Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Learning in a Participatory Culture: A Conversation About New Media and Education (Part Four)

This is the final part of my interview with Spanish educational researcher Pilar Lacasa for Cuadernos de Pedagogia, a Spanish language publication, about my research on the New Media Literacies. Here, we discuss learning games, mobile technologies, civic engagement, and my advice to parents and teachers.

Our challenge is then building bridges between culture and participatory democracy. Can you explain more?

The challenge is how we can help build the bridge between participatory culture and participatory democracy. I am starting to do research on what I see as proto-political behavior: the ways that these hobby or fan or game groups educate and mobilize their members around issues of collective concern. I believe that if we better understand these practices, we will be in a position to foster a new kind of civic education which starts where young people are already gathering but helps them to expand their understanding of their roles as citizens. A striking feature of these new social structures is that they are defined less through shared geography than through shared interests.

The Last Airbender or The Last Straw?, or How Loraine Became a Fan Activist

This is another installment in our ongoing series about fan-activism and the ways certain kinds of groups are bridging between our experiences with interest-driven networks in participatory culture and public participation. This chapter tells the story of Loraine Sammy and the Racebender campaign, which challenged the white-washed casting of the feature film version of The Last Airbender. Thanks to the production chops of Anna Van Someren, we are able to share much of Sammy's story in her own words, so do take time to watch the video segments attached to this piece.

Haiti relief efforts, open thread. Latest update: "Looking for Haiti’s Lost, Online"

Chris Csikszentmihályi in the Columbia Journalism Review on Looking for Haiti’s Lost, Online:

A blog or BBS (bulletin board system) is great for chronologically ordering stories or conversations, but the serial format leaves much to desire for exhaustive searches, and two blogs are more than twice as bad. If a cousin of “Jean Deaux” posts that she is looking for news of Jean on one site, and Jean’s friend posts that he is safe on a different site, the cousin might never see it. The greater the number of sites posting lost or found information, the less chance there is that the right people can connect. According to Reed’s Law, the value of a network grows exponentially with the number of its members. Silos, while great for grain, are terrible for information. What is called for is open, interchangeable data.


From Andrew Slack of the Harry Potter Alliance:

Centralizing a People Finder for Haiti, Plus an SMS 911

The information activist community has been rushing to respond to the Haitian earthquake. What I find remarkable is the capacity that has been built up in the last few years; from software standards, like the pfif standard generated after Katrina, to early systems like the Ushahidi engine designed during the Kenyan election violence, to larger organizations and resources like the Crisis Commons wiki and the Crisis Camps.

First on the scene were a variety of technologists who were addressing the problem of people finding -- how to bring separated people back together, both for peace of mind and for social capital. Several sites started offering this service, like the American Red Cross FamilyLinks and the custom-made Haitianquake.com.

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