Shidash's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media

Improving the Visibility of Citizen Journalism in Cambridge

This is a post by Karina, Victor, and MC about our experiences in the Civic Media Codesign class. You can find a timeline showing what we did in the class here.

Our group worked with Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) in the Spring 2013 Civic Media Codesign Studio. CCTV is a community media non-profit in Cambridge with a web-based citizen journalism program called NeighborMedia.


The codesign process was incredibly iterative, and went through five stages.

Associated Whistleblowing Press Interview

This is the second interview I did for LeaksWiki, a wiki about leaking organizations, the tools and methods used in leaking, and how leaking can improve in the future. The second interview was with the Associated Whistleblowing Press, a media agency that release leaked information. They have an interesting structure where local nodes help release the information and it is published on their central news site. AWP has also been experimenting with some new tools and methods in leaking, which you can read about in the AWP case study, interview on LeaksWiki, or the same interview below.

LeaksWiki Continues and Cryptome Interview

I really loved working on LeaksWiki for Intro to Civic Media, so I will be continuing the project. I am going to do an interview every couple weeks and keep adding information to the wiki. Of course, I also hope that others add to LeaksWiki.

Sasha suggested I do blog posts with my interviews from LeaksWiki. I think this is a great idea so I will be posting one interview a week for the next few weeks and on some schedule after that. This week, I am starting with my Cryptome interview. Cryptome is one of the longest running leaking websites and one of the most radically transparent. John Young makes some fascinating points I had never considered before.

LeaksWiki: Transparency for the future of leaking

For my Intro to Civic Media final project, I made LeaksWiki. LeaksWiki is a wiki about leaking organizations, the tools and methods used in leaking, and how leaking can improve in the future. The goal of LeaksWiki is to make leaking safer, easier, and more effective through a transparent understanding and analysis of leaking organizations. Both LeaksWiki and my final paper present a framework of leaking ideologies from radical transparency to selective release. They also explore a general leaking process that all leaking organizations roughly follow through both case studies and detailed discussion of each step of the process. Finally, LeaksWiki and my paper propose potential future improvements to leaking.

Effective Approaches and Experiments in Leak Processing

Since my last post, I have also completed an interview with Juzne vesti and a case study on Associated Whistleblowing Press. I am currently waiting on some followup questions with Public Intelligence and question responses with someone from WikiLeaks. Additionally, I have been working on my paper which is in large part based off of my blog posts, interviews, and case studies. So, which strategies for document processing are most effective in light of the differing goals of leaking websites? And how have leaking organizations been improving these methods?

Drastic Differences in Leaking Websites

I have been researching document processing for my Intro to Civic Media project. Specifically, I have been examining the varying goals as well as processes and tools used in the intermediary steps after a leaked document is received but before it is released. I hope to identify both strategies that work particularly well and difficult areas where few tools or processes are available to help. In the past week, I have been conducting interviews and updating LeakWiki.

Intro to Civic Media Week 11: Free Information and Transparency

This blog post was written with Andre Muggiati.

This week, our Introduction to Civic Media class discussed freedom of information and transparency. To start with, we not only took our normal public notes but we also decided to be radically transparent by having class in a Google hangout.

Conspiracy, Transparency, Privacy

Improving Document Processing in Leaking Websites

I am examining document processing in leaking websites for my Intro to Civic Media project. Document processing is a particularly important step because it helps determine both the safety and the effectiveness of a leak. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult step as it requires going through thousands or millions of documents to read, redact, validate, and/or analyze them. It also has the most variation as different organizations might follow different sub-steps or have different goals. Some release the documents without any processing while others might redact and validate the documents and then write articles to frame them.

Police State Sandy

One of the few times soldiers can march in the streets in the US without causing panic is during a natural disaster. After Sandy, the military was providing aid (which is a good thing) but I was still slightly chilled by the images of soldiers marching in the streets of New York and the news that the Navy deployed three warships to help with aid. And wouldn't providing aid be a great pretense to deploy troops to major cities before launching a coup and/or devolving into a police state? I made a NewsJack of CNN's home page from Wednesday to reflect on this situation. All photos are taken from real Sandy coverage.

The Rise of Leaking Websites

We often use the terms 'leaking' and 'whistleblowing' synonymously but their functions are quite different in practice. Whistleblowing is reporting a wrongdoing of some sort with the hope that it will be rectified. Leaking refers to the release of documents, nowadays often in large quantities, in the name of transparency (with whistleblowing potentiallly in mind for the future).