Intro to Civic Media – course kickoff + first assignment

Last week was the first meeting of CMS.360/860: Introduction to Civic Media. This is the second time I’m teaching the course, this year with Becky Hurwitz on board as TA. We’ve been revising the syllabus, based on a combination of feedback from last year’s students, a massive sticky-note brainstorm by the incoming class, new developments in the field, the wisdom of crowds, and whimsy. You can take a look at the syllabus here:

Last year, I worked hard to publicize the class and still had empty seats around a seminar table. This year, I did almost no outreach and 24 people showed up, with a diverse range of experiences and interests – undergrads and graduate students, most from MIT, and a few from Wellesley and Harvard. I’m crediting the increased interest to last year’s transnational wave of ICT-amplified social movements 😉

After a general overview and introductions, we did the aforementioned brainstorm of civic media topics and tools (transcription from the stickies is available here: We then used Charlie de Tar’s 10 Points Tool to develop, discuss, and debate 10 key principles of Civic Media – (that’s the image at the top of the post).

Many of these principles were hotly debated, which is a sign of good things to come this semester. This week’s assignment provides an opportunity to continue the conversation – for students in the class, if you haven’t created your own blog yet on the Center for Civic Media site, feel free to post in the comments section below. See you on Wednesday – and don’t forget that the meeting time has changed to 6pm-9pm!

Assignment (due Monday): Post your first blog entry to Introduce yourself, reflect on the 10 points workshop, and include your own definition of ‘Civic Media.’ With our 10 points document as a guide, elaborate what you believe to be the (3-5) core principles of Civic Media – provide links to examples, with short explanations. In your entry, discuss your interest in the topic, write a bit about why you chose to take this course, and  explain what it is you hope to gain by the end of the semester.