Lessons from the AMC2013 survey results

Thank you to everyone who gave us feedback on AMC2013. We have spent the past few months pouring over 120 responses to the AMC2013 Reflections Survey. In your responses you told us what you loved about AMC2013, what you learned, and what we could do to make the next AMC even more accessible, creative, skill-driven and community-oriented.

Below are some of our key takeaways from your reflections.

Expertise is a good thing

In the survey, we heard a repeated request for more sessions that allow presenters to share their specific expertise. This doesn’t mean the entire 90 minute sessions needs to be a lecture. But for some kinds of information it is more effective to present it in the form of a compelling, accessible presentation followed by a good old-fashioned Q & A, than to fill up the majority of a 90 minute session with small group discussions and report-backs. We also heard people asking for more concrete tools and resources coming out of sessions (whether digital or printed handouts).

We need a moratorium on introduction go-arounds!

The impulse to have everyone’s voice "in the room" before a session starts by having people go around and introduce themselves is great. However, a significant number of survey respondents lamented the fact that this process of giving introductions could eat up as much as 45 minutes of a 90 minute session. For AMC2014 we will be sharing more tips for presenter best practices and we will be sharing those tips in more exciting formats (like videos and webinars, in addition to the AMC Zine and other text-based materials). One of the big tips we will be pushing: skip the introduction go-around.

Accessibility and emotional safety are things we can plan for

For AMC2013 we were able to help presenters think through accessibility and emotional safety concerns related to their session content in advance of the AMC, thanks to resources that were compiled by the coordinators of the Healing Justice Practice Space and the Creating Collective Access delegation. However, we still have work to do. For AMC2014 we will add questions to the session proposal form asking presenters if their session content could be emotionally triggering, and to describe their plans for accessibility and emotional safety.

The AMC’s online tools are awesome and overwhelming

We heard a lot of people say that the online tools of AMC2013 knocked their socks off – the session browser, the etherpads for collective note-taking, the housing and ride share boards, the online store. We heard just as many people say that either they didn’t realize the tools existed until it was too late, or that they found them hard to navigate. We will continue to try to refine our online tools, promote them earlier, and create more instructional videos and how-to guides for navigating them.


Logistics are the magic that makes participation possible

At its best the AMC is a smooth-sailing media spaceship. Logistics for us are not just ways to efficiently manage everything that happens throughout the weekend – they are a way of attempting to embody the world we’d like to see. Our goal is to make the AMC accessible to all participants and model ways to build inclusivity and safety. Thanks to your feedback, our aspirations for embodying accessibility next year include critical additions like:

  • having an ASL interpreter during the Opening Ceremony
  • printing larger, more visually accessible print schedules
  • employing a system for visually indicating people’s preferred gender pronouns
  • stationing a volunteer at the Towers Residence Hall front desk to manage housing concerns
  • providing clearer resources for language translation
  • and placing noisy sessions in sound-proof areas and respecting when sessions need quiet

We can put our commitment to privacy and resistance to online surveillance into practice at the AMC

The AMC is one of the most thoroughly documented events. This is awesome because it lets us reminisce and revel in how beautiful everything was. However, we need better practices for securing consent from our fellow AMC-ers before capturing and sharing their images, words and names on the Internet. One idea for next year is to create a color-coded lanyard system that will allow participants to indicate whether or not its ok to take their picture, attribute quotes to them, etc.

We will give you more of what you loved

Intentionality, emergence, data visualization, healing justice, live radio broadcast, connecting with local cultural institutions, the "Discotech" (Discovering Technology Fair), gorgeous print materials, queerness, science and social movements, hands-on practices, Detroit tours, diversity of content, music and dancing, cross-track collaborations, youth-led sessions, inter-generational spaces – over the next year we’ll be laying the groundwork to ensure that the most awesome parts of AMC2013 come back bigger and badder at AMC2014!

Photo by Vanessa Miller

Important conversations and questions

We asked, "What was the most important conversation you had at AMC2013?" and "What new questions did AMC2013 provoke for you?" You told us:

I can write a new world as a Black girl. Usually Black girls are[n’t] supposed to be into tech, science fiction or math. But the AMC gave me the courage to pursue a career in that area. I finally put it out in the universe at AMC that I want to be a statistician.

What does sustainable ally-ship look like?

A conversation that started in the wearable electronics session that resulted in lots of mindblowing "you mean, this is something that normal, non-engineer people can do FOR THEMSELVES" grew into a "if you're interested in this, let's meet up on social media" and turned into "how can these principles change the way I live my life?"

seeing the practice of meta-skills, like facilitation, in sessions. Seeing how some session presenters acknowledge deeply felt and important personal experiences that are connected to a topic or discussion, but still maintain the general trajectory of a session is really impressive and a skill I try to replicate in the projects and movements I'm a part of.

very interesting discussions about internet security and urban gardening.

Developing a co-op design firm as a possible future plan. Design Action's presentation on their business was truly the turning point in my focus of what I want to do as a web designer/developer and communicator.

"Reclaiming Tech" – we not only need to learn the tools, we need to be able to run this shit!

We’re looking forward to an amazing 16th AMC, so save the date: June 19 - 22, 2014. We’re especially excited to explore content that takes these lessons to heart and that pushes our media-based organizing to new heights. We’re so grateful for the feedback, brilliant questions and suggestions of you, our amazing and powerful network. Thanks to all who completed the survey!

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