Blogs | MIT Center for Civic Media

So, What is "Speculative Civic Media"?

This is my first post here, so hello. I’m Raafat, here at MIT for a couple of years of research at the Art, Culture and Technology program. I’m on this blog because I’m taking the "Intro to Civic Media" class this semester. Speaking from a Contemporary Art vantage point, it could be argued that defining an era by time/situation (Contemporary) rather than “formal” discourse (i.e. Modernism) is a label for a transition that has been kidnapped by an external, non-art-related factor. Art today, as a ubiquitous global product conforms more to a global market (kidnapper) than to art itself. This is not to say that art needs to be autonomous, but the expectations of it in “social impact” and “cultural influence” should be assessed based on the above-mentioned reality.

Comparisons could be drawn with contemporary revolutions that were kidnapped and/or derailed by forces that are more sustainable than “careful and slow" liberation. The Egyptian revolution was kidnapped first by the Muslim brotherhood and then by the military. The Syrian war is still oscillating between resisting a dictatorship and a fear of what might replace it given derailed temporary victories around it.

We Should Have the Right to Trust Our iPhone Passcodes

Smartphones have become an almost universal tool for the masses, mainly as a simple gateway to the Internet. Though, in recent years these devices have increasingly become personalized and full of even more intimate data. Some would argue that our smartphones are extensions of ourselves because they could function as an "extended mind" and will start becoming a hub for internet connected devices that could leave behind real-time footprints of their users. The design of the devices themselves have shifted to reflect this closer intimacy between users and their devices. New iPhones have fingerprint scanners so that people can't just look over your shoulder while you type your password and iOS has tighter rules on when the iPhone requires a passcode if the fingerprint scanner is enabled.

Media, Stories, and Boston youth

"Those who do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts." - Salman Rushdie

Story is powerful. Whether the his-stories ingested through schooling, the discourses given voice in the news or the identities composed in popular culture, we make the world and are made by the world, through narrative. Politicians get this, media scholars get this, the youth get this.

Boy Better Get To Know: Why Britain Needs to Recognise and Celebrate its Black Artists

For the past few years, grime has been making a small but significant shift in the mainstream. Artists like Wiley, Dizzee and Tinie have spilled over into the realms of pop culture. Others, like Skepta, spilled over and pulled back again, wanting to forge their own way into the limelight without conforming to polished beats and signing to major labels.

There’s no question: artists like Wiley and the Roll Deep crew set the stage for this new wave of artists. Without Dizzee’s enduring popularity, his ability to draw crowds at festivals across the globe and collaborate with some of the world’s biggest producers, it’s unlikely that artists like Skepta, Stormzy and Krept and Konan would be in a position to retain a larger sense of their roots.

Duplicity, Access and Digital Inequality

This week in Civic Media we discussed readings about digital inequality and blogospheres in Cuba and had the privilege of hearing from Paloma Duong who looks at digital media, youth culture, and the public sphere in contemporary Havana.

Consider the Lawn Sign: elections as civic engagement


Last week I had the chance to watch one of the world’s great electoral-political spectacles - the New Hampshire primary - up close. It wasn’t by any means my first dalliance with American politics: I’ve had at least a loose involvement in the fascinating and frequently Freudian process by which Americans elect their leaders for several cycles now. But this time I saw the process through a slightly different lens.


Dr. Paloma Duong on El Paquete and digital access in Cuba


Paloma Duong (MIT Global Studies and Languages):

   "Digital Media, Youth Culture, and the Public Sphere in Contemporary Havana"


Paloma began outlining the three core projects within her presentation:

My introduction to Civic Media

I am a Master's student studying civic engagement and socially engaged art at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard and am excited to study civic media here. I'm new to the "media" world, and am nearly a luddite when it comes to digital skills. This said, it was a pleasant surprise to find that although I can't construct digital spaces, I can speak the language of participation, social engagement and organizing, which seems to means something around here.

Before landing in Cambridge, I worked with arts-based storytelling and educational programming in New Mexico. Some of the principles that I learned in that work, such as engaged research and multiculturalism, seem aligned with the basic principles of civic media. I am eager to learn about others, like transmedia organizing, hactivism and constructing democratic space; broadening my understanding of this discourse will, I believe, deepen my impact as an educator, organizer, and researcher in the field.

CMS.860: Intro to Civic Media | Week 2: Networked Social Movements

CMS.860: Intro to Civic Media
Week 2:  Networked Social Movements



·       Alicia Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter movement”

·       Castells, M. 2007. “Communication, power and counter-power in the network society.” International Journal of Communication 1(1):238–266.

·       Costanza-Chock, S. Mic Check! Media Cultures and the Occupy Movement.

reddit Moderators: Let's Test Theories of Moderation Together

Are you a reddit moderator or the creator of software to support moderation (bots, browser plugins, etc)? Do you have questions about the effectiveness of your tools or your approach to moderation?

Over the next few months, I'm looking for moderators, tool-builders, and experienced community members to design moderation experiments together to answer questions or debates that your subreddits have about moderation. TLDRAre you involved in debates about the impact of subreddit moderation policies on your communities? Let's Talk! If you are interested, send me reddit mail at /u/natematias or participate in the /r/TheoryOfReddit conversation about this research.