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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Q&A: The MIT Global Challenge

The Center for Future Civic Media has established some great relationships across groups at MIT with overlapping interests. In fact, those groups are wonderful presences at our regular Thursday meetings, teasing us with well-timed eye-rolls when our researchers' geek out five minutes too long about, say, Django libraries or KML data.

Two of these groups--the Community Innovators Lab and the MIT Global Challenge--have helped put together a "Q&A triangle", featuring Alexa Mills of CoLab and Kate Mytty of the IDEAS Competition and the MIT Global Challenge, to help our blogs' readers understand civic and community work through the perspective of our own groups.

First up is Kate. The IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge are an annual invention and entrepreneurship competition that support and encourage innovation in overcoming barriers to well-being in communities around the world. They are powered by the MIT Public Service Center to spur innovation as public service. Teams work in a variety of areas -- water, sanitation, disaster relief, access to health care, education, energy and much more.

Konbit: Connecting orgs in Haiti to Haitian labor, whether online, offline, literate, illiterate...

One of the intriguing developments following the earthquake in Haiti a year ago was NGOs' coming to terms with the fact that their dependance on technology allowed them to overlook local labor. Konbit, a remarkable project that grew out of a Center-sponsored class on building technology for Haiti, took this to heart.

After the earthquake, many new NGOs arrived to help, yet only the established ones had reliable access to a key labor resource: speakers of Haitian Creole.

So despite being surrounded by countless Creole speakers, the NGOs flew translators in, at high cost.

The Media Lab's Greg Elliot and Aaron Zinman developed Konbit in response. Konbit allows any local with a mobile phone to call a number and record a narrative of their skills--Creole, midwifery, whatever the skills may be. That short narrative is then translated by volunteers, and NGOs can search those translations for the workers they need.

This Week in Civic Media: 68% of US broadband connections aren't actually broadband

The Big News this Week


Internship opportunity

  • New media/mapping internship opportunity with Grassroots Jerusalem
  • Grassroots Jerusalem co-director Micha Kurz sends word of his team's internship opportunity in new media, with a goal of creating four interactive maps this summer--of streets and housing in Jerusalem, of schools and health statistics, of local stories (using multimedia), and of grassroots organizations and other local resources. Interested? Check out the full description

Internship opportunity with Grassroots Jerusalem

Grassroots Jerusalem co-director Micha Kurz sends word of his team's internship opportunity in new media, with a goal of creating four interactive maps this summer--of streets and housing in Jerusalem, of schools and health statistics, of local stories (using multimedia), and of grassroots organizations and other local resources.

Interested? Check out the full description:

Grassroots Jerusalem – MIT New Media Internship Application 2011

Organizational profile:
Grassroots Jerusalem sets out to provide an “Evolving Map” of the current grassroots activities and organizations working in the Jerusalem area. We provide a picture of what is currently happening on the ground, the pending urgent issues, the local solutions and where support is needed to further the work.

Reporting-quality death spiral

Gawker today features a run-down on the future of newswires (AP, Reuters): http://gawker.com/5713362/

So instead of paying all the money to have its own exclusive correspondents on the ground, Thomson Reuters can pay much less to license content from the standards-less content mill Examiner.com—the world's largest "news" organization, LOL! Plane Crashes in Dubuque; Local Chinese Restaurants Unaffected, Reports Dubuque Chinese Restaurant Examiner Armond Potash.

The first subscriber is Tribune. This will perfectly complement their "TV news without anchors or reporters" journalistic paradigm shift.

The basic economics are that major newspapers want to save money, so they lay off reporters. They replace that reporting with content from newswires (AP, Reuters). But the newswires themselves need to save money too, so they lay off reporters, replacing that reporting with content from specialty sites that already don't do their own reporting.

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