mstem

Recent blog posts by mstem

Ethan Zuckerman and the Levers of Change

Liveblog of Ethan Zuckerman's Future of News keynote, composed with Nathan Matias. Errors are likely ours.

The usual conversation about innovation in journalism held by people who work in journalism assumes that there’s one main problem in the space: if we could just work out the revenue issue, we’d be fine forever. But it's also not the case that cross-subsidies from lighter matter will help us support the journalism we need for people to be effective civic actors.

What if we've got the problem wrong? Sometimes the stuff we think we're good at--producing high quality journalism that helps people figure out what they might do in society--turns out to be stuff we're not nearly as good at as we thought. This may well be one of the core problems of journalism.

Ethan offers two fairly easy arguments, and a fairly difficult one:

1) journalism matters (goes mostly unchallenged in this room)

2) civics is changing (particularly for younger people and for people who identify with the internet as their native medium)

3) journalism needs to change

3 Reasons MoveOn Put Members in Charge

MoveOn.org is already one of the more transparent, membership-driven political organizations this world has seen. Their local councils and rolling membership surveys drive the hive's priorities. This week, Justin Ruben announced that they were going one leap further, and "turning over the keys of our technological toolset to our more than 7 million members, asking them to step up and lead their own campaigns, and putting them squarely in the MoveOn driver's seat."

This is big. Here's why:

Designing the User-Friendly City

What happens when a tech-minded entrepreneur is unexpectedly chosen to lead a big city government bureaucracy? Gabe Klein was an unconventional pick to head the District of Columbia's Department of Transportation when he was hired back in 2008, by then-mayor Adrian Fenty. He'd been a Zipcar executive. He helped found a local boutique food-truck company. He grew up in a Virginia ashram called Yogaville. But he had never worked in government. Over the next 23 months Klein implemented a program of transformative innovation, rapidly rolling out bike-sharing, new bike lanes, streetcar plans and next-generation parking infrastructure. Now Klein is a year-and-a-half into his second unexpected job in government, as the head of Chicago's Department of Transportation under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Aaron Naparstek rolls the pre-talk film on urban cycling.

Political Tech vs. Civic Tech

The campaign post-mortems are pouring in, unveiling the computer magic behind the Obama campaign. We should probably be thankful that the conversation has evolved from 2004-2008's obsession with social media into a newfound lay interest in data aggregation and empirically valid testing. I'm learning a lot reading these articles.

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