Multi-Media Engagement – going deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
This pattern’s picture has this woman looking at all these different modes of being and interaction – many of them in the virtual or online realm. She is thinking about what would be appropriate for her project. What is she thinking about them.? She may just say: „No, I don’t even want to consider that one.“ She has problems with it.
There are so many ways to engage people around an issue or question. The more we understand those, the more we can reach people for whom one mode is really comfortable and other modes aren’t. There are also ways to synergize those modes.
One approach is using games and interactivity. There are games that actually teach people and give them an experience of dealing with an issue. Farmville was a big game which challenged a lot of people to think a lot about what’s involved in farming. There is a game that trains you in city development. There are deliberative games, including a number of government budget games. They say: “Here’s are all the different departments of the government and its funds. You get to allocate funds to each of these and see what happens. Do you want to raise taxes? Do you want to cut out programs and lower the amount of money spent for foreign aid, for military, or whatever. And in order to get the money you want on this other thing, see how it comes out…” You get to play with that and learn that government budgets are not as easy to put together as you might think.
Then there are ways to illustrate and animate things that are ordinarily linear verbal words. Some of these approaches are online like RSA Animate which illustrates in real time various speeches of well-known thinkers and experts. Similarly, we have the real-time in-person practice called “graphic facilitation” or “graphic recording” done by a person who is a good graphic artist. As they watch a conversation or listen to a lecture, they draw on a chart pad images, lines, arrows, and little symbols which mean specific things. You end up with a pictorial representation of what’s been talked about. For some people that’s really, really meaningful. It is not so meaningful for me, but for some people it is better than the original lecture or conversation.
And then there is a debate in the United States over arts and play. Do we focus instead on children being able to read and write? Many people say that math and science is where the action is, that’s where professions are, that’s what businesses want. And thus the arts and play are wastes of time. But more and more research is showing that these are fundamental to people’s ability to be creative and to do work together. So we want to engage kids in many different ways according to what they’re interested in – but that’s covered in some other patterns.
What would it be like to combine different programs and thought experiments – what would be gained by that? One of the classic experiments I talk about was done in 1991 by Maclean’s magazine, which is the glossy newsweekly for Canada. Their country was coming apart at the seams. They convened a dozen people chosen scientifically for their differences from across Canada and put them together with an expert in principled negotiation to facilitate a two and half day weekend conversation at a resort. It almost fell apart halfway through due to participants’ passions about seemingly irreconcilable positions. I feature all this in several of my books – and I have done a major research about it which linked to this and other patterns on this website.
Maclean’s was trying to see if these people who were so different could come to an agreement about a vision for Canada. So this was a face-to-face facilitated engagement with people who were considered a cross-section of Canada. This was a particular kind of face-to-face conversation and they had reporters present taking notes about it, and they had a Canadian TV filming everything that was going on. When it was done, Maclean’s published 40 pages of coverage about what happened. They included bios of the people that were involved. They described step-by-step what happened on Friday night and each of the other days – amounting to many pages of reporting on what happened hour by hour and who said what.
By reading the magazine you get into what it was like for the people involved. It wasn’t just “here’s a description of what happened” but “here’s specific people and they’re saying these things, they agree with this person, they disagree with that person,…” It places you vicariously and vividly right in the middle of the drama. We watch this group make several breakthroughs and end up creating an amazing document – which is also included in the magazine. Many of them who fought during the process became fast, long-term friends across unbelievable differences.
The descriptions of the process, how it was done, the background story, the issues,… all this was covered in the 40 pages, all with photographs added. The same week that the magazine came out, Canadian TV broadcast its hour-long public affairs video documentary about the initiative. So you get an audiovisual version of what you’ve got written down and pictured in the magazine. One thing they didn’t have was a participatory dimension for the public people who were reading and watching all this. Nevertheless, this project had a tremendous impact, which I discovered when I hired an investigative reporter to find out about it. I have all that linked to this pattern, in the resources section.