2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Getting S#$! Done - Online Organizers Making Change

Written by Megan Simpson | March 3, 2014

Merici Vinton explores online organizing at SXSW 2014

Merici Vinton has been organizing online for six years at the highest levels of campaigns, government and internationally. She currently serves on the OI Engine team at IDEO in London. Her past projects include prototyping a new BBC online experience, launching Gordon and Sarah Brown's global education campaign, and leading digital for Malala Day. A SXSW veteran, she plans to explore online organizing this year at the festival. Her panel and the topic of this installment of the Session Spotlight is “Getting S#$! Done - Online Organizers Making Change.” Read on to learn more about Vinton and how to connect with her on social media.

SXSW: Tell us what your SXSW session is all about.
Vinton: A lot of the best and most meaningful things that happen on the internet aren't about making something go viral (ew). They're about getting people to genuinely care about a cause, a site, or a product - and build an active community around it. Get some practical tips from seasoned online organizers on how to do just that, with lessons from using data to make veterans' lives better, running social media strategy for Obama 2012, and helping to shape the immigration debate in the U.S.

SXSW: Have you spoken about this topic before?
Vinton: Yes, several of us have. I have spoken extensively about my Obama campaign experiences and people actually like hearing about it because I tell stories that they haven't heard yet. Generally people react positively to my talks, as I'm straightforward and have a self-deprecating, dry sense of humor that helps everyone feel comfortable listening to new topics.

SXSW: What types of people do you hope to reach through this panel?
Vinton: People who want to make change. People who want to learn how to grow their cause and make people genuinely care about their movements. The peeps assembled - that's what we do - is provide honest, no-ego, genuine answers.

SXSW: Who should attend your panel discussion?
Vinton: This session will be valuable to anybody interested in looking for novel ways of fostering inspired creativity in their employees - or anybody, for that matter.

SXSW: If a registrant is interested in your topic, but doesn’t have much knowledge about the topic, will he or she be able to follow the discussion?
Vinton: Yes - we will make it very approachable.

SXSW: What are you favorite ways to distribute your thoughts online?
Vinton: I have a tumblr at merici.tumblr.com, where I write about random things. On Twitter I can be followed @merici. I usually tweet about women in tech, cats, government, politics, unicorns and things I see.

SXSW: At SXSW, do you like to meet new friends or hang out with old ones?
Vinton: I like to see old friends because I live in London and they all live in the United States.

SXSW: A few fast questions - favorite guilty pleasure? Favorite gadget? Favorite book?
Vinton: Popcorn. My fitbit. The Goldfinch. It’s a rich, fun, surprising, captivating, and wicked story.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend “Getting S#$! Done - Online Organizers Making Change” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.