audio | MIT Center for Civic Media

Audio forms of media can be private, like mp3 players, or broadcast, like radio. There are rich possibilities for using audio in new ways for civic engagement.

Podcasting for movement building

This post was originally published over at MIT CoLab.


One of the most fulfilling experiences I have had this year was that of planning, recording and editing my first podcast episode ever (along with my collaborators… more about them coming soon). 

Erase the Border

Project Status: 

Erase the Border is a web campaign and voice petition platform. It tells the story of the Tohono O'odham people, whose community has been divided along 75 miles of the US-Mexico border by a fence.

Call to Action - creating a platform for voice services

An exciting project for the team this year has been the development of New Day New Standard, a hotline that informs nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers, and their employers about the landmark Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, passed in New York State in November 2010.

In the seven months since it launched, the average call on NDNS lasted 3 minutes and 17 seconds. That's an exciting figure, given that it's much longer than you'd expect the average user to spend looking at a web page. May, launch month, was the peak month for usage, although NDNS has continued to attract callers: usage rose again in October, when callers spent a total of 490 minutes on the line. We're now in a position to do more research with our users to find out which functions and stories they engaged with the most.

Ethan Zuckerman and the Levers of Change

Liveblog of Ethan Zuckerman's Future of News keynote, composed with Nathan Matias. Errors are likely ours.

The usual conversation about innovation in journalism held by people who work in journalism assumes that there’s one main problem in the space: if we could just work out the revenue issue, we’d be fine forever. But it's also not the case that cross-subsidies from lighter matter will help us support the journalism we need for people to be effective civic actors.

What if we've got the problem wrong? Sometimes the stuff we think we're good at--producing high quality journalism that helps people figure out what they might do in society--turns out to be stuff we're not nearly as good at as we thought. This may well be one of the core problems of journalism.

Ethan offers two fairly easy arguments, and a fairly difficult one:

1) journalism matters (goes mostly unchallenged in this room)

2) civics is changing (particularly for younger people and for people who identify with the internet as their native medium)

3) journalism needs to change

Vojo community call - Office hours

Last Tuesday, Vojo hosted an "office hours" session where anyone who hadn't taken off for Thanksgiving was welcome to dial in with their questions. The Vojo team met Luís Cotto, a Cantabrigian originally from Hartford, CT.

The Story of StoryLine - (888) 803-9856

This post written together with Rachel Falcone.

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard and there are still a vast number of people without power, without water, without hot food, and without a home.

Housing is a Human Right (HHR) is a storytelling project led by Michael Premo and Rachel Falcone that has worked for the last five years to connect people around housing, land and the dignity of a place to call home. HHR storytelling follows a tradition of oral history and stories are richly captured and shared in multimedia including audio and photographs. They truly create space for people to share stories of their community and ongoing experiences trying to obtain or maintain a home through exhibitions. They have transformed laundromats and empty stores into storytelling spaces, and create storytelling space on multiple platforms including radio and internet.

Making radio more spreadable

At last year's Civic Media Conference, I pitched and won a small media innovation grant to make a video based on a public radio piece. The idea was to explore a way to raise radio's profile in an online environment that tends to favor video. Below is cross-posted from the Knight Foundation blog.

The Emperor's New Onesie from Hillary Frank on Vimeo.

The mission: Make a short video based on a public radio piece and launch it into the webosphere.

The update: Mission accomplished.

Well, almost. Today is the launch. So watch, enjoy, share, and read on.

VoIP Drupal

VoIP Drupal is an innovative framework that brings the power of voice and Internet-telephony to Drupal sites. It can be used to build hybrid applications combining regular touchtone phones, web, SMS, Twitter, IM and other communication tools in a variety of ways, including:

Vojo at Parking Day with Cambridge Community Television

On Friday morning, Becky, Rodrigo and I set out for Central Square, where we had a date with Cambridge Community Television for Parking Day. Parking Day is an international celebration, with do-ocrats, organizations and cities eager to reclaim parking spaces as public spaces. Your typical street-side spot becomes a mini-park, an outdoor lounge, an open-air library—I've seen them all. And on Friday, the lot in front of CCTV became a pop-up broadcast station. On one side was a television studio, and on the other, Vojo.