Intro to Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Conversations in Intro to Civic Media: 3 Different Topics, 1 Goal

One of the wonderful things and challenges of Intro to Civic Media is that there are a lot of topics to cover, but this is only because there are a lot of incredible things happening to call attention to problems, mobilize people to confront those problems and make change in communities around the world.

A week ago, the Introduction to Civic Media class began by viewing hard-to-watch videos of atrocities and discussing the media strategies used to produce them. Then we had a conversation about youth activism, followed by a fun and inspirational workshop where we envisioned the news the way we wanted it to be and used Newsjack to rewrite the day’s news headlines.

Remixing Human Rights

A montage of graphic images of human rights violations flash on and off the screen to the tune of Michael Jackson’s "They Don’t Care about Us." The lyrics take on an eerie new meaning, "Bang bang, shot dead. Everybody's gone mad...All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us." The videos are a haunting and disturbing way to share with internet users what has happened and is happening in various parts of the world. Community Radio Participation Breaking community participation barriers facing community radio



Radio Amani based in Nakuru,Kenya is a community based radio station. Nakuru was one of the towns mostly affected by the post election crisis in 2008. Being the capital of a region that is not only diverse but the agricultural capital of the country, this town if fundamental in the development of the entire country.

Civic Media for Dummies?

I am currently a research assistant at the Center for Civic Media. Being a foreigner to both MIT and the country in general, it has been a great learning experience. Prior to joining the lab, I worked at the Nation, the leading media house based in Kenya, developing tools to tell stories differently. Part of this experience was also working with activists in Liberia developing tools to help them tell their stories through multimedia. Before the chance to work with journalists came along, I was working for an international agency building tools to help countries become more resilient to disasters. My current interests lie in new ways of engaging citizens leading to specific actions for the common good.

LeaksWiki: Transparency for the future of leaking

For my Intro to Civic Media final project, I made LeaksWiki. LeaksWiki is a wiki about leaking organizations, the tools and methods used in leaking, and how leaking can improve in the future. The goal of LeaksWiki is to make leaking safer, easier, and more effective through a transparent understanding and analysis of leaking organizations. Both LeaksWiki and my final paper present a framework of leaking ideologies from radical transparency to selective release. They also explore a general leaking process that all leaking organizations roughly follow through both case studies and detailed discussion of each step of the process. Finally, LeaksWiki and my paper propose potential future improvements to leaking.

Effective Approaches and Experiments in Leak Processing

Since my last post, I have also completed an interview with Juzne vesti and a case study on Associated Whistleblowing Press. I am currently waiting on some followup questions with Public Intelligence and question responses with someone from WikiLeaks. Additionally, I have been working on my paper which is in large part based off of my blog posts, interviews, and case studies. So, which strategies for document processing are most effective in light of the differing goals of leaking websites? And how have leaking organizations been improving these methods?

Drastic Differences in Leaking Websites

I have been researching document processing for my Intro to Civic Media project. Specifically, I have been examining the varying goals as well as processes and tools used in the intermediary steps after a leaked document is received but before it is released. I hope to identify both strategies that work particularly well and difficult areas where few tools or processes are available to help. In the past week, I have been conducting interviews and updating LeakWiki.

Intro to Civic Media Week 11: Free Information and Transparency

This blog post was written with Andre Muggiati.

This week, our Introduction to Civic Media class discussed freedom of information and transparency. To start with, we not only took our normal public notes but we also decided to be radically transparent by having class in a Google hangout.

Conspiracy, Transparency, Privacy

Improving Document Processing in Leaking Websites

I am examining document processing in leaking websites for my Intro to Civic Media project. Document processing is a particularly important step because it helps determine both the safety and the effectiveness of a leak. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult step as it requires going through thousands or millions of documents to read, redact, validate, and/or analyze them. It also has the most variation as different organizations might follow different sub-steps or have different goals. Some release the documents without any processing while others might redact and validate the documents and then write articles to frame them.

Police State Sandy

One of the few times soldiers can march in the streets in the US without causing panic is during a natural disaster. After Sandy, the military was providing aid (which is a good thing) but I was still slightly chilled by the images of soldiers marching in the streets of New York and the news that the Navy deployed three warships to help with aid. And wouldn't providing aid be a great pretense to deploy troops to major cities before launching a coup and/or devolving into a police state? I made a NewsJack of CNN's home page from Wednesday to reflect on this situation. All photos are taken from real Sandy coverage.

The Rise of Leaking Websites

We often use the terms 'leaking' and 'whistleblowing' synonymously but their functions are quite different in practice. Whistleblowing is reporting a wrongdoing of some sort with the hope that it will be rectified. Leaking refers to the release of documents, nowadays often in large quantities, in the name of transparency (with whistleblowing potentiallly in mind for the future).