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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Lara Baladi: Vox Populi, Archiving a Revolution in the Digital Age

Lara Baladi introduces us to her project "Archiving a Revolution", which documents the story of the Tahrir Squre protests. Developing over several years, Baladi has transformed her visual archive into a several projects, including an art installation.

Baladi introduces her project, "Archiving a Revolution," as crossing disciplinary boundaries. It comes at a poignant time, as the Egyptian revolution begins to be erased. Baladi is a visual artist by trade, and she spends a lot of time curating visual archives as part of her projects though  working across disciplines and mediums in her projects. Tahrir square and the revolution is a project that is very close to Baladi's heart, having herself taken part in the protest and seen the power of the grassroots videos that were shared. 

When the church says recycle, you recycle

Lebanon has been suffering a garbage crisis for the past nine months, and people are living within piles of garbage - literally - and the ruling elite does not seem that enthusiastic to resolve the situation. The problem reflects the lack of infrastructure in the country and the crippling of local decision making where executive decisions need to pass by a parliament that is more interested in economic gain for its members than the public good. The bright side is that this crisis has created pockets of unprecedented civil society movements that are not dependent on hegemonic powers of political leaders. These initiatives have short life spans due to the lack of experience in undertaking such projects without an obvious leader, but they are interesting indications of a learning process that has to happen in order to reach a sovereign everyday life, a true meaning of citizenship. The following example stands out because it's an interesting utilization of existing ideologies, official municipal mediators, locality, a desire for change and a keen knowledge of the population.

Applying Decoding Models to Privacy Issues

How do we find the hegemonic viewpoint surrounding mass surveillance in America? President Obama introduces the issue in a speech: "At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee borne out of the “The Sons of Liberty” was established in Boston. And the group’s members included Paul Revere." The mentioning of Paul Revere is important. He appeals to legitimacy by immediately framing the issue in a historic context, and associating with it a prominent heroic figure of American history. He continues tacitly justifying the current situation, and takes note of "potential for abuse," but then takes a particularly enlightening turn, relaying that "here is an inevitable bias not only within the intelligence community, but among all of us who are responsible for national security, to collect more information about the world, not less. So in the absence of institutional requirements for regular debate -- and oversight that is public, as well as private or classified -- the danger of government overreach becomes more acute.

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