Members of the Social Media ExCo, informally known as SoMeXco, organized an “Oberlin Family” campaign over Parents Weekend in which they encouraged members of the Oberlin community to send postcards to friends and family members in order to demonstrate Oberlin’s connections to the rest of the world.
Ben Jones, OC '96 and vice president of communications, poses with the completed postcard collage. Students and family members sent out the postcards as part of a Social Media ExCo project which will track the postcards as they are sent around the world. Click here to learn more about the project.
“While it doesn’t look like social media, [this project is] using something that was created to make people connect more with each other,” said program coordinator and ExCo instructor Ma’ayan Plaut, OC ’10. “The idea is to see how far the reach actually is … to see how far the Oberlin family extends.”
Each postcard has a tracking number and comprises a single piece of the puzzle. Put together, they create a giant photograph of Wilder Bowl. Separated, they act as individual souvenirs. As people write to their families, the postcards travel to all corners of the earth and are catalogued online.
By encouraging students to write to family and friends across the globe, Plaut, co-instructor Ben Jones, OC ’96, and the students of SoMeXco set off a chain of reactions with the hope that they can redefine the way we view social media and how we connect with one another.
“SoMeXco strives to bring social media to new uses [on] the Oberlin campus. Following with the constant connectivity of networks like Facebook, the Oberlin Postcard Network is our way of showing the ‘invisible rivers’ that connect Oberlin to other parts of the world,” said College first-year and ExCo participant Kirk Pearson.
Students and volunteers have spent countless hours tabling at Parents Weekend events and in meeting areas across the campus in order to spread awareness of the project.
The campaign did run into one issue, though.
“[Often] people don’t know the address of [anyone] but their parents,” said College senior and SoMeXco participant Tess Yanisch.
This posed a problem, as students who wanted to reach out to more distant relatives weren’t able to send them postcards.
At the time of print, 191 postcards sent across the world had been documented on SoMeXco’s website.