Mission IV: Transform Slacktivism to Activism

This mission is the last of #arganee for now, but should not be your last at all. There is no “over” in #arganee or #netnarr; “Over” is a concept that we declare null and void.

Parody Memes

We start with a quick return to last week’s work on Counter Narratives

We ask that you look at some other issue in the news, or your world, heck maybe just parking, and create a meme message that explores an alternative to the norm perspective on it (as we have done with Pepsi). What can you convey or transform or draw attention with the simple combination of a photo and big text?

What’s yours?

From Slacktivism to Activism

slack·tiv·ism
/ˈslaktəˌvizəm/
noun informal

  actions performed via the Internet in support of a 
  political or social cause  but regarded as requiring 
  little time or involvement, e.g., signing an online 
  petition or joining a campaign group on a social 
  media website.

The illusion that online activity in social media has an impact in the world, how true/false or somewhere in between is that? If you seek definitions, you can find plenty written about Slacktivism or Clicktivism

As we experimented last week with parody it is easy (and truly fun) to make fun of so-called Slacktivists

Thank you, Scott!

But does this mean we dismiss the potential of online activism? Here are some recommendations to dig in more:

Do you know of more? Tweet them out, by all means.

On Wednesday, April 26 starting around 6:00PM EDT the Kean University Digital Alchemists are leading a twitter chat to answer this question- How can Digital Alchemy Be a Part of Converting Slacktivism to Activism? with these potential questions”

  • Share a time when you were a slacktivist (we’ve all likely done it once) (today)
  • Do you know when/if online activism has resulted in real change? (e.g. Arab Spring?)
  • How do you know if online activism has an impact?
  • How can the digital alchemy we have learned be used for effective online activism?

The #Arganee Transformation

For this week, your writing task on this blog is to write a letter, to your “friend” on the other side, the Earth-World. This is the transformation of what you have learned in #Arganee that can help them. Tell them:

  • What have you learned?
  • What did not work?
  • What are the ways digital alchemy can help improve the world, any world?

Featured Image “Activism or SLACtivism” from a Ravishly post: Slacktivism: When Your Activism Isn’t Really Activism

Mission III: The Counter Narratives

How are your Arganee Health Board scores doing? How are we doing as a group? What will it take to raise all our levels. By the time Kean students walk into their classroom alchemy lab Wednesday, there should be updates reflective of your work from Mission 2.

Arganee is Cooking with Cooking

But this is the third week of missions.

Live Cook off

We’ve seen some impressive work by our Digital Alchemists for the Cooking With Anger show. We really want to see your stories cross posted here on this blog, because they are that tasty. And it boosts your scores. Because scores.

We have one more challenge, in that at the start of our Kean class Wednesday April 19 (4:30PM EST) we are going to VIDEO BOMB the live cook offs that Mark Marino and Rob Wittig are running. Other participants in Cooking with anger will be near their end of doing a live improv story, based on a basket distributed to them.

Some shots from our Cooking With Anger cookoff

They do not know we re showing up, so we are planning to all bring alchemy props, costumes, anything to spook them! Let’s show ’em what Alchemy is all about. Because of the small overlap in time, we will take the same basket (or maybe another one), and do our own group improv story. We really want to show off how powerful alchemists are, so get your best storymaking faces on and bring your most vivid imagination.

These were our provided basket items to improv a story:

Brother-in-law
coach
the trick
papaya
parsnip
avocado
knife

spice pack:
1/4 tabl Loathing
1/8 pinch of overwhelmed
1/2 ts[ pf exhiliration
1 cup of surprise

And here is the story our Alchemists came up with in ~20 minutes

A Pepsi Alt Narrative

Maybe you missed this recent story, but a large budget commercial for Pepsi went a little “flat” on social and other media:

There has been more than enough critical commentary on how badly Pepsi planned and executed this message. They perhaps had hoped for the success Coca Cola enjoyed with a 1971 advertisement that is considered by many one of the best commercials ever:

Both try to suggest that sharing a sugary carbonated beverage can change the world. But Pepsi definitely missed the mark, right? Among the blast of reactions in social media was spoofs like

via GIPHY

and from Saturday Night Live

Is this kind of narrative, parody, effective as a form of activism, or is it simply another on the heap of heaving bad mojo towards Pepsi?

We want you to spend some time exploring and analyzing with the web annotation tool Hypothes.is a brilliant critical parody from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

But there has been more than enough criticism and Pepsi tsk-tsking (well maybe the need some more). So we invite you to try on, for the sake of narrative, a different perspective, though it might be implausible. Sometimes it helps to try on a perspective that seems outlandish, just for looking at things differently from the way everyone else is chiming in.

So here is the mission. First, create a new Hypothes.is account for your Digital Alchemist persona. Remember your class and character so far. Slip into that persona. Now here is the scenario…

The people in the upper chambers of Pepsi tower who planned this ad campaign knew in advance it would have the negative reaction, but they have a diabolical plan that is built on the premise that any mention of their brand, good or bad, is valuable (some would suggest a certain recent Presidential candidate employed the same strategy). So you, as a group of Digital Alchemy Consultants are analyzing works like the McSweeny’s parody for its effectiveness towards this hidden strategy. When you are annotating, aim to make it conversational with your fellow alchemists, and include in your notes external references that try to associate the parody with cultural or related connections.

Remember this is narrative, not critical commentary. Play your part. Have disagreements with each other or send compliments.

Use this link to open the article with Hypothes.is enabled. And remember to include an arganee tag with all your notes. This is what will feed the world health ratings.

There is also a bonus on the table of every bit of the McSweeny’s article is annotated.

Also, for some more reference on this Pepsi angle, see Pepsi’s New Ad Is a Total Success (“Every feature of the “Jump In” ad benefits the company—even the act of pulling it from the airwaves”). And as well, see the LA Times story Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad: Mistake or subversive strategy?.

Does Heineken do it even worse?

For the Rest of the Week: Draw into the Story and Meme Parodies

Once you have played out your Pepsi Alternative Narrative, see if you can pull other goaafy (non Alchemists) into the story, maybe via twitter, even maybe people in the regular #netnarr stream. What can make them want to dive into your conspiracy world? We strongly encourage you to try first bringing in open participants such as @dogtrax @sandramardene @wentale @telliowkuwp @KeeganSLW @OnlineCrsLady @MCorbettWilson @NetKidHorse @Seecantrill @jstew511 @AwoJolt @Autumm @sensor63 @ggevalt @markcmarino

Engage in writing here, or in twitter about the role of parody in civic activism, or maybe criticize it. We ask that you look at some other issue in the news, or your world, heck maybe just parking, and create a meme message that explores an alternative to the norm perspective on it (as we have done with Pepsi). What can you convey or transform or draw attention with the simple combination of a photo and big text?

Also, for more participation credits, keep tweeting, blogging, commenting, doing Daily Digital Alchemies (it is likely creating a new DDA by your alchemist will count extra).

Make alchemy!


Featured image: Tekniska högskolan metro station Wikimedia Commons image by Arild Vågen shared under a CC BY-SA license

Mission II: Alchemy As Cooking (with gas?)

Ahhh, the kitchen. It has cabinets of elements, vials of spices, drawers of metallic implements, a flat surface of operation outfitted with heat sources. Isn’t this not a laboratory?

This week’s mission takes us into another realm of a “netprov” called “Cooking With Anger” where we digital alchemists will stack up our skills of storytelling and media with others from different worlds, those of the ordinary world, the goaffy.

Let’s show them how it’s done the #Arganee way!

The Health Board

You will see now on the front of this site a dynamic data reading of the state of the World of Arganee. There is a “graph” that will always display the overall “health” a summation of the total abilities of all within.

This will change over time, and with your activities. You may develop a sense of what drives the health up or down, but as you can see, Arganee seeks alchemists to use and apply their four main media skills. Pushing them all, as a group, above the green line is the goal that will help your world and ours.

Below the graph, you can see a table with the data for all individual alchemists. You can use the controls at the top to filter out by score level, class etc. Now while we are individuals we may be drawn into competition with each other, but it is really our drive to compete with at green bar above that matters.

What will count?

What you do, share as an Alchemist helps. What you do not do…. nada.

Giving a Bot Voice to your Alchemist’s Twitter

Your twitter can come very much alive if you let a twitter bot do some talking. We referenced last week the Google Spreadsheet created by a wizard friend named Zach Whalen that can make this happen.

We see already it’s activity (we think, it can be hard to tell bot talk from alchemist)

The spreadsheet offers a number of ways to populate the tweets with bits that can recombine in unique ways. We will be doing a demonstration in our Kean University class room this week. If you do get one working, it would be a good idea to share your alchemy success here in this blog (and that counts!)

First Alchemy With Cooking With Anger

So we are “visiting” this week with a group of people doing a “netprov” called Cooking with Anger

The site is quirky, a bit ugly, but don’t let that throw you

We have asked that all Alchemists create an account on the site (try to put the word “kean” in the notes field so they know you are with us). The site gives out “baskets” of ingredients, and you are all requested to post a “dish” or a story of 300 words or less that include all ingredients.

Look already we have:

This first one is a warm up, but it definitely counts towards your Arganee health, as does adding comments, and getting views on your story. All your participation shows up in your profile (check mine out!).

Whipping up some Recipes, Arganee Alchemy Style

When Kean University alchemisys gather together this Wednesday (under the rise of the Pink Moon), we will whip up some magical recipes together. You have already cooked as individuals, but this time, you will combine forces.

#Arganee will play the Cooking With Anger #netprov by breaking up into small groups for some recipe-making by alchemy “class” (Open participants are invited to work as their own group).

Artists will work with artists, imagineers will work with imagineers, remixers will work with remixers, performers will work with performers. So find your alchemy #arganee team, converge in your own imaginary kitchens, and get to work together whipping up your special Master Chef recipe!

From the Basket Picker use the Master Chef tab on the Cooking With Anger website. This will yield a potpourri of random of ingredients for you to incorporate into your own special recipe/story.

Remember, your recipe is a digital media story. It should be a blend of text, images, sound, video, etc (the more media you use the better your Health Board point payoff). It is a co-authored act of alchemy.

If there is a bit of magic in it, there will be a kind of transmutation in it. We hope to savor the transformative quality of your recipe/story. Does your Master Chef recipe lead others to understand something differently? Does it shift realities or convert, mutate, or reconstruct something in new light?

Working together takes particular skills: collaboration, sharing of vision and talent, division of labor, and negotiation. M Prophetissima knows that such work takes some organizing (project management), and she suggests the development of a clear plan and timeline for production to get your recipe completed on time and posted on both #Arganee and the CWA site (cross-post please). Recipes should be posted by Monday, April 17th.

You will start your work under the rising Pink Moon on Wednesday (in class), but you might need to prepare together beyond our Wednesday gathering. It is up to your kitchen team to determine together the best implementation plan (timeline and division of labor).

To alchemical stories that transform!!
Bon ap·pé·tit!

Go Forth and Make Alchemy!

Let’s show these other goaafy cooks how good we are at cooking up stories! And stay tuned, because next week we will be taking them on in a live challenge.

Remember to post notes, your own messages to this blog on your progress. It all counts towards the Health Board.


Featured Image: “Munich – Deutsches Museum – 07-9637” Wikimedia Commons photo © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0

First Mission

This is your first Arganee mission, to make your alchemy character that will operate in this mirror world. It is the only way to move forward, and once forward, you are forever changed. Will you take this gamble?

As a “character” you should consider this only partly a projection of your current selves, but also include augmented by powers, capabilities you may think you lack or ones you wish to explore. Your Arganee Alchemist is not you, but is connected to you. Think of its own self, but you shall know it the most.

In this mission you will create your name, a new twitter account, a set of attributes/skills and avatar, and decide upon which class of alchemist you will play in this world.

Do not reveal your character back in the human world. You can talk about them as if you are interacting, and you can use your own “blog” to talk about what this alchemist is communicating with you– essentially you are to juggle being two characters who may even communicate with each other in public.


This set of instructions is, as your instructor Alan Levine describes, a “long scroller” (he has such strange vocabulary we are still learning).

But by the time you finish this you will be a functioning Arganee Alchemist.

Your Alchemist Name

If you have not done so already, create your Alchemist’s name following the suggestions in DDA92 (complete this as a DDA, ok?). If your name is long, fine, but consider as well a shorter “handle” version that will work as a twitter name.

For example, I am Rebeg Abu Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān Maestro more simply in twitter as @rebegmaestro, in this blog and hypothes.is as rebeg. So make a name for yourself. Now, ok? Go to it. This is the easy part. Much more awaits.

Your Alchemist Avatar

Yes, we are asking that everyone create a visual representation; to make it less laborious, yet offering flexibility, and visually consistent we are asking that you use RinmaruGames Avatar Creator. Do not fret over this, but at least create a starter avatar. Make sure you save it as a file on your computing device.

Your Digital Alchemist Skills

Your digital alchemist will be defined as having skills in four media areas detailed below. In your entrance to the Mirror world, you will distribute 20 Skill Points to each skill. You should consider 2 of them as extensions of your own abilities as strengths (S) and 2 of them as ones where you can use growth (G). This is part of defining a character who is like you and unlike you.

The four Arganee Media Skill areas are:

  • Visual (photography, memes, drawing, finding images, gif editing images, combining imagery)
  • Writing (poetry, argument, reflection, narrative, chatm blogging)
  • Social (twitter, comments, encouraging, performing, connecting)
  • Audio (spoken, recording, editing, finding)

Once more, this need not reflect your own strengths, these are for a character you will inhabit.

Your Digital Alchemist Class

There are four “types” of Arganee Digital alchemists; they may have different media strengths, but these are more like meta level roles. Your “class” may define clans / guilds or ways to combine to work better together.

Now here is the trick. Because Arganee is powered by a ecosystem of balance, the Kean University students will be asked to choose a class such that there are a minimum of 3 alchemists in each class. Again, remember this is not you per se, but your character. (Open participants can choose any of their liking; the Kean group’s distribution is sufficient to create foundational balance).

These are the “classes” of Arganee alchemists:

  • Artist The artist creates works that capture attention, provide commentary, expression provoke emotion (often negative) about the world around them, using all forms of physical and digital media. The seek out ways to communicate differently. Arts are both creations novel, strange, familiar, and extraordinary. While sometimes successful, often they labor in despair and self questioning, and frequently feel undervalued, misunderstood. The artist is often outside the bounds of society and norms. Often they are misunderstood, and parents may warn their children to avoid them.
  • Remixer creates as well, but not from raw materials, but by cleverly combining elements, media that are in existence, but in new ways. The remixer works in both media and ideas. What they create may come off as confusion, noise not some while others fine serene beauty in a remix. A remixer battles the perception that because they do not create from raw, like the Artist, that perhaps they are less of a creator. But deep down they know that there is creativity in combination, for what they produce is more than the addition of parts. Remixers believe all works in the world are open to their efforts; thus they often find themselves at odds with property owners.
  • Imagineer A visionary, a futurist, but also someone keenly aware and informed of the past. The Imagineer visualizes and devises ideas outside what exists or has been done, and sees possibility where others see limits. More than just technology or materials, the imagineer also sees possibilities in culture, society, behavior. Often ridiculed as idealistic sky gazers, the best imagineers straddle the worlds of known and potential. They can get so caught up in dreaming ideas that they may forget to eat or sleep.
  • Performer Is not strictly an entertainer, thought they are popular– the Performer brings ideas, stories to life in a way everyone can appreciate and understand. They deeply understand what moves people, what makes them react. The performer extends immense amounts of energy on communicating, so much that they may have trouble relaxing. In fact, there are no reports of relaxing performers. What the do takes place not only in public performance spaces, but also online, in small groups, in writing. Performing is very effusive communicating. They often struggle with their own existence when they deeply take on other characters.

Complete Your Alchemist Character Card

For the Arganee experience you will maintain a “card” representing you character, both as an identifier, but also a reminder you yourself. And it is something you will update as you progress. These are also public records all managed as a Google Doc.

Here are ones for myself and M Prophetissima:

Rebeg Maestro’s Arganee Alchemist Card
M Prophetissima’s Arganee Alchemist Card

Now it is time to make one for yourself! Get a copy of the template (this will save as a file in your own Google Drive so only you can edit) and start modifying.

Hints:

  • Control or right click on the avatar icon and select Replace Image to upload your own avatar
  • For the skill points, double click the empty bubble, you can then double click it in the drawing editor to enter a number.
  • For the S and G indicators the easist way to show your selection is to turn the text of the other value white (hide it).
  • To enable others in Arganee (and beyond) to see your card, click the Share button in the top right, then click Get Sharable Link. Copy the URL it provides.
  • Try to get screen shot of your entire card (you will need it later) by zooming out on your screen.

Also note that we will tweet to each other using a #arganee hash tag to talk each other. We are practicing speaking about our work in somewhat of a public space, so be careful not to share any direct links to this site. Only those who can find their way here the way you did should be here. It is for the good of us all.

As a suggestion for managing multiple accounts and hashtags, we strongly suggest using Tweetdeck on your computer. It is the best way to manage the flow of twitter.

Your Alchemist Twitter Account

Your alchemy character now needs to communicate to others; we are going to ask you to create a second (or maybe 9th for some of you) twitter account. You can do this by (a) logging out of your current account; (b) using a second web browser or device where you are not logged into twitter; or (c) in Chrome try FileNew Incognito Window.

If you need a reminder of the steps, we have that place for you in the Labyrinthus. Note that you will have to use an email address that is different from what is used in other twitter accounts. You can consider (a) creating a Yahoo mail account (b) creating a new gmail account in a browser where you are not logged into your regular account; (c) If you have a gmail.com account you actually have an “infinite” number of other email addresses — if you add a string after your user name separated by a plus sign, other web sites consider it a unique address, but all email goes to your main account… for example if I am rebegthemagnificent@gmail.com I can use as a unique new address something like rebegthemagnificent+arganee@gmail.com.

Create an account for your alchemy character. Use the avatar you created. And in the bio, list your skills and class… then announce yourself to us all! Like I did as a demonstration:

Check out my profile, snazzy eh?

Now you should get your alchemis talking, finding / following others in #arganee. Use your twitter to create a new “voice” for your alchemist. Heck, you can have it converse your main twitter account.

Plug Your Alchemist into the Arganee System

This is all the set up! The success of Arganee relies on everyone in there being “connected” so we have an entry form where you will provide us some details on your Alchemist. Register your alchemist now with our sign in form. All of the activity in Arganee over the next month will be linked to this “heart” and you will have soon a Health Board for the entire community that shows our progress as well as your individual status. The Board will show how much progress everyone needs to make to boost the energy levels back into the positive zone.

In addition, when we get your information we will create an account for you on this blog so you can file notes and reports on your activity. We will ask for your first post to submit a greeting that includes a screenshot of your card, a link to its Google Doc public URL, and anything else your Alchemist wants to share (if this was a class announcement it would be one of those nasty lists of things to do; we don’t do that here). You are a digital alchemist now and can make your own writing decisions.

Additional Activities This Week

We mainly want you to start inhabiting your Alchemist character and breathing life into them through twitter and this blog. You might want to do some Daily Digital Alchemies from your new account.

There are two more things you can explore this week. These are not “assigned” (because we do not do assignments in Arganee) but efforts on them will contribute to boosting score and health levels for yourself and the community as a whole. Let us know what you did on these by writing a blog post on this site.

The Shared Alchemy Lab Shelf

The Networked Narratives course experience so far as thrown a lot of web tools at you. Do you remember them all? Let’s put together a shared resource of all tools we have encountered and what novel ways they might work for us in Arganee.

Contribute to the Shared Alchemy Lab Shelf.

Giving Voice to your New Twitter Account: Make a Bot

Many of you seemed interested in twitter bots, maybe its time to put one to work to give your new Alchemist a regular amount of “character”.

Try out the one Zach Whalen created that generates tweets from a Google Spreadsheet. There are a few steps to get authentication keys for your new account (you do not have to create another account as his directions indicate).

Giving your twitter a bot voice will certainly boost Arganee scores.


That’s your mission! If you need me, add a comment to this post, or contact me on twitter @rebegmaestro or my esteemed colleague @MProphetissima, or just anyone else via the #arganee hash tag.


Rebeg