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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Centralizing a People Finder for Haiti, Plus an SMS 911

The information activist community has been rushing to respond to the Haitian earthquake. What I find remarkable is the capacity that has been built up in the last few years; from software standards, like the pfif standard generated after Katrina, to early systems like the Ushahidi engine designed during the Kenyan election violence, to larger organizations and resources like the Crisis Commons wiki and the Crisis Camps.

First on the scene were a variety of technologists who were addressing the problem of people finding -- how to bring separated people back together, both for peace of mind and for social capital. Several sites started offering this service, like the American Red Cross FamilyLinks and the custom-made

Never Mind the Bollocks: Shepard Fairey's Fight for Appropriation, Fair Use, and Free Cultre (Part Two)

This is the second part of an essay written by cultural report and USC Annenberg student Evelyn McDonnell, being reprinted here with the author's permission.

Barack Obama "Hope" poster, original...Image via Wikipedia"Hope"

It was into this battleground that Fairey wandered with seemingly noble intentions. Since the mysterious and ambiguous days of the Andre stickers, Faireyʼs work had become increasingly political. Influenced by punk and Constructivism, he unabashedly referred to his work as propaganda. He made a series of posters attacking George W. Bush and the war on Iraq during the 2004 election. He also created posters for the campaign of Ralph Nader.

For the 2008 election, he decided to take a different tack.

Never Mind The Bollocks: Shepard Fairey's Fight for Appropriation, Fair Use and Free Culture (Part One)

One of the many highlights of my first semester in LA was the chance to see and meet Shepard Fairey. who I regard as one of the most significant visual artists of our times and a focal point for debates about the politics/poetics of appropriation and fair use. Fairey spoke on stage with my new colleague, Sarah Banet-Weiser.

I have been following Fairey for some time since he was an art student at the Rhode Island School of Design and "Andre the Giant has a Posse" stickers started to appear on lamp posts and underpasses around Boston. At first, I envisioned the stickers as a new kind of fan art -- since I was deeply into the World Wrestling Federation at the time -- and only gradually came to understand them as a form of culture jamming. Now, having seen and talked with the guy, I suspect they were an odd blurring between the two -- a bold experiment in tapping the power of participatory culture to spread images across the planet and relying on local contexts to shape what those images meant to participants. Pretty cool.

Connect/disconnect - thoughts on the Amman Mobile Data Innovations workshop

(Above, a representative of the Iraqi government presents a concept for a mobile-phone-based child safety reporting program)

Since a few weeks have gone by, I thought I'd post some of my thoughts about the MobileActive/UNICEF workshop on Mobile Data Innovations in Amman. Several people, including JD Godchaux of NiJeL and Robert Soden of Development Seed, not to mention Josh Levinger from here at the Center for Future Civic Media have published thoughtful articles about the workshop, but I have to admit the experience remains unsettling in my mind.


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