Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

The People's Bot

Yesterday, we launched The People's Bot, offering scholarships, media fellowships, and an auction for people to attend and report on events where they are not physically present, including CHI 2014 and a 13 year retrospective on wearable computing and Google Glass. Together with Nathan Matias, we're imagining uses of robotic telepresence for the public good.

A bot at the Tennis Court Oath

Topic: Revolution and Technology

Livebloggers: Sasha, Nathan, Erhardt

Today, we're joined by Stephan “tomate” Urbach from the activist group & think tank Telecomix, which works to circumvent surveillance, and to promote internet freedom and human rights. During the 2011 uprisings in North Africa, Telecomix activists helped to bypass technologies of censorship and communication-interruption. They currently work to shuttle videos and other information safely out of Syria. Urbach is a Telecomix member, and has acted as their de facto spokesperson. He was a member of the Pirate Party in Germany, and worked for the Berlin Pirate Parliamentary group from 2011 until February 2014.

 

Vizthink by Willow Brugh

Serious Games with International Red Cross Climate Group

Pablo is a force to be reckoned with. That crazy energy that seeps possibility into the most jaded of souls. He doesn't just pull you out of yourself - he gives you somewhere to go. And even more incredibly is that he seeks to make the things he has made possible thrive beyond himself - how can he support others in making change? How can the things he's instigated be documented and live on? A reminder of how much good facilitation matters in events and life.

Notes on Monitory Democracy and a Networked Civil Society

Schudson's The Good Citizen

Ethan and I have been exploring the concept of monitorial citizenship in the pursuit of a definition or roadmap for "effective citizenship." We are working on related projects trying to operationalize Michael Schudson's idea of monitorial citizenship from his book The Good Citizen, but using slightly different definitions. Ethan's project Promise Tracker, being developed by several of our colleagues at the Center for Civic Media, thinks of monitorial citizenship as the responsibility of citizens "to monitor what powerful institutions do (governments, corporations, universities and other large organizations) and demand change when they misbehave." My master's thesis project Action Path thinks of monitorial citizenship more like Jane Jacobs idea of "eyes on the street," whereby average citizens are being civic and gathering useful information in aggregate by simply "watching their kids, keeping abreast of important consumer recalls, noting how weather affects the cost of groceries or their ability to check in on family members' safety."

Both of us may be thinking of monitorial citizens in different ways than Schudson and other scholars use the term. Marc Hooghe, in a paper reacting to Schudson called "Does the 'Monitorial Citizen' Exist?" [paywalled] looks for citizens who are critical non-participants in political life, but care deeply about social issues.

This week Ethan and I read a couple of papers as part of our ongoing conversation of monitorial citizenship. Schudson, himself, kindly pointed us to an essay by John Keane, unpacking monitory democracy as a new vision of "democracy in our times." Ethan has also been eager to dive into a prescient manuscript by David Ronfeldt, which proposes a framework for societal evolution wherein networks represent the latest organization form necessary for the success of advanced societies.

The following are our thoughts on these two pieces... 

Making Events Better

Most meetings and events suck.  I'm lucky enough to know lots of folks trying to make this better.  Recently Civic Media hosted Gunner from Aspiration Tech for a training on how to create and facilitate  participatory events. Afterwards I was inspired to reflect more on my own approach to facilitating the workshops and events I run. A key reflection for me was that I put a strong emphasis on the process of collaboratively making of things. Our Data Therapy workshops and events are "think with your hands" events.  Almost every topic is tied to a hands-on activity where you make something with your peers.  This is how we invite participants to engage in the material - through the process of making things.
 

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