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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Knight Foundation's assessment of the Center for [Future] Civic Media

Coinciding with the announcement of its new $3.76 million investment in the MIT Center for Civic Media, Knight Foundation has published its assessment -- carried out by the Berkman Center's John Palfrey -- of the Center's first four years:

Sameboat Rollout

Rick Borovoy, Susan (our new UROP), and I had a productive two days in Wisconsin Rapids last week rolling out the first phase of Sameboat. In partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County (CFGSWC), a Knight Foundation two time Community Information Challenge grantee, we’re piloting solutions to correct the difficulty clients have in accessing timely and accurate information about relevant social services available in their communities.

The Phase 1 deployment grew out of feedback Rick and I received during our visit to the area earlier in the year when we met with service recipients at several area non-profits:

  • North Central Community Action Program - Family Resource Center
  • Mid-State Technical College
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church - Neighborhood Table
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church - Personal Essentials Pantry
  • Wood County Health Department’s Women Infant and Children’s Program
  • Wood County Human Services
  • Wisconsin Rapids Job Center

The take-aways from the focus group visits were clear. Information needed to:

Digital Signage on the Cheap in Union Sq

We are excited to be pilot testing a neighborhood installation of our Lost In Boston Realtime digital signage system with partners locally in Union Square, Somerville! Our main goal with these signs is to increase awareness of and engagement in community services by showcasing transit data and a community calendar on scrolling led signs located in local businesses. We've worked with our wonderful community partners to install three signs in local Union Square businesses, and have designed an assessment plan for the summer to measure their impact.


The Importance of Stakeholders as Designers

Something that has been echoed by many of the speakers at today's Knight Civic Media Conference is the importance of considering who participates in the design of a technology. Sasha Constanza-Chock spoke about the importance of using open technologies and open data when developing tools for communities. Chris Csikszentmihalyi spoke about how those with power producing technology tend to make technologies that reinforce their power. The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, one of this year's grant winners, emphasized the importance of community participation and ownership in the collection of scientific data. But why is this important? Don't closed systems like Twitter or Facebook have the potential for great social good?

Ethan Zuckerman, cyberscholar and activist, to lead MIT Center for Civic Media

Ethan Zuckerman -- scholar of the global blogosphere, free expression, and social translation -- will be introduced today as the new director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media. He will lead an influential group of technologists and academics committed to empowering communities around the globe by inventing and testing civic media tools and practices.

The announcement is to be made at the Center’s annual Civic Media Conference, co-hosted with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


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