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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

High Impact Questions And Opportunities for Online Harassment Research and Action

Online harassment has been an enduring and evolving social concern for over 40 years, yet many of the most urgent empirical questions for public well-being and freedom remain unexplored. Nor can our answers currently evolve at the pace of socio-technical change.

On August 17th and 18th, we worked with Jigsaw to convene 35 researchers, advocates, and platform representatives to identify and advance high impact research about online harassment. Together, we have just finished a public report on our conversation:

[pdf] High Impact Questions And Opportunities for Online Harassment Research and Action

How should you use this report? We created this document to share what we learned and to draw attention to research projects led by our workshop participants. If you see a question or a project that you're interested in, we encourage you to contact the people listed with the project.

A new pilot phase for Promise Tracker in Brazil

We are excited to share that over the summer we teamed up with Humanitas360 and the University of São Paulo’s CoLab for Development and Participation (CoLab) to launch a second pilot phase of Promise Tracker in Brazil. Throughout the remainder of 2016 we'll be working with a range of civil society partners to develop case studies on the use of Promise Tracker in different cities and explore new methodologies for assessing impact.

Over the past year and a half, we had the opportunity to work with Nossa São Paulo and organizations across the country that make up the Brazilian Network of Sustainable cities to develop and test first version of the Promise Tracker tools. In a series of workshops, we collaborated with local groups to gather feedback and pilot monitoring campaigns around the infrastructure and service issues they considered most pressing.

As Promise Tracker is adopted and used beyond these initial workshops, we are interested in better understanding whether the tool is useful to local groups and the extent to which it helps them achieve their goals. We’ll be working closely with CoLab to document ongoing monitoring initiatives and develop a participatory framework for supporting organizing groups in assessing their own objectives, learnings and progress.

Forbidden Research liveblog: Disobedience: breaking the rules for social good

Many ideas and norms once considered unthinkable, like test tube babies and gay marriage, have now become everyday norms. It’s impossible to imagine life without them. For society to evolve, however, we must always be challenging our norms as well as the rules and laws that reflect them. Our institutions must lead in a way that harnesses this questioning into a driver for positive change. This session looks at how institutions can become “disobedience robust” — cultivating the ability to question themselves and accept questioning from others.

Moderated by Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab with panelists
Liz George, MIT Alum Class of 2008
bunnie huang, Author, Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering
Karrie Karahalios, Assistant Professor, Siebel Center for Computer Science, University of Illinois

All panelists are former MIT students (although Joi says he come in the backdoor:). Before this event, Joi interviewed lots of administrators at MIT including John DiFava. And everyone said that they had never met a student who was a bad person. And DiFava spent his career chasing bad guys with the MA State Police before coming to MIT.

Forbidden Research liveblog: "why we can't do that"

Liveblog by Alexis Hope, Sam Klein, Willow Brugh and myself

Karrie has been a pioneering researcher on how technology shapes our lives. She is also an expert on algorithmic auditing, looking into ways that these technologies are shaping our social lives.

As we think about the work Karrie has been doing to address the legal barriers to producing research — and the legal barriers to consuming research — we will also talk about how we think about our roles and responsibilites adjusting the systems.Three weeks ago, Karrie teamed with other researchers on a lawsuit to challenge the barriers to doing algorithmic auditing because the data is tied up by Terms of Service.

Forbidden Research liveblog: Hacking Culture at MIT

liveblog by Willow Brugh, Natalie Gyenes, and me

Speaker: Liz George, MIT Alum Class of 2008 and MIT Hacker

Liz starts by defining hacking as any good scientific endeavor begins.

Hacking, (noun)

  1. A project without a constructive end
  2. An unusual and original solution to a problem
  3. An activity that tests the limits of skill, imagination, and wits.

If you can build a model of the system, you can push it to its limit or test a system in a way you'd never otherwise be able to do.

Hacking, (verb)

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