Civic media

Participatory Aid at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

This session, on Participatory Aid, discusses how disaster aid has gone peer-to-peer. People are organizing over the internet to respond to crises in new ways. In the face of increasingly deadly disasters, how do we integrate creative public responses with formal institutions to create a more holistic aid system?

Civics Beyond Borders at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

Opening Open Government at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

What is going on in Brazil?

In recent days, Brazil has enacted its own “Spring”. It began with demonstrations in São Paulo against a 10-cent increase in bus fares. Last week, the protest was harshly repressed by the military police, but their brutality produced an unexpected outcome. The majority of the population, which had been looking with displeasure at the isolated episodes of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations, became sympathetic to the protesters’ cause after watching the government’s violent reaction.

On Tuesday, more than 200,000 people took to the streets of the main cities across the country. In São Paulo, they were 60,000. In Rio, around 100,000. These have been the biggest demonstrations since the impeachment of Brazilian president Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992, after a corruption scandal.

Postmarked - Negotiating [dis]empowerment in civic art

This is part 2 in a series on a public art project to create a space for dialogue between a concerned community and the owners of a dilapidated Cambridge property. Bigger picture in part 1.

I was enamored with the weight of postcards:  How does the sender's selection of a design suggest something personal? A postcard has more weight than a petition signature and gives flexibility to write a lot or a little, to illustrate concepts and/or capture them in words. It is a dynamic physical artifact.

I had read Karen Klinger's Cambridge Eyesore series, and it was clear that Cantabrigians noticed these rundown lots. Conversation continues to swirl within the community, but how does the conversation flow back out—beyond the city councilors to the decision-making owners?

Postmarked - A public art approach to neighborhood civics (pt 1)

The first day of Antoni Muntadas' class, I couldn't resist sharing my notes in tweets.

"Dialogues in Public Space" was an intriguing title for an art course. There was a similar project called Civic Studio when I lived in Grand Rapids, where university students spent a semester doing what I thought of social process art—the output isn't visual but a public service, inquiry or resource (i.e.: Viget, On the River temporary studio, etc.). It was the first time I had ever come across art as something that could live outside of a sculpture or canvas.

Hackathons don't solve problems

Qualcomm, a company known for their manufacture of semiconductors, stopped by the Center for Civic Media a few weeks ago to interview people about hackathons. Today, they released the video, which features Nathan Matias and I:

Thankfully, all of the words that I say on the screen in the video are words that I actually said. But the edit and framing message that they present is literally the opposite of what I said in the interview.

Identity and Presence Online

x-posted to Oddletters the Blog

Last week, I had the honor of speaking on one of the plenary panels at the Media in Transition conference at MIT. I talked about an idea I've been playing with, identity versus presence in the online space. People seemed interested in hearing a little more, so here are my thoughts on the subject right now.

The theme of the conference was public and private media, and there were lots of amazing panels talking about, in one way or another, performances, manifestations, usurpations, and repurposings of identity online. The presentations were brilliant, but as I'm coming down off of writing my masters thesis on activist DDOS actions (ten days till final submission!), I found myself thinking about the concept of "presence," and how the online space, and the civic space in general, is and is not structured to allow manifestations of presence over performances of identity.

Transnational Dimensions of Spreadable Media

Liveblog of the MiT8 panel on Transnational Dimensions of Spreadable Media moderated by Sam Ford. Notes with Rodrigo Davies and others.

Nancy Baym, Music Without Borders: Globalization and its Contents

Nancy introduces two current, competing frames of music consumers: Pirates vs Customers. We ask, are musicians getting paid enough? But the question frames musicians as producers, as manufacturers.

How do musicians understand their interactions and relationships with their audiences? How have social media affected these things? What is the broader system of values into which money fits?

Philosophy and Civic Engagement

Last Friday, April 26, 2013, I attended the Philosophy and Civic Engagement symposium at Tufts University. Three speakers looked at different philosophical aspects of civic engagement: Anthony Laden of the University of Illinois at Chicago discussed the importance of reasoning as a social, interactive practice in democratic citizenship, Meira Levinson of Harvard Graduate School of Education investigated the pros and cons of redefining civic action beyond public activities, and Peter Levine of Tufts University and CIRCLE discussed the philosophical aspects of his forthcoming book: We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For. Below are my notes from their talks.

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