natematias's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media

Pair Research: Low-Fi Tools for Collaboration In Teams

Together with Brian Keegan, I facilitate the Berkman Center's Cooperation Working Group, a group of researchers and practitioners in the Boston area who support each other's research and share new ideas. This week, we were joined by Rob Miller, a professor and HCI researcher at CSAIL. Rob's group's work profoundly inspired my own research while at Microsoft, and I was delighted to welcome him.

The next Cooperation Group Meeting will be in two weeks, Tues Feb 25 at 5pm, where I will present work done in partnership with Sarah Szalavitz on gender bias in social media among journalists and bloggers. I'll share results of an experiment where we exposed people to the gender ratio of their behavior.

What is Pair Research?

High-Level Conferences on ICT and the Internet: What Do They Mean for the Internet As We Know It

ICANN 47 Gala Dinner

I'm here at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society for a talk by Veni Markovski, ICANN vice-president for Russia, who's talking to us today about issues in Internet governance. (This post was written with Ethan Zuckerman and Tim Davies)

Ethan introduces Veni, who was very involved in building the Internet in Bulgaria, and who is now a leading expert on Internet governance and policy worldwide, with particular experience in Russia and former soviet countries. From early on, he has taken a great deal of involvement and responsibility for the complicated Internet governance issues that we all recognize are important, but can sometimes feel intimidating. He's a former ICANN board member, a former board member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.

ICANN and Internet Governance

Eszter Hargittai and Aaron Shaw on Internet Skills and Wikipedia's Gender Inequality

Today at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Eszter Hargittai and Aaron Shaw offered some fascinating new evidence on the gender gap in Wikipedia. Here's a vizThink by Willow Brugh from the talk:

Why You Should Apply To be a Berkman Fellow

You should apply to be a Berkman Fellow next year, especially if you're a designer, computer scientist, or researcher of technology. There's one week remaining. Apply here.

If you haven't clicked on that link and started filling out the application, this blog post is for you. The official link has helpful information about qualifications, funding, and more. Here, I try to explain why makers, computational social scientists, and computer scientists should apply, even if you haven't finished your PhD.

I'm a Berkman Fellow for the 2013-2014 academic year. As a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, I'm deeply enjoying the opportunity. This post tells my story, explains what I'm doing now, and answers questions you might have about being a Berkman Fellow. You should also know that is not official advice, and I'm not on the selection committee.

Cultivating Habits for Social Good With Your Peers: TearFund's New Rhythms App

Can small challenges and peer support help young people grow habits to become socially responsible people? That's the premise of Rhythms, a fascinating web and mobile app launched this May by TearFund, the UK Christian relief and development agency.

Nathan's avatar checks his privilege on Rhythms

The Changing Landscape of Digital Surveillance

Governments are putting in massive work to crack communications. Many companies are working hard to create surveillance tools used by our governments and many others. Many service providers are vulnerable to these issues. What fixes can we make as designers of technology? Morgan Marquis-Boire joined us for lunch at the Center for Civic Media to share some ideas (this post was written with Willow Brugh).


Six Emerging Forms of Digital Cooperation

At the Berkman Center here in Boston, Brian Keegan and I co-facilitate a working group on cooperation research (email list here) that meets to discuss recent papers, offer feedback on technology design, and share a broad conversation among reearchers, designers, activists, and mediamakers.

Today, I shared six cooperative technologies that I learned about at the Mozilla Festival in London:

Mozilla Lightbeam

Data Science VM: Set Up Your Server in Four Steps

Data Science VM is a script that automatically launches and configures a data science system on your computer or in the cloud in a half hour or less, across Linux, Windows, and OSX.

In my experience, any new machine for a serious project takes 3-5 days to set up. During my first semester at MIT, I spent weeks installing MediaCloud (it's easier now, I hear). I lost around 3 days each when my laptop was stolen in March of 2012, when my MacBook Pro died just before my thesis deadline, and when I started a summer internship at Microsoft. Setup time is also a major problem during hack days; I've attended too many events where the event ends just as the participants finish setting up their machines.

What It Includes

Society, Politics and the Algorithm: Social Science in the Lab

Kate Crawford introduces this session by reminding us that Technology is social and cultural. Microsoft's Social Media Collective looks at how social networks and social practices interrelate.

We're here at the Microsoft Research New England 5th anniversary symposium, where a fascinating collection of scholars are discussing computer science, big data, politics, society, and machine learning. This post was collaboratively created using NewsPad. I also wrote a post on a session from this morning: Progress and New Challenges in Machine Learning/Big Data