Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

The Spanish Revolution & the Internet: From free culture to meta-politics

Anonymity's Role In Activism

[I wasn’t able to spend time on IRC this week, as by the time I gained access to the Etherpad to see the assignment, I was at my office. Ironically, almost half of the links from the articles were blocked; gaining access to IRC from my current client’s office is laughable at this point.]

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the role of anonymity in discourse and consensus lately: anonymity as an enabler, anonymity as a deterrent. At his SXSW keynote last year, 4chan founder Christopher Poole referred to Mark Zuckerberg’s assertion that anonymity online could be equated to cowardice. Poole wholly disagreed with the statement, noting that anonymity “lets you create without the fear of mistakes.”

Desobediencia digital en Costa Rica

En el momento que escribo este texto, un grupo de hackers llamado el Security Warriors Team SWT, lanzó un ataque al sitio web de la empresa de teléfonos celurares Movistar de Costa Rica este viernes 18 de noviembre. Los hackers sobrepusieron la imagen del sitio y logo de su grupo en la portada del sitio web de Movistar.cr. La imagen esta a continuación: http://www.nacion.com/2011-11-18/Portada/Hackers-atacaron-pagina-web-de-...

Something Short

Using Ukraine as my point of reference, I decided to list some of the pros and cons of online media in democratic transition and consolidation. My eventual aim is to gain an understanding of why the same tools that enabled Ukraine’s democratic transition have been so ineffective at the stage of consolidation. Mind you, I am trying to avoid falling into the trap of techno-determinism. Rather than scrutinize the inherent qualities of the technology itself, I am examining how ICTs have functioned in the context of a real-life movement, particularly when they are co-opted by traditional civic actors.

Strengths:
- Disseminate info more quickly and to a wider audience (ex. exposing election fraud, organizing protests, etc.)
- More platforms for critical discussion – especially important in non-democratic regimes where fewer opportunities exist offline.
- Online coverage keeps international community informed of developments, more likely to provide monetary support and/or place pressure on government for democratic reform.

To Friend and to Trust: Mapping CouchSurfers and Evaluating Online Rankings

Friday at MIT CSAIL, Lada Adamic gave a talk on "To friend and to trust: eliciting truthful and useful ratings online". Lada is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information & Center for the Study of Complex Systems. I met her in 2009 at the SIGWEB Hypertext conference, and we did a small collaboration (together with her student Jiang Yang) when I was a software engineer at KGB. It was great to hear Lada again; she always brings fascinating examples, unexpected insights and humour into what are serious in-depth quantitative research projects.

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