Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

All in Our Backyard - social justice in disaster response

One of the hardest lessons and ongoing challenges in digital disaster and humanitarian response is how to connect with a local population. While many digital response groups deal with this by waiting for official actors (like the affected nation's government, or the United Nations) to activate them, this doesn't always sit well with my political viewpoints. Some of these affected nations have governments which are not in power at the consent of the governed, and so to require their permission rankles my soul. But to jump in without request or context is also unacceptable. So what's to be done? It's from this perspective that I've been diving into how civics, disaster, and humanitarian tech overlap. And it's from this perspective that I've been showing up to Bayview meetings for San Francisco city government's Empowered Communities Program. ECP is working to create neighborhood hubs populated by members already active in their communities.

Where I stand today

(I promise this is one of the only two blog posts I will publish using primarily the first person.)

I am an activist, and technology and media are my favorite pretexts to start conversations about the core of our human experience. I love reflecting about concepts and their underlying ideologies, but asking teens whether they know someone who decided to untag themselves from a photo on Facebook is still my favorite way to ignite discussions on privacy.

I don’t believe in universal pedagogical statements about technology (I very much doubt everybody should learn to code), and part of my pride as an activist is in having developed a vision that allows me to be strategic about technology-based interventions. And yet nothing brings me more life than those epiphanic moments in tech workshops: the precise look (because I do think it is a look) that people get as they wrap their minds around the process.

Live Blog: If Everything is a Network… Nothing is a Network

This is a liveblog of a talk given at the Center for Civic Media by Mushon Zer-Aviv (@mushon).  Any errors or omissions are the fault of the authors - Rahul Bhargava and Catherine D'Ignazio.

Creating Workshops with Enough Time to Learn

Note to the reader: This post will probably only be interesting for you if you're a facilitator or educator.

One of my driving goals in data literacy workshops I facilitate is to create space to play.  I try to create that space by introducing fun materials, designing creative small group activities, introducing playful datasets, and more.  But a recent workshop by Cédric Lombion from School of Data at the Data Literacy Conference got me wondering: am I leaving enough time to learn?

The Rise of Experimental Government: David Halpern at the What Works Global Summit

What is the state of the "empiricism agenda" to understand "what works" in policy? And what is it that we don't know?

I'm here at the What Works Global Summit (WWGS) in London, where David Halpern and Peter John are discussing the role of randomized trials in society. The WWGS is a gathering of practitioners in international development, policing, education, public health, activism, and many other areas where people have applied quantitative methods to get causal estimates on the outcomes of their social interventions.

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