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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Maine Congresswoman requires earmarks to be submitted by video

One of my favorite dorky words is "affordances". As in, what are the affordances of, say, a push-bar across a fire-exit door: pushing, even when the user is panicked, and definitely does not afford for pulling.

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine is using affordances brilliantly by requiring people to ask for earmarks via video submission. Video's affordances are that it's easily viewed, easily shareable, easily archiveable, easily citeable--and thus doesn't afford for less ethical requests:

As your Member of Congress, I am committed to doing everything I can to support the economic and community development important to the people of the First District---that means fighting for sound federal investments in our community that can grow our economy and create jobs.

Podcast: Communications Forum: "Government Transparency and Collaborative Journalism"

Linda Fantin and Ellen Miller, with moderator Chris Csikszentmihalyi

In December, the Obama administration directed federal agencies and departments to implement "principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration," including deadlines for providing government information online. At the same time, citizens and journalists are developing new technologies to manage and analyze the exponential increase in data about our civic lives available from governmental and other sources. What new ways of gathering and presenting information are evolving from this nexus of government openness and digital connectedness?


At PBS IdeaLab: "How to Break Through the Difficult 'Phase 2' of Any Project"

If you want to know what it's like pitching a new media project, just go to the experts:

This South Park clip, a classic in its own right, is a favorite around the MIT Center for Future Civic Media because every single new media project -- ours and those from our Knight News Challenge colleagues -- inevitably hits a wall at "Phase 2."

For South Park's Underpants Gnomes, "Phase 1: Collect underpants" is like every great idea we've all had: It doesn't quite make sense to everyone else yet, but we know it's gold. We also know it totally will lead to reinventing the news industry for the better. It will use technology in a new way, it will draw upon existing competencies in communities, and it will be financially sustainable. Totally. It therefore leads to "Phase 3: Profit."

MIT 100K Fail!

In the last few weeks and months I've been putting a lot of thought into what Red Ink will function like in the real world. This means dealing with the fundamental issue of what business model makes sense for supporting a data sharing platform of this nature.

To that end I wrote up a business plan for MIT's $100K Business Plan Competition. Qualifying entries receive legal and venture mentors from the Boston/Cambridge area to help develop their idea into fully-fledged start-up venture. The winner of the competition receives $100,000 in money to get their vision off the ground.


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