Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Pre-Occupied With Occupation: Habermas, Prefigurative Politics, Effective Protest Center

This past May I presented a thesis abstract proposal to the review board of the Dynamic Media Institute at MassArt that focused on how dynamic media may elevate the level of public discourse in our country. My feeling at the time was that the media’s penchant for polarized debates, combined with social media’s weak-tied, high-speed nature left us without the means for substantive, civil debate—political or otherwise. How serendipitous, then, the fact that a public protest movement, centered around political and economic discourse, popped up just as I was gaining a stronger understanding of the theories behind civic participation via Intro to Civic Media.

Co-design in a historical context

Who should decide what products, services, and structures shape our lives? In political debates, our answers play out between markets on one hand and the state on the other. On issues including power generation, healthcare, or transportation, we tend to argue about accountable corporations versus the accountable state. But accountability is only a retrospective tool of democracy. It says nothing about a question of fundamental importance to any group: who should design the things which shape our lives? Is it even possible for values of democratic participation to apply to the way we design our streets, devices, and media? Or is it best to provide feedback through our votes, purchases, and tech support phone calls?

Vaclav Havel's rhetoric, billionaires, and the 99%

Everything for me this week is relating to the late Vaclav Havel, and this "imbeciles" story makes me think of Havel's 1965 speech/article "On Evasive Thinking".

He opens with an episode from earlier that year when a girl was crushed by a stone window ledge that fell after the state failed to maintain it. Havel tells how the state acknowledged the issue and abstractly promised that things would get better. He tells how spineless writers wrote how wonderful it is that their society was now open enough for criticism.

As in…

A girl being crushed resulted in praise for the very gov't that allowed her to be crushed, because the writers were too chicken to ask the primary question, "Dear gov't, why do our window ledges fall?"

Job opportunity with us: Community Organizer/Codesign Facilitator

The Center for Civic Media has opened its search for a community organizer/codesign facilitator. We hope you'll spread the word to qualified candidates on the hunt for a great opportunity...

The description is below, with application procedures on the MIT employment site.

Regan St. Pierre, our community outreach manager who recently accepted a new position, is so irreplaceable that we tweaked the job. The focus is now explicitly on codesign. It's an acknowledgment -- long implied by our mission but now far more prominent given the ethos of Prof. Costanza-Chock -- that our research and tools cannot be developed purely 'in the lab' at MIT, followed by a search for a community 'testbed.' Rather, we hope to develop new tools and platforms through collaborative design, iterative testing, and measures of success that are shared with community partners, from start to finish.

How does that sound to you?

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