Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Rick Borovoy unveils first sign outside MassArt


Rick Borovoy, Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Lab and the Center for Future Civic Media, proudly unveils the first Lost in Boston sign. is a general-purpose web tool that cities can use to get citizens involved in civic improvement projects.

It's about helping Bostonians work together to make their neighborhoods more visitor-friendly. Community groups are partnering with local businesses and institutions to design signs that call out the key spots in their area. Signs are placed on private land. is a collaboration between the Urban Arts Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT. To get involved, contact info[at]

Reflections on Cultural Politics: My Interview for Poli (Part One)

Earlier this fall, the French cultural theory magazine, Poli, ran an extensive interview with me conducted by Maxime Cervulle. The interview explored a range of topics surrounding the cultural politics of participatory culture and web 2.0, specifically addressing concerns raised by European intellectuals about some of the themes I explored in Convergence Culture. I saw it as an opportunity to identify points of contact as well as differences in how we thought about digital media and political/economic change. The readership of this interview was academic so the language deployed may be a bit more high-flying than I usually would run in this blog. But I felt it would be valuable to distribute an English language translation of the exchange. By prior arrangements with the magazine's editors, I've waited several months since it's appearance in France and am now sharing it with you. Many of the themes are ones which have surfaced on this blog before but some of the topics were new to me and opened up some interesting lines of thinking.

Neighbors for Neighbors and Boston Mayor's office join forces to launch city-wide social network

Our friends at Neighbors for Neighbors have officially teamed up with the Boston city government to launch a social networking website, allowing city personnel to better communicate with residents and hopefully address problems more quickly.

From the Neighbors for Neighbors press release:

“By providing these social networks, Neighbors for Neighbors is providing our residents yet another way to stay in touch with each other and their neighborhood officials,” said Mayor [Thomas] Menino. “We continue to use the latest technology to make government even more accessible and more responsive to our constituents. Just this week we launched the City’s first-ever iPhone application to send constituent requests to the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline and now we’re providing them another way to connect with city officials.”

On the networks, users create profiles and post information about themselves (and organizations they represent), and can find and communicate with neighbors. Users can also post blogs and events, participate in forums, add videos, photos, music, and create and join interest groups.

Coordinators from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services as well as District Police Captains and Community Service Officers will all have a presence on the website to answer any questions users may have about their neighborhoods from broken street lights and trash pickup to various public safety issues.

Neighbors for Neighbors also held a kick-off this past week, announcing their partnership with the city:

Rick's Startup Whiteboard #3: Designing a Validation Trajectory for your Startup

[If the video is not embedded above, go here]

Everyone knows that creating a startup involves a carefully-ordered sequence of steps -- eg, don't start selling your product until you have a product (actually, that's surprisingly easy to screw up). However, there's a guiding principle about designing the right sequence that doesn't get talked about enough. You need to think about designing your "Validation Trajectory". Here's the deal:

Why would bees need free honey?

Hey, the FTC just made it illegal for bloggers to accept kickbacks for writing puff pieces about products on the internet. Good. Maybe the discussion about this will make people call out for independent, non-profit, verifiable product information. I put puff journalism and greenwashing in the same sentence. Hey bloggers, if [...]


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