Civic media

Vojo and Tracking the Election with Cambridge Community Television

Yesterday, Denise, Royal, and I conducted an introductory Vojo workshop with youth at Cambridge Community Television (CCTV). Denise Cheng is a CMS Graduate Student and a Researcher at Center for Civic Media, and Royal Morris is an MIT undergraduate working with Vojo through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). We all met in Central Square in Cambridge to train CCTV youth how to use Vojo so that it could be used today to interview voters about their election choices. CCTV is “a nationally recognized community media center that is the voice and vision of all residents, businesses, and organizations in the city” (more info here). Upon arrival at the CCTV headquarters located in Cambridge, Denise, Royal, and I were greeted by Neha Agrawal, CCTV’s Youth Media Coordinator, who introduced us to a cohort of high school students who will be interviewing voters using Vojo during today’s presidential election.

Intro to Civic Media 10/31: Games, newsjacking, and the great Kony debate

Civic Games

This week in class, we were visited by Scot Osterweil of Education Arcade.

He started out by challenging us to play a few quick games of tic-tac-toe with our seatmates. This generated a fair amount of noise, laughter, and intensity, despite the fact that, as Scot pointed out, "tic-tac-toe is a stupid game." He explained that play is more important than it seems, and that it says something "about the way we engage more thoughtfully or interactively with the world."

Tic-tac-toe was one of Scot's many different examples of play, which included:

Marketplace storytelling

My final project for Intro to Civic Media is about storytelling in the capitalist marketplace. I am focusing on the production and reception of stories of origin printed on commercial product packages: brief narratives produced by copy writers and packaging designers working toward an institutional goal to sell products. These texts interest me both as information sources that can be fact-checked and as literary productions that reflect in their language and form the structures and values of the marketplace. For Intro to Civic Media, I'm working on two elements of the project: a website for collecting and publishing marketplace stories of origin and a written study of two examples.

Marketplace stories of origin website screenshot

I started work on the website earlier this month and am testing it now. Goals for the website are:

Citizen displacement in Mexico City

I am still trying to develop the exact structure for my final project but have finally honed down on the topic and its breadth.
I am interested in space as a tool to understand the complexities at play in urban environment. Regarding the issue of drug-related violence I am specially interested in addressing the way the built environment manifest the intricacies of interaction between the state, citizens, and what Profr Davis calls 'violence entrepreneurs'.

In the last 6 years violence has scaled dramatically in certain cities in Mexico, driving the state to try and develop new judicial tools to understand and tackle this issue. At the center of this battle, is a fight for territory, and control of that territory by these three different parties, that are not always differentiated clearly. I wish to understand how activists have defended their territories in this struggle, and the languages and media developed through that struggle.

Platforms and Affordances: From Pamphleteers to Peer to Peer

This week in the Introduction to Civic Media class, we focused in exploring the 'continuity and change within and between media and communication technologies as tools for civic engagement and social change.' The premise proposed by the set of readings was to move beyond digital media in order to be critical around the 'relationship of 'old' media technologies to social change.'
How development in media impact or acompanies social shifts.

This week, the facilitators and scribes for the discussion was Rogelio, Callahn and myself. Rogelio started the discussion by reviewing James Carey's "Technology and Ideology: the Case of the Telegraph."

He explains the three major shifts, that came about with the telegraph. As told by Carey, the telegraph is the first example of communication and transportation being disaggregated. In a broad overview, we discussed how the telegraph impacted the industrial world, changing management techniques, organizational structure, etc. 

Intro to Civic Media: Front Page Analysis of Immigrants’ Rights Movements and Farm Worker Movements

Front Page Analysis of Immigrants’ Rights Movements and Farm Worker Movements

This blog will cover my final project for the Introduction to Civic Media course, which will consist of a front-page analysis of notable events and occurrences in contemporary immigrants’ rights movements and the farmworker movement from the 1960s. My particular front page analysis will look at the front page of several newspapers in order to determine the amount of coverage that is given to a particular event or topic. In essence, this front page analysis operates under the premise that the front page of a newspaper as a space is reserved for issues deemed most pressing and important. Following this logic, the amount of physical space allocated to news stories signals their significance, with more space given to more important stories. Regardless of the size of a story that appears on the front page of a newspaper, appearing on the front page at all signals a certain level of significance to those stories. I intend to examine the front pages of major newspapers in order to identify how major newspapers present coverage relating to social movements.

Civindex: the Italian connection

Great news for the Civindex project. Right after I wrote here about the idea of creating an index to measure personal activist participation on the internet, I received an interesting message on the comments section: “Hi Andre, I came across this interesting post. I found this idea intriguing. I am also conducting some research on similar topics. Why don't we have a chat on this?”

It turned out to be a message from Stefano de Paoli, an Italian researcher from the <ahref Foundation and University of Trento, who studies the interactions between technology and society. One of Stefano’s colleagues Luca de Biase (chairman of Fondazione ahref) visited the MIT last year, and they are implementing the Civic Media concepts in Italy.

After some difficulty in finding a common time for this chat, we ended up talking, earlier this week, and decided to work together on the project.

The Question Campaign: 21 Days of questions, 365 Days of action.

The Question Campaign,, launched in the City of Cambridge on Weds Oct 17 as part of the Cambridge Campaign Against Domestic Violence. For the next 21 Days, the Question Campaign will ask for people in Cambridge to donate their questions about Domestic Violence. Following that, through a series of public processes, the campaign partners and Cambridge residents will identify common questions and work towards local policy and service provision that responds to these questions.

Vojo Community Call - Placing Vojo content on your sites using RSS feeds

We had our second Vojo Community Call on Tues Oct 16. The agenda included introductions from 3 of our community groups and a hands-on demonstration of how to locate feed addresses for Vojo groups and Vojo tags. We followed that with a screenshared demo of how these feeds can be integrated into Drupal’s native RSS feed aggregator and a Wordpress plugin that we have found works well with Vojo feeds. The following is a recap of the introductions and some of the call activities.

For more info about this call: