Upcoming Events

Civic Media Lunch: James D'Angelo, "The Ghost Bill & The Cardboard Box"

Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 12:00pm

MIT Center for Civic Media

In November 2014, James D’Angelo released the results of more than ten years of research in an hour-long YouTube video titled The Cardboard Box Reform. In it, he amasses evidence to suggest that a single, long-forgotten bill (dubbed the ‘Ghost Bill’ by representative Rees in 1972) is the cause for at least three of america’s more troubling problems (soaring inequality, campaign finance and partisanship). Better still, he suggests that we can patch these problems with the installation of a single cardboard box in the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Sound to good to be true? Perhaps. But, his idea is gaining traction with Harvard professors, MIT researchers and many other interested citizens.

An academic outsider James D’Angelo is an ex-NASA scientist, and current winner of the MIT Climate CoLab for the design of a mobile-app that provides a global carbon cap-and-trade without requiring the support of government muscle. He is an outsider academic who, in just the last six months has spoken about advances in financial technology to Harvard Business School, novel ways to govern to the Harvard Kennedy School, and led JavaScript/cryptocurrency hackathons at MIT. He spends his time focusing on identity solutions, squirrel genomes, human evolution and DAOs.

Civic Media Lunch: Joseph Reagle, "Comment's Mysteries"

Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 12:00pm

MIT Center for Civic Media

In his new book Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web (MIT Press, 2015) Joseph Reagle visits communities of Amazon reviewers, fan fiction authors, online learners, scammers, freethinkers, and mean kids. He shows how comment can inform (through reviews), improve (through feedback), manipulate (through fakery), alienate (through trolling and hate), shape (through social comparison), and perplex us. While we are counseled to “avoid the comments,” Reagle argues that reading the comments permits us to ask important questions about human nature and social behavior. In this talk, he will reflect on four of those questions. What’s behind the boom and bust cycle of blog, comment, and community platforms? Second, can we trust online reviews? Third, why are comments often so hostile, sexist, and racist? And finally, how can we make sense of the product review: “saved my son’s life: 4/5 stars”?

Joseph Reagle is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern and a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. He taught and received his Ph.D. at NYU’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. As a Research Engineer at MIT he served as an author and working group chair within the IETF and W3C on topics including digital security, privacy, and Internet policy. His current interests include geek feminism and online culture.