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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Can the Public Sphere exist in the Internet Era?

So far in our class on Civic Media, we have tried to define Civic Media and to consider the role of digital inequality in shaping participation in society. Our discussions have mostly featured ideas from researchers, foundations, and American government agencies. This week, we're going to re-examine civic media in terms of critical theory and philosophy.

Here's the executive summary: Democratic governments are expected to incorporate the people's will into their decisions. Can this really happen? The public interest is hard to find among broad disagreements between groups, the emergence of global politics, the growth of multinational organisations, and the birth of Internet-based political movements. Just what kind of democracy might the Internet make possible? Should we discard the public sphere altogether for a more realistic, confrontational approach to democracy?

Public Reason and the Public Sphere

Luca de Biase describes the Italian media landscape at Civic lunch

In the Cambridge area? Join us for future lunches, like next week, where we’ll speak with Nathaniel Raymond on the human rights community and technology development.

Update: This post has been translated into Italian by Bernardo Parrella on ahref's website.

Ethan introduces Luca as an innovator at the junction between traditional and professional journalism in Italy. He was one of the first in the country to have a blog and solicit ideas on the journalism he performs. He’s also a commentator on Italy's place in Europe and world as a whole.

Ethan Zuckerman and Luca de Biase

Faced with an app, what can you do?

Understanding the impact of global production, and the supply chains that lie behind them, has become a significant part of my work. These issues have been brought out over the past few days by the release (and subsequent removal) of a game on Apple's App Store that treats some of the very same concerns. Phone Story, created by radical game developer Molleindustria (and partners, including Yes Men incubator Yes Lab), continues Molleindustria's attempt to "reappropriate video games as a popular form of mass communication" and "investigate the persuasive potentials of the medium by subverting mainstream video gaming cliché." It's the latest in a portfolio of explorations into issues like the impact of the petrol era and creations like every day the same dream that question the narratives of dominant ideology. Each of these explorations takes a slightly different form:

Exploring the digital divide and digital inequalities

This post is a result of a collaborative effort. The raw data for the post is available here. Thanks to everyone in class for contributing to the shared notes.

The discussion topic for today's edition of the class Introduction to Civic Media (CMS 360/860) was the digital divide. The reading list included surveys of trends in American Internet usage, along with texts that explore the factors associated with disparities in access and usage.

Here is a summary of some of the points discussed in class:

This Week in Civic Media: "Representing Islam," Thursday 5pm

Park 51Representing Islam, a Civic Media Session this Thursday

  • "Representing Islam", our 9/15 event with Boston College/Berkman Center's Intisar Rabb, Sudanese blogger Amir Ahmad Nasr, and civil rights outreach director of the American Islamic Congress, Nasser Weddady

Thursday lunch series kicks off (RSVP req.)

  • Thursday 12:30pm: "Citizen and Professional Media in Italy" with Luca De Biase:

Introduction to Civic Media


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