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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Design & Experience: Media Lab Spring Meeting Part Two

(During this week's Media Lab Spring Meeting, I'm liveblogging the talks together with Ethan Zuckerman. This is the second morning session from Tuesday, 24th of April)

Henry Holtzman's Information Ecology group focuses on human interaction with the deluge of data we're all facing, from an avalanche of email to vast quantities of photos and video. His lab's strategy relies on knitting together ecologies of devices and services that help humans cope with these waves of data.

Dan Schultz's project Truth Goggles offers one way to think about this research approach. It's a project that sits in your web browser and alerts you when you're encountering assertions that appear in fact-checking databases, for instance, an assertion about a political candidate's position or stance. By alerting you to the presence of fact-checking information, it invites you to take a deeper dive into that layer of information.

Virtuality and Reality: Media Lab Spring Meeting Part One

(During this week's Media Lab Spring Meeting, I'm liveblogging the talks together with Ethan Zuckerman. This is the morning session from Tuesday, 24th of April. This first post originally appeared on Ethan Zuckerman's blog)

Radio host John Hockenberry introduces the first day of the Media Lab's spring sponsor meeting. He suggests that the lab is an "infectious idea", a way of working and thinking that spreads well beyond the walls of the building. He warns the crowd, packed into the third floor atrium at the Lab, and fourth and fifth-floor balconies, that this isn't "some sit back in your seats TED conference experience" - instead, we need to work to get the most out of our experience.

We Are Winning! Thinking clearly about social movement outcomes

Over at my Networked Social Movements: Media & Mobilization class, we've been discussing different approaches to understanding social movement outcomes. Thinking more carefully about movement outcomes helps us get beyond simplistic debates about the role of particular tools or tactics. In my own work, drawing from social movement theory, I find Suzanne Stagennborg's framework of mobilization, policy, and cultural outcomes useful.

Mobilization outcomes have to do with the scale of participation in a specific action - how many people turned out to your event, or took the action you requested.

Policy outcomes seem self explanatory - was there a concrete policy that the movement was able to pass (or block)? However, it gets complex when you start to look at how small shifts in policy language can come as the result of movement activity, even when it's not an entire bill. "News is just a different form of entertainment"

I never thought of in terms of media critique because the snarky commentary makes fun of the topic of the story as often as the media that produced it, but founder Drew Curtis sees more in the site's parsing of the news:

The initial concept [for his book] was to write the funniest stories that ever have been on Fark, but I couldn’t get excited about it. I thought about media patterns, how crap news come into play, how the news uses it, what they use it for, when it comes online and when it doesn’t. Any time there’s a major news event, the amount of crap news drops considerably. The worst weeks for garbage news are the weeks before Labor Day and between Christmas and New Year’s because nobody’s working. I worked on finding a whole bunch of patterns to try to classify these articles. The reaction of journalists who read this was they’re blown away by it because the book pretty much nails it. News is just a different form of entertainment, masquerading as something else.

Locks as Social Contract

We were fortunate enough to lunch with Schuyler Towne today. Lorrie closes the blast door between our two buildings, which sets the appropriate tone for a talk on lockpicking.



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