mstem's blog

Holmes Wilson, internet activism, and why we need you

Fight For the Future is known for its massive viral organizing campaigns that changed Internet history both nationally and globally. Faced with the passage of Stop Online Piracy Act/SOPA and the Protect-IP Act/PIPA — legislation that would have jeopardized the open Internet as we know it — Fight for the Future organized the largest and most visible online protest in history. Holmes Wilson has also co-founded Miro, OpenCongress, and Amara. He’s been at the forefront of a range of open internet and participatory culture projects and campaigns.

Holmes Wilson (foreground) and Dalek (background)

The Boston Marathon, Social Media, and the News

I met my baby niece yesterday, Sunday morning. She was born late Saturday night. I went to some news sites to grab some screenshots of the things that happened the day she was born, and stopped myself. There were some really bad things happening in the world, Saturday, and every day. Instead, I wrote down that the Red Sox beat the Rays, 2-1.

Encouraging Flexibility from Social Media Giants: How We Get Private Platforms to Support Public Speech

There are many problems with using commercial technology platforms to host democratic, social, or activist content and communications. These problems came up in multiple sessions at the National Conference on Media Reform last weekend. There are also obvious reasons to continue using these platforms (audience reach, most notably), and so we do. Some activist efforts that silo communications on more open, but relatively unknown platforms strike me as irresponsible, if the goal is to reach as many people as possible (but this is a fine line). The more I think about this issue, though, the more I see potential solutions and a future in working with the platform providers to build some degree of flexibility into their products and policies.

soapbox at #ncmr13
The spot on the carpet reserved for public ranting at #NCMR13

81 Ways Humanitarian Aid has Become Participatory

Update: I've since posted my full thesis and a short summary of it.

My Media Lab Master's thesis argues that information and communication technologies, and particularly the web, have expanded the range of ways the public can help in times of crisis, even (or especially) if we're nowhere near said crisis. Or, to be more formal about it, participatory aid is mutual, peer-to-peer aid mediated or powered by information and communication technology. We're building a platform to help coordinate participatory aid projects, but first, I wanted to share some examples.

Organizing the Internet to Protect the Open Internet #NCMR13

Future of the Internet panel

Josh Levy, Internet Campaign Director at Free Press, introduces the topic. The SOPA protest was the biggest online protest we've seen. Millions of people participated and made a real impact. For organizers who have been fighting on open internet issues, it was exciting to see so many people take action and recognize that the internet is something you have to proactively protect, or else the openess that you know and love and maybe didn't think about before could go away.

An alphabet soup of bills and meetings have followed in SOPA's wake (CISPA, ECPA, CFAA, WCIT and FISA). We've had to learn what they mean and figure out how to leverage this newly engaged network to beat back the bad bills and support the good bills and educate the public on why the open internet is so important.

Panelists:

Tracking memes across television news: A tool for analyzing how stories move through broadcast

Too long, didn’t read: You can use this Ruby script to query Archive.org’s recently-launched TVNews archive and download JSON files with the results. It’s great for tracking how frequently a person or topic shows up in U.S. televised news broadcasts.

(cross-posted at Nieman Journalism Lab)

5 Ways You Can Give Attention As Aid

When we really care about a community in crisis, there's a lot more we can do than give money to a formal aid organization. In fact, the range of activities we CAN do to help, even remotely, is much greater and richer than it has ever been before.

For my Media Lab Master's thesis, I'm looking at all of the new ways people can help each other in times of crisis (mutual aid), and how information & communication technology (the internet) has amplified this peer aid.

Drop back to reality, oh, there goes sanity

Since launching LazyTruth, I've been enmeshed in fact-checking, rumor correction, and studying how misinformation moves online and across society. And, as part of my thesis, I've been collecting examples of how average people are helping out with causes and crises using the internet. One of the promising examples of Things You Can Do To Help Online is to help generate additional attention online, usually through social media. Today, Walt Frick sent me Reality Drop, which manages to combine both of these trends quite nicely.

Bringing a Nation's Archives Online

(a Civic lunch liveblogged with Nathan Matias and Rahul Bhargava)

Today, we're hearing from the National Archives and Records Adminisration about the archives they maintain, how they're making those archives available online at Archives.gov, and approaches to sharing the archives to broader audiences.

Pamela Wright is the Chief Innovation Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration. Bill Mayer is the Executive for Research Services at NARA. Michael Moore is the Access Coordinator for Research Services East (right here in Waltham, MA).

Coping with Hyperconnectivity

Liveblog of the "Coping with hyperconnectivity" panel at NetExplo at UNESCO in Paris. The speaker is Delphine Ernotte Cunci, Deputy Chief Executive Office of France Telecom Group.

One argument about information in our times is that we are submerged by the sheer amount of digital information we receive -- we are drowning in it. So we do our best to disconnect ourselves. Others argue that this intentional disconnection phenomenon hasn't been studied enough to confirm. One thing is certain: technology influences our relationship with time. The internet changes our temporal space. Technology tends to promise to save us time, but it's clear that the internet can also eat into the few spare minutes we once had.

Delphine uses Twitter, but not Facebook. She uses Twitter for her job.

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