Technology solutions can be software or hardware or even new ways of using old processes. They are tools that assist individuals and communities to engage with each other, share information, and take action.
Something that has been echoed by many of the speakers at today's Knight Civic Media Conference is the importance of considering who participates in the design of a technology. Sasha Constanza-Chock spoke about the importance of using open technologies and open data when developing tools for communities. Chris Csikszentmihalyi spoke about how those with power producing technology tend to make technologies that reinforce their power. The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, one of this year's grant winners, emphasized the importance of community participation and ownership in the collection of scientific data. But why is this important? Don't closed systems like Twitter or Facebook have the potential for great social good?
Designers often want to help people that they perceive as being in need -- whether those affected by natural or human-caused disasters, the economically or physically disadvantaged, or those who are on the losing end of a cultural power dynamic. However, naive attempts to "help" through simplistic techno-centric design can be at best ineffective, and at worst counter-productive.
What can designers do to better connect with the communities and individuals they wish to serve? How can design projects avoid patronizing attitudes and economic colonialization? How can a designer be effective in promoting social change while following their conscience?
This panel brings together designers who have worked in the mental health industry, international development, the prison system, and community environmental action to discuss what has worked and what hasn't, and what approaches designers can take to increase their chances of success.
Charlie DeTar (Moderator) Co-founder of Between the Bars, a blogging platform for prisoners. Fellow at the Center for Future Civic Media, and PhD student at the MIT Media Lab.
Patricia Deegan Creator of the CommonGround web application which supports shared decision making in psychopharmacology consultation. Adjunct Professor at the Dartmouth College School of Medicine and at Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
Liz Barry Director of Urban Environment at Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a collaborative developing inexpensive and community-led means to explore environmental and social issues; Co-founder of TreeKIT, an initiative to collaboratively measure, map, and manage urban forests.
Nathan Cooke Born and raised in California, USA, Cooke works at MIT’s D-Lab documenting technologies and working with students on design projects. He has previous experience working for Frog Design in San Francisco and at Autodesk as part of their Sustainability division.
The moment we've been working towards for over 3 months has arrived: Between the Bars is back online! We have a selection of new posts from new authors, as well as old posts from long time authors. As we continue to receive permission from the writers to republish their posts, we'll bring more of the classics online.
We've been thrilled with the response we've gotten since announcing the restart of service - we'll have our work cut out for us keeping up with the influx of mail. Monday we will be sending our first printouts back to the authors in prison, so now is a great time to leave some comments. Since we have made some changes to the site, there's a chance that there'll be new bugs - don't hesitate to bug us if you encounter any unexpected behavior.
We'd like to send a very big thank you to all the supporters who have kept us going over the past few months, and look forward to setting ourselves up for the long haul as we continue to grow and evolve.
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.
It consists of software tools to make it easy to upload PDF scans of letters, crowd-sourced transcriptions of the scanned images, and the usual full-featured blogging tools including comments, tagging, RSS feeds, and notifications for friends and family when new posts are available.
Rick Borovoy demos Lost in Boston: RealTime, which uses public, real-time bus data to create inexpensive and easy-to-maintain electronic signs that can be placed near bus stops in publicly viewable, private spaces -- such as storefront windows and community centers.