Advocacy and Meaningful Content Creation

by Samantha Wallace and Joyce McGee Brummet
Published July 25, 2018

The WE1S Research Blog posts discoveries, observations, and questions by project members bearing on WE1S's themes and methods. (For context, see "About" WE1S.)
The first sentence on the WE1S project’s About page is: “The 4humanities WhatEvery1Says project (WE1S) uses digital humanities methods to study public discourse about the humanities at large data scales.” However, generating knowledge about the discourse surrounding the humanities is only the first step in a larger effort. Advocating for the humanities with the data that is collected during the project is the next logical step in this larger effort, and it is important for the success of the project. The Imagining Outputs Team has begun to think through some of the ways that the project can best meet this advocacy goal. One way to do so is to reach a large audience in a way that is meaningful to each member of that audience. The project wants to know what everyone says about the humanities, but in advocating for the humanities, the project also needs to make sure that everyone gets the message.

The first way to make our findings meaningful for a variety of people is to create and disseminate our findings in a variety of ways. One person may not digest the information we create in the same way as another person will. Therefore, we need to make sure that the information we give different groups of peoples is geared specifically to these groups. Further, we need to ensure that the information we share is repurposable for them. For example, a politician may need data and visualizations to make information meaningful to them so they can share it. Yet, for a child, the project’s findings may only be meaningful if the content we create is entertaining. For the child’s parents, the project’s findings may only be meaningful for their child if the content is entertaining and informational. Ultimately, the aim of the Imagining Outputs Team is to create a large variety of information output types, which may each be useful for different demographics.

Beyond creating content that is meaningful to various people, we need to make sure that these people can access and receive this content. Simply put, we need to make sure that the content that is created for a specific demographic is disseminated on a platform that they will consume it on. For example, content created specifically for teens and young adults is most likely to be received with higher levels of engagement on Instagram, a platform which boasts users primarily of this demographic. If we want to create content for scholars, we need to ensure that the content is disseminated on a platform that scholars will find it, such as journals or even Twitter.

The Imagining Outputs Team has begun focusing on creating deliverables that reflect the project’s need to successfully disseminate meaningful content. One such deliverable is a Social Media Guide. This guide will serve as a set of instructions to ensure that the project effectively uses and takes advantage of social media networks to share content. The guide will have sections on style and marketing strategy. The style guide will ensure that even when our content is varied on different platforms, our message, tone, and aims are the same. The marketing strategy guide will ensure we’re making the most of our online presence. By setting goals that can be met with various campaigns, which will be outlined in the guide, we can ensure that our social media audiences are constantly engaged. Some other deliverables include: data visualizations, which will ensure that the project’s information is easily accessible; a curriculum lab that will help educators share the project’s findings and other related materials in classrooms; and interactive games for children to make the humanities fun and accessible.