natematias's blog

How To Party Online

How do you party with a group of people across four continents? As a trustee of Awesome Knowledge, I'm looking for great ways to celebrate our community and congratulate our grantees. Every month or two, we give $1000 to an awesome project that spreads knowledge (learn more, and unlike most Awesome Foundations, we're a distributed group who have no shared geography. Most chapters conclude each grant cycle with a party, where a wide community is invited to celebrate as the grantee receives a big cheque or bag of money. After weeks of grant reviews and hard decisions, it's this party that often keeps the foundation Awesome.

Awesome Knowledge can't easily party in one place, so we're looking for ways to celebrate online.

Gratitude and its Dangers in Social Technologies

How do our designs change when we start emphasizing people and community and not just the things they do for us? Over the next year of my research, I'm exploring acknowledgment and gratitude, basic parts of online relationships that designers often set aside to focus on the tasks people do online.

In May of last year, Wikipedia added a "thanks" feature to its history page, enabling readers to thank contributors for helpful edits on a topic:

Thanks on Wikipedia July 28-30, 2014

Inequality Regimes and Student Experience in Online Learning: Tressie McMillan Cottom at Berkman

Today, I'm liveblogging a talk by Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) at the Berkman Center for a talk about inequality in online learning, based on her qualitative research with students taking online for-profit learning.

Tressie, who's completing her PhD in the Sociology Department at Emory University, studies stratification, considering what inequality means both experientially and empirically when corporations are people, supranational corporations like Facebook and Twitter shape the public square, and education is increasingly privatized. She also has a developing research agenda that examines the political economy of emerging “new” media organizations.

As jobs with good wages decrease in availability, more people seek higher education to find jobs. Tressie does research on systemic biases in society and for-profit higher education. For-profit higher education companies know that inequality is a basic part of their business plan, and yet there's a tendency to avoid analyzing the connection between inequality and their businesses.

Emoji Karaoke at the Boston Internet Research Party

Two weeks ago, Kate Miltner, Amy Johnson and I organized the first Boston Internet Researchers Party, hosted by the Center for Civic Media, Microsoft Research, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook News Feed

How can the public learn the role of algorithms in their daily lives, evaluating the law and ethicality of systems like the Facebook NewsFeed, search engines, or airline booking systems? Today, the Berkman Center hosted a conversation about the idea of social science audits of algorithms. Presenting were:

Media-Making Strategies to Support Community and Learning at Hackathons

Many of us who organise hack days and hackathons say that we value learning, community, and collaboration, but our media often highlights individuals and their projects. When organisers highlight a small number of winners, we open ourselves up to critiques that we're peddling shallow solutionism, token civic engagement, exploitative labor practices, and half-baked projects that never create impact. We need to ban the big cheque photo op.

This year, we're seeing wide experimentation with the hackathon format to make events more inclusive and community oriented. I especially love Laurenellen McCann's post on hybrid hackathon block parties. Whatever your format, how can organisers and journalists highlight communities and support learning? This post lists some of the best advice I've found.

Citizen Journalism as Counter to Censorship and Culture Wars: Zeynep Tufekci on 140journos

Can citizen journalism be an effective reaction to government censorship and political culture wars? Zeynep started asking these questions while researching Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab uprisings. Today she talks about the role of citizen media in Turkey.

(vizThink by Willow Brugh. This post was written with Rodrigo Davies and Dalia Othman)

Here at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference, our second day is starting out with a talk by Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill information school. Zeynep starts with the story of citizen journalism's beginnings in Turkey.

Why Does a Free Internet Matter? Alberto Ibarguen Explains

"How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?" is the theme of the most recent Knight News Challenge, which received 704 submissions, supported 54 entries through a refinement process, and is announcing the winners today. Previous challenges have focused on health data, Open Government, Mobile News, Networks, and much more. Sands Fish and I were there to liveblog the announcement of grantees.

Project Maps Gatekeepers of Eastern Europe's Digital Networks, supported by the Knight Foundation

Who are the Gatekeepers is a project by Manuela Preoteasa and Paul Radu at the Journalism Development Network to examine the gatekeepers of Eastern Europe's digital networks.

We're here at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference, where Alberto Ibarguen and John Bracken have just announced the winners of the latest news challenge, which asked the question "How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?" Sands Fish and I were there to liveblog the presentation of grantees.

Usable Secure Mobile Communications with TextSecure funded by Knight Foundation

We're here at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference, where Alberto Ibarguen and John Bracken have just announced the winners of the latest news challenge, which asked the question "How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?" Sands Fish and I were there to liveblog the presentation of grantees.

TextSecure by Moxie Marlinspike at Open Whisper Systems, is a project to secure global communications through a simple messaging application that requires no special knowledge from the user .

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