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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

VoIP Drupal

C4 has done a variety of breakthrough civic systems with phones, from Leo Burd's What's Up platform to the Call4Action class and its cool student projects.

We love these projects, but working with phones has always been a bear. A lot of custom programming is necessary, and in many cases people start with the phone and end up building custom systems that begin to represent a CMS. Projects like Ushahidi or our earlier txtMob are really just simple CMSs with a few custom features for texting inputs. So Leo Burd has been working on making Drupal more friendly for the billions of people around the world who only have access to basic telephony rather than smart phones and the web.

Leo is launching the first release of the VoIP Drupal platform at DrupalCon next week.

Akoha-- A Direct Action Game?

For those of you interested in the work I've been discussing over the past week or so on civics and participatory culture, let me strongly recommend checking out the blog which is being run by the graduate students associated with our CivicPaths research group. Recent discussions there have included considerations of zombies as potential political metaphors, reflections on the nature of "engaged scholarship," thoughts on what we can learn from the Tea Party movement, and information about playful forms of civic education around economic literacy.

The Political Lives of Black Youth: An Interview with Cathy Cohen (Part Two)

You write near the end of the book, "While the Obama Administration and other black officials are attempting to avoid discussions of race, members of the Republican Party and the Far Right have escalated their racial and racist talks and attacks. These contrasting trends have meant that racial discouse is increasingly being shaped by, or at least framed by, the right wing." Clearly, you have in mind something like the Tea Party movement. How would you explain the expanding support that the Tea Party has received? What impact do you think such a movement has on the political lives of the black youth you've studied?

The Political Lives of Black Youth: An Interview with Cathy Cohen

I have mentioned here several times before my participation in a new research network on youth and participatory politics, which has been funded and organized by the MacArthur Foundation as an extension of their work on Digital Media and Learning. Part of the pleasures of participating in this network has been the chance to engage in "mixed methods" research and in the process, to learn more about research methods that previously seemed very alien to my own. In graduate school, the qualitative and quantitative students walked past each other like ghosts: we shared the same offices, in some cases, but there was not much fraternizing across enemy lines. :-) Here, I've had a chance to learn about and contribute to the design of a large scale national survey as well as having the ethnographic work my team is doing informed by thoughtful questions from the social scientists and political philosophers on the team.

Dan Gillmor nudges media chicks from their shells with his new book, "Mediactive"

Dan Gillmor is such a smooth writer and so media savvy that we readers hardly realize he is hurling a challenge at all of us, from average citizens to professionals, in his new book, Mediactive, which can be purchased at store and online outlets or can be downloaded at

Gillmor identified the phenomenon of "consumer as creator" in his first book, We The People, published in 2004. His latest book is a practical, common-sense 2.0 version, assuming we no longer are receptacles of information but active participants in the process, who are called on to break out of our "comfort zone" like a chick cracking open its shell.


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