Creating Technology for Social Change


Hello everyone.

My name is Chris Peterson.

This is my blog. There are many like it. But this one is mine.

I’m a new research assistant here at the Center for Civic Media, as well as a graduate student in the Comparative Media Studies program here at MIT.



Though I’ve only recently arrived to the shiny box of awesome which is the Media Lab, I’ve spent a lot of time at MIT. For the last three years I directed web communications for MIT Admissions. In addition to wrangling all of our web stuff, I also read undergraduate applications for MIT, with a special focus on subaltern, first-generation, and maker students, as well as overseeing all applicants from Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. I was a MITES counselor and freshman advisor as well. It was an amazing job.

I come to CMS/Civic on leave from Admissions in order to complete some unfinished academic business. Before I began burying myself in brilliant applicants to MIT I had been a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, and an Associate at the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution. My undergraduate research on Facebook privacy had been featured in the New York Times and Congressional Quarterly. And since 2010 I have also served on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of over fifty organizations dedicated to protecting free speech and access to information.

Basically, I’ve been interested in the civic implications of digitally mediated communication for a long time, and I wanted to take some time to focus on that in an academic context. And there is no better place to do the sort of work I want to do than here at CMS/Civic.

My thesis project is about user-generated censorship. I gave an Ignite talk about it earlier this summer at the 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference:

In my year here at CMS/Civic I plan to work on this and other interesting projects dealing with the civic implications of digital mediation. And also fun side projects like, my Ushahidi instance which maps delicious hamburgers across the globe. I’ll be posting more about those projects, my work, and other interesting things soon enough.

I think we’re going to have a good time.