mstem

Recent blog posts by mstem

Look Who's Talking: Non-Profit Newsmakers in the New Media Age

Liveblog of the first Media Lab Conversations event of the semester, with help from Nathan Matias and Molly Sauter. You can view tweets from this event here.

“We’re a nonprofit, and we’re moving into the media business.”

Carroll Bogert (@carrollbogert) is the Deputy Executive Director for External Relations at Human Rights Watch. She also spent more than a decade as a reporter, bureau chief and editor of international news at Newsweek. Since 1978, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of the leading human rights organizations.

Smart Customization vs. Mass Production

Liveblog of Ryan C.C. Chin's PhD thesis defense at MIT Media Lab

Ryan came to MIT in 1997, and got a Master's in Architecture, and then at the Media Lab, before entering into the Lab's Ph.D program. He took leave for 18 months to work on the CityCar project.

Ryan's thesis examines smart customization, and the scientific differences between mass customization and traditional mass production. Is one better than the other? Is one more sustainable?

The CityCar is customizable on a number of levels: its base design, its adaptability to its environment (city), and its individual parts' modularity.

Ryan hasn't only worked on cars; he's also studied customization of dress shirts. He chose shirts because of their low cost, frequency of use, and relatively easy traceability (see SourceMap).

You're More Powerful as a Customer than as a Citizen (and that's bad)

If you're an early adopter, you likely sign up for a wide range of new products and services. A number of these startups inevitably fold, and then you receive their closing-shop emails. The correspondence making up this genre tends to be fairly upbeat and concise, painting over what are surely far more lurid tales of unrealized dreams and blown investments. The email I received announcing the demise of Moxy Vote broke with this pattern and offered an unusually candid, clear explanation of how and why they failed. And their failure points to a strategic problem today's would-be social changemakers face.

The Internet Exposes Tensions and Opportunity Between Nations and their Diasporas

Liveblog from the Global Voices Summit (#gv2012) here in Nairobi.

Diasporic communities can now take virtually full part in national political and civic life in their countries of origin, thanks to new media. From the academic and activist perspectives, what are the consequences?

Inside/Outside: Diaspora Influence  #GV2012

Left to right: Gershom Ndhlovu (Zambia), Elaine Diaz (Cuba), Susan Benesch (American University, School of International Service), Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya), Fred Petrossian (Iran)

Let Us See Under the Hood

Our machines can do amazing things. Our mapping and travel tools can span numerous transit agencies and modes of transport to conveniently navigate us across the land. They still mess up, which is acceptable. But when they fail, we don't even know that they have errored, or how, and this is less OK.

On an intermediary leg of a marathon journey from Washington, DC to Nairobi that included a DC Metrobus, a ZipCar, a BoltBus, a commuter train, an airtram, two 6+ hour flights, I needed to simply get from Penn Station to JFK Airport. I already knew that the Long Island Railroad was the best combination of price and speed for my needs, and HopStop's website confirmed it. Unfortunately my BoltBus ran an hour late, and I found myself recalculating the trip from my phone using HopStop's mobile app. For whatever reason, whether an errant filter or another limitation of the mobile app, HopStop no longer showed me any LIRR options. In this case, I knew I wasn't seeing the results I needed. I just couldn't do anything about it.

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