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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

The Story Behind MIT and Boston University's New Legal Clinic for Student Innovation

Today, MIT President Rafael Reif announced an exciting collaboration between MIT and the Boston University School of Law "to assist students with a broad range of legal matters related to entrepreneurship and cyber law, from basic issues associated with the founding of startup companies to novel questions about the application of laws and regulations to students’ innovation-related activities" (here's the BU press release). The legal clinic is the culmination of years of discussions and work by student advocates, faculty, and administration to address a recurring need at MIT for robust and supportive legal help for students doing innovative work.

In this blog post, I tell our story and take a moment to thank the hundreds of people who helped create this safety net for creative innovation at MIT.

Land and Water : a long-term perspective

From the website:

We will explore themes of reduced access that have developed out of tensions in property-holding, leases, and contracts; forms of control exerted or facilitated by the state, by law, and by other institutions; and exclusions of class, race, and gender. We believe that history has lessons to offer about how change is introduced to society. In taking this long perspective, the conference invites proposals that look backwards in order to look forwards.
Academics will have an opportunity to be inspired by the practical questions of activists acting in the present, as activists talk about their work, their present projects, questions, and concerns. Activists, in turn, will have the opportunity to articulate large structural conceptions such as capitalism, empire, or debt in relation to access to land and water.

Citizens & City Hall Monitor Sanitation in Belem

This past week in the northern Brazilian city of Belém do Pará, we had the pleasure of commemorating the first official collaboration between a civil society group and local government to monitor city issues using Promise Tracker. During a 2-day sprint, we teamed up with the Social Observatory of Belém and City Hall's Department of Solid Waste to review some of the largest contracts for sanitation and waste removal in the city and launch a monitoring campaign to assess the performance of the company hired to provide these services.

Common Questions About Our Online Harassment Report

The process of reporting and responding to online harassment is the least understood and arguably most important part of the problem. Most of what we know about receiving harassment comes from the small number of people who are courageous enough to face the risk of telling their personal stories.

Maeve Duggan's recent Pew report about online harassment helps us understand the experience of harassment across a nationally-representative sample, but efforts by companies to address online harassment are still mostly secret. For all sorts of safety, legal, and business fears, companies are reluctant to reveal the details of how they enforce their policies around harassment and hate speech. So when Women, Action, and the Media approached me to analyze Twitter harassment reports collected over three weeks with the informed consent of participants, I knew it was a unique opportunity to grow our understanding of the problem.


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