Amauta Free Space project | MIT Center for Civic Media

Amauta Free Space project

So, after much reflection, I decided to do the Amauta Free Space project, since it's my passion at the moment, consuming my time and thoughts. As I mentioned before, it would consist of an open collaborative space for democratic participation, where those who take part in it build a virtual community interacting on a set of basic principles (if you can understand Spanish, you can see our diagram here):

-Free and open space: anyone can use the space freely (and all the code should be available for free).
-Safe space: though it's free, and because it's open, no discriminatory or hateful behavior is allowed.
-Creation: again, because it's free, anyone can write articles, make art, program code, but each creation will be determined as useful (truthful?, relevant?, important?) by the community as a whole (see democracy).
-Participation: the type of actions within the space that promote community building will open up more spaces for users (with more responsibilities and obligations). The different levels of participation would help determine who has invested more into the space, but it would also be a training method in media use (see Lave & Wenger's "Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation").
-Democracy: people decide (voting, rating, reviews, consensus?) on how the space should be build, or rebuild, after the initial infrastructure is in place, and what works and what doesn't. They can also give ideas, vote on them, write, create, etc. Because the space would be designed to give incentives for participation, users would also be more fully engaged with their community.

The project itself would probably (definitely) not be finished by the end of the semester, so I will build an initial prototype for a community I identify and which will commit to the project (I have some ideas for groups in Costa Rica, but also in Providence, it might even be a combination of the two). Since I am not a programmer, I will rely on Wordpress plugins to build a rudimentary design, with a colleague, who is a programmer, collaborating along the way. At the same time, the project deliverable will be a research paper based on many of the different theories we have studied in class, interviews with people in the field (with audio), and then a review on how to apply the conclusions to the space we are designing (what would a media platform look like addressing some of the issues we talked about in class?), and if there has been some experimentation with the space, then a description and analysis of the use there.

Tasks in no particular order

-Create prototype of space, by testing plugins to design the page here:
-Identify community (or communities) that would commit to use the space
-Identify and interview people in the field (philosophers on knowledge and truth, journalists, other media creators with similar experiments, MIT civic media and media lab staff, community organizers)
-Go through different theories that would apply for the project, and extend research in pertinent subject areas
-Make basic outline for paper, based on the different theories
-As issues, interviews, research go along, write blog entries that will serve for the research paper.
-Write paper.



¿Qué va a contribuir a las entrevistas el documento final? Para su proyecto pienso que la teoría más interesante que hemos comenzado a discutir es si las redes sociales ayuda a la democracia. Parte de su diagrama es "la distribución exterior." ¿Qué propone usted para distribuir y lo que va a distribuir sobre la plataforma a desarrollar?


Hola Mary! Las entrevistas para el documento final las haré intentando de identicar personas conectadas con algunos de los temas que vimos en clases, y dependiendo de quién me responda y quién no. Estoy de acuerdo que uno de mis enfoques debería ser si las redes sociales ayudan a la democracia, pero lo integraré con la mayoría de los otros temas que vimos en clase también. En lo del diagrama, la parte de distribución exterior tiene que ver con eso de las redes sociales (digitales y no digitales) para que les llegué la información a una mayor diversidad de personas (incluyendo a gente con poco acceso al internet). No sé que voy a distribuir en estos momentos. La respuesta a esa pregunta se basaría en el proyecto de investigación, pero también a las creaciones que hagan los usuarios cuando ya este lista la plataforma. Gracias por tus comentarios!


This is very interesting - my impression is that you are trying to build something like Sourceforge ( for democratic participation. I think this would be a valuable empowering tool for communities. Are you planning to have some sort of "meta" space which gives you an overview of what's happening in all the communities (pulling out the most active ones, etc) ?
From a technical viewpoint, since you mentioned Wordpress - you may want to checkout Wordpress Multisite (, which allows one to create independent wordpress sites dynamically, from a single installation.


Hey Sayamindu! Thanks so much for technical recommendation. I will take it into account since it is definitely of use for what I am looking for (I might ask for other suggestions as the project goes on if that is ok?!). The platform would be like a Sourceforge for democratic participation! But mostly in information (could also be art, other creation). I really hadn't thought on a "meta space" as you have described it, yet the front page itself would be kind of one since it would be pulling the most voted (popular or other) creations from the different community spaces.