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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Civic media finale

When I talked about what I thought civic media before we began our course, I made an emphasis on participation and process. Participation in the creation of our own tools and expressions, so we don't have to passively rely on those that are given to us. The process of participating and interacting with information is a process of experimentation and of conversation with ourselves and each other. This process creates community, the ability to talk with each other, share and form relationships on the basis of information.

Responsibilities of Civic Media

In reviewing my original principles of civic media, I don’t see too many opportunities to revise. I admitted in September that the view was a bit simplistic and boring, and I stand by that assertion today. After the voluminous amount of reading we’ve done this semester, however, I do feel the need to attach an addendum. Civic media makers are extremely powerful in their ability to influence and change. As such, I propose the following responsibilities which they should take into consideration while doing so:

Be inclusive with your medium

What is Civic Media Revisited

Looking back at my first blog post, I defined civic media as:

Civic media is any use of a medium that empowers a community to engage within and beyond the people, places, and problems of their community.

I then explained what I meant by a medium, a community, engagement, people, places, and problems. (I realize that I didn't describe what I meant by empower though!) I still stand by this definition, but I believe this class enriched it across many dimensions and contexts. For example, I enjoyed learning about the many ways people expressed engagement, from traditional forms such as protests to DDOS attacks by Anonymous.

Defining Civic Media, Again

Originally, I defined civic media as “the tools and technologies that facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between people, often in pursuit of common goals.” I also noted that it’s important to avoid normative judgments of civic media, because the effects and potential of these tools are dependent upon the intentions of those who utilize them. After learning more about digital inequalities, however, I would also like to add that the impact of civic media in a given community is largely dependent upon whom is using it. New media, in particular, seem to exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities in communities by increasing the gap between information “haves” and “have-nots,” not to mention contributing to the global “digital divide.”

Trying to define Civic Media : looking back

In my "hello world" post for this blog, I tried to define Civic Media as

…a set of tools, technologies and practices that enable wider and more active participation in a democratic process.

While writing this post, I remember trying to unpack the concept of "democratic process", but I wasn't sure about how to go about it. I talked about the "curation and synthesis of public knowledge" and the importance of expression, but it felt that there needed to be a clearer distinction between what was to me, the "traditional" democratic process, and the processes that I would typically think of in the context of the civic media landscape.


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