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.
In a session provocatively titled: Stop Scaring People About AI, we facilitated a discussion on the most common narratives about Artificial Intelligence in popular culture. While it’s not so simple as creating “happier” messages about AI, we do think there are healthier alternatives to the narrative status quo in this space.
We had a lightning round to identify recognizable examples of the most common narratives in tech and participants shared their own experiences with healthier narratives in pop culture. Big Hero 6, with its robot’s moral code, and even Pinocchio, and its lessons in transparency, were surfaced as stories that show technology evolving when humans are given agency over its design.
We put this new understanding of a healthy AI narrative into practice by making some memes! Some of these memes were definitely of the “you had to be there” variety, but they all proved to be an effective way of applying what we’d learned: telling stories that promote agency and empower people have the best chances of reaching and resonating with a general public.
One of our favorite memes from our Mozfest session. Drake gets healthy AI.
Before narratives can be shifted in culture (via memes or media), storytellers first need to understand their audience. We use the data that flow through culture — the TV, films, news, social media, and music — to tell us where audiences are; what kinds of stories they consume when they’re not thinking about social issues; what narratives they do encounter about issues like AI; and when a specific story represents a narrative opportunity to reach and resonate with them.
The 2021 CMA cohort is a group of Black artists examining AI’s relationship with racial justice. To help them understand where their audiences are in culture and what they care about when not thinking about AI, we’ve focused on 3 audience segments: Black Americans, Technologists, and Persuadables, each based on our previous research report, Beyond Demography: Black Audiences Online. We looked at what platforms audiences are most likely to spend time on and for how long; what sites they visit for news and entertainment; top YouTube channels, tags and influencers; and more cultural touchpoints.
Top Youtube influencers from January, 2021.
The goal with this audience research is to inspire new ideas during the content creation process and provide insight into how content might be distributed. This initial discussion with grantees also spurred new research questions from the creators, which our data science team will use to generate insights that can be integrated back into their media making practice.
Next up is individual coaching sessions with our Impact Producers, Jennifer MacArthur and Brett Gaylor, to develop individualized impact plans for each project that zero in on audience, story opportunities, and distribution strategies. We’re also working with teams to develop testing plans for their projects, so they can validate their initial hypotheses around the impact they are trying to achieve and any creative refinements they might make pre-launch to maximize the efficacy of their original project visions.
In our next update we’ll do a deep dive into the impressive slate of projects themselves and start to explore how media testing can be a valuable tool, not just for measurement after the fact, but for improving media during the creative process.