youth | MIT Center for Civic Media

Political Bots, Subverting Twitter, and the Online Political Practices of Estonian Youth at AoIR16

Political Work Panel

This is a liveblog from the “Political Work" panel at AoIR16 on October 24, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ. This is not a transcript but recreation of people’s comments. Any errors are my own.

Architecture for Understanding the Automated Imaginary: A Working Qualitative Methodology for Research on Political Bots
Norah Abokhodair, Samuel Woolly, Philip Howard & David McDonald

This paper is led by Norah Abokhodair, is developing a working method for qualitative analyzing political bots. Summarized here: http://politicalbots.org/?p=314. Their research question: How are bots being used for political purposes?

They started with a set of definitions:

  • Bot = a software program that automates ‘human’ tasks on the web
  • Political bot = social bots, engage with human users. They mainly function on social media and are used to further specific political causes (for good, ill, or in-between)

The project has a three part research process: 1) comparative event data set, 2) international fieldwork with bot coders, and 3) computational theory building. The international field work involves interviews with people who build bots and track bots as well. We’ve looked into government contractors that track bots to combat activism online.

This paper focuses on stage one of the research: building the comparative event data set. They are documenting cases of political bot usage. They gather all media coverage of bot use around the world, and then use multi-coder content analysis of the media reports. They started in Hungary with students at Central European University, and triple coded all the media. They developed a Google Form that the coders would follow when coding each course.

The output of this is the contextual understandings of 100+ unique cases of political bot usage across 40+ countries. They noticed that anytime there was a political crisis or election there was use of political bots to manipulate public opinion. 

Keeping Up and Keeping it Real: An Analysis of the Social Life of Civic Media

Talk by Eric Gordon (@ericbot) of Emerson's Engagement Lab and Rogelio Lopez (@Tochtli_exe) of USC Annenberg at the MIT Center for Civic Media.

This is a liveblog of a talk on November 6, 2014, recorded by Alexis, Ali, Adrienne, Catherine, Nathan, and Erhardt.

Keep Up and Keeping it Real: An Analysis of the Social Life of Civic Media

The context of the talk is the space of "civic tech." It's a field that has been defined by corporations and foundations. They have been seeking to put a lot of things into recognizable envelopes.

Mostly, civic tech is associated with government and government innovation. Increasingly, there’s an effort made by other organizations to use that term. Some of the narratives that pop up in civic tech are that of the smart city, entrepreneurship, and efficiency.

They were curious about how would you characterize civic tech through a metaphor in terms of the operations of your organization? "We're the NASA of non-profits." This is to say it is a scientific enterprise and also that there is a frontier out ahead. This was a very positive spin on the use of technology in nonprofit work.

When we talk about civic tech to NGOs the rhetoric isn’t as positive. “It’s a sourdough starter, you have to keep feeding it unless it dies,” or “deer in the headlights.”

Most of the time, the metaphors being used to describe the technologies of integration are filled with fear and anxiety.

“Everything keeps changing all the time,” Gordon says to express his frustration with the technology landscape. "Keeping it to the traditional, like, grassroots organizing tools of going out and having one-on-one conversations."

Themes of "Keeping up" and "keeping it real" kept coming up in their interviews. Rogelio explains that keeping up means staying current with technologies, but they wanted to focus on “keeping it real,” because many of these communities were focused on communities who worked in the grassroots activism space.

For many organizations, legitimation is based in the grassroots. The efficacy is judged based on how it affects residents. The reality is organizations are struggling with the normative maxim “keeping it real.” Eric notes that they are particularly interested in community organization and grassroot techniques.

There is a need to complicate discourse. “There is so much stuff going on in the course of using technology." 

How to amplify the voices of marginalized communities in Brazil

During the last weeks, our friend Paulo Rogério has conducted Vojo trainings in Salvador, Brazil. The photos are amazing! I translated one of his articles about this initiative that has been connecting and empowering people from quilombola communities with no internet access on the outskirts of a Brazilian metropolis.

Vojo workshop

The youth from quilombos at Ilha de Maré are publishing news stories with their mobile phones and giving voice to the needs and concerns of their communities. Last Friday (Oct 25th), around 20 girls and boys from Porto dos Cavalos community participated in the workshop: “Vojo Brazil: amplifying Quilombola voices through mobile phones”.

The Civic Me: Civic Identity Expression in Online Spaces panel at DML 2013

Liveblog of The Civic Me panel at DML 2013

Panel Description
Click to read on DML 2013 site.

The Civic Me panelists

Participants

  • Margaret Rundle (chair), Emily Weinstein - Harvard University
  • Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, Liana Gamber Thompson - USC
  • Chris Evans - Mills College
  • Brittany Spralls - Mikva Challenge

Introduction (Margaret Rundle)
It really should be "The Civic and Political Me" as a title but that's just too long.

Developing Aago

Here's a quick summary of our progress on Aago, a mobile app for youth media creation and sharing. We are excited to start the fall term with new team members and engaged community partners!

Wanna Come Out and Play? Community Engagement & Technology Development

[This post originally appeared on the MIT CoLab Radio blog, in Danielle Martin's Media Mindfulness column.]

When my old friend and collaborator Leo Burd returned to MIT as a research scientist for the Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), we started to gather some like-minded folks to discuss how media and mapping tools and youth civic engagement can intersect in the world of the Media Lab. Both of us have often been called a bridge or a translator between technology developers and underserved community members. We see a value in equalizing the power that comes from self construction, blurring the role of creator and user.

Youth Mobilization in Russia 2009 - Soviet Style

Don't you go and think that Obama is the only political figure who recently engaged his country's youth in the political debate successfully. His now Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, just like before him Vladimir Putin, is at the top of his game in this area too - as the MT story here below shows.

More on the state-funded youth group Nashi - Russia's version of the Soviet Union's Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party: see Wiki link. Nashi seems strongly inspired by it, with some Nazi/far-right ideology thrown in.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashi_(youth_movement)

Scary to think what these young people could/can do in this technologically-enhanced "Information Age".

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/374294.htm
Sunday, February 08, 2009
The Moscow Times » Issue 4080 » Frontpage Top
Nashi Activist Tells of Snooping for Kremlin
06 February 2009
By Natalya Krainova / Staff Writer