Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Let's help students create cool tools for newsrooms

That basically sums up my new job at the MIT Media Lab's Center for Civic Media, working for Ethan Zuckerman.

I'll be working with students inside the lab. The idea is to find projects students are working on, or pieces of projects, that can help newsrooms communicate better with readers, or that help reporters and editors do their jobs better, or that bring in revenue for news organizations. Any other possibilities or ideas? Love to hear them.

I'd be lying if I said I saw a clear path forward; any plans I'm developing could be thrown out in an instant. But my goal now is to connect with students who are interested in creating these kinds of tools with media outlets that are interested in beta testing the apps and maybe mentoring students. Hopefully, we can work together to create tools that have an impact, in a field that has a deep thirst for innovation. I'm looking forward to working with students and media partners.

Giving and Receiving Online:

Today is the Harvard launch of, a social network and app that facilitates a culture of giving and receiving. Hasit Shah helped me liveblog the event. SJ Klein also took livenotes.

Lily Cole, founder of, is a social entrepreneur, fashion model and actress. An advocate for socio-political and environmental issues, she has employed technology, writing, filmmaking and public speaking as means to build awareness and encourage dialogue. Two years ago, she began developing, a social network that encourages users to exchange skills and services for free in the hope of encouraging a peer-to-peer gift economy.

Liveblog from RightsCon : Stories from the Field

Liveblog from the workshop session of RightsCon. Please forgive aggregious spelling errors.
  • Tell us about a time when you learned something unexpected about working with frontline human rights defenders.
  • What top 3 tips would you give someone preparing for a capacity-building mission with human rights defenders?
  • What are the 3 most common misundersrtandings or mistakes to avoid make when doing capacity building work with human rights defenders?


Dan from Tactical Tech


Liveblog from the Usability panel at RightsCon. It covered the Countersurveillance hackathon we had just wrapped up, a SF event headed by OpenITP but also linked to the recent Countersurveillance DiscoTechs. I typed this live and published right after the sessions for the day - please forgive typos etc.

Usability as a huge issue. Doesn't matter how much we train if the software isn't usable.

OpenITP has done two events around crypto and usability now - DC in January, and SF in March. OpenITP tools brought to be worked on. Not hard to do a hackathon on usability. Can get people in to improve documentation. User testing is a thing that can happen in a day. Making wireframes. We'll do a report back on challenges faced, what people are doing usability-wise. What they're doing to correct those things.

Barbara with Benetech

Dispatches from #NICAR14: Proper workflows for data projects

I'm currently in Baltimore for the 2014 conference for NICAR (National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting). In this series, I'll be liveblogging the various talks and workshops I attend — keep in mind, this is by no means exhaustive coverage of all the cool stuff going on at the conference. For more, check out Chrys Wu's index of slides, tutorials, links, and tools or follow #nicar14 on Twitter. Read on for my summary of a panel discussion of the legal issues around scraping for journalism. Thanks to Nathaniel Lash and Taylor Goldenstein for their help liveblogging.


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