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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Local competition inspires creative use of public-private space

Common Boston, a volunteer committee of the Boston Society of Architects, has teamed up with us at MIT's Center for Future Civic Media and our LostInBoston project on "Common Boston Common Build," a three-day competition challenging participants to design and implement a project in response to real community needs.

The competition is going on now through Friday, with installations around the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston at 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, adjacent to South Station.

This year's challenge is geared toward making Boston's communities more pedestrian-friendly, responding to the theme, "Where We Connect." Participants will design and construct wayfinding elements that should be integrated into their site with an emphasis on the location's unique context.

Designing the Future of Journalism: An Interview with USC's Nonny de la Pena (Part One)

My Journalism colleagues at USC's Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism are on the cutting edge of national and international conversations about the Future of Journalism. Our school is a site of experimentation and deliberation, sketching and testing new models, which see the emerging media environment not simply as a challenge to traditional forms of news but also as an opportunity to expand resources available to reporters. The School has the right mix of vision and pragmatism -- trying to imagine new possibilities, trying to test them against current realities. Or as Annenberg's dean Ernest Wilson likes to put it, the school is a place where "cool stuff happens." (Well, sometimes he puts it in a bit more colorful language.)

This past week
, one of my Annenberg colleagues, Nonny De La Pena, received a Knight News Challenge grant to support the work she is doing around Stroome, a web platform which provides tools and communities to support the collaborative production and remixing of news content.

How (over)sharing your financial data can be a great thing

Ryan O'Toole talks with the San Jose Mercury News' Chris O'Brien about "The case for oversharing" your financial data--at least when it's anonymously aggregated on behalf of community interests:

"[Banks] know quite a bit about how we spend our money," O'Toole said. "And they can mine a lot of this data. And they give that information to businesses and governments to support their agendas. We're really disenfranchised from really working with that same data."

This project is moving out of the ivory tower and into two pilot programs O'Toole is launching. The first is in South Wood County, Wis., where a local community foundation and O'Toole will create a site for people to share information about their income and their charitable giving. The hope is that by seeing what proportion of income people donate, others will be motivated to give more.

The second pilot is in Bucks County, Pa., where O'Toole and a local foundation will ask residents to post their natural gas bills online. They hope that by sharing that information, residents will be motivated to reduce their own use, and cut the county's carbon footprint dramatically.

Grassroots Mapping's Jeffrey Warren on WGBH's Emily Rooney Show

At the 43:30 mark, the Center's Jeffrey Yoo Warren speaks with WGBH's Emily Rooney about how he’s using cheap cameras affixed to kites and balloons to track the gulf oil spill. (Read more about the project at

When Dora the Explorer Met INS: Playing with Popular Icons

As part of my lecture at the Fiske Matters conference, I shared many images of contemporary activist groups which drew upon images and icons from popular culture as "resources" which help them to capture the imagination and motivate the engagement of broader publics. As Fiske wrote,


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