natematias's blog

Tracking Global Prayer Metrics: Ten Questions

Would it matter if we could track the total sum of global prayer and compare hourly analytics on the spiritual attention of religious people around the world?

Last month, I spent a day discussing this and other questions with Andy Moore and James Docherty at the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, which facilitates connections across student Christian movements in over 150 countries.

Media Representation in the Arab Uprisings: Egypt and Libya

Citizen journalism and social media have become major sources for the news, especially after the Arab uprisings of early 2011. From Al Jazeera Stream and the NPR's Andy Carvin to the Guardian's Three Pigs advert, news organisations recognise that journalism is just one part of a broader ecosystem of online conversation. At the most basic level, journalists are following social media for breaking news and citizen perspectives. As a result, designers are rushing to build systems like Ushahidi's SwiftRiver, to filter and verify citizen media.

Choose Your Own Advocacy: Reviewing Give Girls Power

One reason I make things on the Internet is a strong belief in the original powerful idea behind the web itself: that links can radically transform the way we tell stories and experience the world. Today, I saw an amazing example of this, via Sarah Espiner, my former colleague at the Ministry of Stories.

Story And Algorithm: A Comprehensive #CivicMedia Conference Summary

If anything sums up this year's Knight MIT Conference on Civic Media, it was Joi Ito's argument for creativity and risk, encouraging us to pursue visions that we do not yet know how to describe. The Civic Media Conference is a new breed of gathering for networked thinking and doing: action research woven with creative diversity and energised by funding model innovation.

Part SXSW, part Barcamp, the conference combined hackdays, funding announcements, panel discussions, and stand-up storytelling. As a flagship demonstration of Ethan Zuckerman's vision for the emerging field of Civic Media, the conference was spectacular. But for Civic Media to flourish while bridging so many communities, this new ecosystem needs to foster stronger, more diverse ties.

This is a summary post. Each session gets one or two paragraphs, with the video embedded. Each section also has a link to amazingly comprehensive and detailed posts by our liveblog team. If any of these ideas interests you, the liveblog is the best place to find in-depth discussion.

Knight News Challenge Winners:, Behavio, PeepolTV,, TOR

Today, the Knight Foundation announced winners of the latest Knight News Challenge, which was focused on on Networks.

New Knight Prototype Fund to Fund 50-60 Projects in Journalism Innovation

Knight Prototype Fund

The Knight foundation has just launched a prototype fund (Knight Challenge prototype fund), in an attempt to shorten the pace of grantmaking. The prototype fund takes 60 to 120 days and offers less than $50,000 dollars to help groups take an idea into prototype. The goal is to create a more iterative, innovative approach, funding 50-60 projects. The Jefferson Institute has received one of these grants to explore their Patchwork Nation data. University of Nebraska's drone journalism program has also received prototype funds.

Michael Maness and Joi Ito spoke to Elise Hu about Knight's vision for this fund.

Eilse Hu (@elisewho): How have you sought to innovate in this space?

The Art and Science of Working Together: Palfrey and Gasser on Interoperability

Can high levels of interoperability lead to greater innovation? What would a theory of interoperability look like?

That's the question posed by the latest book by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser: Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems(amazon).

You Are All Beautiful People: SwiftKey Accepts Webby for Innovation in Mobile

Words are amazing. A phrase of unusual integrity or cacophony can launch our imagination, fill our senses, and send us tumbling through unexpected patterns of interpretation. Last night, I heard five wonderful words which arose from the collective creation of millions of people, a legendary computer, the content of the Internet, and years of effort by some of my greatest colleagues.

Is Education Obsolete? Sugata Mitra at the MIT Media Lab

Today, we are hearing from Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab and Professor of Educational Technology at the school of education at Newcastle University (blog here). Mitra is best known for the "Hole in the Wall" computer learning systems in India (TED Talk) and the related educational philosophy, "Minimally Invasive Education."  My Media Lab colleage Sayamindu Dasgupta helped me blog Mitra's talk.

Top 12 Media Lab Social Technologies

During my work on Social Mirror, tablet tech for social checkups, I have been inspired by other amazing Media Lab social technologies. Here are 12 of the projects which I have found most inspiring, including one or two from other universities.

Did I miss a project you love? Post your favourites in the comments. 

Social Empowerment through Networks

Can social checkups empower marginalized teenagers? In 2001, Leo Burd, now a researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media, conducted several paper-based studies at Computer Clubhouse, with positive results. Leo is now an advisor on the Social Mirror software.