Technology has always had a role in shaping how narratives are created, distributed, tracked and absorbed into society. Today, technology moves the words, pictures and meaning of narrative around the world in seconds. Technology helps us track the movement of narrative and research how narrative shifts behavior.
Narrative Technology encompasses the tools, platforms, and infrastructure that can be used to assist and accelerate the shifting and/or maintenance of dominant narratives. These include, but aren’t limited to, technologies that can baseline, listen to, test, and respond to media and online discourse at scale."
Narrative Tech | Big Listening | Listening | Story tech | Organizing | Internal Coordination & Communication
- Narrative Technology Case Studies, by Narrative Initiative
- Learn how 3 years of Big Listening (and testing) may change your campaigning, by Ted Fickes, MobLab
- Invest in Listening Infastructure, Sabrina Hersi Issa, The Engaged Journalism Lab
- Using “Big Listening” and “Distributed Campaigning,” Upwell Seeks a Sea-Change in Ocean Organizing, by Micah L. Sifry, TechPresident
- Tech Across Your Org: Sharing a Cause and Data Across Multiple Orgs, by Rachel Weidinger, NTEN Change
- Can Democrats Win Back the Internet in the Age of Trump?, by Peter Hamby, Vanity Fair
- Narrative Tech: Categories, needs and what’s next by Ted Fickes
- Why Your Nonprofit Should Be A Big Listener by Rachel Weidinger, featured by Beth Kanter
- Digital Listening: Insights from social media, a critical take on political campaigns’ use of these technologies, from a personal data perspective, by Tactical Tech’s Our Data, Ourselves project
Books and chapters
- This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality, by Peter Pomerantsev
- pp 212-217 in The Big Disconnect, by Micah L. Sifry
- “Your campaign budget is the Internet —Rachel Weidinger” in Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy, by David Karpf
There are lots of different models for deploying technology in support of narrative change. Below are a collection of some exciting narrative tech projects.
There are tools that monitor public digital conversations. Those that we classify as “big listening” technologies also help us separate signal from noise, identify themes, and better understand how conversations respond to events, influencers and communications strategies. These tools give us insight into the “why” of a conversation. They can also model the networks in which narratives operate.
These tools are often expensive (Brandwatch/Consumer Research) and purpose-built (usually not for social change). They can also be free but come with a significant learning curve (MIT’s Media Cloud).
Listening is something people have always done (see every focus group ever). Today, most groups deploy tech to help listen to and monitor online conversations. Listening can include things like traditional and/or social media tracking. Approaches can be low-fi (hashtag analysis) and low or medium cost (Google Analytics and Google Trends). Basic listening doesn’t employ data scraping, machine learning, or network visualization and analysis.
Stories are the mosaic tiles that make up deep narratives. The key role stories play in disseminating deep narratives give story tech a place in the narrative tech spectrum. When we talk about "story tech" we’re thinking of storybanks, audio and podcasting tools to share and tell immersive stories.
Much of narrative change practice draws on principles from community or political organizing. As such, the robust set of tools and practices associated with digital organizing can be useful narrative tech. This includes: email, SMS text-to-action programs, and digital ad buys.
Internal Coordination & Communication
Narrative change work takes a high level of coordination. From email to WhatsApp and Slack to web conferencing, the tools we use to coordinate with each other, activists, members, volunteers and other audiences can help build and maintain alignment, operationalize narrative work, and connect a narrative “nervous system” of collaborators.
Curated by Narrative Initiative
Narrative Initiative is a training and networking resource for leaders and organizations dedicated to building fairer, more inclusive societies. They catalyze durable narrative change in order to make equity and social justice common sense.
Curators are not responsible for all of the entries in their categories.
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