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SXSW Interactive 2015

Did You Care? Did It Matter? Rethinking Activism

Think about the last time you took an action in support of a cause you believed in. Then ask yourself two questions: "Did I really understand or care about this?" and "Did I truly believe it made a difference?" Worryingly, even for the most committed of us, the answer to both is often no.

In an age of diminishing returns from clictivism and increasing skepticism about global action, how do we take much better advantage of a set of intersecting technology and societal trends to better engage people to care, understand and do something useful? Often seen as unrelated, these trends include the confluence of smartphone tools for live video, increasingly immersive entertainment opportunities, more sophisticated contextual task routing to reach the right person at the right time, and distributed activist networks. This session will offer a roadmap to trends, share signals of how these apply for activism, and offer provocations on how causes we care can engage and utilize us better.

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Takeaways

  1. Overall, what are the current and emerging trends in society and technology that can be tapped into for activism? What are the signals of these trends in activism, but also in related worlds of technology, social media, entertainment, family life, telecommuting and beyond?
  2. How are activists, journalists and others currently using tools of live video and immersive experience for activism, for example in Brazil during recent protests?
  3. How could task-routing tools and approaches (from Task Rabbit to Google Now) be better used for activism?
  4. What are the ethical challenges of these possible approaches to activism (from vicarious thrills from witnessing death at a distance, to a skewing of the perspective and understanding)?
  5. What would it take to re-invent aspects of our activism to be more effective? How could you and we be part of it - as activists on an ongoing basis, as activists as part of our private life, as technologists or media or businessmen with a care for social good?

Speakers

  • Sam Gregory, Program Director, WITNESS

Organizer

Sam Gregory, Program Director, WITNESS

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