Sunday, November 19, 2006

LaborTech 2006 at USF

yesterday, i attended and presented at labortech, a conference that brings together labor movements and media activism. the chair of media studies at USF, dorothy kidd, is also a member of labortech's program committee; through dorothy, i learned about labortech and was able to share ideas.

the conference, which began on thursday and runs through today, was a combination of plenary talks, presentations, and workshops. in the morning, i attended a panel titled "community media, public television, max-fi and internet neutrality," featuring seeta gangadharan (phd student in communications at stanford, adjunct professor in media studies at USF, and member of CIMA and media alliance) and chris witteman (telecommunications attorney who focuses on communication democracy and who represented the california public utilities commission in a successful suit against cingular wireless), with dorothy serving as moderator.

i don't know much about media policy so i'm always eager to learn more. seeta's overview of google's attempt to provide "free" wireless for the city of san francisco was extremely interesting and thought provoking.

here, chris witteman (standing on the right) provides some context of bay area media policy history. and, if you look closely, you will see shinjoung yeo and james jacobs (of, among other things, free government information).

later in the afternoon, i was part of a panel titled "video/audio blogging, social networks and labor." the panel was comprised of jay dedman (an educator of web blogging and broadcasting and the person responsible for the excellent site freevlog), john parulis (media democracy activist and labortech program committee member), colette washington (web site coordinator of the california nurses association and genius behind About Time for 89, arguably the first rap music video to be written about a proposition), and myself.

our panel was well attended and the audience ranged from savvy media producers to labor activists curious about using blogs, video blogs, and audio blogs for organizing.

in general, i highlighted strategies that involved collective blogging and already existing information for time-strapped labor organizations. my brief notes focused on five tips:
  1. blog the daily work you do. give readers (and potential interns, staffers, collaborators, and funders) a sense of what you do on a daily basis. you think we know; we don't.
  2. blog about articles and media coverage that relate to the work you do. the articles should come from both mainstream and alternative outlets and can be used to help explain to readers why the work you do is so important. hint: always include the full name of the journalist who wrote the article.
  3. blog your staff meetings. blogging staff meetings helps readers understand the complex decisions you and your organization deal with and it provides an opportunity for collectively writing (and negotiating) your institutional history.
  4. blog about your allies; blog about your enemies. give link love to your allies and collaobators! provide a counter discourse for people searching on technorati about your enemies!
  5. blog your sucessess - big and small. celebrate all victories. blog about the people who benefit from your victories. and blog about the future victories that will be built upon present victories.
this was my first year to attend labortech yet it certainly won't be my last. congratulations to the organizers and attendees and may we continue to imagine and build strong and creative bridges between labor and media.

update: breaking ranks has additional notes (including nasty stuff about samsung) about labortech. plus pics.

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