Andrew's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media

"The Crime Report" on prison blogging project, Between the Bars

Thanks to "The Crime Report" for their coverage of Charlie DeTar's Center project, Between the Bars:

Reentry and reform can take root when prisoners are able to maintain connections with their families and communities. One website is making great strides in building those bridges online. aims to humanize prisoners and open a dialogue between the millions of incarcerated Americans and the public. The site launched last year, growing out of work at the MIT Center for Civic Media by Charlie DeTar and others. It’s a refreshing initiative in a field that usually holds technology and communications at arm’s length.

DeTar’s site is a brilliant idea. Thanks to a recent redesign, it’s also a well-executed one. Between the Bars relies on the help of volunteers to scan posts from prisoners and post them directly to the web.

VIDEO: Mapping Media Ecosystems

Download! (Embedded version below the fold.)

While you view our video below, read Ethan's rundown of our superb event, Mapping Media Ecosystems. It featured Hal Roberts, of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; Erhardt Graeff, founding member of the Web Ecology Project; and Gilad Lotan, VP of Research and Development for SocialFlow:

I asked them to share some of the recent work they’ve been doing, understanding the structure of the US and Russian blogosphere, analyzing the influence networks in Twitter during the early Arab Spring events and understanding the social and political dynamics of hashtags. They didn’t disappoint, and I suspect our video of the session will be one of the more popular pieces of media we put together this fall.

The Week in Civic Media: Mimi Ito, this Wednesday

Here's your breakdown of news in civic media this week...


Mapping Media Ecosystems
Hal Roberts, Erhardt Graeff, and Gilad Lotan


The Week in Civic Media: Mapping Media Ecosystems

Events This Week

  • "Mapping Media Ecosytems". Civic Media Session, Wednesday 5pm w/ Hal Roberts, Erhardt Graeff, Gilad Lotan
  • Mitch Resnick joins us Thursday for free lunch (RSVP). "Launching Projects into the World":
  • Join Nathan Matias, Matt Stempek, and Daniel Schultz at the Civic Media London Social Thu 3 Nov @ 6:00pm

Civic Videos and Podcasts

  • Video: Civic Media Session: "Civic Maps"
  • Video: Ethan Zuckerman on "Networks Understanding Networks"
  • Video: Benjamen Walker talks "Too Much Information" at our Civic Media Lunch: (Great example of "civic fiction" as a genre…)
  • Podcast: "Surveillance and Citizenship"
  • Molly Sauter interviewed by BBC4 about Anonymous and hacktivism (~13:50)

VIDEO: Civic Media Session: "Civic Maps"

Laura Kurgan, Pablo Rey

Maps, Geographic Information Systems, and spatial analysis are powerful tools that recently have become increasingly accessible to non-specialists. Dynamic maps with user created content are becoming part of daily life in the 1/3 world (developed countries and elites in the global South). There is a long history of maps as tools for civic engagement, with public participatory GIS and community engaged mapping playing key roles in (for example) indigenous land rights struggles, mapping health disparities, and the environmental justice movement's demonstration of the unequal spatial distribution of pollution. Most recently, new tools and platforms like Open Street Maps and Grassroots Mapping are democratizing maps even further.

What challenges still constrain the effective creation and use of Civic Maps? What tools and platforms are most promising? What steps can developers, practitioners, and researchers take to help build the field of civic mapping?

Download or watch below.

VIDEO: Benjamen Walker: "Community Radio Programming for the Digital Age"

Benjamen Walker is the host of the program "Too Much Information" a radio show (and podcast) about life in the information age. He reports on many of the issues and topics of the day (Wikileaks, Anonymous, online porn, surveillance, net neutrality) but he also throws in conspiracy theories, fiction and interviews with ordinary people trying to make sense of their digital selves.

Download or watch below.

Video: "Networks Understanding Networks" with Ethan Zuckerman

Center for Civic Media director Ethan Zuckerman during the Media Lab's fall meeting:

It's 2011. This is a year -- depending on how this year ends up -- that is going to be remembered perhaps as we remember 1989, 1968, perhaps 1848 as one of these years where the world as we know it changes fairly radically.

However, as Ethan showed in great detail using visualizations of automated news coverage analysis, these revolutions may well be events that much of the world missed...

The Week in Civic Media: Data Therapy Webinar

From the Center