activism | 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.

Visualizing Impact: Data Driven Journalism in Palestine

This is a liveblog of a talk by Ramzi Jaber entitled Visualizing Impact: Data Driven Journalism in Palestine at MIT on February 27, 2015. It was blogged by Erhardt Graeff and Dalia Othman.

 

 

Ramzi Jaber is the co-founder and co-director of Visualizing Palestine, an initiative to amplify civil society actors working in Palestine through powerful and shareable design work. It is the first project of a larger effort called Visualizing Impact, an interdisciplinary nonprofit.

Ramzi begins by showing a data visualization of politician’s salaries across the Arab world and Africa. It was inspired by Lebanese politicians salary, where politicians still earn their salary after their deaths. In the case of Norway and Hungary the politician earns more than the citizen, but still stares the citizen in the face. Lebanon and Jordan at about 15 times and Palestine at 24 times and Kenya at 97 times are far from the average citizen. 

Visualizing Impact is about "visual stories for social justice." Ramzi mentions the issue of administrative detention—an archaic law, a vestige of British colonialism—that is still being used and exploited to put thousands in jail. It has been used by Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. One detainee, Khader Adnan, had enough and started a hunger strike. A campaign started on Twitter to support Adnan with the hashtag #dying2live. It wasn’t until day 50 that the first media outlet (Al Jazeera) reported on Khader Adnan's hunger strike, then other outlets followed around the world. Eventually at day 66 Khader Adnan ended his hunger strike and was soon released. 

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.

HOPE X: Ask the EFF - This Year On the Internet

Liveblogged at HOPE X. The speakers have cautioned that this talk is not legal advice.


Nate Cardozo, Attorney
Kurt Opsahl, Attorney
Adi Kamdar, Activist
Peter Eckersley, Technology Projects Director
Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst

It's been a busy year at the EFF. They've been focusing a lot on the national security space over the last year.

Kurt Opsahl works on NSA cases. Jewel v. NSA has been going on since 2008, related to AT&T's involvement with NSA wiretapping. First Unitarian v. NSA is focused on the right of association, and your right to anonymity in who you associate with. Just earlier this week, the EFF and ACLU joined Smith v. Obama. Kurt also works on a case arguing that National Security Letters are unconstitutional and is defending the decision against appeal.

HOPE X: Barret Brown and Anonymous: Persecution of Information Activists

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Kevin Ghallagher
Ahmed Ghappour, Professor, UC Hastings
Gabriella Coleman, Professor, McGill

VizThink by Willow Brugh.

Gabriella:

Anonymous has risen as the face of global dissent. Their roots were fully in the world of internet trolling. Fox News called Anonymous "The Internet's Hate Machine. Anonymous responded with a video.

HOPE X: The Repair Movement

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Concerned with mass production and unidirectional flow of goods. Especially important for hackers because of electronic goods. How do we change this?

Tiffany Rad, @TiffanyRad, Pianos and Cars

When you buy something, do you own it, and how much of it?
Concerned about ownership of private information, GPS etc, in cars. You don't own the software, and could void the warranty by disabling features you don't want.

Can you legally access your car's computers? Diagnostic computers cost 15-20k. Makes it difficult to repair outside of dealership.

If you have to break cryptography to fix your car, you may void your warranty and may violate the DMCA. There has been a push for "Right to Repair Acts." These have succeeded in Massachusetts and Oregon.

Jiffy Lube and AutoZone lobbied for standardized access to diagnostic tools. Available by 2018. Only licensed mechanics are covered by these agreements.

Other Consumer Goods.

Hacking Journalism: Rethink how we create, disseminate, and consume media

Hackers at the MIT Media Lab.

By Matt Carroll and Jennifer Lu

It was an audacious hackathon challenge — reinvent mobile news. More than 100 developers, designers, and journalists from Boston, New York, Washington, and London accepted the test, eager to transform the world of journalism. In a weekend.

Fast, wild, and a little loose, people pitched ideas for projects, hoping to attract help in putting a bold idea into reality. Teams formed around ideas, fell apart, came together in different configurations, disintegrated, and finally solidified, some only hours before the presentations.

Civics Beyond Borders at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

Platforms and Affordances: From Pamphleteers to Peer to Peer

This week in the Introduction to Civic Media class, we focused in exploring the 'continuity and change within and between media and communication technologies as tools for civic engagement and social change.' The premise proposed by the set of readings was to move beyond digital media in order to be critical around the 'relationship of 'old' media technologies to social change.'
How development in media impact or acompanies social shifts.

This week, the facilitators and scribes for the discussion was Rogelio, Callahn and myself. Rogelio started the discussion by reviewing James Carey's "Technology and Ideology: the Case of the Telegraph."

He explains the three major shifts, that came about with the telegraph. As told by Carey, the telegraph is the first example of communication and transportation being disaggregated. In a broad overview, we discussed how the telegraph impacted the industrial world, changing management techniques, organizational structure, etc. 

Basic Elements for a Connected Society

It is important to debate digital inclusion because having access to the digital world opens virtually infinite possibilities for humans to question, build and eventually change their reality. The digital society has brought humanity together more than any other invention in human kind. Providing equal access to all humans is among the most fundamental achievements necessary for a fairer planet. Regrettably, providing digital inclusion isn't yet a priority for many. In this blog post I discuss the most basic elements necessary to provide a society with the access to the digital world and how those principles are not met in my home city: La Habana, Cuba.

In very few words digital inclusion requires (at least) three elements on its side to take place: (a) existing infrastructure, (b) a permissive socio-economic environment, and (c) a favorable public decision-making/political structure.

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