Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

House Exploded? Try Software for Community Collective Action.

I've written before about the extrACT suite of software tools we have been developing at MIT: information and communication technologies that promote community collective action. We have started to introduce the first of these tools, Landman Report Card, to communities in Texas and Ohio that are being confronted by the impacts of natural gas extraction. The experiences that citizens are recording with it are as remarkable as they are heartbreaking.

Harnessing the Power of Mobile Tech 4 Social Change

I attended the Mobile Tech 4 Social Change barcamp in New York with MIT colleagues Audubon Dougherty, Nadav Aharony, and Danielle Martin last weekend.

Unfortunately, I missed Ethan Zuckerman’s keynote (hoping it will be posted online) but according to Patrick Meier’s informative post about the day, one of Ethan’s biggest takeaway points focused on the importance of using of multiple technologies together:

(The) convergence of ICTs is far more powerful than the increasingly ubiquitous mobile phone. When mobile phones and SMS are paired with radio talk show programs, the combination replicates much of the functionalities that characterize the Internet. Once information is broadcast over radio, it becomes public knowledge.

I find this to be a valuable take away not only because of my own interest in radio and mobile but also because it suggests the larger need to focus on strategies over technologies. Mobile phone by themselves probably won’t solve entrenched issues, particularly those that extend beyond geographic and disciplinary boundaries, but they can be a valuable part of larger tactics.

Open Park: Intro

Collaborative online news production: Introducing Open Park

Now that the spring semester is in full swing, I thought I would write a little Intro about my project for the Center for Future Civic Media [C4FCM] where I work as a Research Assistant, and the ideas and ideals behind it.

For those who are unfamiliar with the project - Phase I, defining the new professional journalistic practice of collaborating with colleagues and competitors on news stories, was conducted in the fall semester. Its results were the subject of my final paper for the C4FCM, as well as for the CMS class 'Media in Cultural Context, which is accessible in the Projects section of this site.
The Projects section also details Phase II, which focuses on refining the functions of an effective model for collective news-reporting by testing in the community what works and what doesn't with concrete real life-based collaborative news-writing experiments.

Can African-Americans Find Their Voice in Cyberspace?: A Conversation With Dayna Cunningham (Part Three of Four)

Dayna Cunningham: Thank you for reminding me that we are talking about institutions and cultures and politics and that media are nothing more than tools within these contexts. We need social organizations, not just technology. Drat. I was hoping for a quick fix.

I saw a Washington Post poll, reported on Inauguration Day, of black and white Americans asking their views on the persistence of racism in the US. Only 44% of African Americans polled said that racism is still a major problem. A majority of blacks said it was not (whites, true to past patterns, in large majorities said that racism is no longer a major problem). However, a follow up question asked whether the respondents still witnessed or experienced racism in their daily lives and a significant majority of African Americans said that little had changed for them in their local communities and in their daily experience of racism. Most blacks reported continuing denials of service and jobs, less access to housing, and racialized police harassment.

Obama Administration: more media-friendly?

Let us hope that this will apply to all aspects of media coverage...
Hopefully this review is a good sign.

Gates orders review of policy barring military-coffin photos

By The Associated Press
02.11.09

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a review yesterday of a Pentagon policy banning media from taking pictures of flag-draped coffins of U.S. military dead, signaling he was open to overturning the policy to better honor fallen soldiers.

At least two Democratic senators have called on President Barack Obama to let news photographers attend ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military facilities when military remains are returned to the United States. Obama told reporters at his Feb. 9 news conference that he was reviewing the ban.

"If the needs of the families can be met, and the privacy concerns can be addressed, the more honor we can accord these fallen heroes, the better," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference yesterday. "So I'm pretty open to whatever the results of this review may be."

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