Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Watching the Watchers: Power and Politics in Second Life (Part Two)

This is the second part of an account of recent events in Second Life written by Peter Ludlow, a long-time observer of virtual worlds, a professor in the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University, and the co-author, with Mark Wallace, of The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid Which Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, published by the MIT Press. As with any other representation of complicated and controversial events, different people will have different perspectives on what happened and different assessments of the motives and actions of the people involved. The essay is presented here in the hopes of sparking discussions about the blurring of politics and fantasy in virtual worlds, a topic to which we will return in the next installment.

Watching the Watchers
by Peter Ludlow

Watching the Watchers: Power and Politics in Second Life (Part One)

In early 2007, I ran an interview on this blog with Peter Ludlow, who teaches in the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University, and who has emerged as a key observer of how people are interacting within virtual worlds, such as The Sims Online and Second Life. Ludlow, along with his coauthor, Mark Wallace, wrote a book for MIT Press, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid Which Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, which I am planning to teach as part of a course I am developing this fall for the USC Journalism school on civic media.

Introducing the Department of Play

[This post originally appeared on the MIT CoLab Radio blog, in Danielle Martin's Media Mindfulness column.]

The Department of Play (DoP) is a working group of researchers, developers, and community practitioners at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM) bonded by a common value: the design of new technologies and methodologies to support youth as active participants in their local urban neighborhoods.

We might glance at the teen sitting next to us on the bus with a smart-phone and think: “Wow, the digital divide is shrinking.”  My first thought goes to all the youth who don’t have access to mobile phones, who also have things to say.  But I do see the divide diminishing when I see the wide smile of a Peruvian youth playing around with a big red balloon with a makeshift camera rig he made himself, to make his own map of his favela neighborhood.

While higher broadband speeds and affordability recommended by the FCC’s recent national broadband plan should increase access to internet tools in under-served communities, we still need to consider the increased digital literacy and local facilitation necessary to use fully tap the power of these tools. While access is important, much more is needed to make sure technology can be used to empower young people.

GrassrootsMapping in Peru

The Struggle Over What Gets Taught in Texas: An Interview with Rebecca Bell-Meterau

Like many of you, I have been reading with some horror about the culture war which has been taking place down in Texas over the revision of their social science standards, especially because Texas remains a key influence on national curriculum and textbook development. A group of highly reactionary candidates have gotten elected to the school board there, in some cases in races where they ran without opposition and where voters had limited access to information about their views, with the result that they are striping aside anything from the standards that may run afoul of their narrow ideological perspective. Even readers who have expressed concerns in the past about "political correctness" in American education probably are not happy at the thought that Thomas Jefferson no longer has a place in Texas schools.

At PBS IdeaLab: "Sourcemap Makes Data Visualizations Transparent"

The latest C4FCM post from the Idea Lab blog:

While pitched as a way to create and visualize "open supply chains," Sourcemap's real virtue is that the data itself is fully sourced. Like the links at the bottom of a Wikipedia article and the accompanying edit history, you know exactly who added the data and where that data came from. You can take that data and make counter-visualizations if you feel the data isn't correctly represented. Sourcemap's very structure acknowledges that visualization is an editorial process and gives others a chance to work with the original data. For example, here's an example of a Sourcemap for an Ikea bed:

Read the rest at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab: "Sourcemap Makes Data Visualizations Transparent"

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