natematias's blog

How To Choose The Best Way to Create Change

"Sometimes you wake up and realise that you want to change the world."

Last week, Mark Simpkins wrote a blog post about how hard it is to know what to do if we want to create change. "When do I create a pledge? When do I contact my MP? When do I take to the streets?" he asks. "How do we move from someone who cares about an issue to taking action that will be genuinely meaningful? Might search or lists help people decide what to do?"

This blog post is my response to Mark.

CHANGE

Making Data Useful: Projects from the Microsoft Design Summit 2013

We live in a world alive with sensors and data. The big data, sensor networks and transparency movements have left us with a supply-side glut of potential useful free data that is lying fallow. How can we use this to improve life, local community and the world at large? Today, the Microsoft Design Expo, part of the annual Faculty Summit, showcased projects along this theme from design students at 8 universities.

Christian Hackathons? 14 app ideas from Code For The Kingdom

Is there such a thing as Christian hacking? The organisers of Code for the Kingdom, a 48 hour hack day with cash prizes, certainly believe so.

Last month, almost 150 people gathered in San Francisco for Code for the Kingdom, a hackathon that gave away $11,000 in prizes to teams developing Christian projects. The event also offered networking opportunities with Christian organisations and a team of 15 mentors that included VCs, religious leaders, and senior employees at major American tech companies. Projects focused on social organising, fundraising, social reading, quantified self, content filtering, and open data.

13 Latest Projects at the MIT Center for Civic Media

One of the most energetic sessions at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference last week was the Civic Media Ignite, which presented thirteen projects by MIT teams and our partners.

(this session was reported with NewsPad, experimental software I'm building for collaborative live-editing of articles. Participation is currently anonymous. The quality in this post may vary.)

Mapping the News (Catherine D'Ignazio)

Ethan Zuckerman presented this session for Catherine, since she just gave birth.

What does media pay attention to? Mapping The News visualizes the connection between the geography of events paid attention to, and the geography of those paying attention. In this visualization of news coverage, we see that Boston Globe focuses on places that are a bit more privileged. Mapping the Globe also shows word clouds based on location, illustrating the differences of coverage received by a place, whether it's sports, business or violence.

Unflattening: Thinking Through Comics, Nick Sousanis at Microsoft Research

I'm here at Microsoft Research in Seattle for the summer. Today, we had a visit from Nick Sousanis, who was opening an exhibition of his work. Nick is writing his dissertation (on visual and verbal discourse) entirely in graphic novel form. His project has recently been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/article-content/131393/).

Before coming to NYC, he was immersed in Detroit’s thriving arts community, where he co-founded the arts and cultural web-mag http://www.thedetroiter.com; served as the founding director of the University of Michigan’s Work:Detroit exhibition space, and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee.

Testing WeDo for nominating and voting on books at #1book140

Over the last two days, 1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club, has been trying out the WeDo system to test a possible way for us to choose books. WeDo is an experimental Twitter nominations and voting system by @hqz, @andresmh, and other researchers at MIT and Microsoft Research. I wanted to learn more about how it worked -- BEFORE we actually relied on it for a vote. :-)

1book140

The vote was held at: http://wedo.csail.mit.edu/publicmissions/4

To bookies, Thank you SO MUCH for trying it out with me -- our test revealed some glitches and some needs before we would ever use it for our real votes. Tomorrow, I'll post nominations on The Atlantic in the usual way (and include all of the tweets from today in the list).

I'm also planning to ask further about what other people think about trying out new ways to vote.

Transparency and Public Space Online at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

Research Is Cooperation: The 40+ People Who Made My Thesis A Reality

Three weeks ago, I submitted my Master's thesis, packed everything I own into storage, and got on a plane for Seattle, where I'm spending the summer as an intern at Fuse Labs, part of Microsoft Research. I'm deeply excited to be here, where I have a chance to continue to work on technologies for local journalism and community organising. Mentored by Andres Monroy Hernandez, I'm also working alongside the amazing FUSE interns Emma, Yuheng, Erin, and Ill Won. Outside Microsoft, I'm enjoying the chance to participate in community events, hack for seattle, and meet people at the University of Washington, where I'm staying.

SeattleMonkeys: How A Cat Poster Inspired Our Technology for Inclusion

How can we make planning more open and inclusive? Inspired by a cat poster, SeattleMonkeys asks community residents to call a number to share their ideas on local affairs and transportation.

This summer, I'm in Seattle as an intern for Microsoft research FUSE Labs with Andrés Monroy-Hernández (whose work on Scratch I have blogged about) and Shelly Farnham. I'll write soon about my summer at Microsoft, but this is a story about what Andrés and I did together on the weekend, outside of our Microsoft work.

What Baboon Notebooks, Monads, State Surveillance, and Network Diagrams Have in Common: Bruno Latour at CHI 2013

I'm here at CHI 2013, a human computer interaction conference, for the third and final keynote, the sociologist of science and anthropologist Bruno Latour, on the topic, "From aggregation to navigation, a few challenges to social theory."

Bruno Latour at CHI2013
 
photo by @pstamara

Latour starts by explaining what he calls "the monadological principle," an alternative to the idea of collective phenomena. Latour offers "a strange argument," that "there is no collective phenomena... but there exist many collecting devices that generate collected phenomena." There is no upper level of collective experience or a lower level of individual experience. Instead, he argues, we aggregate experiences into something that we we call collective experience.

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