Video Change: online video for campaigners

Find more videos like this on Video Change


Sometime last year on the way to an Oxfam Youth Board residential I scribbled down a back-of-the-envelope idea for running an online learning journey for campaigners on using social media tools in their local campaigning.

The idea progressed from envelope to project proposal, moved to a focus on online video and morphed into a project plan.

And in a couple of weeks – the project moves from project plan, to actual project. The actual project is taking the form of a six-week 'course' going by the name of Video Change – one topic and task each week relating to creating, sharing and campaigning with online video. We'll be using a Ning network to bring together the participants and run the project – and hopefully by the end of it we should have some pretty nifty video clips to contribute to Oxfam's soon-to-be-launched Sisters on the Planet campaign.

Video Change is for beginners and experienced video makers and social media people alike – so if you're interested in the issues Oxfam campaigns on and in exploring video for social change – then do sign up to take part.

And if you want a bit more a sense of what it's all about – then you can check out my first attempt at a video for the project above.

And what about Youth Work 2.0

After being encouraged by Steve Bridger's post to ask what Fair Trade 2.0 might look like – I've found myself responding to Mike Amos-Simpson this evening on Youth Work 2.0.

You can find my sketch of possible options for Youth Work 2.0 over here – and I promise that's the last Something 2.0 post here for a while…

Youth Work and Social Networking – interim report out

Picture 16 Just a quick pointer to the Interim Report of the Youth Work and Social Networking project I've been working on with Pete Cranston over the last few months.

This turned into a far longer report and piece of work than I'd anticipated – but I hope it sets out some clear foundations for the next phase of research – working on the practical 'How To' of moving from where we now, to a place where an effective youth work perspective and practice in responding to online social networks is in place.

You can read more on the project blog over here…. and I'd really welcome any feedback or reflections through the comments or by e-mail.

What would Fair Trade 2.0 look like?

Over at the newly arrived 2gether08 website Steve Bridger has been musing about what Fair Trade 2.0 might look like.

The FAIRTRADE Mark changes peoples behavior by giving them information about the products they are buying. When you buy a product with a FAIRTRADE Mark on you know that the producer has been paid a fair price for their work, alongside a social premium to be invested in development projects in their community. But the Fair Trade movement is not just about changing people's buying decisions in the abstract – it is also about re-forging the connections between producer and consumer that get lost in a globalised market-driven world.

Whilst my jar of Fairtrade Coffee might provide me with a story about one of the producers involved in the co-op that made it – the social web could do a lot more – and that could bring on Fair Trade 2.0.

What might Fair Trade 2.0 look like?

1) Producer Stories
The short quote from Daniel Minaya Huaman on the back of my jar of Cafe Direct is great – but to really know where my coffee comes from – what if every producer was offering the sort of stories that I can find at From Crop 2 Cup?

Of course, you might ask just how many people are really going to go any look up all the items in their shopping basket online? When I was working for Just Fair Trade in Leicester we explored options for moving to an electronic point of sale system that would print information about the producers on customers receipts. If the stories were there – we would have been able to give customers a far stronger connection with the producer of the products they were buying.

2) Seeing the whole supply chain
Right now the FAIRTRADE Mark tells me about the original commodity producer – but it doesn't tell me the whole story. For example, I don't know the conditions in which the Fairtrade Cotton trousers I bought from M&S the other day were made – and whilst I know that the farmer of the coffee I'm drinking got more for her work that she would have selling a non-fair trade product – I don't know how much of the money went to the farmer.

That's one of the issues that projects like FairTracing are seeking to address – tracking and laying the whole supply chain open to see in Web 2.0 ways. Try this prototype for example.

Or when it comes to an audit trail – what about this system from coffee path that shows all the documentation from along the supply chain.

3) Better decision making information

Ever since I first saw the Corporate Fallout Detector I've been curious about the simple ways in which information about the ethics of a product can be presented to people at point of sale in a straightforward way.

There are two challenges:
a) The space available on packaging can make it tricky to present enough information to people when they are choosing between products. Often the information gets reduced to product marks (Organic, Fairtrade, Non-air-freight) from certifying bodies. But my ethical views may not be fully captured by the certifying marks available.

b) Even when I can get all the information I want about a product, the cognitive load of calculating and comparing products is often simply too much (I find myself wanting to go back to a simple certifying mark of some sort).

Improving decision making in Fair trade 2.0 could go a number of directions. It could go the Wiki-way being explored by WIBI.IT or we could find more advanced versions of the Ethiscore and Gooshing ideas that make it easy to order products according to your own ethical beliefs – as well as according to pre-set values.

4) Making connections
All the ideas above are about getting better Fair Trade information for the customer. But social media also presents massive potential opportunities for actual dis-intermediated connection between producer and consumer. As internet connectivity becomes more ubiquitous on the supply side – could I find myself following my coffee grower in Twitter, and competing in an eBay auction for a premium supply of chocolate beans? Could I be setting up a live chat with a grower, rather than just showing a slide-show when encouraging my workplace to switch to Fair Trade? The two-way role of social media in the future of fair trade is not something I've not yet given much thinking time to… but perhaps this is where the future really lies. The technology creates the connection… and then it can almost get out of the way…

5) What else?
What do you think lies in the future of Fair Trade? What will social media transform? What are the challenges ahead. I'm sure Steve would appreciate your comments over on the 2gether site – and I'd certainly welcome any reflections here…

Corporate Fallout Detector image from:

Three observations on policy responses to youth and social network sites

Ofcom Media LiteracyOn Friday Ofcom published their Media Literacy Audit on UK children's media literacy (thanks to Jackie Marsh for the link). As I was reading the Executive Summary, one paragraph in the section on content creation and online social network sites caught my attention:

Among many [young] social networking site users there is a lack of awareness of, or concern about, potential safety and security risks. Many feel that they are immune to any potential risks, and that even if they were to have problems, they would be able to deal with them.

It's worth just picking that apart briefly:

  • 1) The first part, "a lack of awareness of, or concern about, potential safety and security risks", is something we can address. The architecture of sites, the information made available to young people and informal learning opportunities can help young people to become aware of possible pitfalls and dangers in the use of social network sites.

    That said, amongst young people there is a lack of awareness, or concern about, many potential risks. To know whether there is a clear case for increasing young people's awareness of risk we need:

    a) to know if young people are comparatively less aware of risks on social network sites as opposed to risks of equal severity in the offline world (e.g. risk of becoming a victim or crime, risk of sexual abuse by a known adult).

    b) to decide whether the risks to young people are severe enough to prioritise making young people acutely aware of them.

    In the same way that internet filters are often guilty of 'overblocking' (filtering out good content along with the bad) – awareness of potential risk is 'overblocking' – it creates a fear of caution that not only prevents individuals engaging in risky behaviors, but it also has a tendency to make individuals cautious and risk-averse in their take up of potentially very beneficial opportunities.

  • 2) "Many feel that they are immune to any potential risks,". Put simply: don't all teenagers believe they are invulnerable? By way of a more sustained argument – adolescence is a time of risk-taking in which young people's brain chemistry is geared towards feelings of invulnerability. We should take this aspect of youth as more or less a given, rather than a problem that needs to be 'solved' through information and awareness campaigns.

  • 3) Young people believe that "even if they were to have problems, they would be able to deal with them." From the way this sentence is phrased, I take it that the authors consider this to be a concern.

    It's not obvious, however, that a large number young people believing they can deal with the problems they encounter should be of concern. Again – we need to know a lot more to make a sensible policy decision. In particular, we need to know whether those young people who believe they would be able to deal with problems actually could.

    If is exactly an increase in the number of young people who believe they would be able to deal with problems (and actually would) that we need. Increases in young people's resiliency and ability to address negative outcomes of risky behaviors as early as possible should be our core positive indicator in looking at online safety.

    It is worth noting that we can't accurately test how many young people actually could deal with 'problems' online by asking them about their responses to a theoretical question and comparing this to adult ideas of 'best practice' in such cases. Young people's coping strategies may be adopted on creative patens that adults would not necessarily recognize as sensible responses to a given problem. That adults do not immediately recognize them as sensible or effective does not immediately mean that they are not.

Ofcom's paper is research report – and does not make policy recommendations. However, the research often reflects and directs policy concerns – and I hope in the above I've managed to at least point to a number of potentially problematic assumptions or implicit beliefs that are often active in the direction of policy responses to youth and social network sites.

Youth and social networks: 10 articles that have influenced my thinking

This is a post I've been wanting to put together for a while. Hopefully the phase 1 report from the Youth Work and Social Networking project I'm co-researching with Pete Cranston will be out soon (sending if off for formatting tomorrow…) – but as that looks like it will be about 15,000 words of literature review, survey and focus group write up, I thought it would be useful to put together a list of the literature that has most influenced or challenged my thinking.

The works below may not explicitly address young people and social networking directly, but they all offer useful context and insights. I can't promise that I've managed to adequately take account of them all in my writing (indeed, I'm quite aware that I haven't – for that I'd need to be working on this full time rather than having the day or so a week I have right now) – but I hope that offering a summary of them here helps others in following these trains of thought….

Perspectives on online social networking and social network sites:

1) boyd & Ellison: Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship.
I've been to far too many events lately which have billed themselves as talking about social networking when in fact presentations and discussions have covered just about anything internet related but social networking. boyd and Ellison's formal definition of social network sites is a really helpful 'centre of gravity' for thinking about online social networking, and the discussion on danah boyd's blog post on the subject is particularly useful.

For the Youth Work and Social Networking project we tried to look at the activity of online social networking, through in effect our focus was on social network sites (although in an ideal world we would have been able to extend our investigation to online social networking with gaming etc.).

2) Larsen: 35 Perspective on Online Social Networking
I only found Malene Larsen's work half-way through putting together the Youth Work and Social Networking project – but it provides some fantastic insights and and conceptual frameworks for looking at online social networking. The 35 Perspectives on Online Social Networking are a particularly useful tool for reflection in thinking about the wide range of responses different organisations and individuals have to social networking (ranging from the 'consumer perspective' and 'body and sex perspective' through to the 'friendship perspective' and the 'group work perspective'.

Social networking, youth and identity:

3) Larsen: Understanding Social Networking: On Young People's Construction and Co-Construction of Identity Online
The fourth perspective Larsen introduces is 'The identity perspective' – “Social networking sites are spaces for identity construction. Here, young people continuously constructing, re-constructing and displaying their self-image and Also, the network sites make them co-constructors of each other’s identities.” That gets a far deeper exploration in this ethnographical exploration of MySpace-like Danish social networking site Arto.

4) Stern: Producing Sites, Exploring Identities: Youth Online Authorship
Susannah Stern's article isn't about social network sites. It's about young people creating personal homepages and blogs – but it's exploration of how homepage creation facilitates identity formation and reflection upon identity formation is extremely interesting. It raises interesting questions about whether or not social network sites also provide young people with a canvas for self reflection or not.

5) Donnovan: Whose Safety? Whose Security?
Gregory Donnovan's work explores the problematic nature of box-filling social network site profiles and the way in which the reductive nature of profiles (for example, being asked to sum up religious belief, political affiliation or relationship status in a single line) can harm identity formation. Donnovan also raises important questions about how a growth in young people living out lives online potentially increases opportunities for state control of childhood, rather than increasing young people's freedom from control. Similar questions about the increasing power and control afforded to corporations through young people's engagement with online social networks may be asked.

6) Solove: The future of reputation: gossip, rumour, and privacy on the internet
Solve doesn't address social networking explicitly – and in fact the elements I found most interesting in his book are a little less developed than I'd like – but he does raise a number of crucial points about the way notions of privacy may be being redefined by the internet, and about the risks of publishing information online in preventing people from escaping past misdemeanour's that may be of particular interest to those working with young people. Will we see the availability of data about people's pasts becoming anchors that tie them down? Or will a norm that accepts everyone has a data-trail emerge?

7) Ellison, Steinfield, Lampe: Spacially Bounded Online Social Networks and Social Capital: The Role of Facebook
What is the role of online social networks in reflecting, and contributing to, young people's social capital resources? If local social networks have a significant impact on educational aspiration and attainment (as The JRF found they do) then exploring the role of online social networks seems to be a useful line of enquiry…

Responses to online social networking

8) Wolak, Finkelhor, Mitchell, Ybarra: Online “Predators” and Their Victims – Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment and 9) Ybarra et. al: Internet Prevention Messages: Targetting the Right Online Behaviours
The Crimes Against Children Research Centre (CCRC) have produced some fantastic research which is extremely helpful in trying to find a balanced response to risk online. Their work drawing on the US based Second Youth Internet Safety Survey gets beyond the unhelpful blunt (and possibly counter-productive) safety guidelines commonly given to young people such as 'Don't share any personal details online' to look at the real markers of risk (for example, Talking with people known only online (“strangers”) under some conditions is related to online interpersonal victimization, but sharing personal information is not.) and to develop guidance and recommendations that make a lot of sense. In fact, two points from the bulleted summary on the CCRC Internet page are worth quoting in full:

  • Focus prevention efforts more on adolescents, less on parents, and frankly on concerns relevant to adolescents, including autonomy, romance and sex.
  • Focus prevention more on interactive aspects of Internet use and less on posting personal information.

I would strongly suggest that no-one should be proposing online safety messages without looking at these and other CCRC articles.

10) Merton: Good Youth Work: What youth workers do, why and how
When I first read Bryan Merton's 'Good Youth Work' I scribbled furiously in the margins about the lack of referencing and got frustrated about the complete reliance on anecdote and stories to explain what youth work does. However, having spent time over the Youth Work and Social Networking project talking with youth workers, and exploring possible youth work responses to online social networking – I've come to find it does provide a strong insight into how good youth work responses to online social networking could have an lot to offer (although it would still be good to see youth work adopting more explicit frameworks to be able to describe what it does).

Crucially, where a lot of focus gets put onto information campaigns and formal education to support young people in making safe and effective use of online social networking, informal education approaches are often not given enough consideration. Providing space for reflection, group work interventions, and individual interventions at the right time could potentially achieve a lot more than any amount of lesson plans, safety videos and even media literacy classes.

Well, that's 10 articles for now. But I'd be interested to hear from readers of this post – what article or resources are inspiring you to explore different lines of thought about youth and online social networking right now?

Photo credit: Piles of books by Ollily

A new 31 day challenge… this time for blog comments

31 Day CommentFirst off, appologies for my lack of blogging of late. There's a lot to blog, but I'm having to put all my time into getting a few big projects rounded off right now.

However, I thought I should break blog silence to introduce the 31-Day Comment Challenge. It was the 31 days to a better blog challenge co-ordinated by Michelle Martin that really get my blogging started last year, and Michelle is leading the way in reflective learning again this year – this time with a focus on commenting on blogs and creating conversation.

You can join the challenge by following each of the daily tasks throughout May (you don't have to strickly work on them day-by-day) and it's a great way to more actively engage with blogs and blog-based community building.

I'm going to try and work through some of the first challenges tomorrow to catch up a little, and it would be great if any other readers of this blog wanted to join in too…

Say it with a cartoon: what is social media?

[Summary: Reducing complex ideas to < 50 words and three frames… with an easy online tool]

The cartoon is a maligned medium (well, I've certainly been guilty of maligning cartoons in the past…). But I've recently discovered how effective a medium the basic cartoon can be for expressing ideas in an accessible way. Or to put it differently:

The value of cartoons

The cartoon above was put together in a few minutes using It's doesn't quite allow one to achieve the lightness of touch of Dave Walker, or the visual feast of a Joe Sacco cartoon – but it does make it easy to create a quick cartoon online and get an image you can download and use.

Much in the same way that I found the self-imposed limits of the one page guides (more coming soon, I promise…) to help me clarify what mattered about particular online tools, I've found the space limits of just three frames and a couple of speech bubbles is really helpful in boiling down an idea to what is essential about it.

Of course, sometimes ideas resist such boiling down – which is the challenge I'm facing with trying to sum social media in a quick cartoon. I'm writing a guide about the use of multimedia and social media in youth participation, and am trying to set out how the two relate, but are distinct. My first attempt at a cartoon to explain it below:

Multimedia and Social Media

I'm not quite sure that captures it, so I'm heading back to the drawing board to have another go – but I thought it would be good to throw the challenge of 'Explaining social media in a cartoon' out to others.

How would you explain social media in a cartoon?

You can create your own cartoon at without any need to sign up, just hit the 'Create Strip' button…

If there are enough cartoons emerging, perhaps we could create a little gallery?

(BTW: If anyone knows of any other cartoon generating websites – I'd love to hear about them… specially any that offer a more diverse range of characters…)

Oxford Internet Institute / Youth Work and Social Networking

Challenges in Youth Work and Social NetworkingOn Monday I gave a presentation to the Ofcom/Oxford Internet Institute seminar on Social Networks about some of what we have discovered so far in the Youth Work and Social Networking research project.

A few people have asked me for the slides – so I've put them up on the project blog over here.

More results from the research will be available soon…

Update: a webcast of the presentation is now online here. My piece starts 59 minutes into session 1.

An invitation to UK Youth Online gathering: 17th May 2008

BarCamp UK Youth Online - 17th May 2008[Summary: you are invited to join in a free informal conference to talk about young people, the internet, opportunities, challenges, and change]

I've been struck again this week by how many people are thinking about young people's use of the internet, and the opportunities for engaging with young people online – but also by how disparate much of the action to move forward on those thoughts is.

More than ever we bring together the different threads of work to see if:

  • We can shared learning between different groups;
  • We can foster conversations across professional boundaries and between sectors;
  • We can build stronger shared understandings of where the world of young people online is heading;
  • We can find spaces to pool efforts and have a bigger impact;

That's where the BarCamp style gathering 'UK Youth Online' taking place on the 17th May comes in. And you're invited. (download your invitation here…)

And you're invited to let others know about it too.

(Oh, and if you do have any links to possible London venues we could use for the event please do get in touch. We're looking for somewhere with space for 50 or so, a couple of break out rooms and internet access. BarCamp's are participant organised gatherings, so right now we're on the look out for where we actually gather…)

Attachment: UK Youth Online – Gathering and conference – 17th May 2008.pdf