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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Why Flawed Infographics Are Better Than Perfect Ones

This infographic from Floor Gem blasts the Transportation Security Administration's prodigious terribleness (prodigious in the sense that the TSA is a terribleness prodigy, on the level of Bobby Fischer and chess). There's nothing that inherently lends this data to the infographic form. It's flawed. There's nothing that its graphicality adds to its data, except that it's just so good-looking, its imperfections don't matter. It affects you. You remember it. And that's really what counts when it comes to communicating data.

Video for Change (v4c) Retreat Report-back: How-to Hack a Hackathon

Some filmmakers we met on the v4c daytrip to Borobudor; Magelang, Java.

Hackathon: A hackathon, a hacker neologism, is an event when programmers meet to do collaborative computer programming. (

Hackathons can be single or multiple days and sometimes participants form teams and code in competition. The term hackathon is now applied to other fields and generally to gatherings with multiple aims of producing collaborative work and building community.

In the early half of June, I participated in the video4change (V4C) workshop organized by WITNESS and EngageMedia. We were 21 participants from 12 or organizations working worldwide to train and support people using video for social change.

Choose Your Own Advocacy: Reviewing Give Girls Power

One reason I make things on the Internet is a strong belief in the original powerful idea behind the web itself: that links can radically transform the way we tell stories and experience the world. Today, I saw an amazing example of this, via Sarah Espiner, my former colleague at the Ministry of Stories.

The Internet Exposes Tensions and Opportunity Between Nations and their Diasporas

Liveblog from the Global Voices Summit (#gv2012) here in Nairobi.

Diasporic communities can now take virtually full part in national political and civic life in their countries of origin, thanks to new media. From the academic and activist perspectives, what are the consequences?

Inside/Outside: Diaspora Influence  #GV2012

Left to right: Gershom Ndhlovu (Zambia), Elaine Diaz (Cuba), Susan Benesch (American University, School of International Service), Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya), Fred Petrossian (Iran)

Let Us See Under the Hood

Our machines can do amazing things. Our mapping and travel tools can span numerous transit agencies and modes of transport to conveniently navigate us across the land. They still mess up, which is acceptable. But when they fail, we don't even know that they have errored, or how, and this is less OK.

On an intermediary leg of a marathon journey from Washington, DC to Nairobi that included a DC Metrobus, a ZipCar, a BoltBus, a commuter train, an airtram, two 6+ hour flights, I needed to simply get from Penn Station to JFK Airport. I already knew that the Long Island Railroad was the best combination of price and speed for my needs, and HopStop's website confirmed it. Unfortunately my BoltBus ran an hour late, and I found myself recalculating the trip from my phone using HopStop's mobile app. For whatever reason, whether an errant filter or another limitation of the mobile app, HopStop no longer showed me any LIRR options. In this case, I knew I wasn't seeing the results I needed. I just couldn't do anything about it.


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