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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

This Week in Civic Media: "Will I Fit In?", Post Secret via QR

From the Center

Media in Transition 7

  • Podcast: "Media in Transition 7: Unstable Platforms" with @jbenton @mleccese and more http://cot.ag/ifseho #MiT7

Future of News

"Critical Pessimism" Revisted: An Open Letter to Adam Fish

A few weeks ago, Adam Fish called me out through his blog, Savage Minds, for what he saw as a harsh and unfair representation of the Media Reform movement in the final paragraphs of my book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. He did so for the most part by simply reprinting my own words to frame a story he wrote about the recent Media Reform conference.

I was a bit surprised to find myself singled out as an enemy of the Media Reform movement. If I am the biggest obstacle to your success, you are much closer to victory than I had previously imagined. :-)

The experience was uncomfortable for me, but in a very constructive way, in that it has forced me to revisit my own words and reflect on how much my thinking has changed since I wrote them. It also hit at the end of the term so I am only now able to share some of these reflections with you.

This Week in Civic Media: Video, "Design for Vulnerable Populations"; VoIP Drupal webinar Thursday

From the Center

  • Video: Civic Media Session, "Design for Vulnerable Populations" http://cot.ag/k3oKc3 moderated by @cdetar

Events this week

  • VoIP Drupal webinar, Thursday 1pm. Learn how easy it is to use VoIP Drupal to build websites that pick up the phone, make calls, record messages, broadcast audio, and more.

More on VoIP Drupal

  • Leo Burd and Owen Barton discuss VoIP Drupal, a platform to integrate voice and web through Drupal... http://cot.ag/jCQoAR

Between the Bars, our prison blogging platform

  • @ReganStP: New Site Helps Inmates Blog from Behind Bars http://cot.ag/kqN9PS via @TechNewsDaily @c4fcm

Bin Laden death

What can Journalists Learn from The Daily Show: An Interview with Amber Day (Part Two)


What do these news comedy programs add to our understanding of contemporary life which may be missing from mainstream news?

What these programs excel at is deconstructing the scripted quality of the contemporary political conversation. Though we may be aware that politicians and corporate spokespeople are all carefully groomed and staged, and that their PR people are experts at getting the talking points on television, the news media rarely actually point this out, nor do they do the work of moving the conversation beyond the talking points. Satire, then, offers a way of satisfyingly breaking through the existing script. Stewart and Colbert (as well as their counterparts in other countries) have built a reputation on their repeated attempts to demonstrate the ways in which the public political conversation is being manipulated, and to gesture to some of the very real issues that are being obscured.


Is there anything journalists could learn from and emulate from these forms of political humor which would not compromise their self-construction as neutral and objective voices?

Video: Civic Media Session, "Design for Vulnerable Populations"

Designers often want to help people that they perceive as being in need -- whether those affected by natural or human-caused disasters, the economically or physically disadvantaged, or those who are on the losing end of a cultural power dynamic. However, naive attempts to "help" through simplistic techno-centric design can be at best ineffective, and at worst counter-productive.

What can designers do to better connect with the communities and individuals they wish to serve? How can design projects avoid patronizing attitudes and economic colonialization? How can a designer be effective in promoting social change while following their conscience?

This panel brings together designers who have worked in the mental health industry, international development, the prison system, and community environmental action to discuss what has worked and what hasn't, and what approaches designers can take to increase their chances of success.

  • Charlie DeTar (Moderator) Co-founder of Between the Bars, a blogging platform for prisoners. Fellow at the Center for Future Civic Media, and PhD student at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Patricia Deegan Creator of the CommonGround web application which supports shared decision making in psychopharmacology consultation. Adjunct Professor at the Dartmouth College School of Medicine and at Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
  • Liz Barry Director of Urban Environment at Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a collaborative developing inexpensive and community-led means to explore environmental and social issues; Co-founder of TreeKIT, an initiative to collaboratively measure, map, and manage urban forests.
  • Nathan Cooke Born and raised in California, USA, Cooke works at MIT’s D-Lab documenting technologies and working with students on design projects. He has previous experience working for Frog Design in San Francisco and at Autodesk as part of their Sustainability division.

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