|Sabrina Hersi Issa at the American Center.
Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Digital literacy and storytelling are the two most effective tools for protecting rights and spreading awareness, according to Sabrina Hersi Issa, a media entrepreneur from Washington DC who took students, teachers, social change activists and NGO leaders through the use of technological media.
“There were a set of people interested in how social media is changing the definition of media and how to spread stories in a world where information security is not always guaranteed,” said Sabrina, the Women’s Information Network’s 2011 Young Women of Achievement winner for social innovation and currently the digital director at Be Bold Media that powers online campaigns for social change.
Given a spurt in fake and doctored images and videos going viral, Sabrina suggested “digital literacy” as a way to combat and “decipher what is legitimate source media and what isn’t”. “Just as quickly as things spread, it can also be controlled,” she said.
On the government, administration, communities or authorities trying to muffle voices in the social media, Sabrina said: “Use the same platform to organise a community of like-minded people who believe in protecting this freedom and facilitate an understanding to continue what you’re doing....”
While the choice of digital tool depends on the audience and their culture, sharing of images on “failsafe” media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp “is one of the biggest driving forms of social action on the web because it bridges the literacy gap”.
For Sabrina, the most important tool in online and mobile media, in terms of text messages, emails, Whatsapp and YouTube, is storytelling. “The story of the self is the crux of every important social change story. It energises the audience and people connect to a mission through a personal narrative,” she adds.
Sabrina cited the example of New York City, where women formed a community to map where incidents would happen and sent an email to the police. “Now a special application has been developed to send such data. It helps demand accountability.”
Tell a personal story connected to your cause
Enter with a goal in mind & communicate effectively
Know where your audience lives
Share on your blog what you share on Facebook and what you share on your blog, share as a tweet to build a community. Capture that community in email messages
Keep dignity of people in mind
Lose an opportunity to chaos
Forget to develop a frame of ethics
Spam or unmindfully hammer the baseline of your campaign
Forget to space out your communication
Forget about traditional media
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