Reflections on Fall Learning Objectives for AAD610

Here are my reflections on my fall quarter learning objectives for AAD610:

1. Identify how local people can use media tools to gain greater control over informational flows within their communities.
Reflection: This hasn’t happened for me. I’m interested in learning more about design and marketing and then see second step in which I apply my background in community organizing to this material. I’ve been too busy learning the basics to take that second step, and the materials presented in the curriculum have been relevant to community organizing only in a tangential way. During the class when the critical reading on media has been put alongside the design and marketing work we are doing, my mind has started to play with some of these ideas. But this hasn’t happened enough to make a real impact. Case studies about independent and community media would give me more to think about. Alex’s presentation on Thursday of her social media report leans in this direction. I’d like to look more closely at this. While the tools we’re learning will help non-profits control information flows, using these tools to increase civic dialogue, empower individuals and groups, and strengthen social movements involves a different set of issues and questions. Topics I would be interested in gaining more exposure to during winter quarter, possibly through some research assignment, would be independent media, digital storytelling, local vs. national Internet Service Providers, online community bulletin boards, community radio and public access television.
2. Discover how to use marketing to build partnerships between community arts organizations and the public without reducing the services from these groups to simple commodities.
Reflection: I haven’t really been able to push beyond what I already know and think about this issue. Having lived in a relatively small community of 16,000 people for five years, I’ve seen how marketing is not about getting the word out to a faceless public. It’s about energizing collections of different social networks to come to an event or buy a product. In that context, I knew handful of individuals in those different social networks. If I could reach them, they would reach their friends. Reaching these individuals was to a large extent about my personal relationship with those people and so marketing became an attempt to communicate to them. This fits in well with what we’ve been discussing, especially with regard to market segmentation. But, I want to see if there are ways to push this relationship-building process further. And how can you be effective with this more personal approach in a larger, more urban context? I imagine that as you create a marketing plan, different strategies will get more or less emphasis depending on the types of relationships you want to build between the organization and the audience. If you frame the goal as getting people to purchase your “product,” you are going to focus marketing on price, convenience, etc. If you frame the goal, not just as building supporters, but enlisting audience members as participants and partners in your organization’s mission, you are going to focus on more interactive techniques and invest more in building relationships with specific individuals so they can become ambassadors for your organization. You could build ladders of involvement in which attending an event is the bottom rung, volunteering and donating is in the middle, and then joining the board of directors is at the top. You can see I think about these things first as a community organizer. Marketing to me creates doors for participation. This second approach is what I want more exposure to. Hopefully, the winter quarter marketing plan will give me a chance to experiment with these ideas, but it would be great to have some readings/resources to push against.
3. Learn principles and skills that will allow me to communicate effectively with graphic designers and media professionals.
Reflection: I’ve made more progress here. Doing the graphic standards forced me to play the part of a graphic designer and learn vocabulary and acronyms like CRAP. I want to spend more time with the Robin Williams material, and I bought one of the recommended texts as well. I enjoyed learning Illustrator and want to gain equal proficiency with Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I think there are some comparable skills working with broadcasters and filmmakers that would be helpful as well.
4. Understand how to use electronic media to facilitate face-to-face connections between people and between people and the natural world.

Reflection: I feel much of the reading was about understanding the phenomenon of media and how it operates in people’s lives. This is good. I want more. But this reading didn’t have a particular goal or orientation to how media should be used. I think at least half of how we judge media depends on the context in which we end up using it, the goals toward which we employ the media machine. I’m interested in building relationships between people and between people and the natural world. Much of the orientation around media is about conveying information. The “Domestic orchestration” article was interesting for me because it started to get into how media affects our relationships with one another and the surrounding world. I’d love to read examples or case studies where media was used to facilitate and enrich non-mediated interactions. I want more skill at shifting through different media strategies against this particular criterion.



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