Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Land and Water : a long-term perspective

From the website:

We will explore themes of reduced access that have developed out of tensions in property-holding, leases, and contracts; forms of control exerted or facilitated by the state, by law, and by other institutions; and exclusions of class, race, and gender. We believe that history has lessons to offer about how change is introduced to society. In taking this long perspective, the conference invites proposals that look backwards in order to look forwards.
Academics will have an opportunity to be inspired by the practical questions of activists acting in the present, as activists talk about their work, their present projects, questions, and concerns. Activists, in turn, will have the opportunity to articulate large structural conceptions such as capitalism, empire, or debt in relation to access to land and water.

Citizens & City Hall Monitor Sanitation in Belem

This past week in the northern Brazilian city of Belém do Pará, we had the pleasure of commemorating the first official collaboration between a civil society group and local government to monitor city issues using Promise Tracker. During a 2-day sprint, we teamed up with the Social Observatory of Belém and City Hall's Department of Solid Waste to review some of the largest contracts for sanitation and waste removal in the city and launch a monitoring campaign to assess the performance of the company hired to provide these services.

Common Questions About Our Online Harassment Report

The process of reporting and responding to online harassment is the least understood and arguably most important part of the problem. Most of what we know about receiving harassment comes from the small number of people who are courageous enough to face the risk of telling their personal stories.

Maeve Duggan's recent Pew report about online harassment helps us understand the experience of harassment across a nationally-representative sample, but efforts by companies to address online harassment are still mostly secret. For all sorts of safety, legal, and business fears, companies are reluctant to reveal the details of how they enforce their policies around harassment and hate speech. So when Women, Action, and the Media approached me to analyze Twitter harassment reports collected over three weeks with the informed consent of participants, I knew it was a unique opportunity to grow our understanding of the problem.

Recent Articles and Blog Posts at The Atlantic and Microsoft Research

In the past month, I've been privileged to publish two articles in The Atlantic's Technology section and several posts over at Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective. I'm posting links to them here so anyone following on RSS or checking my archives can be aware of them.

The Tragedy of the Digital Commons: Advocates for fairer, safer online spaces are turning to the conservation movement for inspiration:
“How do you fix a broken system that isn't yours to repair?” In this Atlantic article, I look at the work of community volunteers to offer peer support and also advocate for change, in online platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk, and along Boston's Charles River. I try to set out a long-term hope for what it might mean to be proud of our online spaces in the long term.

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