Saturday, March 28, 2009

cyfrowa demokracja; or, my last lecture in poland

i woke up early wednesday morning in krakow and went to sleep late wednesday night in san francisco. sometime in between, i gave an open lecture titled cyfrowa demokracja, or digital democracy, for students and faculty from papal university and tischner european university.

i began by asking them questions about their digital media use. how many of you read blogs? about 20 students raised their hands. how many write blogs? about 5 students raised their hands.

how many of you watch videos on youtube? all the students raised their hands! how many of you upload videos to youtube? 2, maybe 3 students raised their hands.

how many of you read wikipedia? about half of the students raised their hands. the other half looked nervously side to side, as if they were frightened to admit they read wikipedia in front of their peers, or, more likely, in front of their professors. "oh, come on!" i smiled, "you know you read wikipedia!" within a few seconds, nearly all of the students raised their hands. how many of you edit wikipedia? all hands dropped except 2 or 3.

when it comes to using digital media and making digital media, college students in krakow resemble college students in san francisco.

then i told them about the kinds of classes i teach, ending with digital media production and eating san francisco. i showed this classic photograph to highlight how my students are mobile media makers (or mmm!) who do not need television stations or printing presses or radio satellites or a whole lotta money to make, share, and distribute interesting stories. first important point: make media.

then i showed them recent USF graduate lulu mcallister's how to make a delicious omelet using wild foods. first, i explained the assignment: a) cook a delicious meal; b) document it. then i said that lulu's project wasn't made merely for a grade, or for her class, or for USF, or for SF - but rather for anyone and everyone. i highlighted how lulu's flickr set had been viewed by over one hundred people, including my wife, sarah, who through lulu's work learned how to make an omelete and a new way to cook mushrooms. second important point: share media.

then i went green.

i explained that USF has a new organic garden on campus, where students, professors, staff, librarians, administrators, jesuits, and community members come together to make and share food. i explained how professors melinda stone and seth wachtel's garden project students grow food, how professor hana mori's architecture students build benches and toolsheds and informational kiosks, how professor john callaway's environmental science students experiment with plant and soil diversity and sustainablity, and how my digital journalism students document the garden and gardeners via blogs, photography, and video.

"it's a green lab!" i said, or maybe yelled, "and we're making and sharing food and green media!"

so, i said, my students make media and share media. but things get most interesting, whether they are working on media or in gardens, when my students collaborate. fusing what my past students did in digital journalism and what my current students are doing in digital media production, i showed a map of san francisco, annotated by USF students. dragging my way around the map, zooming in and zooming out, i showed them USF campus, golden gate park, and the city of san francisco.

"i've got one last thing to show you all," i said as a way to signal my lecture's conclusion, "and it's a map of krakow!"

i raced to my laptop and brought up the annotated map of beautiful krakow that 15 papal university journalism students, professor krzysztof gurba, iwona sadecka from the US consulate in krakow, and i collectively created a few nights earlier. it was exciting to use the work of polish college students to teach other polish college students - students teaching students! returning to a point i made in the beginning of the lecture, i congratulated the students on our work and reminded them, and the rest of the students in the classroom, that we did not need a television station nor a printing press nor a radio station to make and share and distribute our stories about krakow. nor, i said, did we need lots of money. plus, i said, to the students in the room but really to all the polish students i met during my week-long trip, nobody tried to censor us.

polish students are less likely than US students to speak up in class and polish classrooms are less participatory than US classrooms, so i was excited that 5-6 students asked questions after my lecture. during Q and A, we discussed president obama and new media, the future of journalism, and the delights of polish food and beer. we talked about how traditional media broadcasts information and how digital media can create communities and conversations, a point i illustrated by noting the excellent fan community site,, co-created by a papal university journalism student joanna szumowska. then i took photographs (which, sadly, do not include all students in the room nor do they include the wonderful iwona sadecka from the US consulate in krakow and one of the organizers of the event).

after the lecture was over, krzysztof gudowski, a student who helped make the map of krakow and who joined us for post-map making periogis, approached me and said thanks.

"professor silver, i have decided something," he said. "i will make a flickr set of how to make delicious periogis."

"you know how to make delicious periogis?" i asked.

"yes. very delicious periogis," krzysztof answered. "i will make delicious periogis. i will document the process. then i will share it. therefore, you - in the future - will learn how to make delicious periogis."

"brilliant idea!" i said, and shook his hand. "and krzysztof," i said, addressing him but also hoping that my words would somehow reach all the college students in krakow and in poland, "thank you."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

there's something about krakow

maybe it's the architecture. maybe it's the weather, which can go from rain to wind to snow to sun, all within 5-10 minutes. maybe it's the food, the delicious and filling food. maybe it's all the cobblestones which a student said contained "the spirits of our ancestors." maybe it's all the people who have lived here and all the people who have fought here and all the people who have died here. maybe it's all the young people - one-fourth of all krakow residents are college students. it is an old city filled with young people.

this morning, susan parker-burns, public affairs officer at the US consulate in krakow, and i went to RMF FM for a radio interview with grzegorz jasiński and bogdan zalewski. we talked about president obama and his use of new media and new ideas. we discussed digital democracy, grassroots new media activism, and about everyone making our own media. bogdan is extremely smart and creative - both as a radio journalist and a big-time blogger - and connects literature to culture to politics to technology. after the interview, grzegorz gave us an excellent tour of the huge facility and shared with us some of the innovative ways the station combines traditional and digital media.

later that afternoon, iwona sadecka, public affairs advisor at the US consulate in krakow, and i headed out of the city center to the new jagiellonian university campus, where i gave a guest lecture on digital storytelling to professor maria magoska's journalism class. similar my earlier lectures, i encouraged the studenets to make media, share media, and collaborate with others to make even better media.

near the end of the lecture, i gave the students homework. i explained to the students that their professors are very smart and that they, the students, can learn so much from them. but when it comes to tomorrow's media, we professors are waiting for you students to invent it. so, your homework, i said, due in 2 or 5 or 10 years, is to invent the future and share it with the rest of us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

teaching college students in poland

now that the new media/new democracy forum is over, i am spending my remaining days in poland giving guest lectures at universities - five lectures in four days at three universities.

on saturday, deputy cultural attache at the US embassy candace faber and i took a train to poznań where i gave a lecture to journalism and political science students at adam mickiewicz university. my lecture was based loosely on one i gave in seattle and i said over and over again like some crazy mantra: make media, share media, collaborate using media.

(update! someone in attendance summarized my talk in polish. an adequate translation can be found here. also, candace faber blogged about the talk on the US embassy in poland blog.)

this morning, susan parker-burns of the US consulate in krakow picked me up and we walked a few blocks to jagiellonian university where i gave a lecture in professor jolanta szymkowska-bartyzel's american studies class. similar to my talk in warsaw, i introduced the september project, discussed its rules and history, and explained how we used online tools to encourage offline participation. i also strongly encouraged students to organize the first september project in poland!

finally, this evening, iwona sadecka from the US consulate in krakow picked me up and we walked to papal university where i conducted a workshop in professor krzysztof gurba's journalism course. what a treat!

i showed the students the map of san francisco my digital journalism students created and informed them that we would create a similar map for krakow. within minutes, the students (and professor gurba and iwona!) divided into groups (architecture, sport, fun-nighttime, fun-daytime, people, green spaces) and began researching their own city. within an hour, the students collectively created a map of the krakow.

feeling particularly proud of our efforts, we decided to celebrate over periogi and dumplings.

thank you papal university students and professor gurba for a very inspired evening.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

new media/new democracy forum in warsaw

the new media/new democracy forum took place march 19-20 in warsaw, poland. organized by the US embassy, the forum explored the ways in which new media can and have empowered citizens to organize and participate in the political process. the forum brought together young and old, history and the present, media analysis and media creation.

the forum began, smartly, by placing new developments in media and democracy within historical and polish contexts. this was done first by a keynote talk by stefan bratkowski, a journalist, writer, and organizer whose 50+ years of work has promoted public discourse and debate within poland. he was then joined by a panel of polish media makers and freedom fighters: andrzej borzym, a journalist with radio free europe from 1981-1994; mirosław chojecki, a documentary filmmaker and former underground publisher and activists; and andrzej paczkowski, a historian, professor, and author of many books on the history of polish press.

the evening program included a panel on traditional and new media in repressive societies that featured alaksei dzikavitski (of BelSat tv in belarus), a representative (who refrained from using her name for security reasons) from european radio for belarus, and jacek michałowski (of the polish-american freedom foundation) and moderated by jim wolfe, press attache at the US embassy. the evening concluded with a moving (but, unfortunately, non-translated; the rest of the forum was expertly translated into english and polish) play called "democracy" - written by edward gordon craig, directed by inka dowlasz, and performed with passion by the students at giedroyc college of media and communication.

the forum's second day began with the americans: joe rospars, new media director for obama's presidential campaign; me; and moderator candace faber, deputy cultural attache at the US embassy, main organizer of the forum, and an alumnus of UW where, years ago, we worked under the same roof at the simpson center for the humanities.

it was a real treat to share a stage with joe and to hear his ideas and strategies for employing digital media like social networking sites, online video, text messages, and good old fashioned email to transform obama supporters into obama organizers. for joe, and for obama, it was not enough for supporters to donate money and vote on election day. instead, it was important, if not integral, for supporters to participate in the political process - to organize local events, to educate neighbors, to share opinions and positions, and to foster networks.

next up was me, and i spoke about the september project. i began with a few examples: a book display at an academic library in seattle; an art workshop for kids, teens, and adults in a public library in buenos aires, argentina; student voter registration at cape central high school in missouri; a film screening and discussion at a public library in lithuania; and four days of events at a public library in milford, new hampshire. next, i explained the project's three rules: events must be free, events must be public, and events should be about issues that matter to the community the library serves.

i continued by suggesting how the structure of the september project resembles some of the best characteristics of the internet - decentered, grassroots-driven, flat hierarchies, and built and grown through networks. i explained that libraries are another kind of network and that library systems can serve as powerful agents and foster what i like to call distributed civic engagement.

i concluded by echoing something that joe said: that democracy is not about a single vote in a single election - it is something that we do, collectively, over and over and over again. and it is something that looks different in different times and different places. like democracy, the september project assumes no one shape - there is no cookie-cutter model for participation. the project's success is not measured in numbers but rather in diversity, and it exists not only as an event but also, and perhaps more importantly, within the processes and relationships fostered before, during, and after the events.

following lunch was a panel on new media in poland, featuring: jarosław milewski and krzysztof krejtz of the institute for social psychology of internet and communication, or SPIK; grzegorz piechota, special projects editor at gazeta wyborcza (which blogged many of the forum's events); and tomasz płudowski, author, editor, and professor. the panel was moderated by susan parker-burns, counselor for public affairs at the US consulate in krakow. for me, the highlight was piechota's presentation, "news as community," which recounted his paper's innovative and highly successful experiments with user-generated journalism and local activism.

maciej kuziemski (university of warsaw); jakub michałowski (free belarus association); natalia sosin (POLSAT, formerly; konrad stolarski (association of polish youth); and kamil wiszowaty (projekt: polska). unfortunately, i had a difficult time following this panel. although their talks and discussions were live-translated, i was unfamiliar with many of the issues they were discussing. moreover, jet-lag started to kick in real strong! that said, although each of the panelists had worked and/or were working on interesting projects, many of them were quite negative about the future of new media and democracy within poland. (if blog readers have something to say about this panel - or, naturally, any other part of the forum - please add your perspective with a comment.)

the forum closed with an inspiring convergence between old and young. the forum featured many multimedia components that explored the intersections among new media and democracy. there was a collection of underground publications and an exhibit of audio clips from radio free europe. and there was a gorgeous photo exhibit by konrad wedekind, a young polish photographer who toured parts of the US to document the 2008 election.

there were also contents. the first was a photo competition for polish students focused on "democracy is ..." and organized by the US embassy in collaboration with the center for citizenship education. the second was a democracy video challenge which was part of the larger youtube/US department of state democracy video challenge.

all twenty-six polish entries were available for viewing at the forum. as the forum came to an end, in walked andrzej wajda, the legendary polish filmmaker who, at 82, recently released katyn. gentle and generous, wajda noted that as he grows older he sometimes worries that today's young filmmakers lack an interest in the social and political, in the spaces beyond ourselves where other people and other people's sufferings exist. watching the videos, however, gave him pride and hope for the future. he then called the names of three finalists and gave them trophies for their efforts. standing besides the famous director, the student filmmakers and photographers glowed with pride.

to the student media makers, to the young and old presenters and audience members, to the translators joasia zasun and andrzej rossa, and to the staff of the US embassy in poland, including candace faber, malgosia dzielak, asia kapica, andrea mcglinchey, beata milewska, susan parker-burns, pamela quanrud, iwona sadecka, marta selinger, izabella szarek, and jim wolfe - a hearty thank you until we meet again.

Friday, March 20, 2009

talking, listening, and learning about new media and democracy in warsaw

since wednesday, i've been in warsaw, poland, where i've been giving talks, listening to talks, and receiving a crash course on polish history, culture, new media, and democracy.

on thursday morning, joe rospars and i were part of a panel at the FOR foundation, whose goal is to promote civic activity in polish society. as a founding partner of blue state digital and the new media director for barack obama's presidential candidate, joe shared fascinating insights into various aspects of the campaign and the ways in which they employed new media to empower grassroots organizing and participation. i shared stories about my students and how they make media, share media, and converse and collaborate via media. i also briefly introduced the september project, a grassroots effort to encourage free and public events about issues that matter in all libraries in all countries throughout the month of september. a lively conversation followed. thankfully, a member of the FOR foundation, maciek pilaszek, blogged about the event.

from there, i was taken to the beautiful biblioteka publiczna m. st. warszawy, a branch within the warsaw public library district, for a talk organized by the national library. i explained how my students use digital media to highlight library resources (for example, students blogging about gleeson library's graphic novels exhibit) and, conversely, how my students use library resources to enhance their digital media production (for example, students using gleeson library resources to edit and enhance USF's wikipedia page). i also shared stories about what happens when students take over the library to educate each other and the larger campus community about the 2008 election. finally, i introduced the september project and invited polish libraries to participate in next year's events.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a trip to poland

tomorrow i leave for poland, where i'll be part of the new media/new democracy forum, sponsored by the US department of state. i've never been to poland and am extremely excited.

i'll be in warsaw, then poznań, then kraków, and return in a week. along the way, i'll give talks and be part of discussions at the national library, the civil development forum, adam mickiewicz university, jagiellonian university, papal university, and tischner european university.

for coverage of the new media/new democracy forum, see gazeta wyborcza's blog. i also hope to document a slice of what happens on this blog and via twitter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

what i eat and drink in a day assignment

what i eat and drink in a day assignment for eating san francisco

1. document everything you eat and drink in one whole day.

2. be honest, real, and smart.

3. take your day's worth of information, mix it up creatively and interestingly, and share it on a platform that a) supports multimedia, b) is open to the public, and c) allows visitors the opportunity to comment on your work.

4. sometime before class on wednesday, post a thick tweet that includes a link to your what i eat and drink in a day project.

5. keep in mind there is no class on wednesday.

6. by the end of friday, comment on other ESPers' work. comment significantly and constructively. or comment in any way you choose. just comment.

Monday, March 09, 2009

google maps assignment

google maps assignment for digital media production

1. create a google maps account.

2. learn how to use google maps.

3. create a google map of the bay area / sf / usf.

4. add pins that link to your already existing flickr sets and blog posts. for example, all of you attended last week's human rights film festival in presentation theater and blogged about it. so, place a pin on USF's presentation theater and link it to your blog post or flickr set. do that with at least two or three of your flickr sets and blog posts. consider designing the pins to include images, brief intros or summaries, hyperlinks, and anything else necessary to encourage your visitors to click-through.

5. also add at least one pin that links to one of your classmate's flickr set or blog post.

6. once finished, learn how to embed google maps into blog posts. then make it happen - write a brief or very brief blog post that includes your embedded google map.

7. sometime before class on thursday, share your work with a thick tweet.

hints: begin this project early. if you have questions, tweet them. if that doesn't produce solutions, visit my office hours.

rule: if you have no work to demo, do not come to class.

reading assignment for wednesday

reading assignment for wednesday's eating san francisco class

prior to wednesday's class, read Ann Garrison's "Suicide in the City" and Marina McDougall and Hope Mitnick's "Location: San Francisco," both from Reclaiming San Francisco, and be ready to discuss in depth. also, be ready to give a brief (2-3 minutes) demo of your mission project.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

mission project

mission project assignment for eating san francisco

last night we field tripped to the mission - first to see murals at balmey alley, then for dinner at taqueria vallarta, and finally for some local goodness at mission pie. now's the time to create.

1. using food, tell a story about the mission. or, using the mission, tell a story about food.

2. your story must include at least one interesting and researched thing about the mission and at least one interesting and researched thing about the food we ate.

3. your story must rest upon a platform that a) supports multimedia, b) is open to the public, and c) allows visitors the opportunity to comment on your work.

4. sometime before class on wednesday, post a thick tweet that includes a link to your mission project.

reading assignment for tuesday

reading assignment for tuesday's digital media production class

this tuesday, DMP will host two visitors from white whale web services, the web team USF hired to redesign our web site. jason pontius (president/creative director) and donald tetto (developer/jack-of-all-trades) will join us in class for discussions and brainstorming. in preparation of their visit, your reading assignment is the following:

1. visit USF's web site. spend some time on the site and think about what on the web site works and what doesn't. consider asking your friends what they think of USF's web site.

2. if you were the decider, what would USF's web site look like? what kinds of platforms would it support? what kinds of interactions and collaborations would take place? spend some time imagining what USF's web site could be and be creative with your imaginations.

3. visit white whale's web site and spend some time looking through their portfolio. visit the web sites of their past clients and get a sense of white whale's design.

4. be ready to share your thoughts - and hear others - in class on tuesday.

Monday, March 02, 2009

blog assignment, part two

blog assignment, part two for digital media production

1. last week's assignment was to attend at least two events at USF's 7th annual human rights film festival and blog about both of them. the first part of this week's assignment is to read all film festival-related blog posts written by your fellow DMP students. do not skim the blog posts. instead, actually read them. look, not just glance, at the photographs. follow any hyperlinks. give yourself plenty of time with each of your peers' posts.

2. next, comment on your peers' blog posts. offer feedback, ask a question, add new ideas. you are encouraged to leave brief comments like "nice project!" or "more photos!" or "luv the links!" but you are required to leave a significant comment on at least a handful of students' posts. ask a question that you are generally curious about. suggest a connection between the blog post you are commenting on and a blog post of your own and/or a blog post from another DMPer. give feedback, start a conversation, get some dialogue going.

3. reflecting upon USF's human rights film festival, your last week's blog posts about the film festival, and your peers' perspectives on the film festival, write a new blog post about the act of blogging. experienced and just beginning bloggers' experiences will differ. keep it brief - between two or three paragraphs - and integrate at least one idea from at least one of our blog-related readings: Paul Boutin's Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004, Tom Coates' (Weblogs and) The Mass Amateurisation of (Nearly) Everything, Sharon Otterman's Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a Snail’s Pace, and Andrew Sullivan's Why I Blog.

4. when finished, and no later than wednesday at midnight, post a thick tweet that includes a link to your new blog post.

hints: before commenting on a student's blog post, make sure you have read it. if you leave a comment that encourages a reply from the author, be sure to revisit the blog and keep the conversation going if necessary. when writing your new blog post, make sure that you include new perspectives of the event that come from your DMP peers.

rule: if you have no work to demo, do not come to class.