Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

A Contributor Community Doing It Right

Around 2011, Geeks Without Bounds hosted its second Random Hacks of Kindness. Microsoft provided us space, East of Seattle, and I remember rolling in on my motorcycle to a set of bright-eyed gents who had come up from Portland. That morning. Rather than their pre-caffienated enthusiasm being annoying, it was utterly infectious. They helped carry things. They set things up, said hello to incoming people, and generally made my role of an organizer and facilitator leagues easier than it might have been. And then - they also knew how to code. Well. And to help others be amazing. I had just met Ben and Marlin.

Inequality Regimes and Student Experience in Online Learning: Tressie McMillan Cottom at Berkman

Today, I'm liveblogging a talk by Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) at the Berkman Center for a talk about inequality in online learning, based on her qualitative research with students taking online for-profit learning.

Tressie, who's completing her PhD in the Sociology Department at Emory University, studies stratification, considering what inequality means both experientially and empirically when corporations are people, supranational corporations like Facebook and Twitter shape the public square, and education is increasingly privatized. She also has a developing research agenda that examines the political economy of emerging “new” media organizations.

As jobs with good wages decrease in availability, more people seek higher education to find jobs. Tressie does research on systemic biases in society and for-profit higher education. For-profit higher education companies know that inequality is a basic part of their business plan, and yet there's a tendency to avoid analyzing the connection between inequality and their businesses.

Open Water Project: Exploring Open-Source Water Quality Monitoring

This post includes contributions from Don Blair.

Over the last several months, Civic has been working on the Open Water Project, which aims to develop and curate a set of low-cost, open-source tools enabling communities to collect, interpret, and share their water quality data. Open Water is an initiative of Public Lab, a community that uses inexpensive DIY techniques to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms (read more about Public Lab and the Open Water initiative here). The motivation behind Open Water derives partly from the fact that most water quality monitoring uses expensive, proprietary technology, limiting the accessibility of water quality data. Inexpensive, open-source approaches to water quality monitoring could enable groups ranging from watershed managers to homeowners to more easily collect and share water quality data.

Monitorial Citizenship: Projects and Tools

Post by Chelsea Barabas, Rahul Bhargava, Heather Craig, Alexis Hope, & Jude Mwenda

Here at Civic, we have been thinking about ways to promote civic engagement in the periods between elections through monitorial democracy. We’ve noticed that in many places around the world, we have achieved open, fair, and “bad” elections. In democracies, we usually describe elections as one of our primary mechanisms for holding elected officials accountable. If your mayor promises to improve roads and fails, you can elect someone new the next cycle.

Emoji Karaoke at the Boston Internet Research Party

Two weeks ago, Kate Miltner, Amy Johnson and I organized the first Boston Internet Researchers Party, hosted by the Center for Civic Media, Microsoft Research, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

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