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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Religious Hashtags, Memes, and Apps Online: AOIR 16 Liveblog

This weekend, I'm here at the 16th AOIR conference, blogging panels and talks, as well as talking about my research on ways that users put platforms under pressure.

As a Christian who occasionally writes about intersections between faith and technology, I was delighted to attend the AOIR session on religion and the Internet. Here are my notes.

How Can Online Platforms Prioritize Worker Interests? Steven Dawson on Worker-owned Co-ops

What does it take to create business models that put worker well-being at their center, and what can platform economies learn from that history? How can we turn a lousy job into a better one?

Every Tuesday, Brian Keegan and I are privileged to facilitate the Berkman Cooperation working group, which brings together a Boston-wide conversation among designers, advocates, social scientists, computer scientists, and economists on themes of online cooperation. This week, we welcomed Steven Dawson, a veteran leader in the U.S. co-op movement. Here are my live notes from the conversation.

Steven Dawson is the co-founder of Paraprofessional Healthcare, the largest employee-owned co-op in the U.S. Together with Steven, we had a discussion about peer production and cooperative sharing economies through the lens of the concrete histories and operations of cooperative businesses.

The Cornhole Experiment: A Workshop for Teaching Randomized Trials

In recent years, UK and US governments have increasingly turned to randomized trials to test new policies, most recently in the case of the White House executive order on behavioral science. In the meantime, economics has been undergoing what Angrist and Pischke have called a "credibility revolution," that focuses on offering causal explanations to questions. This has especially been the case in development economics, where "randomistas" have grown in prominence after an influential and controversial 2004 study on the effect of deworming on school attendance in Kenya.

Doctoral Feedback Session on Causal Inference at OSSM: Deadline Oct 19

Are you a PhD student who is doing research that uses methods of causal inference (randomized trials, natural experiments, etc) on social media and user generated data?

If so, I have good news, of a last minute addition to the AAAI Spring Symp. on Observational Studies through Social Media and Other Human-Generated Content. This workshop, which takes place at Stanford on March 21-23, is a 3-day gathering that brings together researchers across disciplines to discuss approaches and issues for causal inference research.

The organizers have kindly offered space for a doctoral feedback session for PhD students planning to do related work. This informal gathering will bring together PhD students to get feedback on their research designs and work together to improve the quality of our methods. Since so many of the speakers and attendees are experienced at using causal inference methods, it's the perfect context to share early stage work and get feedback on your research.

Building Civic Tech with Mexico City's Experts (Its Citizens)

written by Erhardt Graeff and Emilie Reiser


CC-BY-SA: Mexico City by Kasper Christensen


Mexico City is huge. Over 21 million people live in the metro area—the most populous in the Western hemisphere. Nearly 9 million people live in the federal district alone. There are pockets of immigrants from all over the world and of course the full spectrum of Mexican ethnicities. This means there are myriad interesting issues to tackle and a wide mix of voices with opinions on how best to go about it.


August 31–September 4, 2015, the MIT Center for Civic Media traveled to Mexico City for a workshop organized by the Laboratorio para la Ciudad and MIT Media Lab. Gabriella Gómez-Mont, the Laboratorio's founder and director, is a Director's Fellow at the Media Lab this year, which opened the door to collaboration.


In a few intense days, we worked with Laboratorio staff and local experts, as well as select students from nearby universities, to prototype projects worthy of Mexico City's scale and complexity. Our team focused on how to integrate new forms of citizen input into the planning and transformation of public spaces around the city using both digital and non-digital strategies. Our solution: EncuestaCDMX (


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