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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Miku: Japan's virtual idol and media platform

On Saturday July 2, I attended an unusual live show, the US debut of a virtual idol from Japan. I think she can tell us something about civic media.

Miku Hatsune performed at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles, part of the festivities at Anime Expo. The sold-out concert drew over 4000 fans, many in costume, who screamed and waved glowsticks as Miku rose out of the floor, a “human size” image projected on stage alongside live musicians.

Miku crooned and pranced along the length of a 20’ long parabolic mirror, never breaking a sweat, as she tore through her set of mostly frenetic techno-dance pop. Video close-ups of her and other band members were projected beside the stage. She made a little small talk: “I’m Miku, nice to meet you.” She introduced the band (guitar, bass, keys, drums) and a six-piece orchestral string section. We cheered her on.

“We’re making history,” a young women sitting next to me said to her friend. It felt like it. And it forced me to rethink what I thought I knew about politics and about pop.

Taking Cronicas to the next level

As many of you heard at the Knight conference last month, Yesica Guerra has had tremendous success running CRÓNICAS DE HÉROES in Juarez, MX. The site, which is approaching nearly 1,000 reports, is influencing the news that is coming out of Juarez and increasing civic pride in the city. Next month the project will launch in San Diego and Tijuana.

More importantly, Yesica is planning to establish the project as an independent organization that will bring Cronicas to many more border towns. (Look out Laredo, TX/ Laredo, MX!)

Working with a community foundation in Mexico, Cronicas is establishing a bi-national fund to raise funds for these efforts. A bi-national fund allows the project to receive financial support from both sides of the border. As a fiscal agent, the community foundation manages any funds raised by Cronicas. In return, Cronicas gets the benefit of the foundation’s 501c3 status while its own corporation documents and tax exemptions are being developed and processed.

We're totally PDF'd: Open state-level datasets still fail to inspire

(Edited to add Max Ogden's recommendation of ScraperWiki to help deal with PDF datasets.)


Courtesy of a recommendation by John Wonderlich at the Sunlight Foundation, here's a faceted browser/catalog of state- and other-level datasets to explore:

And while the tool itself is indespensible, it highlights the bane of our data-loving existence: tons of state-level data have been posted to sites only as PDFs.

Want to know how the Alabama liquor control board has been spending its money? You'll have to read through forty-five 20+ page PDF'd spreadsheets:

Change Happens Everywhere; Activists Need to Think it Through

Cross-posted with PBS IdeaLab.

I attended last Thursday's afternoon plenary "Civic Media Mobilization," at the 2011 Knight Civic Media conference, expecting to hear discussion about specific activist technologies and techniques. I was also anticipating some juicy political friction between the Tea Party consultant and the immigrant law community organizer who were speaking at the event. Neither prediction came to pass.

Instead I witnessed a far more situation-based analysis of what incentivizes action that concluded with a simple, summarizing message: The only thing technology can do is amplify a movement; to instigate actual change you need people on the ground.


This Week in Civic Media: New Name, Funds, Leader, and Site

New Name, New Funds, New Leader, New Site

  • A kick in the future. @c4fcm is now @civicMIT, reflecting our new moniker
  • @knightfdn announces new round of funding for us: $3.76m over three years
  • Ethan Zuckerman to lead MIT Center for Civic Media @ethanz #civicmedia
  • #Civicmedia rule number 1: It's all about the Zuckermans.
  • Quietly, sneaking into your life as you think about the #civicmedia conference and #NewsChallenge, is our new site

MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference


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