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Sara M. Watson

927 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Sara M. Watson , Andy Ellis , David Larochelle 927 days ago
Sara W Media Training
May 6
Michelle Deakin, HLS press officer  
Ann Marimow, Washington Post reporter and current Nieman Fellow
Andy E It's not clear that there is a single "right" strategy to handle press.   One big worry many have is being misquoted.
Sara W Most of this applies to the way print/news reporters interview and report on stories with people with expertise in a subject.
Andy E Before
  • If reporter initiates contact:
  • Get as much information as you can
Sara W
  • Name, publication (red flag on freelancers fishing, check if they are on assignment for a publication)
Andy E
  • Use social media to research the reporter, publication. If you can't find anything, ask for more.
  • "Tell me about the story you're working on?"
  • "What have you learned so far?"
  • "What's the story you're envisioning?"
  • Don't respond immediately to a question
  • Is this a good fit for you?
David L
  • Just because you're contacted doesn't mean that you have to be involved with the reporter
Andy E
  • Do you want to be involved in this.
  • How does this align with your goals?
  • How does this align with your organization's goals?
Sara W
  • Refer to other people who might be a better fit to talk to, refer to other sources
Andy E
  • Consider whether you are giving the reporter their name, or the reporter's name to your referree.
Sara W
  • Be mindful of the deadline, respectful of that
  • Figure out what your main point is going to be. Jot it down and type it out, be clear about the main point. Outline your thoughts so you don't stray from what you want to say.
Andy E
  • Write the tweets that you'd like the reporter to quote as a script.
Sara W
  • Example Neil Degrasse Tyson The Big Bang theory: explain it in two sentences.
  • Know your audience publication 
  • is it general audience where you have to simplify your message? talk in more technical detail? 
  • Send things in advance that might guide the conversation (articles, op eds, reports etc)
  • How long is too long? Give paragraphs or pages in legal proceedings, for example
  • General rule of thumb: don't say anything to a reporter that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the New York Times.
  • Can have conversations on background if you trust their publication/approach or have an established relationship.
  • Have to get the reporter's agreement about being off the record (preferably in writing).
  • Say in plain English what you want (rather than "on background" "non attribution" etc)
  • Expertise sharing relationship: I'm happy to talk with you. When we're done talking I would like to know what you plan to use. Not so much quote review, but a conversation after the fact about what the takeaway is from the conversation. It's in the journalist's interest to make sure something technical or from expertise is important. 
  • Broadcast and live is different: radio, TV. Conversation before hand is the same, but once you are on air, you don't have the protection of print journalism. 
  • Have to have stock answers that are short, to the point, sometimes funny.
  • Demands more rehearsal, practice as well.
  • Title or image that goes with the piece? Review before print? Not often an option. Reporters generally don't write headlines (done by the editor). 
Andy E During
Sara W Tips for talking:
  • Speak slowly. It may sound awkward. They are typing, or taking notes. Give them time.
  • Avoid jargon and overly technical language. If you must, define them.
  • Don't fill in silences. It's not a normal social conversation. Normal social rules don't apply.
  • You can also pause to collect your thoughts. You don't have to rush out an answer. 
  • Don't feel you have to answer every question that they ask. You don't need to offer additional explanation.
  • Do your best to relax, be yourself.
  • Treat reporters like waiters—they are going to be alone in a room with your food, you don't want them to spit in it.
  • Quote review—ask at the end have I made myself clear? Get them to summarize back to you, how you got your point across and how clearly the got it. Gives you an opportunity to refine the message.
  • Write down any question that I wasn't able to get to with my points. I have to figure out what my point is going to be the next time someone asks about it.
  • Spell your name. Give current title, complete affiliation. "Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University." Don't assume they are going to Google it.
  • Have a headshot available that you can send if you are asked.
  • Is "Don't answer the question you were asked, answer the question you wished you were asked" a good strategy?
  • To a reporter who doesn't know the topic, reframe the question and show that you are trying to do that. Be transparent about what you think the question needs to be. "What I think you are asking is this, is that right?"
Andy E
  • Identify if the reporter doesn't have enough knowledge to meaningful use the answer you'd like to give.
Sara W
  • How can you tell if the reporting is asking to affirm an angle, or is trying to figure out the answer? Ask them more follow up questions about what they are looking for, what's the angle, how is the rest of the story developing.
  • Think visually: charts, graphics. Media is more open to doing that now online, in print, etc.
  • Think about how the soundbite is going to get into print—if it's going to go in, here's what I'd prefer it to be. Say it over and over in the same interview—increases the chance that it will get used and used correctly.
  • Be willing to be available to confirm edits, techincal questions from copy editors late at night. And respond/answer your phone!
  • Okay to ask when the story is running.
  • Let go—you are part of a larger story. If you have a bigger message and you want to control it, you should be writing an article or an op ed.
  • If you find an error, think about how wrong it is, and whether it's worth getting corrected. Be nice about getting the correction. Keep the big picture in mind: did the message get across?
  • Start with the reporter. If you don't hear anything or don't get anywhere, write to the editor and copy the reporter.
  • Reporters follow up for feedback for clarification, next step in the story if it's part of the reporter's beat.
  • Follow up with the reporters, tell them if you liked it. Thank a reporter for a good story. It's rare to hear that you did a good job, so that's a way to build the relationship.
Tips on pitching stories and research to reporters?
  • Some of the same rules apply about the audience. 
  • Send up a trial balloon with friends and family. What resonates with them? What hooks people?
  • What's the tweet: boil it down to it's essence. Put forward the short distillation.
Leverage the press office resource that you have!
  • They can ask the questions you don't want to ask, can spin the angle in the right direction.
988 days ago
  1. Dealing with The Giant Zero: For better and worse, the Net puts everyone and everything on it at zero functional distance from everyone and everything else. This is a new grace of human existence, and one the species won't forget, even if the network gets fractured into closed walled gardens (which may already be happening). How can we make this grace of the Net more feature than bug? (My own fantasy is using it to save the planet from its most pestilential species.)
Tarleton G
  1. Speech and public discourse: In the 2014 report, Faris and Jones noted an "awkward symmetry" (29) in thinking about speech regulation, there's concern about too much control and a worry about how much slips through. For social media platforms, we often discuss either the restrictions on content we might want to allow, or the inability to prevent the behavior we find reprehensible. How do we think about platforms and their interventions in ways that think about both roles simultaneously, and both problems together?
  1. Algorithms and machine learning: Much of our scholarship around the Internet & society has focused on the connectedness of networked communication, the passage of information from different places and to different people: access, voice, community, control. As we embrace search engines and platforms and these "information intermediaries" grow in power, we must also address the fact that we are engaging with computational systems of a complex order: the sorting, distribution, and selection of information by algorithmic systems. These are not just tools in hands with consequences, but ecosystems in which data, calculations, models, and thresholds are dynamically intervening and changing with use. Upon what presumptions are these designed? How do we understand their consequences? Where is accountability placed with such systems? What publics do they tend to produce?
  1. Labor: How do make visible the labor that is so often rendered invisible in online communication? We have begun a discussion about the "free labor" of users, though it is a difficult case to make in those terms. Frustration in San Francisco about the impact of the Silicon Valley work force represents a second element; recent investigations into the growing role of Turkers and other clickworkers is a third. What would it mean to turn the old idea of the Internet as an automatic and frictionless system upside down, to highlight the real, sustained, and sometimes precarious labor that it entails?
  1. Environment: What are the environmental costs of our computing? How does the internet mitigate those costs? In what ways does it simply move them out of our view and off our personal ledgers? 
  1. Poetics and Personhood: How do networked interactions change our understanding--and our articulations--of self and others? In what ways have such interactions facilitated a new poetics of living? What are the costs of such changes, whether in terms of excess (clickbait, time squandered on Facebook, people dying in internet cafes), fear (ISIS, cyberbullying, general trolling), digital invective, surveillance, the lack of a right-to-be-forgotten, or otherwise? 
  1. Frictionless Inequality: How do we deal with the tendency of network effects and power laws to concentrate: power, wealth, attention, computation? What happens when more of the internet is consolidated into fewer servers run by Amazon Web Services ("web entropy").
  1. Bits run on Atoms: The Internet runs on minerals and petroleum products torn from the earth and brought to life by a second network which burns oil and coal, dams rivers, splits atoms, and occasionally harvests the wind and sun to fuel its purposes. The character of the Internet is impacted heavily by geography and location. Walls clock wireless signals, different buildings connect to different pipes, policy and law block or allow different traffic, weather, temperature, and environment help or hinder equipment. Can these facts be usefully incorporated into whatever it is that we're doing?
  1. Metaphors: What are the metaphors we use now when we conceive of the Internet? How do they help us? How do they lead us astray? Might we find better ones?
  1. Basic Assumptions at Dogmas: What are the basic things that we are taking for granted as being true about the Internet? Do we each agree on them? Does it matter if we don't? Does it matter whether or not the world outside this room does or doesn't?
Sara W
  1. Business Models of the Internet: If not data and advertising, then what? 
Ben P Discussion review
What is the internet? 
Tarleton G Algorithms as computational systems of a complex order
Ben P Where is labor in the internet? 
Internet landscapes: material networks, and the transition from virtual space to to material infrastructure?
Metaphors: and their consequences and costs
How, or if, will the internet endure in the long sweep of time? 
Which world is in the WWW? Whose world is this? 
What is new about  connectivity in the net, and how would this facilitate a new  democratic form and sense of social equality?
Master or slave: in what measure will the internet (of the future) be friend or foe? (compelling choices: do we know what we are being forced to choose among? social authority of internet ubiquity, inevitability)
what are the environmental costs of our computing? 
poetics and personhood: what new language does this invoke?
which business models are available (outside of advertising and data)?
experience of the internet (in the silos of facebook, etc.): internets
Sara W which are the limits of connectivity? with the internet of things, what's *not* connected to the internet? where are the edges of the internet? 
Ben P which kinds of agency do we have? 
data as capital (personal and corporate):  which privacy concepts prepare us for such an understanding? 
digital durability: how do we preserve our connectivity and creativity (given non-rootedness of most content)?
relationship  of self and technology: surveillance comparisons over the longue duree (how does surveillance today shape our social and personal lives in analog to Freud's questions)? What is the self in internet context?
The  story of the internet: progressive/declenist, utopian and dystopian, escatalogical, lapsarian, utopian narrative arcs, etc.,  and what are their implications? 
Sara W What is our story of the internet: Plurality of the internet  through history
Ben P Who are the we? (a political concept: how do we govern ourselves? Truth as a resource to accumulate, over capital; are we able to scale small group liberation?)
What are these questions for?
Sara W How did we come ot the language we have for the internet - contesting sets of vocabularies 
peter m How is that language embedded in institutions?
Sara W people on the internet
democracy / subjectivity / self / “we” / society
economies / capital
power / institutions
materiality / infrastructure / environment
definition / framing / language and vocabulary / metaphor
teleology / inevitability / ubiquity / narrative history of the internet
time / preservation / archive / permanence
969 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Sara M. Watson 969 days ago
process for converting between platforms, how and when to review, archive, transfer lifecycle
Sara W core competency 
Geek Lab is open for business, once a month for anyone to toss around an idea that could be built or addressed by existing technologies. That's a good place to set up conversations about emerging projects that might need support.
core competency/mission/project products X values X practical implementation considerations
  1. Where does this technology fit into our core competancies and mission statements as a center? Is it a project that is producing a new technology platform or is the platform less important than the content it is delivering?
  1. How does technology need fit with services already offered by the university?
  1. Are there existing platforms or technologies at Berkman that can be repursposed to support the need?
  1. Of the values of the center, which are most important to weigh in considering this case? How will this decision be perceived and received by the community? 
  1. How will this technolgy decision be implemented? Over what timeline, with what exit strategy or legacy plan? What's the true cost of this technollogy, considering time, migration, labor, ongoing support, etc. 
  1. What is the best use of someone's time and how is that supported by this technology decision?
1024 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Sara M. Watson 1024 days ago
Sara W Ceiling Cat Best Practices
for MAXIMUM AWESOME Remote Fellows Hours Participation
[NOTE: This document is a work in progress. We welcome your additions and edits!]
The conversation seems to flow most easily when there is someone in the room watching the ceiling conversation, making sure the connection is good, and speaking up on their behalf in the room. 
This responsibility should rotate amongst fellows every week, and should be sure to be assigned by either the animator's group or the week's lead animator.
When possible, sharing slides or other materials and documents in advance is helpful for remote participants. It's also helpful to present sharing the screen or the slides directly in Adobe Connect. (Sharing slides in Appear.In seems to slow down the presenter's computer too much).
Contributions to the discussion can be easier when there's a shared document for following along or brainstorming. Here are some examples from recent Fellows Hours that proved useful for integrating the conversation across spaces.
And some tools for Backchannel note taking: 
  • Hackpad
  • Google Docs
We've developed a kind of standard signal naturally by turning on your individual camera and speakers for signaling that you would like to say something to the room at Berkman. This works especially well for Appear.In. Adobe Connect also has the "hand raise" function to signal the host that you would like to comment. With a ceiling rapporteur, using this feature will be more usable.
Chat windows can distract from the conversation in the room when they are projected on the conference screen, but they are also a very productive way for remote participants to add comments asynchronously. The ceiling rapporteur can follow the backchannel closely and summarize comments and notes to the room when helpful.
There are a few key typical formats for Fellows Hours that we can outline best practices for including ceiling participants. 
  • Breakouts in different rooms: this requires multiple people to shepherd ceiling participants on different devices. 
  • Breakouts for the ceiling: if there are enough participants, breaking out in a different ceiling room can be a rich and productive conversation. 
  • Speedgeeking: either moving people around as an iPad or a laptop into different rooms, or keeping one group stationary in the conference room for better sound
  • Debates
1088 days ago
What have people already done? 
Leah Haven't thought at all about digital artifacts-- thank you for the prompt! My husband and I set up conventional wills, if you will (!), after our son was born-- just went to see an attorney in town that a friend recommended and had her draw up standard documents-- custody of child & dog, financial estate; also did living wills and health care decision-making.  
What do threat models look like?
How could things go poorly? "Not letting someone know you have an online account is like burying a safe in the woods and not leaving anyone the coordinates.
How do you keep a meaningful, up-to-date list for your survivors in case of your death/incapacity that doesn't also create a security risk-- list is lost, list is hacked, etc?
  • helpful discussion right now on this topic- thanks!
Willow B
  • What other people want
Sara W Erhardt: Resolving what we want versus what other people want after we die. 
Sarah: Example of a German author who wanted the details of his suicide published in his blog. Newspapers then published the details, even though in some places you are not supposed to publish details because of immitation concerns. Can you have a will that challenges the norm or gentleman's agreement among journalists? His will, but was it okay for everyone else?
Becca: Obligation of the thing that gives us closure. Differences of people's needs and how they want to interact with the spotify playlist for example. 
Separation of physical things and digital things. Flea markets - 'adopt an ancestor' pile of pictures. Obligation of people to handle and pass on as heirlooms?
Ellery: Useful to talk about family and intimate relationships, versus people who are public figures, people that publish things that is of value to the public.
Beatrice: Who care about the materials? So many people writing blogs. How do we decide that it is important? Publishing question about the importance of these things.
Becca: What are the costs to doing things for the people who have different concerns? 
Erhardt: What if we reach a point that we can't keep paying out for storage for all our digital assets? What if the internet becomes like Detroit and it's storing all these defunct assets from all these dead people?
SJ: Historical archives problems about what's valuable and what's worth keeping.
Kate: Differences among family members about what they want. Told us what they wanted, who was going to be the executor in the family. What other people want: clarity about who is making the decision. Who is responisble is clear. 
Erhardt: We don't know what the memento is going to be for others. Anticipating what is going to be meaningful is difficult. 
Willow B People want different things from you. Your things mean different things to others (public vs non public figures)
  • A system that publishes the possessions of the person and brokers agreement among friends about who would receive which of the person's possessions
  • Take a photo and move on, to satisfy the nostalgia preference. Could we 3D scan things?
  • Could we create a DKP system-- maybe your family and friends accumulate DKP over the course of your time together across a life, and then you use those DKP to bid on a person's things when they pass away
Willow B
  • Workflow
Code wills
Self hosted versus power of attorney to get access.
Dead man switch doesn't work for everyone. What other safeguards would come in for a legal issue? Link to file, sopeana these people.
Veto the sending out of the mailing list, delay the time period.
Start with a low threat model, demonstrate all the way through high threat.
LibPanic. Duress passwords. Geofences. Run it off laptop, not off servers.
Version backups of life. Like gits, backup software with label. Legacy folder. Endow that folder. Apple and privacy and medical?
Encryption, make 10 different copies of it. Work at Princeton on calculating permanent storage. What is the size of our lives? In data. Assumption that if you put in the up-front cost.
What if it doesn't work? Server going down. Having to keep it updated. 
Microfilm is not a bad idea. Copy over. Makes you selective.
Permanent storage on a holographic cube, but we don't have this. So it's what we print out and send copies of. Nate's book.
Pis with private encrypted networks. Just plug drives in when you want to store it long term.
24 hours? 1 year? 10 years?
Interactive will. The group decides teh questions/queues, is ok with the results.
  • Historical Examples
natematias@gmail.com Communities & Resources:
People who intentionally donated their bodies:
  • Jeremy Bentham
  • the head thing is super creepy.
Bodies as religious artifacts
Sands F (bodies and parts of bodies used by institutions to conduct the power (for positive or negative means) they have in society); your arrangements are in essence a vote for increasing the power of the receiving institution.
  • Relics
  • (science too)
People who unintentionally have had their bodies used by others
  • Funerary remains, and controversies with museums, academics, governments
Sands F
Sands F
  • Legal affordances for reanimation / holographic representation / etc.
  • Victorian Post-mortem Photography
  • Books made of Human Skin
  • Notable Embalmed People
  • Vladimir Lenin: embalmed and on display at the Lenin Mausoleum
  • Elmer McCurdy-- people thought that his body was a mannequin
Sands F
  • People who have arranged for their works to live on in possibly modified states
natematias@gmail.com We don't yet know how to classify
1089 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Tim Davies , Chris Crawford , Shreya Basu , Sara M. Watson 1089 days ago
Tweet: #datarev
Breakout discussion: notes from Cambridge
Our discussion focussed on some of the critical questions to ask, and where research might contribute. 
  • We need to think about who is empowered by a data revolution, and where data flows.
  • In Somerville, MA - the 'loop' of data is a flow to the city council, and then back to citizens. Enabled by tech-savvy civil servants. In many other contexts, the 'loop' is that data flows from grassroots, via distant agencies, before ever making it back to people to use it at the grassroots. 
  • Can we envisage capacity building for a UN data revolution that looks at the local level: ensuring data flows back to local communities from levels of government near to them, not always travelling via distant national and international agencies. 
  • We discussed what can be learnt from James Scott's 'Seeing Like a State', and the need to reflect on how some communities, in light of oppressions, use their 'invisibility' strategically as a means of resilience. A data revolution needs to give greater critical attention to how visibility, in a situation of unequal power, can be harmful to some. A data revolution also needs to acknowledge the power dynamics in a top-down position of viewing and applying metrics for being "counted" at a larger scale, and how those paradigms interact with "counting" at the local scale.
  • Action ideas: Focus on work to generate tighter 'loops' so that ownership and dissemination fo data, as well as it's collection, stays closer to the grassroots. 
  • Big data questions: Can you collect big data in more reliable methods than through standard statistical protocols? This is an empirical question we need to explore... 
  • Statistical methods have bias; so do the new alternatives.
  • Need to be clear about the bias and limitations;
  • We need to reflect on our ability to track change over time with big data: whilst statistical methods used today may be replicable in 5 years time, to allow us to have a baseline, and a measurement - big data methods are not going to allow this, as the underlying data systems are constantly shifting. This has important consequences for what data sources can be used in target setting.
  • It might also require us to think differently about the kinds of questions we ask of different data sources.
  • Suggested actions:
  • Ask for at least 1% of investment into statistical data collection, and 5% of investment into big data methods, to be put into research that evaluates the quality, value and impacts of these data sources, and that can generate learning about how to improve;
  • Develop research and practical resources to help policy makers understand the range of digital-era data collection techniques. This should help policy makers to think about:
  • Differences between big data, open data, crowdsourced data etc. Including in terms of:
  • Who has an interest in the data being good quality; or who has an interest in gaming the data?
  • How replicable is the data collection?
  • How can the integrity of the data be maintained?
  • What are the opportunity costs of this data collection approach?
  • What risks are involved in having and managing this data? (e.g. privacy risks; data minimisation concerns)
  • We discussed the difference between active and passive big data
Sara W
  • Active data is data that individuals or community choose to share—it is created with effort from the individuals recording;
  • Passive data is collected without people's intent, consent or awareness—it is data that comes from the exhaust of digital interactions, like cell phone metadata, sensors, etc.; 
Tim D
  • These are ethically and qualitatively different.
  • Action: More work on safeguards for ensuring big data is used well: 
  • We explored the tone and direction of the report: agreeing with many of the principles, but feeling that a stronger critical approach to what data can deliver is needed. There is great potential in improving data practices - but also pitfalls and risks to consider. 
Chris C
  • There could be more focus on peer-to-peer and peer-produced data - ranging from Open Street Map to iPaidABribe. Often these datasets play an important role when centralized data collectors have motives that are not aligned with the development goals -- e.g. in protecting cronyism and embarrassing truths. 

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