Photo from Mozilla Festival 2019, used under CC BY 2.0

Earlier this year, work kicked off with winners of Mozilla’s Creative Media Awards, exploring the intersection of art, advocacy, and data science.

In the past few months we’ve been working with this group of artists, technologists, and activists to better understand the impact they want their projects to have and the audiences they are trying to reach.

We also stopped by Mozfest, Mozilla’s annual gathering for advocates of a more humane digital world, for a discussion about healthy AI narratives.

Memeing at Mozfest

In a session provocatively titled: Stop Scaring People About AI, we facilitated a discussion on the most common narratives about…

With the Narrative Observatory project we’re harnessing powerful industry relationships and an academic research network to develop data infrastructure purpose-built to identify and track narratives and story opportunities, and to learn about audiences across platforms. …

IBR Roomba Swarm in the Dark V by IBRoomba, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

At Harmony Labs we’ve been thinking a lot about technology. While some tech innovations have clearly changed the world for the worse, they’ve also produced 90% effective COVID vaccines in less than a year. There’s no going back. We need tech, but we need it to work for us, not against us. And we need the stories we tell about tech to center us — the humans — so that people don’t feel powerless to advocate for “healthy” tech, now and in the future.

The Mozilla Foundation foregrounds this kind of human agency in their call for trustworthy AI:

We…

The social problems artists and activists often seek to address are complex and resist change. If we are interested in optimizing creative work for social change effects, Harmony Labs believes an opportunity exists to integrate data-driven insights around audience, narratives, and story opportunities. Innovative approaches to measuring — and increasing — impact will further strengthen media making practices.

Over the last four years we’ve had the opportunity to explore this intersection of art, advocacy, and data science in support of the Mozilla Foundation’s Creative Media Awards program, where we’ve been lucky enough to share some of our research and impact…

Understanding people’s media habits gives us a deeper view into who they are, the values they hold, and how to best engage them. So, whether you like K-Pop or UFC (or maybe what’s in your fridge?) can actually say a lot about how you see the world and the issues you care about.

For many professional communicators, audience segmentation is pretty standard stuff. Traditionally, demographics have served as a proxy for audience, because data about age, race, and gender are relatively easy to get. …

An important part of our work prototyping the Narrative Observatory is to understand potential users, and to derive from that understanding a product strategy and sustainability model. So for a couple months this fall, we conducted 32 interviews across 22 organizations, spanning the non-profit and media sectors. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

From these interviews, we created four user types — funder, media maker, in-house strategist, strategy consultant — each with associated jobs to be done, pains, and potential gains. Below are three headlines from our findings, followed by the product direction we think they suggest. …

People make and reflect culture by telling stories. Patterns exist in the stories people tell, even when those stories pertain to different social issues or topics. The patterns that emerge from the shows we stream, the music we listen to, the games we play, and the news we share, we call narratives. Think of narratives as the averages of many, many stories, the things that hold true among them. Stories are like tiles in a narrative’s mosaic, so to speak, the stars that make up a narrative constellation.

Many organizations and media makers are working hard to shift the deep…

Complex questions continue to challenge our understanding of media systems and their influence on politics, society, and culture. What’s media’s role in shaping the deep cultural narratives that condition public understanding? How do these narratives constrain public capacity to address critical social issues, like poverty, the climate crisis, or immigration reform? How are narratives formed and how can they be tracked computationally?

As we pursued answers to these questions over the last few years, it became increasingly clear that existing approaches and infrastructure were not meeting the needs of the research community. …

During our first livestream session on Beneficial Media futures post-pandemic misinformation and disinformation were key topics that we chose to anchor our 6/24 panel (you can watch a replay here). Misinformation and disinformation undermine our ability to make sense of the world around us and, in a crisis, challenge our ability to build consensus to respond effectively. What are the roots of these very different issues in media, and what can we do about them?

Beneficial Media Futures Post-Pandemic, Livestream Discussion 6/24/2020. Watch the replay here.

With a vibrant audience contributing to the conversation from the get-go, our guests Ashley Bryant from A/B Partners, Lisa Kaplan from Alethea Media, and Claire…

Last year we started down a new path to define what a future of Beneficial Media might look like, a future where media systems were actually good for people and good for society. To start, we convened hundreds of leaders from across media in a conversation not about what was wrong, but about what could be right. We set out to identify what values would define that future, what might be needed, what might be useful. As so much has shifted over the last six months so have our plans. The coalition we had hoped to launch to further define…

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We build communities & tools to reform & transform media systems

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