Connecting Knowledge

the participants at Mobiles x Mobilization Camp

Last week I spend the majority of my time at Mobiles x Mobilization Camp, an event put on by the MobLab at Greenpeace. This event was designed to start a conversation and spread knowledge around using mobile devices to mobilize people. It was sort of similar to the Open Campaigns Camp I attended in July. In this event, we spent the week talking about how mobile devices have fundamentally changed the way we plan and design campaigns. We traded experiences, shared best practices and talked about what it means to “meet people where they are” now that “they” are mobile.

Spending a week looking at activism work through the lens of mobile during Mobiles x Mobilization (check out the Storify) rearranged some of my neurons to think in a new way about the work that I do. How can I use mobile to evangelize for open practices, open leadership and cultural shifts? Big question, also not exactly what this post is about but I would love thoughts on the topic ;)

I spent a good part of my formal education learning how to deconstruct and reconstruct information. That is, essentially, what an educator needs to do for each and every one of his or her learners. Learners come from various backgrounds and their prior knowledge is developed through a variety of factors – socio-economic factors, cultural factors, biological and familial factors. These influences dictate and determine the perspective a learner will have on a certain bit of information. Here’s a (very broad and general) example:

“We should share our ideas freely.”

Photo by Trimita

Photo by Trimita

A person who grew up in a household that rewarded a sibling for having a “better idea” or a person who attended a school that put overly extreme emphasis on copyright and plagiarism would understand that statement differently from someone who, say, grew up in a household where all ideas were considered equal or who had a teacher who taught remixing as a form of derivative art in the classroom. The first would likely have a harder time seeing the benefits of sharing freely, the second would have a hard time criticizing the sharing of ideas.

I took some peeps to C-Base, mainly so we could make a cool “We’re a band” photo or two.

The point is, what we already know influences how we learn. It also influences how we absorb different bits of information.

I was thinking about this last week as I noticed that some of the work the edtech and open source communities have been doing in the last several years is relevant to environmental and social activists. We’ve organized information detailing best practices for engagement, digital campaigning, online activism, mobile connections, learning pathways, workshop approaches and so on. We’ve rearranged much of that information to talk specifically to the communities in which we are active.

At first glance these documents and projects might not seem relevant to the types of activist communities I’m now working in. After all, technology activism and environmental or social justice activism are so different, right? No, not really. As I’ve written before, we need to break outside of our silos and consider similarities between our communities.

I’m looking forward to deconstructing best practices and collated information that I helped create for edtech and open source communities. I’m looking forward to reconstructing it and combining it with some of the things I learned last week. I want to make sure some of the legacy documentation I’ve been a part of is useful to people like the folks I met at the Mobiles x Mobilization Camp. Part of that is reconstructing information to be relevant specifically to them, but part of it is also about making these kinds of resources accessible to mobile.

I’m hopeful that the people I met last week also blog and share their resources for all things mobile (including mobile campaigning, SMS best practices and tools, mobile fundraising, storytelling on mobile and much, much more…). I feel like I have a lot to learn on that front.

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