If there's one thing we RootsCamp attendees have in common, it's a desire to push the limits of technology to improve progressive organizing. We're organizers by nature; it's what brings us together and dominates our vision for the future. But what happens when we turn this zeal for progressive community inward? How can our experience in organizing help us create the most productive RootsCamp experience possible?
It's a question my friend Sahar and I asked ourselves when we developed the official RootsCamp app for Android. Having both succeeded and struggled in creating lasting activist networks at Brandeis University, we founded Innermost Labs to explore how the latest mobile technology can solve every organizer's most persistent problems.
The RootsCamp app is not a new social network. Instead, it is developed with the unique characteristics of a conference alumni network in mind. A two-day conference is enough time to meet dozens of interesting, motivated people, but forming bonds that last beyond the weekend can be a challenge. The app solves that by combining a virtual “business card” model with an intuitive, map-based visualizer. Add the web developer you met while running to the next session by entering her unique, three-digit code – all the information she chooses to make public goes straight into your phone. Tag her entry with the shared interest that connected you in the first place, and the seeds for future collaboration are planted. The next time you travel to, say, New York, you'll see everyone you met at RootsCamp who's based in the city, making meetups and strategy sessions that much easier. Connect quickly with frictionless phone, e-mail, and SMS integration.
We're really excited to share our app with you, but it's still in the beta stage – and that's where you come in! We'll be running a session on the future of mobile technology in progressive organizing, and part of that will be a conversation on how this app can better meet your needs. We're working on Facebook and Twitter connectivity, a web interface, and an iPhone version, but we know many of the best ideas are those we haven't even imagined. Eventually, we hope to provide our app to more like-minded conferences, giving everyone at RootsCamp a built-in network of connections before the next conference even begins.
We strongly believe in the mission of the New Organizing Institute; while this is my first RootsCamp, Sahar attended in 2011 and graduated NOI BootCamp in 2009. We also believe in the potential of mobile technology, and we want to use it to achieve progressive victories as soon as possible. We hope this app isn't just useful to every RootsCamp attendee but also begins a conversation and spurs the innovation that will drive this generation of organizers. I can't wait to meet all of you on Saturday, and I want to help you all have the most productive weekend possible.
Adam Hughes is currently a senior studying Economics and Music at Brandeis University. With his friend Sahar Massachi, he founded Innermost Labs to explore how the latest mobile technology can be used to further the goals of progressive organizing. Adam cut his teeth in political activism by working for Ned Lamont's Senate campaign in 2006, and he was a proud volunteer for Barack Obama in 2008. He also served as a member of the Connecticut delegation to the Young Democrats of America National Convention in 2007.
At Brandeis, Adam worked with Sahar for three years on InnermostParts.org, which attempted to bring online progressive organizing to a college campus. Together, they led successful campaigns to protest the Westboro Baptist Church and support student rights, and their response to the vandalism of Brandeis's Muslim Student Association was mentioned in the Boston Globe and on the front page of the local Waltham News Tribune. Adam also serves as the Senior Representative to the Brandeis Board of Trustees.
An equally voracious fan of sports and classical music, the highlight of Adam's life was singing a High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica with the Notre Dame High School choir.