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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Wanna Come Out and Play? Community Engagement & Technology Development

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

When my old friend and collaborator Leo Burd returned to MIT as a research scientist for the Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), we started to gather some like-minded folks to discuss how media and mapping tools and youth civic engagement can intersect in the world of the Media Lab. Both of us have often been called a bridge or a translator between technology developers and underserved community members. We see a value in equalizing the power that comes from self construction, blurring the role of creator and user.

This Week in Civic Media 05.14.10: Jeff Warren maps the Gulf oil disaster, coverage of Josh Levinger's platform

From the Center

  • Citizens map the Gulf oil slick with balloons and kites @c4fcm's Jeff Warren reports
  • Some coverage of our Josh Levinger's platform, an internet toolkit for collective financial action

FrontlineSMS gets $350k from Omidyar

  • @FrontlineSMS: Omidyar Network announces $350,000 funding to help us take FrontlineSMS to next level

Hero report in North Cambridge

  • Cambridge fire and police crews save life of suffocating newborn at oil change station

Your actual privacy options with Facebook

  • @Info_Activism: U own the content u put on #Facebook: export it, delete it, take control with via @jilliancyork

And elsewhere

What Reality Television Tells Us About the Arab World: An Interview with Marwan Kraidy (Part One)

Reality television is often depicted as the trivialization or tabloidization of American culture. I can't tell you how many people I know have told me with a sneer that more Americans voted in the most recent American Idol than voted in the last presidential election. It turns out to be a myth -- since people can vote as many times as they want for American Idol, there's no way to translate the number of votes cast into the number of people participating, and my bet is that if we could have voted for the candidate of our choice on speed dial in the last election, the numbers there would have looked much more impressive. Yet, the comment suggests the ways that reality television is often depicted as a distraction for democratic citizenship.

Citizens map the Gulf oil slick with balloons and kites

I went down early last week to New Orleans and began coordinating a citizen aerial mapping effort with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) using my recent research in low-cost balloon and kite-based aerial imaging. Our efforts have begun to bear fruit, as almost daily trips into the Gulf are bringing back stunning imagery:

Oil at Chandeleur islands, as seen from a balloon

This Week in Civic Media 05.07.2010: Social media and the "boil-water" order; MIT News Office wins a Webby

A quiet week in the aggregate for civic media news, but a few major stories popped up. Social media played a remarkably effective role during greater Boston's boil-water order Here at MIT, the MIT News Office won a well-deserved People's Voice Webby. And in a case with wide-ranging implications, in an obscenity-filled opinion the U.S. Supreme Court upheld freedom of speech

Most importantly, though, our congratulations to the Center's outreach coordinator Christina Xu on helping run a crazy-successful ROFLCon, including the fact that the local Toscanini's, in honor of the conference, made an ice cream flavor named The Internet:

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