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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Project Update: Pushing the LImits

This a collaborative post on the project Sayamindu Dasgupta and I have been working on.

Focusing on Real-Life Community Issues
In a past project update, we surveyed a number of cases in the Scratch Online Community where Scratch members expressed civic engagement through the interactive media projects they shared. One of our research questions asks, “When young people use a media creation and sharing community to engage in civic discourse and expression with their community and their peers, what does that look like?”

Lulz vs. Real World

The November 16th class readings focused on the history and expansion of 'Anonymous,' originating with their traditional form of lighthearted dissent and satire for the sake of 'lulz' to becoming a passionate political movement. Personally, I find that Anonymous cannot be both types at the same time--it not only detracts from the groups identity, it also obscures its purpose of existence and stretches its influence far too wide. The two forms of Anonymous are polar opposites of each other! One is supposed to be lighthearted and the core purpose is to poke fun at people who do take things too seriously in life. The other side, people have taken politics--one of the most serious topics ever--and have become active under the pseudonym, 'Anonymous.'

This is far from appropriate. Let the original Anonymous stand! Indeed the use of anonymity is powerful and use in political activism but it is wholly inappropriate to remain under the original lulz-based Anonymous group. Arguably, the only commonality is that they both use satire and both are hacking anonymously. The politicization of Anonymous has shifted its focus into serious real-world issues.

Anonymous tries to undermine anonymity ? Looking at Operation India

On the midnight of 5th June 2011, Indian police violently cracked down on a peaceful group of protesters who had convened together against corruption and untaxed money stashed away in foreign tax havens (referred to as "black money" in India). On the 7th of June, Anonymous announced "Operation India" on Twitter, kicked off by the defacement the website of the Indian federal government's nodal IT agency, the NIC, and the release of a list of demands. The demands consisted of:

Mapping Out Civic Actions in China: Adding a Dimension of Media Centralization

This week I am working on a model to map out civic actions in China. I borrowed models on social movements in the field of political science and added one dimension, the level of centralization of the media involved in the civic actions, to understand various types of civic actions in China. I do not intend to include all forms of participations but to provide an analytical method when categorizing them.

1. Hierarchy of Media

Newspapers/Broadcasting: State-owned national newspapers (People’s Daily), State-owned TV (CCTV), provincial party owned newspapers/TV, Southern Newspapers (South Weekend Newspaper, which is ideologically liberal in contrast with pro-party media).

Routine Civic Actions in China

During the past two months, I examined the use of the term "media ecology" by different scholars and reviewed some works on Chinese Internet. One school of study on the media ecology defines it in broader way, and focuses on its fundamental influence on the society as a whole, the impact on the culture and its potential to alter people's way of thinking. I also wrote about how Chinese scholars approach the topic of media and civil society. They call for the redefinition of various terms such as "civil society""public sphere" and "political participation" in Chinese context and the stronger role of the state and the priority of economic development should not be neglected in our discussion.


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