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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

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.

Consequences of Humanizing Systems: Liveblog from the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium

This was one of four sessions at the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium 2015 that took place in San Francisco over three days. Liveblogging by Catherine D'Ignazio and Alexis Hope.

Session organized by Kati London - @picklesnumber1


Using Randomized Trials in Policy: Oliver Hauser on the UK Behavioural Insights Team

How can policymakers conduct randomized trials and incorporate them into their policymaking? Over the summer, Oliver Hauser, a PhD student at Harvard, worked at the Behavioural Insights Team in London (@B_I_Tweets), sometimes called the "nudge unit." Yesterday at the Cooperation Working Group that I co-facilitate with Brian Keegan, Oliver shared with us the work that the nudge unit has done before opening up the conversation for discussion.

At Harvard, Oliver works with the Harvard Business School and at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard. He is also author of a recent Nature article: "Cooperating With the Future." Oliver's research focuses on cooperation and pro-sociality, and he often works with organizations using randomized experiments and using the term "Behavioural insight," when he uses research from behavioral sciences applies it in the world.

Supporting Change from Outside Systems with Design and Data: Stuart Geiger on Successor Systems

Are social computing and data science just tools for the powerful, or can they be used to question power and reshape the structures that influence us? It's a question I've been wondering as I've watched civic tech & academic communities idolize the employees and "alums" of big corporations and governments-- partly because of the resources they have, and partly because it seems like these companies are the sole gatekeepers of social experiments and large-scale interventions to influence society.

Piloting Promise Tracker in Sao Paulo

Over the past year, our team at Civic has been developing and testing Promise Tracker, a citizen monitoring platform that allows communities to track local infrastructure projects and hold elected leaders accountable for political promises. Building on takeaways from collaborative workshops run in Brazil in January and August, we have been creating a web and mobile toolkit to streamline the process of running a local monitoring campaign - from selecting an issue and designing a survey, to collecting data in the field and visualizing the results.

We recently returned from our 3rd trip to Brazil, during which we rolled out the full set of Promise Tracker tools for pilot testing with groups in São Paulo. Our goals for the trip were to get feedback on the new mobile data collection app and to test the full process of designing and running Promise Tracker campaigns on the ground.

Monitoring Parque Linear Itareré in Butantã


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