We received 247 responses to our post-AMC2012 reflection survey. That is a more than 10% response rate from the nearly 2,000 people who gathered at the AMC. Read on for a report on the results!
The survey process is exciting for AMP staff because we get to hear feedback like: "The AMC is a giant love bomb, mainlined straight to your heart, of the most dope people on the planet...Something I go back to every year to figure out where my life is going next and how we're going to change the world."
But in addition to the love letters, the reflection survey is also a space for constructive critique and honest feedback which informs the evolution of the AMC each year. We greatly appreciate the contributions of our survey respondents!
Responses to the last reflection survey led us to prioritize innovations at AMC2012 including: the pull-out schedule grid, better Internet connectivity (thanks to our friends at the Open Technology Institute), offering delicious low-cost, healthy food from the Peoples' Kitchen, and an entire day of pre-conference strategy-building for the sub-networks within the AMP network. Read more of what was new at AMC2012 here.
We plan to continue to evolve the vision and plans for the AMC based on participant feedback. We are now preparing for the 15th annual Allied Media Conference, coming up June 20-23, 2013 in Detroit.
Below are some highlights from the AMC2012 reflection survey which will inform the planing of the next AMC:
WHO TOOK THE SURVEY
We had a record number of responses to the AMC2012 reflections survey. Here are some of the organization affiliations of those who took the survey:
Colorado Anti-Violence Program, AdvoCare, Inc., Radio CPR (Washington, DC), National Lawyers Guild, Keepers of the Water, The Work Department, NMU Center for Native American Studies, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, St. Paul Neighborhood Network, Open Technology Institute, Forward Together, The Louisiana Weekly, Prometheus Radio Project, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Austin Indymedia, Salon_ed, Civil Liberties and Public Policy (Hampshire College), Al Jazeera, Crunk Feminist Collective , Quirky Black Girls, American Indian Health & Family Services, Detroit Summer, Ruth Ellis Center, Lake Effect Free Alternative Health Clinic, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Free Press, Radio CPR, Sins Invalid, Mangos With Chili, 5e/Heru, DAY Project, Aten Design Group, Meta-Activism Project, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan, Local 782 - San Antonio Music Coalition, University at Buffalo (NYSR).
ONLINE AND COMMUNICATION TOOLS
For AMC2012 we worked with our design and web development partners The Work Department to upgrade the analog and online tools of the AMC with the goal of making conference content more intuitive and accessible. Here is some of the feedback on those tools:
"Get the same designer."
"The book and schedule matrix went hand in hand. I used them both throughout the entire weekend. I would recommend leaving in a few notes / contact pages in the book next time."
"... maps, more maps, love maps! ;)"
"The program guide is great, but could be improved by some simple things, like putting the workshop block (number and time) in the header/footer of each page (I often had to flip back several pages to figure out which block I was reading about). I find the graphic design pleasing."
"The program book and visual designs were incredible. They made it entirely easy to navigate the conference. And, they looked delicious (to the eyes)."
"The large pullout schedule from the program book really saved the day."
View the AMC2012 program book and schedule matrix here.
"I'm looking forward to trying to stay more on top of paying attention to AMPtalk as things are being planned next year."
"it was *great* that everything you needed to ask of us going be done through the site. the logistics requests, submission of presentation info, etc. that was awesome that it could all be in one place."
"I w[ould] love to have a blog where folks can post content like audio podcast next year :)"
"Having the workshop descriptions on the website in advance allowed me to work through the massive offerings for the weekend. I liked being able to bookmark workshops I was interested in."
"As a presenter, it was difficult to navigate to my workshop's page on talk.alliedmedia.org, but overall the site worked great."
View the AMC2012 Session Browser here.
"Used twitter with hashtags for sessions and #AMC2012. Found tons of useful information and made connections during sessions in this way."
"I tweeted my ass off! the Etherpads worked!"
"I liked the idea of Twitter hashtags for each workshop but they didn't seem to be used very much - if that's something you want to push, I'd advise workshop leaders to say that aloud at the start of the workshop."
"Pre-establishment of Etherpad notes for each session was a key innovation that allowed everyone's knowledge to collect in a single known place."
"I think an orientation session and maybe some screencasts or blog posts familiarizing people with these tools before the conference and at the beginning of the conference would help increase people's use of these tools."
"AMPtalk forums helped me find a ride and place to stay. Thanks!"
"I felt a little embarrassed that I was like, the only person who uploaded a picture. I appreciated the message boards...what worked was good old fashioned writing it on the physical message board my the help desk at the conference. So I hope you keep doing that!"
"They are great - from A to Z -- i.e. from finding a ride share from the airport before the conference to.... now - I'm reading notes from sessions I wasn't able to attend. (BTW - how long will this info be up and available?)"
"I found the forums (talk.alliedmedia.org) to be confusing to use, with many of the threads on there from previous years..."
Websites, in general
"The web sites were great! Visually stimulating."
"The website is great for those who are engaged, but to someone who visits the site for the 1st time - I think it can be confusing and they might really miss the pith of what AMC is."
"Really beautiful stuff. Though I think for the online stuff the form took precedent over the function, which is not a good trade off when we're talking about logistical information related to a conference."
"I kept getting confused about what was the regular website and what was the AMP store and I think I had different log-ins and passwords for each (to further my confusion)."
Our system of websites supporting AMC promotion, information-sharing, discussion and organizing, and e-commerce has gotten fairly complex. Your feedback is super helpful as we set next-stage development priorities for upgrading and streamlining these systems.
A lot of logistics go into this 4-day, nearly nonstop event. Below are highlights from the survey that capture some of our successes from this year and challenges for 2013.
"It's too intense sometimes. We need go carts to get around. We need nap times build in. WE NEED NAP TIMES BUILT INTO THE SCHEDULE."
"Maybe a few more gender neutral washrooms, although I totally appreciate the difficulty in dealing with the Wayne State administration."
"It all worked really smoothly, yet there could have been more signage, maps etc made available beforehand. I felt that I arrived with little knowledge about how it all actually worked, and that caused some anxiety."
"...did not know about the exhibition space until someone told me about it at the end of the conference. It would be great to have more information about it and who the vendors are."
"I feel like the AMC has spread over to more parts of the Wayne State University campus, and that sessions felt less crowded than last year. Thank you! I also really appreciated the formal inclusion of a safety team and going scent-free."
"Mostly everything was great - rooms, signs, etc. I would have liked to have more coffee available in the morning especially on Sunday when everything nearby was closed. But you did a great job with the restaurant info in the program book. I appreciated the free shuttle on Monday to the airport but only heard about it by word of mouth."
"Took a minute to figure it all out, but once I did, I found it to be pretty smooth and well coordinated."
For AMC2013 we will be troubleshooting tour logistics, food options, signage and presenter coordination and space requirements. We are pushing up deadlines so we can get further out ahead of logistical challenges. Our goal is for announcements and deadlines to be pushed earlier for AMC2013. We also want to produce more instructional literature and info-graphics to help participants navigate the AMC.
Each year, the content of the conference evolves and so does as the form and function of media in our lives and work continues to change. With nearly 300 session proposals, the process of selecting sessions for the AMC took over 70 people and weeks of reviewing. We will continue to improve this AMC content proposal and review process so that we continue to bring AMC participants the most forward-thinking content each year. Here's some of what you said about content at AMC2012:
"I'm still looking for the words. I go to college for photography, and this was way worth the money spent. AMC is better than any art school."
"Almost all of the sessions were right on the mark. They were helpful, informative, engaging and inspirational. Naturally, not 100% of the sessions could fill this tall order, but most of them did."
"I loved making my own transmitter! The skill-share classes were my favorite."
"A couple of sessions I was in seemed to go too far towards letting the audience decide how the session should go, and away from well-structured facilitation."
"Some of the workshops were full and I could not attend all that I wanted to. I would have liked those workshops to have been repeated."
"While I love what AMC has become, I wish there were some 'traditional' media workshops. For example, workshops on reporting, or on working in media industry (like the 2011 panel on decolonizing the media)."
"I was delighted with the degree of depth and sensitivity that serious issues were dealt with, also the positive and constructive tone that overrode the somber subject matter!"
We look forward to AMC2013 being especially rich in quality content that engages participants theoretically, practically and imaginatively while remaining accessible. Stay tuned for a call for AMC2012 proposals.
This year we kicked off with a Thursday evening showcase hosted by the Detroit Future network. Friday was the AMC Opening Ceremony followed by our traditional karaoke, bowling, and rock 'n roll party. Saturday we presented a genre-bending dance party at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and a group of AMC participants self-organized an alternative event, "the Treehouse," a non-noisy, sober and chill alternative to the cray cray MOCAD dance party. Sunday we said goodbye at the Cass Cafe with an amazing evening of DJs and dancing. We had fun and judging by the pictures here and here and here many of you did too. Check out some really helpful feedback about the weekend's nighttime events below.
"Waajeed was uh-mazing!!!!!! And MEN's performance was great. I wasn't able to stay for the after party but Fri and Sat night's couldn't have been better. These events also really helped create a space for our group of youth members and staff to bond."
"The tribute to D. Blair during the opening ceremony was very moving, and I'm a Black Opera fan now."
"I danced my ass off. i loved emily wells."
"The opening ceremony was too long."
"I just attended the people's kitchen/health issues dinner. That was very nice. Otherwise, the audience for these events were a bit generational for me. I would have felt out of place."
"I appreciated there being a sober, mellow space (the Treehouse) even though I didn't take advantage of it. Maybe next year this could be expanded?"
"I didn't go to them all. I was alone and felt some social awkwardness about getting there and being alone in a social space."
"...at the museum - very cool event, but hot and muggy in the building."
"For someone who generally isn't a big fan of social events, I had a great time."
WHAT IS THE MOST USEFUL THING YOU LEARNED AT AMC? WHAT WILL YOU BRING BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY?
"What was most useful to me was more a feeling and a realization that I am not alone and that way more people than I knew think of things I do and feel the way I do and that made me feel more comfortable and less alone in the world."
"I learned what i want to learn more about, namely, concrete skills. Thats a shift from the intellectual land my brain spends a lot of time in that land."
"Readiness to dive deep!"
"I have already decided to open a safe space chat room for qtpoc sex workers and have begun to network with those in that community so we can work to create more safety and a place to speak our mind in peace online. I would not have thought to do this without attending the AMC."
"I will bring back a level of creative resilience in the projects I engage in."
"Choreography basics, in a workshop in the Movement track."
"Learned about some of my own unmet needs and lingering trauma with the Black (female) Masculinity folks."
"I want to build a chatterbox to do oral history recordings."
"I learned that my comic-book making is media! I honestly never thought it was, but with all the comic workshops there I now see it as a whole different thing. Having those workshops there made me realize that."
"I learned that Applications for my web site and service could be developed for lots of different devices and that some folk are willing to create these apps for us free of charge. I never considered free of charge for this service."
"A desire to be more politically engaged in my academic work, to make sure it helps activists."
"I learned new strategies for building a successful book group, which I plan to put into action soon. And I learned that boots and cats sounds like beatboxing."
"I think I'm bringing back a nourished and invigorated version of myself to my many communities, both geographic communities and communities of identity. Also, I'm bringing a reassuring sense that being a parent doesn't end my involvement in this space I hold so dear. Which is a relief!"
We are posting additional in-depth reflections on the experience of delegations and other groups at the AMC on the AMP Blog. Now's also a good time to follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we are sharing links to these and other reflections.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE AMC TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER BEEN?
"omg! I can't! I would just take them with me and let them experience it for themselves. Five of us came from Toronto in the same car, and none of us left with the same experience!"
"The magic secret home you thought might exist when you were small, the place where all your magic secret selves could be loved and fulfilled."
"I would describe it as a conference focused on alternative media outlets, networking between people of various interests, a platform for people who generally are excluded from mainstream media to create their own platforms and a conference that is friendly to people of various walks of life and want to bring like minded people together."
"It's a gathering of storytellers."
"Ok, its like if neon was slingshot (gracefully) into outer space and there were all these badass ships...where you were really really really welcomed to come on board and explore the ship and decide where it goes and stuff."
"An amazing conference bridging media, social justice, activism, and technology, with a heavy youth focus. Fantastically diverse and inclusive, on a level that other conferences should aspire to."
"Queer Art College"
"A meeting of lots of different artists, media makers, techies and other amazing people coming together to use media to transform the world, strategize and share they are doing this, and a showcase of some serious talent.""
"A conference for individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in all facets of media, from content to ownership to distribution."
"magical, exhilarating, exhausting. Be prepared to get very little sleep for 3 days, but to learn so much, meet so many new people doing amazing and exciting work, and come home feeling a little bereft but very inspired."
"A deeply inspiring conference where you can bring your whole self, kick it with beautiful people and learn creative ways to use media to create social change."
"queer hacker dance party a gogo. resort for geeks. how do you spell LED. radical dj fest.""
"People always say there's gold at the end of a rainbow. Well the AMC is the rainbow. Don't walk to the end--walk into it--be one with it."
WHAT IS YOUR WILDEST HOPE FOR WHAT THE AMC COULD BECOME?
"That it will grow to have participants from even further around the globe!"
"It would be amazing to see AMP develop the practice spaces & gatherings into year-round events, maybe even create some public facilities like a collaborative/participatory arts/performance space or restaurant/bar/cafe."
"That more Detroiters will attend and the conference will become a more recognized institution for reshaping what media can look like in Detroit and other communities. And that more people will be able to afford to attend."
"That all the sessions are videoed so they can be shared with others who could not attend (and as a teaching tool) All the sessions have power point presentations and resource available in a searchable format."
"That AMC would have a youth advisory board."
"Maybe that there could be some ongoing or extended residential program for collaborations..."
"The people and ideas at AMC will completely revolutionize mainstream media."
"An incubator for a new type of decentralized leadership and technological innovator."
Many thanks to the participants, presenters, organizers and supporters of the 14th annual Allied Media Conference. We look forward to another year of building capacity and improving design so that the 15th AMC can be the best ever. See you Summer 2013.