement
  • Track 2
  • Level: Advanced
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