Georgia Civil Society 2.0
How are Georgian civil society organizations using social media to engage citizens, spark change, and shift public policy? Implemented between May 2012 and June 2013, Georgia Civil Society 2.0 was an action research project designed to assess needs and practices, deliver training and resources, and weave networks. Georgia Civil Society 2.0 focused specifically on using social media and other ICT tools, data visualization, and information design to improve policy analysis and advocacy. The project was one component of the Policy, Advocacy, and Civil Society in Georgia (G-PAC) initiative — a four-year effort (2010–2014) implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) with funding from USAID to strengthen civil society’s role in advocating for, influencing the development and implementation of, and monitoring effective public policy reforms in Georgia.
- How are Georgian civil society organizations using new media to engage citizens, advocate for change, and shift public policy?
- How can we create links between people who create data (think tanks, researchers), activists, bloggers, and journalists?
- As more civil society organizations use social media (especially Facebook) and cloud services, what are the issues surrounding online identity, privacy, and security?
- Is civic action moving between online and offline spaces? How?
- Does bolstering the open-source developer community contribute to strengthening civil society? If so, in what ways?
- Most organizations use custom applications, does this represent missed opportunities for connecting to vibrant and international open source communities?
Rapid Assessment — A rapid assessment of nine CSOs to determine their use of andneeds for advanced social media and ICT tools to achieve specific goals (e.g., election monitoring). The assessment consisted of nine one-hour meetings conducted in Tbilisi, Georgia, from May 14–22, 2012. The assessment was designed to get acquainted with each CSO's research and advocacy programs, focusing on organizational culture; communications materials and activities typically produced; how strategies/campaigns are developed and implemented (listening/research practices, theory of change, project management); use of ICT tools (social media, cloud services, and civic technologies), for advocacy as well as for coordination or administration; concerns and practices around privacy and security; and needs and interest to for further training, technical assistance, or ICT implementation. The assessment team also asked about individual information-seeking habits and use of social media and other ICT tools.
Desk Research — To complement the assessment interviews, TASCHA conducted a desk review, looking at attitudes and behaviors related to NGOs and civic participation; the Georgian media environment, blogosphere, and public access landscape; other organizations and donors working in the Georgian ICT, new media, and civic technology spaces, including research groups and projects (both current and past, Georgian and international); and new digital advocacy literature.
Training of Trainers — TASCHA delivered a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop for IREX/G-MEDIA project bloggers and journalists. The training included a three-hour participatory planning session and a full-day workshop. Curriculum development, teaching methods, upcoming trends, experiences using multimedia content-creation tools, mapping, web development, and developing social media strategy emerged as priorities during the planning session. A summary of the session is available for download.
Social Media Training for Regional CSOs — At the request of G-PAC, TASCHA added an informal, half-day training for regional CSOs to the project deliverables. The training was conducted in English with consecutive translation. Download the training presentation.
Mentoring Team — Each of the nine CSOs who participated in the assessment were invited to select a representative for the mentoring team. All organizations agreed to: (1) Allocate to their representative a minimum of 10 days over three months, in addition to ensuring their participation in the 2-day festival and 2-day training; (2) Actively support their representative so that they have the time and space to attend all mentoring sessions, review materials, practice working with new technologies, and share with others; (3) Establish a simple process to review what the team member is learning, with the goal of ensuring knowledge skills/transfer and linking mentoring content to organizational goals; (4) Promoting the 2-day Civic Media Festival; and (5) Providing feedback on learning and remaining gaps. The seven mentoring sessions are co-led by TASCHA and JumpStart Georgia. Between sessions, members can connect via a private Google Group.
Online Resource Kit — TASCHA is curating a collection of resources for the members of the mentoring team. The kit has been added to CivicMedia.info in order to make it publicly available to those beyond the mentoring team. We privilege open resources (according to the Open Knowledge Foundation’s definition). The kit highlights good planning, essential tools, and examples. It may expand to include source code and datasets.
Unconference/Festival — Working with mentoring team members, TASCHA and JumpStart will facilitate a two-day unconference, drawing inspiration from the annual Mozilla Festival. The mentoring team would act as key co-organizers and co-facilitators. Sessions can be suggested in advance and documented using Lanyrd, a social conference tool.
Data Visualization for Advocacy Training — JumpStart Georgia will lead a two-day training on creating data-driven visualizations to advance public policy analysis and advocacy. This training builds on the readings, resources, and assignments covered during the mentoring sessions. Each participant has selected an issue and has been working to develop a campaign that will be augmented via data acquisition (survey, screen scraping, social network analysis, crowdsourcing, etc.), exploration, and storytelling/visualization. Both the mentoring and training components of the project are designed to:
- Avance data-driven debate, versus discourse driven by rumors
- Create “edible evidence” — something people want to examine and share, that raises awareness about an issue in a way that they can take in
- Distill organizational messages on key topics
- Create a tangible, useful output(s) while building skills