Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

From Sensors to Stories: Data Storytelling Workshop at Center for Civic Media

We recently hosted a “From Sensors to Stories” workshop at Civic Media. We brought together individuals from organizations working in data collection and visualization - including Ushahidi, Safecast, WITNESS, and Public Lab - to discuss strategies for crafting narratives from data. The workshop included a discussion of issues and challenges in collecting and visualizing data, a presentation of tools and trends in data storytelling, and a design exercise to quickly outline potential data storytelling tools.

Discussion

The meeting began with Ethan framing the questions we’ve been asking about civic data collection, monitorial citizenship, and using data for advocacy. Ethan discussed his own efforts to gather radiation data in western Massachusetts (see Citizen Science vs. NIMBY), and representatives from SafeCast and Ushahidi talked about their approaches to data collection and visualization. The group then discussed some of the core issues with collecting and visualizing data, including:

Civic Values in Technology Design: Read Along With Me!

When people in society come together to collectively perform a task -- from cleaning up a park to organizing around a cause-- the benefits of their cooperation extend far beyond the specific task at hand. People get to know each other, build bonds of trust, argue their understanding of a situation, and often form long-lasting partnerships, organizations, and communities for learning and action. Within cooperative technologies, these civic and community values are not easily computable. As a result, it is easy to pass over these values in favor of improving the performance of a task, increasing the number of petition signatures, or measuring the immediate outcomes of a social action. A core theme of my work at MIT has been to imagine how new kinds of measures more aligned with civic values, community, and social justice might transform our technology designs and our social interactions online. 

Marshall Wallace: "How to Opt Out of Conflict"

This live blog of Marshall Wallace's talk on January 29, 2015 was created by Gordon Mangum, Ali Hashmi, Ed Platt, Dalia Othman, and Yu Wang, with Willow Brugh on edits and visualization.

Background

Marshall Wallace specializes in studying the unintended consequences of peacebuilding processes. His book “Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict” focuses on conflict prevention work and challenges myths and prevailing ideas about conflict prevention. It is in part based on his previous time as the Director of the Do No Harm Project.

Making Together with Jeff Sturges

Live notes taken at Jeff Sturges's Director's Fellow workshop on January 22, 2015.

Jeff Sturges
ML Director's fellow and Founder, Mount Elliott Makerspace @jeffsturges

Jeff has many years making and participating and makerspaces. He's had both successes and failures he'd like to share with us. He sees makerspaces as a big category that includes things like fab labs, grant-funded community spaces, member-run hackerspaces, and commercial/hierarchical groups like TechShop.

When Jeff first started, he tried to do it alone to keep things cheap. He blames his gray hairs on this and suggests working with others. He admires the model used by Maker Works in Ann Arbor, MI. He wishes he'd gone to something like the makerspace bootcamp they offer before he had started.

A new way to invest in communities

For the past couple of years I've been thinking about how to bring the energy, potential and ambition of donation/reward crowdfunding to community development and civic engagement. I was lucky to be an early employee of Spacehive, one of the first movers in the space, I put together the first study of the field (with the help of Ethan and others at MIT), and I got to watch as the idea of civic crowdfunding caught the attention of the media, researchers, and finally, heads of state. I got to watch some incredible people make change for their neighborhoods and their communities.

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