By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Conversation Starters on Digital Voice

The short films and discussion-materials included in this collection aim to help you get a conversation on By Any Media Necessary digital voice started in your community, organization or educational setting. You may choose to keep the conversation local or take it one step further by sharing it with others who have chosen to participate.
The core theme shared by all the conversation starter short films in the series is that the nature of political participation is changing in an era of networked communication. More and more we rely on each other for news and information, more and more we work through issues and concerns in conversation with others within our social networks, and more and more we tap the affordances of new media in order to mobilize for change.
As we do so, then, there are practical and ethical challenges: Young people -- indeed, all of us -- need to take responsibility for the quality of information they circulate, they need to recognize the risks and opportunities of political engagement, they need to understand the copyright implications of their choices to remix and share media, and they need to respect the contributions of others within their community. We want to use these interstitials to help young people to better understand what is at stake in participatory politics and to ask core questions before they act online.

How were these films and materials created?

All the interstitial films were created through collaboration between MAPP, and Joseph Gordon Levitt's HitRECord. Workshops with teachers were then lead by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Below is a little more information about each of the contributors to the project.


The collaboration started with HitRECord, a self-described “professional open collaborative production company” founded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. According to Gordon-Levitt:

HITRECORD is different than your typical Hollywood production company. Anyone with the Internet can contribute to our collaborative projects & this website is where we come to make things together, like Short Films, Books, Music, Art, and our latest & greatest production - our television show: HITRECORD ON TV. You can contribute your Video, Image, Text, or Audio RECords to any of the collaborations we're working on, or you can start your own collaboration on the site. And if your work gets used in a money-making production, we pay you for it. For their work in 2013, the community is receiving a grand total of $737,175.09. 

HITRECORD ON TV airs on the television network which is a component of Participant Media.

Participant Media/

Participant Media is a media company that serves a double line “dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change.” According to their website:

Founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll, Participant combines the power of a good story well told with opportunities for viewers to get involved. Participant's more than 65 films include Lincoln, Contagion, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Food, Inc., Waiting For "Superman," CITIZENFOUR and An Inconvenient Truth. Participant has also launched more than a dozen original series, including “Please Like Me,” “Hit Record On TV with Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” and “Fortitude,” for its television network, Pivot. is Participant’s television network where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRECord is aired. In their own words:

We're Pivot TV, a new TV network where what you watch does make a difference. We've got all the usual stuff like original shows, movies and docs, but we've also got a little something more. When you watch Pivot TV, you won't just be entertained.  You can also take action on the issues raised in our content.  The chance to do something about it will be right there on the screen, or just inside the next commercial break. So go ahead and pivot. You just might be able to make a meaningful difference in the world. Pivot TV: It's Your Turn. 

Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP)

The Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) research team is lead by Henry Jenkins and is based at the University of Southern California (USC). Over the past five years, MAPP conducted five case studies of diverse youth-driven communities that translate mechanisms of participatory culture into civic engagement and political participation.
Building on these findings, the MAPP team partnered with the Media Arts + Practice Division at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to create resources, conversation starters and workshops that encourage participants to think critically about previous examples of civic media and act creatively as they draw on their own experiences and aspirations to translate these insights into their own media practice.  These in-progress resources and workshops currently live in the “By Any Media Necessary” collection and can be accessed at

National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)

The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) is a national non-profit organization founded on the conviction that media literacy is “a basic life skill for the 21st century.” Lead by Executive Directory Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, the NAMLE mission is ”to expand and improve the practice of media literacy education in the United States.” In their own words:

We define both education and media broadly.  Education includes both formal and informal settings, classrooms and living rooms, in school and after school, anywhere that lifelong learners can be reached.  Media includes digital media, computers, video games, radio, television, mobile media, print, and communication technologies that we haven’t even dreamed of yet. 

The way the partnership worked is: HitRECord and Participant Media wanted to a develop a campaign for content creators to “use digital media to drive the social change you want to see in the world.” They contacted the MAPP team whose research is focused in this space to generate a list of topics for the videos themselves. HitRECord then released an open call to their community of artists to contribute content, which was then curated into 4 educational videos. Based on the finished product, the MAPP team created an interactive workshop for teachers to engage with the videos as well as the set of written supplemental materials that you are currently reading. Lastly, NAMLE worked on the ground running this workshop with teachers across the United States.  Below is a screenshot for the campaign, which you can also check out at

What does this collection contain?

This collection contains the following:
You can download "Conversations on Digital Voice" Introduction in pdf format here.

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