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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

First Data Mural Pilot

As you might have seen in my short talk earlier this year, I'm excited about taking Data Therapy in a more artistic direction. Towards this goal, my collaborator/wife Emily and I just facilitated a tiny Data Mural pilot at the Doctors for Global Health General Assembly. The idea of a Data Mural is to work with a community group to collaboratively tell a data story in visual form. Our primary goal for this pilot was to test out some of our facilitation techniques. I'm writing this blog post to share lessons from this pilot, and to get you excited about the idea! Email me if you have a Data Mural project in mind.

I'll start off by sharing the final mural. The participants liked it so much that they are taking it to display at a protest in New York City next month! Here are some more pictures.

A Zeega Tour from Jesse Shapins

Jesse Shapins from Zeega ( came by the Center today to demonstrate the Zeega editor. I was eager to see it in action after hearing from the Zeega team at events including the Knight/Civic Conference earlier this summer (, a Civic lunch last (, and from
Catherine D'Ignazio (, an incoming Center graduate student who has been a member of the Zeega dev team.

Filming at "Puerto Rico en Reflejos: Rafael Angel Carrasco-Vazquez"

Anabel Vasquez Rodriguez and Rafael Angel introduce the exhibit.

On Fri 27, together with Jenny Larios Berlin, and Sasha Costanza-Chock, I attended the opening event at Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA) for Rafael Angel’s exhibit, "Puerto Rico en Reflejos." IBA is the community organization of the Villa Victoria community in Boston’s South End. One program of IBA’s varied community development work is community building through arts education and events. The IBA galleries host artists from around the world, and this was the first instance of a show by a Villa Victoria resident.

Media Representation in the Arab Uprisings: Egypt and Libya

Citizen journalism and social media have become major sources for the news, especially after the Arab uprisings of early 2011. From Al Jazeera Stream and the NPR's Andy Carvin to the Guardian's Three Pigs advert, news organisations recognise that journalism is just one part of a broader ecosystem of online conversation. At the most basic level, journalists are following social media for breaking news and citizen perspectives. As a result, designers are rushing to build systems like Ushahidi's SwiftRiver, to filter and verify citizen media.

Let the Vojo workshops begin!

On Friday, Becky Hurwitz, Paolo Rogerio, and I had the opportunity to conduct mobile media-making workshops with two community based organizations (CBOs) that form part of Boston's large and vibrant Brazilian community. The first workshop was with staff from the Brazilian Immigrant Center (here's their new Vojo group), and the second was with about 20 members of the Vida Verde Co-Op (here's the Vida Verde Vojo group). It was an exciting moment, since these were the first real workshops to use the VoJo hosted mobile blogging platform in a community setting. This post provides a little bit of background about VoJo, then reflects on the two workshops and the lessons learned.

tl;dr: is live! F2F workshops rock. People <3 mobile blogging via voice calls and MMS. Group creation and customization works nicely; new users are easily able to post and create accounts directly from phones. But: we need printed how-to materials; in big f2f workshops, we need to demo each feature before switching to hands-on; changing your username is still fairly difficult; calling in stories needs simpler UX; we have to make SMS broadcast to groups work.


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