Civic media | MIT Center for Civic Media

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.

Blogging the Mormon Story, One Mormon at a Time

Mormon Church at 65 Binney St in Cambridge, Mass.

Boston-area Mormons have developed a local blogging scene that builds community between both parishioners and their non-Mormon friends. For a faith that’s accustomed to defending against stereotypes, a blog post is a chance to tell one’s own truth.

Amy Beth Harrison of Cambridge, Mass. published a post titled “Media Attention Misses the Heart of Mormonism” in February of 2012:

You don’t have to agree with us about what we believe. You don’t have to think we are Christian. You can find our practices odd or strange or have issues about our history. Please, though, understand how precious the LDS Church is to the heart of a believer.

5 Ways You Can Give Attention As Aid

When we really care about a community in crisis, there's a lot more we can do than give money to a formal aid organization. In fact, the range of activities we CAN do to help, even remotely, is much greater and richer than it has ever been before.

For my Media Lab Master's thesis, I'm looking at all of the new ways people can help each other in times of crisis (mutual aid), and how information & communication technology (the internet) has amplified this peer aid.

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