The Occupy Wall Street movement was just gaining momentum when Stephanie Spiro registered for Viral Media Lab, a course that explores the use of electronic networks for social change. “The class was very creative, with a lot of buzz and excitement,” says Spiro. “We went down to Zuccotti Park and made videos, posted them on the Viral Media Lab website, and then I helped curate our part of a #SearchUnderOccupy exhibit at Parsons The New School for Design using our original video, blog posts, and aggregated material.” The course is instructed by Professor Kathleen Sweeney.
This class led Spiro to conduct an independent study, in which she tracked how memes—ideas, concepts, attitudes—are spread through the Internet and extended the narrative of the Viral Media Lab website with new content. Spiro began her college education at a large Midwestern university but did not finish her program. “I’m pretty shy,” she explains. “I felt overwhelmed in the crush of classes.” She decided to return to college and finish her degree at The New School after reading Kafka Was the Rage, a memoir by critic Anatole Broyard, who had been at one time a student here. At The New School for Public Engagement, Spiro found her voice in social media and acquired the skills to make an impact. In a “neuromarketing” course called Media, Messages, and the Mind, Spiro used the hash tag #whyilovetwitter as a way to open an online discussion. That discussion ultimately involved thousands of people around the world, which led to an article in Huffington Post’s TwitterPowerhouse series “Rise of the Female Geek,” and contributing blogger gigs for Spiro at Huffington Post and Bit Rebels.