Humans of Lincoln
Commons Campaign Proposal
For our Commons Campaign, the six of us will be imitating the successful promotion “Humans of New York,” bringing a new chapter to Lincoln.
Purpose and Scope
Exigence: Rarely are cities in the Midwest perceived to be very diverse, which is especially true for a town in which almost nine out of every ten people are white. However, like with many college campuses around the country, UNL is a crossroads for a wide array of people from different cities, states, and countries, all of whom have unique stories to tell. Unfortunately, not enough people in Lincoln are aware of all the diversity the city has to offer and have not had the chance to see the many facets of our campus, causing many of us to have a narrow, limited view of the people around us.
Fitting Response: Our response to the exigence at hand will be an effort to increase awareness of the present diversity on campus, create feelings of pride for a campus with so much variety, and instill ideas of unity in our audience through the creation of “Humans of Lincoln.” We’ll do this by interviewing students, faculty, and pedestrians, searching to find what makes every individual unique. In the end, hopefully we’ll be able to show our audience the humanity that exists around us, giving faces and stories to nameless strangers. This, ideally, will help people focus on what makes us different, interesting, and good.
Rhetorical Audience: Since we won’t be straying too far from campus, meaning that most of the people we’ll meet will be students or faculty of the university, the main rhetorical audience will be people affiliated with the school. However, because this campus is in the middle of the city, our audience can extend to any citizen of Lincoln that has access to social media.
Constraints: We’re only freshman, which could potentially cause an issue of ethos – we don’t have the authority or credibility of older, more experienced professionals, which may be a constraint while interviewing people older than us. Time will also be a limitation because we’re a group of six, all of us enrolled as full-time students; this may present issues of time management and matching schedules to work on the project. Also, technology won’t always be available to us – not all of us have professional cameras or recorders to bring with us, so even if we come across a perfect subject for an interview, we may not be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Lastly, because we’ll be asking some personal questions, there may be people that’ll be hesitant or reluctant to share their information.
Affordances: On the bright side, we are on a large campus that has plenty of diversity beneath the surface. Everyone has a story to tell, or something to say, so we shouldn’t be short on potential subjects. Another affordance is that we have access to a variety of social media, and many of us are well-versed in technology and able to navigate these sites. Also, although they may not be available consistently, we still do have broad access to equipment and resources we need to carry out this project, such as cameras, voice recorders, and photo/video editing software.
Inventivenes: This is a creative approach to the exigence at hand because instead of merely claiming our campus is diverse, we’ll be proving just how unique our society is while tying in an element of humanity to the situation. By involving various forms of social media, we’ll be reaching out to a wide array of potential audiences – old and young, educated and uneducated, etc. – and use both images and words in an artistic form of marketing.
Arrangement: We’ll go out in groups of two to three people and interview around four or five people at a time. Whoever is taking the photographs will upload the pictures and the descriptions onto our communal Google Docs account and designate which day each photo will be published (one photo per day). Every member in the group has been assigned to manage some form of social media, and so the person responsible for each website will visit the Google Docs account each day and post the designated photo with its corresponding caption. We’ve agreed to take a minimum of ten photos (with quotes and/or stories) per week so that we can choose the best ones for each day and have a bank of potential photos in case we fall short of our quota later during the project.
Style: We’re hoping to approach this with a sort of artistic minimalism. Stylistically, we don’t want to overwhelm our audience with flashy photos and long stories; rather, we want to post what an average reader can view and think about at any moment in their day, whether they be on their way to class, standing in the lunch line, or checking their Facebook before they go to bed. We also want the project to seem contemporary and clean, sort of mimicking the style of “Humans of New York.”
Memorability: Obviously, this isn’t a project that’ll take over the lives and conversations of everyone that participates in or views it. However, this should capture the attention of many students, faculty, and general citizens of Lincoln, making them at least question their preconceived stereotypes of the people around them. We’ll make this project memorable by designing something that is digestible for virtually everyone, hopefully spotlighting intense, unique stories that’ll work their ways into the minds of our audience. We don’t need to be flashy to be memorable. We just need remarkable stories and photos and a way of effectively transmitting them to our viewers.
Delivery: We’ll be posting photos and their corresponding texts to a variety of social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. At the end of the project, we will make a behind-the-scenes video to post to YouTube that’ll hopefully expand the scope of our audience.
Our first week will begin on Monday, October 13th. Every Sunday we will have a minimum of ten extra photos in our bank of possible posts. Each day, we will collectively post one photo on our three targeted forms of social media. Our last day of taking photos will be Tuesday, November 25th, as that is the last day before Thanksgiving break. Ideally, we’ll have enough reserved photos and quotes to continue to post through finals week. Breaks will not cut into our quota of 10 pictures a week, so by our final week, we should have over 60 to 70 photos.
As of right now, we’ve resolved that ten photos need to be taken a week for the group as a whole. Groups of two to three should go out at each other’s convenience. If we begin to have trouble meeting quotas, we may adjust assignments so that people belong to specific groups and/or each member is in charge of a certain number of photos to assure that our goals will be met.
For our commons campaign, we imitated the successful promotion of “Humans of New York,” bringing a new chapter to Nebraska and calling it “Humans of Lincoln.” Similar to “Humans of New York,” we took pictures of different people around our campus and our city and asked them a few questions to capture their essence. Some of the questions we asked dealt with what their biggest goal was, what they consider to be their happiest moment, what would be their best piece of advice for others, and how they began working. We purposefully would ask broad questions so that the people we interviewed were able to interpret our questions in their own way. If we believed there was more to say, we’d ask more specific questions so that they could expand on their answer. We started “Humans of Lincoln” to connect the many people around the campus of UNL and in Lincoln, as well as to demonstrate the uniqueness of everyone living here. We were able to interview over 40 Lincolnites in the past two months and share their stories on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Below are some screenshots of posts of our Facebook page.
Below are screenshots of our Facebook page’s statistics.
Our overall progress on this project was successful in many aspects. Our Facebook page was liked by a total of 351 people; our most popular post reached 2670 people, meaning that despite our lack of promotion – we’d have to pay Facebook or our other pages to promote our pages – we still managed to reach a significant amount of people. Our Facebook page had over 40 postings, which was a good amount considering the two months that we have been working on the pictures. While interviewing the Lincolnites, we managed to connect with a large variety of people. Most of the people we approached were eager and gave us fascinating quotes that helped our page promote a sense of community. Our group tried to ask thought-provoking questions with the intention of successfully emulating Humans of New York, which we do believe happened.
However, despite our success, there were many things that we could have done better. For instance, it may have been in our best interest to make a more concrete schedule for obtaining quotes pictures, because we rarely had a safe supply. If we would’ve done that, we wouldn’t have been so pressed for time, since we would’ve had back-up photos. For example, when we had weekends off (or large breaks, such as Thanksgiving) over which we didn’t post or take pictures, we began to lag behind in our posts. Another thing that we could have done differently would have been to go out and interview people at a greater variety of places. The places at which we were able to find the most people willing to speak with us was the Student Union. While we did visit other places, we took too many at the Student Union; it would have been nice to have pictures from more around campus, or around Lincoln in general, such as outside Memorial Stadium on game day. Promotion was another issue. Our group reached out to people we knew and asked them to like our page; however, we could have done a more adamant job of promoting Humans of Lincoln by setting out flyers or reaching out to the local newspaper. Also, while most of the participants were eager, some of the interviews were a bit awkward, and at times, we were not sure which questions to ask to get the most interesting quotes.
Nevertheless, we found the project to be a success, and we are pleased with the overall results of Humans of Lincoln.