Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Avatar Activism and Beyond

A few weeks ago, I published an op-ed piece in Le Monde Diplomatique about what I am calling "Avatar Activism."

Job opening: Center's "Voip Drual" project is looking for a developer

The MIT Center for Future Civic Media is hiring an experienced Drupal developer to work part-time as a contractor on the Voip Drupal platform.

Voip Drupal is a novel open source platform that makes it easier for Drupal developers to build websites that literally make and receive phone calls. In particular, Voip Drupal provides a common API and scripting system that interoperate with existing VoIP PBX implementations (Asterisk, FreeSwitch, Twilio, etc) providing Drupal users with the ability to, among other things:

  • Broadcast text and audio announcements to specific groups or locations;
  • Organize interactive phone polls;
  • Record stories;
  • Access and share information about relevant people, places and events.

We have already implemented an initial version of the call-handling and dialplan-scripting systems, and are planning to release the alpha version of the API in the next couple of weeks.

We are looking for experienced Drupal developers to work with us 20 hrs/week in the implementation of modules to provide voicemail, audio recording, extensions management, and general messaging capabilities.

Patchwork Approach

What's wrong with this picture:

Mainstream media lays off reporters (and others) left and right, because New Media appeals to a large segment of news consumers.

New Media realizes local news draws more audience, so numerous hyper-local approaches are tried. Most national attempts fail, because they don't have reporters.

AOL's wholly-owned subsidiary, Patch, thinks it can fill the local gap by hiring local journalists who generally are good at aggregating (see story on London lecture by former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie on news aggregators, such as the Huffington Post who he says are “parasites living off journalism produced by others”.)

Now the Patch Media Corporation has gone one step further, developing a concept called PatchU, whereby it will collaborate with journalism schools to provide students with internships that will accrue course credits.

Doing Drag in Wal-Mart and Other Stories of Rural Queer Youth: An Interview with Mary L. Gray (Part Three)


You argue that queer identities are "achieved, not discovered." What do you see as the process by which youth outside the metropolitan areas "achieve" a sexual orientation?

I think that what makes queer youth identities organized outside metropolitan areas so different is that they must be negotiated in communities where everyone assumes a deep familiarity with each other. If anonymity, access to critical masses of queer folks, and unfettered exploration of queer-controlled counterpublics define urban queer identity formation (and I think they do for white, middle class queers in major cities), familiarity, an absence of visible queer presence, and circumscribed sharing of boundary publics shape the achievement of rural sexual orientations and gender identities. So, crafting and articulating a sense of queer self where one has, as a talk about in the book, never met a stranger is a vastly different project than what young people able to access a city's LGBT Center or youth program can do.

Doing Drag in Wal-Mart and Other Stories of Rural Queer Youth: An Interview with Mary L. Gray (Part Two)


You pose some critiques of the way national gay rights organizations are structured based on an assumption of large urban bases of supporters. How has this limited their ability to serve the needs of the kind of communities you discuss in your book?

The limits of current national organizing models really hit home for me as I watched rural LGBT Kentuckians attempt to battle an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment campaign. It was 2004 and the elections were heating up. Like so many other states that year, Kentucky not only had the Presidential candidates on the ballot, it also had this amendment to contend with. Every effort spent on fighting this amendment looked like the best of legislative politics--voter drives, campaign fundraisers, door-to-door campaigns to not only get out the vote but also educate voters about the incendiary amendment likely to hurt unmarried opposite-sex couples as much as it would ban same-sex couples from marrying.

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