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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Podcast: Nitin Sawhney, "Media and Resilience: Creative DIY Cultures and Civic Agency among Marginalized Youth"

Nitin SawhneyNitin Sawhney, Ph.D. is a Research Fellow and Lecturer with the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) in the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT. His ongoing research, teaching and creative practice engages the critical role of arts interventions in contested spaces and participatory media with marginalized youth. Nitin completed his doctoral work at the MIT Media Lab where he conducted research on open design collaboration and DIY cultures in the context of sustainable development, as well as wearable and responsive community media interfaces in transitional spaces.

Q&A: CoLab, the MIT Community Innovators Lab

The MIT Community Innovators Lab is a center for planning and development within MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. CoLab works with low-income communities in putting their assets to work to help strengthen civic life and use the market as an arena for achieving social justice. Its vision is for domestic and international communities to be democratically governed, provide the means for residents to generate decent livelihoods, and be clean, healthy, and environmentally sound. CoLab Radio describes how that vision happens step-by-step, story by story, in communities.

1.) What does it mean to do this kind of work at MIT? Are there unique opportunities and challenges in this setting?

This Week in Civic Media: Q&A with the MIT Global Challenge, Konbit in Haiti

From the Center

  • Q&A with the MIT Global Challenge http://cot.ag/dNrogr "Celebrate the work that comes into the competition, not just the winners"
  • @medialab's "Konbit": Connecting orgs in Haiti to Haitian labor, whether online, offline, literate, illiterate... http://cot.ag/he39Kg
  • @Katrinskaya: MIT lab unrolls messaging program to help #Haiti rebuilding with sourcing local labor http://cot.ag/hvTYxI by @konbitmit

"The Columbus Dispatch is an idiot"

  • @jayrosen_nyu: Columbus Dispatch pulls "homeless man with golden voice" from YouTube http://jr.ly/6iif The Columbus Dispatch is an idiot

Diversity at media conferences

Meet the new Congress, same as the old Congress

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.

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