Civic media | MIT Center for Civic Media

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.

Holmes Wilson, internet activism, and why we need you

Fight For the Future is known for its massive viral organizing campaigns that changed Internet history both nationally and globally. Faced with the passage of Stop Online Piracy Act/SOPA and the Protect-IP Act/PIPA — legislation that would have jeopardized the open Internet as we know it — Fight for the Future organized the largest and most visible online protest in history. Holmes Wilson has also co-founded Miro, OpenCongress, and Amara. He’s been at the forefront of a range of open internet and participatory culture projects and campaigns.

Holmes Wilson (foreground) and Dalek (background)

The Boston Marathon, Social Media, and the News

I met my baby niece yesterday, Sunday morning. She was born late Saturday night. I went to some news sites to grab some screenshots of the things that happened the day she was born, and stopped myself. There were some really bad things happening in the world, Saturday, and every day. Instead, I wrote down that the Red Sox beat the Rays, 2-1.

Building peace with technology in Sudan and Cyprus

Civic Media Lunch Liveblog: Helena Puig LarrauriApril 11, 2012 


Blue Nile State, Sudan

Helena Puig Larrauri is a freelance peacebuilding consultant whose clients include the Open Society Foundation, Mercy Corps and UNDP. She visited the Center for Civic Media to talk about two projects she is working on that explore the use of technology in peacebuilding, in Cyprus and Sudan. 

Encouraging Flexibility from Social Media Giants: How We Get Private Platforms to Support Public Speech

There are many problems with using commercial technology platforms to host democratic, social, or activist content and communications. These problems came up in multiple sessions at the National Conference on Media Reform last weekend. There are also obvious reasons to continue using these platforms (audience reach, most notably), and so we do. Some activist efforts that silo communications on more open, but relatively unknown platforms strike me as irresponsible, if the goal is to reach as many people as possible (but this is a fine line). The more I think about this issue, though, the more I see potential solutions and a future in working with the platform providers to build some degree of flexibility into their products and policies.

soapbox at #ncmr13
The spot on the carpet reserved for public ranting at #NCMR13

Building the NGO Tech Network in China

On March 22 and 23, 2013, NGO2.0, Google Developers Community Guangzhou, the School of Software of Sun Yat-sen University, and TechSoup Global held the first Nonprofit Hackathon in Guangzhou. About 30 Chinese software developers and 10 NGOs participated in this two-day event. At the end, four teams came up with three web applications and one mobile app. A collection of pictures taken during the event can be found at our Netease album.

How to make phone services fast and easy to design

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 12.34.52 PM

We've reached the alpha stage of the design interface of Call to Action, a platform that will allow community groups to design and host phone-based services. I wrote last year about why enabling community groups and individuals to design these services is important, and about the New Day New Standard project that inspired us to build Call to Action.

Right now Call to Action is a front-end design tool that allows you to visualize a voice tree via a drag and drop interface. I'd love you all to play around with it and tell us how we can improve it.

81 Ways Humanitarian Aid has Become Participatory

Update: I've since posted my full thesis and a short summary of it.

My Media Lab Master's thesis argues that information and communication technologies, and particularly the web, have expanded the range of ways the public can help in times of crisis, even (or especially) if we're nowhere near said crisis. Or, to be more formal about it, participatory aid is mutual, peer-to-peer aid mediated or powered by information and communication technology. We're building a platform to help coordinate participatory aid projects, but first, I wanted to share some examples.

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