Civic media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Bringing a Nation's Archives Online

(a Civic lunch liveblogged with Nathan Matias and Rahul Bhargava)

Today, we're hearing from the National Archives and Records Adminisration about the archives they maintain, how they're making those archives available online at, and approaches to sharing the archives to broader audiences.

Pamela Wright is the Chief Innovation Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration. Bill Mayer is the Executive for Research Services at NARA. Michael Moore is the Access Coordinator for Research Services East (right here in Waltham, MA).

Codesign, inclusion, and the hackathon: Codesign Studio 2013 is underway

Course poster, made by Denise.
[poster designed by Denise Cheng]

The Spring 2013 Codesign Studio is underway. Inspired by the profusion of hackathons, the frame of this semester’s course is to collaboratively design an inclusive pop-up event with our community partners. We meet weekly and both enrolled students and our partners participate in each class meeting. See our syllabus and growing resource list here:

Our goals are:

Hacking the flu emergency at CrisisCamp Boston


Last month at the Center for Civic Media we held CrisisCamp Boston - an event that is part of the global Crisis Commons organization and sprung out of the Hurricane Hackers group that began life in the Center for Civic Media. There were three motivations for organizing the event: to build on the success of the Sandy group and move forward with those projects, to tackle an immediate and local issue (Boston's flu emergency) and to experiment with a new hackathon / workshop format.

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.