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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

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.

The Handbook for Citizen Journalists: Catching the Journalistic Attitude

You don't have to hang around MIT long to find out that the concept of learn-by-doing is alive and well.

One tangible example is the UROP program (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program), started in 1969 by the late Prof. Margaret MacVicar, MIT's first dean of undergraduate education, who acted on a suggestion by Dr. Edwin H. Land, inventor of instant photography (Polaroid), who believed every student should have a faculty mentor, doing research projects at the knee of the master, as he once described it.

Dr. Seymour Papert of the Media Lab furthered the philosophy, taking the theory of constructivism he learned when he studied under Jean Piaget and extending it to the theory of constructionism, by which the learner creates tangible forms (language, tools, toys) to explore and better understand ideas, then shares what is learned with others.

Civic or community journalism is a manifestation of constructionism where practitioners learn by doing and share their explorations.

The Future of Civic Engagement in a Broadband-Enabled World

From The Future of Civic Engagement in a Broadband-Enabled World, a symposium hosted by the MIT Center for Future Civic Media in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission's Broadband Initiative (


Keynote address by Eugene Huang, Director of Government Performance and Civic Engagement for the FCC's National Broadband Plan.


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