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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Voices from Hyperpublic: 12 short video interviews with participants of the symposium.

Some weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Hyperpublic symposium hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and assumed the challenge, together with other interns at the Youth and Media (YAM) Lab, of documenting the event with different media such as photographs, videos, mind maps, and tweets. The symposium helped us to understand in a more complex way, how privacy and public space are being re-designed in our digital networked society. The diversity of voices and points of view demonstrated that the rapid changes we are experimenting as society are better understood when we create a dialogue between different disciplines and bring together different perspectives. It is precisely that variety of points of view what we tried to capture when we were documenting the symposium.


Permanent reunion: How can the civic media community collaborate throughout the year?

This June's Civic Media Conference was described in glowing terms by so many of you who attended, but no term was as oft-repeated -- and to me, as heartwarming and frustrating -- as the word "reunion".

Why would a reunion be heartwarming and frustrating, assuming you're not meeting your high school sweetheart? Well, we love it that so many past attendees are able to get together again, collaborate again, have a few drinks again. But we hate it that we haven't found a way to keep attendees together, collaborating, and socializing throughout the rest of the year.

That is, in the word "reunion" is an implication that we've been apart.

So I wrote to our 200+ attendees and asked a simple question: how can we better collaborate in person throughout the year? In fact, what already works well in your organization, your community, and your neighborhood?

We got some great responses and want your thoughts in the comment field below:

I would suggest creating a think tank of sorts, a place that people can post their ideas, thoughts, etc, in a casual way so we can share our musings.

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:


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