Ryan J. Davis is the Global Head of Social Commerce at NJOY.

Formerly he was Vice President of Community at Vocativ, Director of Social Media at Blue State Digital and a co-founder and digital director of The Four 2012. Ryan is most proud of his time spent on the internet team during Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential Campaign.

Davis sits on the Board of Directors of The Ali Forney Center, where he was the founding producer of their annual Broadway Beauty Pageant fundraiser. Additionally, Ryan is on the Board of Directors of The Deconstructive Theatre Project, the Board of Advisors of the startup Public Stand and the Executive Board of LAMBDA Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.

Ryan has written about politics for The Huffington Post, The Hill and Next Magazine. He was once a guest editor of Queerty. For his progressive activism, Davis was awarded two Pollie Awards by The American Association of Political Consultants.

A former theatre creator and director, Ryan’s favorite projects include Veritas (Fringe 2010), Street Lights (NYMF 2009) and the eventually Whoopi Goldberg produced White Noise (NYMF 2006).

Ryan has lived in New York City since 2000 and is a proud resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Here Ryan blogs about politics, film, TV, history, religion, science, books, theater, digital media, LGBT issues, Bushwick & Williamsburg, New York City, and anything else he's interested in at the moment. Oh, and he'll probably talk a lot about himself.

Ryan has keynoted at conferences and universities around the world on digital politics, social media strategy and LGBT rights. Email to discuss setting up a speaking engagement.

Connect with him over social media using the icons below.

This is a personal blog. Any opinions expressed here and on my Twitter account represent my own and not those of my employer or clients.
Posts tagged "art"
Incredible combination of robotics and projections give you a look at what theatre might look like in the near future. No CGI here, it’s all recorded on camera.

A collection of graffiti and street art from Brooklyn (Bushwick & Williamsburg) that I’ve captured on Instagram so far this year. 

Took this green screen photo at Richard French Live's studios last night. I want my graphic designer friends to go nuts with this. ;)

The Ali Forney Center, an organization that I’m proud to serve on the board of, has started releasing their second ‘Homeless for the Holidays’ series that tells the stories of LGBTQ youth living on the streets of New York City, through images and audio. It’s produced by Carl Siciliano, the center’s executive director, who wrote the below essay on the project. 

You can see all the videos as there released here

Homeless for the Holidays: Witnessing the lives of NYC’s Homeless LGBT Youth

by Carl Siciliano

This is among the most terrible expressions of homophobia in our time.

As LGBT youth come out at younger ages, thousands are driven from their homes by rejecting families, and forced to endure homelessness and destitution.

In New York City, the statistics are horrifying. LGBT youth make up 40% of the homeless youth population, comprising 1,600 of NYC’s 3,800 homeless youth. And NYC’s response is even more horrifying; only 250 youth shelter beds are provided by the city, forcing many youths to sleep in subways, park benches, abandoned buildings and rooftops.

But statistics don’t adequately express the horror of what these youths endure. They don’t express the suffering these kids go through;  the psychological torment of being rejected, feeling unloved, alone and terrified, or the physical torment of the cold, exposure to the elements, hunger and chronic sleep deprivation.

I want to wake our city up to this atrocity that goes on in our midst, of these thousands of kids left out alone on the streets without shelter beds. So I have been spending time with these youths, photographing them in the spaces where they try to make it through the nights, listening and recording them tell of what they suffer. Allowing them to show us and tell us what they go through.

The Ali Forney Center has joined a number of other LGBT advocates and providers in creating The Campaign for Youth Shelter, which calls on the City to commit to a plan to add 100 youth shelter beds per year until such time as there are no longer waiting lists at the youth shelters. Alas, our Mayor refuses to discuss this; instead he tries every year to cut the few shelter beds. In 2012 he proposed reducing the number of youth shelter beds by 60%, forcing the New York City Council to fight to restore the few beds available.

In response we have organized rallies, initiated letter-writing and email campaigns, gotten the LGBT political clubs to sign on to statements in support of our plan. So far to no avail.

For now, with this project, all I am asking is for as many people as possible to open ourselves to these kids’ lives, and listen to them. Please try to empathize with what it is like to be young, abandoned, and alone on the streets of our city. What they have to say is painful and disturbing to hear. But they need us to listen. The only call to action I am asking for in response is to share their stories as much as you possibly can.

We need to ask ourselves why, in this great city where so much wealth and power and talent is concentrated, why must so many of our abandoned youths be forced to endure homelessness without adequate shelter beds? Only when enough of us are ashamed and outraged to have our youths be so terribly mistreated and neglected will there be the political will to provide the resources to shelter them.

So please share their stories, and try to find a place for these kids in your thoughts and in your hearts.

I’m spending my hurricane day putting together a presentation I’m doing on Social Media & Crowdfunding for the 2012 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Charlotte. Should be a great day, there is still plenty of time to register.


  • a film about America’s greatest president
  • portrayed by one of America’s greatest actors*
  • directed one of its greatest living filmmakers
  • written by one of America’s greatest playwrights
  • based on a remarkable book by one of America’s greatest living historians

I’m looking forward.

* He’s Irish but I’ve decided to claim him.

Saw The Normal Heart at Arena Stage last night and really enjoyed it. I know and love the play, had memorized monologues (like the one above) when I was still in high school. It’s a great cast and a play that younger gays need to see. Not just to know their history, but to make sure they aren’t doomed to repeat it. 

I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.

Virginia Woolf, The Letters: Volume Three, 1923 - 1928

I’m with you Virginia.

(H/t Adam T)

You’ve got to listen to this terrific Radiolab podcast on Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century, who was prosecuted for being gay and eventually took his own life in 1954. He’d turn 100 in June. 

Turing is the father of artificial intelligence and the modern computer. He also was responsible for cracking the Nazi Engima code, helping to end World War II. 

Turing’s story reaffirms how far we’ve come on gay rights since the movement began. Just over fifty years ago, a war hero’s life was destroyed just for being gay in England. Now gays serve openly in militaries around the world and countries that criminalize homosexuality are theocratic outliers. That’s progress.  

Andrew Hodges’s Alan Turing: The Enigma is on my bookshelf to read this summer. 

Listen below or click here to listen at Radiolab

More information on the slate statue of Alan Turing pictured above. 

Hope you’ll join me at The Deconstructive Theatre Project’s summer rooftop gala on June 2nd. Should be a great event and at $35, you won’t find a better deal to start your Saturday.


Click here to purchase tickets.

Click here for more information.

The Deconstructive Theatre Project’s summer rooftop celebration is coming up on June 2.
Please join me for the sunset, drinks, food, live music, and a silent auction. I’d love to have you New Yorkers there to celebrate with us.

All contributions are tax-deductible and support The Deconstructive Theatre Project’s production, education, and outreach programming.


As part of an outstanding New Yorker article on group think, we meet Brian Uzzi, who looks at Broadway musicals as a great example of creative collaboration.

Criticism allows people to dig below the surface of the imagination and come up with collective ideas that aren’t predictable. And recognizing the importance of conflicting perspectives in a group raises the issue of what kinds of people will work together best. Brian Uzzi, a sociologist at Northwestern, has spent his career trying to find what the ideal composition of a team would look like. Casting around for an industry to study that would most clearly show the effects of interaction, he hit on Broadway musicals. He’d grown up in New York City and attended his first musical at the age of nine. “I went to see ‘Hair,’ ” Uzzi recalls. “I remember absolutely nothing about the music, but I do remember the nude scene. That just about blew my mind. I’ve been a fan of Broadway ever since.”

Uzzi sees musicals as a model of group creativity. “Nobody creates a Broadway musical by themselves,” he said. “The production requires too many different kinds of talent.” A composer has to write songs with a lyricist and a librettist; a choreographer has to work with a director, who is probably getting notes from the producers.

Uzzi wanted to understand how the relationships of these team members affected the product. Was it better to have a group composed of close friends who had worked together before? Or did strangers make better theatre? He undertook a study of every musical produced on Broadway between 1945 and 1989. To get a full list of collaborators, he sometimes had to track down dusty old Playbills in theatre basements. He spent years analyzing the teams behind four hundred and seventy-four productions, and charted the relationships of thousands of artists, from Cole Porter to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Uzzi found that the people who worked on Broadway were part of a social network with lots of interconnections: it didn’t take many links to get from the librettist of “Guys and Dolls” to the choreographer of “Cats.” Uzzi devised a way to quantify the density of these connections, a figure he called Q. If musicals were being developed by teams of artists that had worked together several times before—a common practice, because Broadway producers see “incumbent teams” as less risky—those musicals would have an extremely high Q. A musical created by a team of strangers would have a low Q.

Uzzi then tallied his Q readings with information about how successful the productions had been. “Frankly, I was surprised by how big the effect was,” Uzzi told me. “I expected Q to matter, but I had no idea it would matter this much.” According to the data, the relationships among collaborators emerged as a reliable predictor of Broadway success. When the Q was low—less than 1.7 on Uzzi’s five-point scale—the musicals were likely to fail. Because the artists didn’t know one another, they struggled to work together and exchange ideas. “This wasn’t so surprising,” Uzzi says. “It takes time to develop a successful collaboration.” But, when the Q was too high (above 3.2), the work also suffered. The artists all thought in similar ways, which crushed innovation. According to Uzzi, this is what happened on Broadway during the nineteen-twenties, which he made the focus of a separate study. The decade is remembered for its glittering array of talent—Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, and so on—but Uzzi’s data reveals that ninety per cent of musicals produced during the decade were flops, far above the historical norm. “Broadway had some of the biggest names ever,” Uzzi explains. “But the shows were too full of repeat relationships, and that stifled creativity.”

The best Broadway shows were produced by networks with an intermediate level of social intimacy. The ideal level of Q—which Uzzi and his colleague Jarrett Spiro called the “bliss point”—emerged as being between 2.4 and 2.6. A show produced by a team whose Q was within this range was three times more likely to be a commercial success than a musical produced by a team with a score below 1.4 or above 3.2. It was also three times more likely to be lauded by the critics. “The best Broadway teams, by far, were those with a mix of relationships,” Uzzi says. “These teams had some old friends, but they also had newbies. This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently—they had a familiar structure to fall back on—but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas. They were comfortable with each other, but they weren’t too comfortable.”

Uzzi’s favorite example of “intermediate Q” is “West Side Story,” one of the most successful Broadway musicals ever. In 1957, the play was seen as a radical departure from Broadway conventions, both for its focus on social problems and for its extended dance scenes. The concept was dreamed up by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, and Arthur Laurents. They were all Broadway legends, which might make “West Side Story” look like a show with high Q. But the project also benefitted from a crucial injection of unknown talent, as the established artists realized that they needed a fresh lyrical voice. After an extensive search, they chose a twenty-five-year-old lyricist who had never worked on a Broadway musical before. His name was Stephen Sondheim.

An amazing picture from Russia’s anti-Putin protests today.

Touring Notre-Dame in Montreal today, I thought how much beauty religion once inspired in the world - music, architecture, art. Now it’s just the most mediocre stuff - Left Behind and Christian Rock.

Some of these pictures of morose children posing with toys in the 1860s are LOL funny. This one is my favorite.

Lisa Wade explains that people didn’t really know how to pose for pictures back then. They didn’t have Facebook.



President Obama presents Maya Angelou with the highest civilian honor.

Incredible moment — Maya Angelou is absolutely amazing. 

Beautiful. Can’t imagine what that moment felt like for both of them. So much going on. 

(via foreverliberal23-deactivated201)