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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Live Blog: School of Data - What is it?

This is a liveblog of a talk at the 2016 Data Literacy Conference, hoster by Fing.  This was liveblogged by Rahul Bhargava and Catherine D'Ignazio.  These are our best attempt to record what the speak was talking about - any accuracy errors are our fault.

Live Blog: Reflections on Data Literacy, Development, and Democracy

This is a liveblog of a talk at the 2016 Data Literacy Conference, hoster by Fing.  This was liveblogged by Rahul Bhargava and Catherine D'Ignazio.  These are our best attempt to record what the speak was talking about - any accuracy errors are our fault.

Citizen audit at the Federal University of Pará

At the start of the summer semester, accounting students in two courses at the Federal University of Pará in northern Brazil teamed up with an unusual set of partners to develop proposals for civic audits using Promise Tracker. As part of their final course project, students studying public budgeting and accounting worked with representatives of the federal Ministry of Transparency, Supervision and Control and the Social Observatory of Belém to design citizen monitoring campaigns to audit public spending in programs related to social services, health, school lunch and school transport.

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Being an Ally to Women in Tech: a personal audit

The technology and innovation industry has a diversity problem. One major axis of this problem is gender. Research has shown gender-balanced workplaces create more overall job satisfaction, better customer satisfaction, healthier work/life balance, longer employee retention, and more; which all of course lead to great productivity and higher profits.

The Activism of Anna Deavere Smith's Notes from the Field

Anna Deavere Smith in "Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education." Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

By Ethan Zuckerman and Erhardt Graeff

One of the best tricks educators can use is the technique of pulling students out of the classroom to encounter the issues we're studying in the "real world." So it's a gift when an artist of the calibre of Anna Deavere Smith opens a new work in Cambridge just as the semester is starting. And given that our lab, the Center for Civic Media, studies how making and disseminating media can lead to civic and social change through movements like Black Lives Matter, a three-hour performance about the school-to-prison pipeline is an unprecedented pedagogical gift. A dozen of us made our way to the American Repertory Theatre at the end of August for a performance we'll likely discuss for the rest of the academic year.

Deavere Smith's work is often referred to as "documentary theatre," and Notes From The Field: Doing Time In Education follows a model she's rightly been celebrated for. Portraying individuals she's interviewed while researching a controversial topic, she recreates their physical tics and speech patterns on stage, telling their stories—and the work's larger narrative—through their original words.

Part of what makes this work is Deavere Smith's ungodly skill at mimicry. As it happened, the first character she portrayed during Notes From The Field is a friend of Ethan's—Sherrilyn Ifill, director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund—and when he closed his eyes, the rhythm of her speech was so similar to Sherrilyn's voice, he thought it must be a recording. In the next scene, as Deavere Smith donned orange waders to become a 6'4" 300-pound Native American fisherman, we were all willing to suspend any disbelief.

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