Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important as a means of distributing and sharing information. Cell phones, wireless hand-held computers, and new devices we haven't even seen yet are being used in new and unanticipated ways.
Shot and edited by Igor Kharitonenkov in very short order, this 4-minute documentary gives an excellent summary of the My Dot Tour initiative. Props to Kate Balug (GSD alum, co-founder of the Dept. of Play, and a good friend of the Center) for all of her incredible work on this project!
The MIT Center for Civic Media contributed in the overall planning of the project and with the implementation of the technical infrastructure that supported the neighborhood tours. In particular, this project proved to be a good application of the Center's VoIP Drupal platform, an open source framework that makes it easier to build communication systems that integrate phone, SMS and web together (http://drupal.org/project/voipdrupal).
Understanding the impact of global production, and the supply chains that lie behind them, has become a significant part of my work. These issues have been brought out over the past few days by the release (and subsequent removal) of a game on Apple's App Store that treats some of the very same concerns. Phone Story, created by radical game developer Molleindustria (and partners, including Yes Men incubator Yes Lab), continues Molleindustria's attempt to "reappropriate video games as a popular form of mass communication" and "investigate the persuasive potentials of the medium by subverting mainstream video gaming cliché." It's the latest in a portfolio of explorations into issues like the impact of the petrol era and creations like every day the same dream that question the narratives of dominant ideology. Each of these explorations takes a slightly different form:
Many communities suffer from "timenesia": a lack of awareness-of and interest-in their own past, present and future. They don't showcase their rich past, aren't aware of their neighbors different takes on their present, nor their hopes for their shared future.
Sasha Costanza-Chock is joining the faculty of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT as Assistant Professor of Civic Media, and is one of the three principal investigators (along with Ethan Zuckerman and Mitchel Resnick) of the Center for Civic Media. He caught up with his new colleague Ethan Zuckerman to talk about his background and his plans at MIT.
"I'm a scholar and activist as well as a media maker," explains Costanza-Chock. "My scholarship has been based on engagement with the world of media activism and civic media more broadly." In his work at MIT, Costanza-Chock plans to continue straddling the line between action and reflection, building tools and systems to help communities express themselves and reflecting on the role of media in social movements.
Through the Center's Department of Play and the Comparative Media Studies department, I've been working with a team of people to launch Aago, a mobile app for Apple devices focusing on media creation, organization and sharing. Targeted to teens, the app aims to help them document group or individual creative projects (filmmaking, tech or art projects, citizen journalism) by creating "stories" made up of mobile photos, videos, and audio clips, which can then be arranged and exported to the web. Later features include collaborative production both on the app and on the web, where users can create and curate content with select peers or facilitators.
The MIT Center for Civic Media designs tailored civic media tools and jointly develops them with communities like yours. We want to showcase the possibilities for community-wide empowerment, so we are looking to partner with activists and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and around the world.
What you get
As a community partner, you will receive free open-source resources and technical support to address your most pressing civic media issues, whether it’s how to highlight local business, ways to engage kids in local issues, or even something seemingly too daunting for mere technology. You can be an early adopter of tools to support and foster local civic media and community action.
Rick Borovoy demos the Junkyard Jumbotron, which lets anyone take displays and instantly stitch them together into a large, virtual display, simply by taking a photograph of them.
It works with laptops, smartphones, tablets -- anything that runs a web browser. It also highlights a new way of connecting a large number of heterogenous devices to each other in the field, on an ad hoc basis.
As we wind the way toward the end of our four year grant, I thought it would be nice to describe some of what we've learned at MIT's Center for Future Civic Media (C4). In the coming weeks, I will call on a few of our researchers to offer similar blog reflections on our unique blend of communities, information, and action.
First, though, I want to describe some of the exciting project highlights from the last few weeks. Because C4 is a multi-disciplinary institution, different projects end up affecting different audiences, so I wanted to put them all in one post.