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.
In my nearly four years here, I've seen the rise of some great solutions to communications challenges.
MailChimp and other email marketing platforms have made signing up and emailing friends and followers dead simple while avoiding the worst practices that lead to spamhood.
Twitter not only works as a broadcast medium but also makes rebroadcasting more respectable than it had been. (You think I'm kidding, but older professional communications folks still reflexively hesitate, wondering if featuring others' news weakens one's own brand or, worse, constitutes a copyright violation.)
Eventbrite helps manage ticketing and major event promotion without ever having to print out a spreadsheet, set up a cost object, or beg a former cop to help guard a cash box.
The last two days of the Truthiness conference, co-hosted by the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and MIT's Center for Civic Media, exposed a rich cross-section of people, research, and applications dedicated to fighting misinformation in its many forms. We spent the day Tuesday discussing the wide world of facts and falsehoods, with an embarrassing collection of brains on hand to inform us on the history, cognitive psychology, and best practices of encouraging a healthy respect for reality. The challenge ahead, now that all the mini eclairs are gone, is to convert the goodwill, knowledge, and collaboration generated by this conference into a united front against delusion. Here's my pitch.
Sasha Costanza-Chock is Assistant Professor of Civic Media in the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT. He is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, co-principal investigator of the MIT Center for Civic Media, and cofounder of the Occupy Research Network.
Submitted by Andrew on November 16, 2011 - 10:12am
Thanks to "The Crime Report" for their coverage of Charlie DeTar's Center project, Between the Bars:
Reentry and reform can take root when prisoners are able to maintain connections with their families and communities. One website is making great strides in building those bridges online.
BetweentheBars.org aims to humanize prisoners and open a dialogue between the millions of incarcerated Americans and the public. The site launched last year, growing out of work at the MIT Center for Civic Media by Charlie DeTar and others. It’s a refreshing initiative in a field that usually holds technology and communications at arm’s length.
DeTar’s site is a brilliant idea. Thanks to a recent redesign, it’s also a well-executed one. Between the Bars relies on the help of volunteers to scan posts from prisoners and post them directly to the web.
Submitted by natematias on November 8, 2011 - 1:41pm
Hackasaurus is a great project by Mozilla which makes it easy to see the structure of a web page and remix it. In education, it's a great way to combine learning about composition with learning about how to make.
In Cambridge, we spoke with Matt Williams, social enterprise coordinator for the UK Youth Climate Coalition. Matt was the programme manager for PowerShift UK in 2008. We talked about organising climate campaigns as well as models of action around adaptive responses to the human impact of climate change.
Maps, Geographic Information Systems, and spatial analysis are powerful tools that recently have become increasingly accessible to non-specialists. Dynamic maps with user created content are becoming part of daily life in the 1/3 world (developed countries and elites in the global South). There is a long history of maps as tools for civic engagement, with public participatory GIS and community engaged mapping playing key roles in (for example) indigenous land rights struggles, mapping health disparities, and the environmental justice movement's demonstration of the unequal spatial distribution of pollution. Most recently, new tools and platforms like Open Street Maps and Grassroots Mapping are democratizing maps even further.
What challenges still constrain the effective creation and use of Civic Maps? What tools and platforms are most promising? What steps can developers, practitioners, and researchers take to help build the field of civic mapping?