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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Designing The Numbers That Govern Wikipedia: Aaron Halfaker on Machine Learning in Large-Scale Open Production

How can we engineer open production at scale, and what can we learn from feminist critiques of technology that could help us achieve those goals? At the Berkman Center this Tuesday (video), Aaron Halfaker talked about the challenges of scaling large-scale cooperation, the values that motivate efforts to keep that cooperation going, and lessons from Feminist Science and Technology Studies for maintaining large-scale socio-technical endeavors like Wikipedia.

Hiring a Technical Lead for Media Cloud

Come help us build the next generation of tools to collect and understand online media coverage about issues that matter! Our MediaCloud project is hiring a Technical Lead to shape both the concept and contribute to the hands-on development of our existing tools, and new ones. This is an amazing chance to work on software that can directly impact our understanding of public health communication and gender norms online.  Lots of big data, quantitative text analysis, and social good!

We're looking for someone to work with us locally (here in Cambridge, MA) or remotely (the team is already scattered all over the world). It'd be helpful to have experience with:

  • managing and building-out large software architectures for storing huge amounts of text data
  • leading a team of developers and designers, and good at delegating to them
  • communicating ideas to non-technical people
  • planning large architectures involving multiple technologies and software language

Read the full job description

Monitoring, Explaining, and Intervening: Field Experiments and Social Justice

What role can field experiments and other causal research play in efforts toward social justice in social computing? Aren't experiments tools for reductionistic, top-down paternalism? How could causal inference ever support grassroots approaches to social justice?

This question is a central struggle in my effort to decide a dissertation topic. The idea of participatory experimentation motivated me to work on the cornhole experiment. It was also at the back of my mind in my talk on discrimination and other social problems online at the Platform Cooperativism conference (start at 1:00:30 mark). In this post, I outline my current thinking on this question.  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Civics in an age of mistrust and decentralization

I regularly coordinate a salon over at the New England Complex Systems Institute. For the January salon at NECSI, Ethan and Erhardt led a discussion and workshop on civics in a distributed society. We explored how people with influence/power/money try to create change in the world, how those affected by those changes view and respond to those attempts and changes, and also what we would do as people of influence/power/money.

Many thanks to Ethan and Erhardt for their valuable time and attention as well as images used in this blog entry, and to Erhardt especially for designing such a great workshop, and for suggesting edits to the blog itself. Y’all are pretty great. ❤ - w

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