Civic media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Sourcemap is Hiring!

Civic Media Fans,

Sourcemap was one of the first spin-offs from the Center for Civic Media, and we've just landed exciting new projects in West Africa and in Latin America. We're looking for special people to fill the spots. See our job call below.


Are you fascinated with how things are made? Then you'll love working at Sourcemap. We're building software that revolutionizes the way we share information about supply chains: where things come from, what they're made of, and their social/environmental impact. And we're delivering it to clients including multinationals, governments, activists and NGO's. Sourcemap is hiring full-time employees to join our team based in Central Square, Cambridge (MA). We are looking for enthusiastic people with experience in:

Object-Oriented Programming (PHP, Python, JS)
Sales and Support
Design and Media Production

Email resumes, code samples and portfolios to:

"The Economist" on internet activism

From the defeat of Hollywood-sponsored Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to the flop of International Telecommunication Union’s crafty treaty, 2012 frustrated many government and company attempts to meddle with the internet. In its first 2013 edition, The Economist presents an interesting balance of what it calls “a big year for online activists”. The British magazine poses a thought-provoking question: are we witnessing the rise of a new organic political power like environmentalism in the 1960s and 1970s?

The analogy is compelling. In its dawn, the environmental movement was an umbrella term for heterogeneous groups: people concerned about nuclear plants, citizens interested in cleaning a particular river, anti-pesticide activists, and so on. Gradually, such different strands came together and eventually formed a complete political platform with a comprehensive discourse­ that went on to wield legislative and executive power – the green parties in Europe and elsewhere.

Distributed solidarity: how creates an intimate global movement

Nathan Matias and I recently spoke to a few staffers from 350, a global climate movement organization. Especially worthy of your attention are the concept of “distributed solidarity,” making that solidarity visible to participants and—to Civic—a sort of tightrope between professional and citizen footage. This post is for background; jump over to Nathan's post for some technically based civic ideas.

Two Media Tech Ideas for Distributed Solidarity

In this parallel post alongside one by Denise Cheng, I review the media-making practices of, who coordinate thousands of events into global days of climate action. I also propose two technology designs for collaboratively tagging and remixing media from an event.

Read Denise's post on the story and mission of, annotate this post using ReadrBoard, or suggest your own ideas

Here at the Center for Civic Media, we have spent the last year discussing the idea of peer-based politics. In a Media Lab talk at the beginning of the year, Rebecca McKinnon argued that international politics sometimes needs the consent of the networked.

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.

Reinventing Public Media: Matter, a media accellerator

Matter is a new startup accelerator which aims to reinvent public media. At the Media Lab today, Corey Ford, Jake Shapiro, and Jigar Mehta (who spoke at the Media Lab earlier this semester), are holding a conversation on the mission and details of Matter, the application process, and the culture that Matter hopes to create.

Read about Matter in the New York Times, on the Knight Foundation blog, and the PRX blog.

Methods of connecting with voters in the 2012 presidential election campaigns

It’s the end of another semester at MIT, and the close of my time in CMS.360, Introduction to Civic Media. To close off the semester, I’ve posted a copy of the slides to my 5 minute Ignite talk from our last class about methods of connecting with voters in the 2012 presidential election campaigns.

The 2012 campaigns are interesting because both parties utilized new technology to achieve traditional campaign goals — to connect with voters, gain information about them, and use that information to target them better. My project focused on three ways presidential campaigns connected with voters — using targeted emails, phone banks, and social media — and aspects that made them succeed.

Stories, products, consumers, people

My final project for Intro to Civic Media is the website Marketplace stories of origin, for collecting, interpreting and re-writing stories of origin on product packages, and a paper that contextualizes this project and describes its motives and hopeful outcomes. The website is fully functional but requires some manual tinkering when submissions come in--thanks to various offers of assistance, it should become more efficient on the backend this spring. The paper, Stories, products, consumers, people, compares marketing texts and folklore traditions, describes the corporate sales strategies known as "heritage branding" and "vicarious nostalgia", offers a brief history of U.S. packaging and labeling regulations, and considers the motives for and effects of great collecting and categorizing efforts from the past, especially Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson's tale type index for classifying and locating folk tales according to plot devices, motifs, and geographic distribution.

Resilient Neighborhoods: The fight for a voice against eminent domain strategies in Mexico City

This is the final submission for the Intro to Civic Media Class.

I have posted some of my progress throughout the semester on this regard. Today I am posting my development and research but also the plans to move ahead. This class has been specially helpful on that regard, in taking my research forward and opening up new ways to further my investigation on this topic. I will provide here a short abstract and all the proper links to learn more and read the whole submission. I look forward to your comments.

New steps (hopefully on the right direction). Mexico City and its contested spaces of violence

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been studying the role of citizen activism on regards to drug-related violence in Mexico City. In particular I have been focusing on the impact of eminent domain, and a new legal framework called ‘extinción de dominio’ that is being implemented on by the Mexico City government to tackle violence ridden neighborhoods through the transformation of property. In particular property that could be traced as the instrument of drug-related crime. This law basically strips away any rights to the local community and gives authorities the discretionary power to seize opportunity without having to prove guilt. Communities are then ‘presumed guilty’ until proven innocent, which may take months or years to clear. This causes a particular problem in terms of rights, and having those rights heard and respected. Crime (or presumed crime) becomes an immediate inhibitor of the citizen’s fight for the respect of their rights. Which leads us to see that even if the law is being used unfairly, there is no pushback from the communities.