Here’s what’s sprouting at Dot Connector Studio — discover our latest strategy tool, hot spots we’ll be hitting in the next few months, and media picks.

tribecaWe’re collaborating with the Tribeca Film Institute, MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and The Fledgling Fund to develop visual models that capture key impact dynamics for interactive documentary makers.

iSeeChangeWe’re developing new outreach and partnership materials with iSeeChange executive producer Julia Kumari Drapkin for the national launch of this crowdsourced reporting project, which invites citizens to contribute observations about climate shifts from their own lives. The team will build upon the prototype developed through AIR’s Localore initiative, with new support from NASA to develop a related app.

CELWe’re putting our brains together with the newly formed Culture Lab at the Citizen Engagement Lab Education Fund to research how advocates can best use documentaries in social change campaigns.

ViewFromHereWe’re hunkering down with the producers of Capital Public Radio‘s multimedia documentary series, The View From Here, to evaluate and strengthen community engagement strategies for a recent project on food insecurity in the Sacramento region, as well as future productions.

YFA logoWe’re connecting with Your Fellow Americansa digital documentary series produced by Kansas City Public Television (KCPT) designed to raise questions for viewers about race, immigration, and the American Dream—to refine digital and community outreach strategies.


FindingAmericaAlso: We’re psyched to see who steps forward to apply for the next phase of AIR’s Localore project: Finding America!

Where we’ve been and where we’re going

In October, I helped to organize a daylong workshop with an amazing crew of creative makers, impact analysts and funders at Tribeca’s Interactive Media Impact Convening. Read all about it.

MIFIn November, I helped Media Impact Funders organize Media Impact Focus: Race, Justice and Media, an invitation-only event at Atlantic Philanthropies. We examined how news, documentary and strategic campaigns are making a difference in complex debates about the criminal justice system and helping to shift public opinion and policy on controversial issues such as profiling, solitary confinement and the school-to-prison pipeline.

strategytoolsIn February I returned to the 11th Annual Media That Matters conference at American University in Washington, DC, for a day focused on media and impact. I presented strategy tools we have helped to develop (download the latest one here!) and shared thoughts on putting the public back into public media.

Want to catch up in person? In April, find me at the fourth annual Tribeca Film Institute Interactive Day presenting on impact methods for participatory and transmedia docs.
Plus, Dot Connector Studio’s Katie Donnelly and I are working with Media Impact Funders to organize a Philadelphia-based funder convening on music discovery in public radio in May, as well as the next Media Impact Forum (see last year’s recap) and Media Impact Festival, slated for Menlo Park in June.

So, how do funders think about media impact?

Also with Media Impact Funders, the Dot Connector Studio team helped to produce a new report, Funder Perspectives: Assessing Media Investments, exploring the many lenses through which grantmakers view media evaluation.

The report includes insights from many of the largest funders in the field, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and Wyncote Foundation, as well as several smaller regional and family foundations.

Futures and farewells

leapI’m both thrilled and sad to have a piece featured in the final issue of Symbolia, an illustrated journalism tablet magazine created and edited by Dot Connector Studio Associate Erin Polgreen. The theme this time around: THE FUTURE.

Over the past two years it’s been fascinating to serve as an editorial advisor to this evolving project, and to watch Erin and the artists she works with branch out to partner with other outlets, including American Public Media, Tumblr, and the Showtime documentary series Years of Living Dangerously.

Leading an independent media project takes real fortitude, and this one’s had a great run! I’d encourage you to order up some back issues that will expand your concept of journalism. 

We’re looking forward to seeing what bold leaps Erin, and her co-founder Joyce Rice, decide to take next.

In our off hours…

The Dot Connector crew is:

  • Nerding out on Project Hieroglyph, which features sci-fi from the not-so-dystopian future, plus recent collections Women Destroy Science Fiction! And Twelve Tomorrows.
  • Gluing our ears to podcasts like Invisibilia to discover the unseen forces that shape our lives. Particularly recommended: the “Fearless” episode, which reveals how we keep perceiving the world as more and more dangerous, even as crime statistics keep dropping.
  • Getting our dander up with documentaries such as CITIZENFOUR (This Oscar-winning doc feels more like a thriller!) and Inequality for All, in which Robert Reich breaks down the maddening issues of income gaps and corporate greed with charming presentations and personal history.
  • Keeping an eye on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore—while it’s still finding its footing in some areas, we’re enjoying seeing commentary on social issues from whipsmart panelists like Issa Rae.

Whew! As you can tell, we’re crazy busy, but let us know what we can help you make…