Vojo at Parking Day with Cambridge Community Television | MIT Center for Civic Media
A West Coast girl at heart, Denise Cheng comes to MIT from all over. Her background is a mix of journalism, media empowerment and community building, including as a Peace Corps volunteer and the citizen journalism coordinator for The Rapidian, a hyperlocal based in Grand Rapids, Mich. She has long examined the rise of participatory media and its implications for journalism. She has explored civic media off the Web, from low power FM to digital storytelling and the Indy Media movement. Currently, Denise focuses on the future of work and how to configure a worker support infrastructure for the peer economy.
Denise is drawn to neighborhoods, design, languages, empowerment and DIY media, and she designs frameworks—media expression or fulfilling work—that enable people to pursue what they find meaningful. Keep up with her on Twitter (@hiDenise) or at her blog.
Vojo at Parking Day with Cambridge Community Television
On Friday morning, Becky, Rodrigo and I set out for Central Square, where we had a date with Cambridge Community Television for Parking Day. Parking Day is an international celebration, with do-ocrats, organizations and cities eager to reclaim parking spaces as public spaces. Your typical street-side spot becomes a mini-park, an outdoor lounge, an open-air library—I've seen them all. And on Friday, the lot in front of CCTV became a pop-up broadcast station. On one side was a television studio, and on the other, Vojo.
As we talked to Cantabrigians, we learned that a local co-op had moved to three spots within a one-block radius in its 40-year history. We met a citizen journalist who, through his work, discovered that while Boston and Somerville had a commitment to open data, Cambridge was still catching up.
For Rodrigo and me, this was our first Vojo public event. We had each only toyed with Vojo, registering by phone, playing with the location mapping feature. Since it was mid-morning, many of the people we approached were scurrying to work. So instead of demonstrating one of Vojo's most compelling features—the phone-in audio recorder—we changed strategies: We asked to snap people's photos, a sort of morning street fashion photography, and asked them where they were coming from, where they were going.
(As a side note, both Rodrigo and I come from journalism. I'm not as adept in broadcast journalism, though I have done podcast interviews. It was a learning experience to figure out how to interview for audio without being able to edit for time later on.)
Joining us from CCTV were Clodagh Drummey, Neha Agrawal and Nicole Belanger. Our CCTV partners carried on the rest of the day, asking busy Cantabrigians what improvements they would like to see to Central Square. With so many people able to spare only a moment, Parking Day was a great way to test the Vojo platform, our most recent code push and broaden our sense of use cases.
Our CCTV counterparts were both patient and forthcoming with their observations as they uploaded stories and sometimes (!) hit snags. I've brokered a decent number of media partnerships and collaborations in past lives, and time and again, I find that great partners know to voice any and all impressions, however small. Especially if you work in web development, you know that it doesn't always occur to people to share minor inconveniences, but when it comes to developing online services, it's those little things that make for a smooth experience.
So now that we're in our soft launch stage, and of course you're quite interested in testing out the Vojo platform (:D), we're eager to hear your usage observations and use cases!