government | MIT Center for Civic Media

Government in the context of civic media work is any form of civil authority at any level from local to national and international. It can refer to entities that are elected or appointed. The term also includes the processes involved in government: deliberation, voting, election campaigns, and making policy.

Clay Shirky: Planning Shan't Trump Reality

Clay Shirky's on stage with Ginny Hunt at Harvard's Institute of Politics discussing the lessons we can take away from the Healthcare.gov boondoggle (#netrevolution).

Clay's first point is that of all the criticism of Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act, no one has argued that it's a bad idea to rely on the web as the central component of citizen interaction with a government program. All of the other communications options, from phone to fax, have been considered second-rate fallback options.

This change has happened almost imperceptibly, but it is nevertheless a marker of where we are.


There's a lesson to be learned from the website's poor performance, especially given Obama for America's campaign success with technology.

Internet technology and politics have hooked up every 2-4 years since 1992, when Clinton hosted an internal campaign listserv on MIT servers. Now, the internet and politics have gotten married.

Four models for civic organizations to crowdfund

A few months ago I gave a talk at the Library of Congress's "Digital Preservation" conference in Washington, DC, in which I suggested four models that civic organizations could use to crowdfund projects: promoter, curator, facilitator and platform.

Thanks to the ending of the government shutdown, I now have the video of my presentation, which is below. You can read also a short writeup of the talk I posted earlier. My slides are here.

Liveblog: James Stewart, UK Government Digital Service

Today James Stewart, Head of Technology at the UK Government Digital Service came to the Center for our weekly Civic lunch. 

An internationally-recognized leader in design and implementation of digital public services, James' team is rebuilding 600 government services in the UK for the digital age. The team's work has impacted a wide range of functions, from filing taxes and starting a business to giving citizens better ways to engage with government and participate in decision-making processes, and has been the center of an initiative by the UK government to make all public services 'digital by default'.

[Video] Peer economy takeaways from my summer research

Comparative Media Studies @ MIT kicked off the 2013 academic year yesterday with orientation presentations. The second-year CMS grad students pulled together a 10-minute presentation about their thesis topic and summer research and then presented to faculty, staff and incoming graduate students.

I thought you'd be interested!

RE: points in the video -

Science + Crowdfunding: match or no match?

Atray is a medical researcher. I’m a journalist by training with a bent for community. We each have roots in different strands of critical analysis. As roommates, we spent hours discussing science, cultural context and how to measure impact. One topic we often returned to is whether science can fit into a crowdfunding model.


Photo
by Scott Beale

Here’s a glimpse into our conversations, remotely stitched together this summer between Houston, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.

Denise Cheng

Atray Dixit -
A Scientist’s Perspective: The Poor Scientists Cap or New Media’s Funding Magnet?

Operations v. Capital

Four roles civic organizations can play in crowdfunding

four_roles_crowdfunding Today I'm giving a talk at the Library of Congress's "Digital Preservation" conference on civic crowdfunding and community assets. I'll be giving a brief overview of crowdfunding, its historical precedents and how it is being used in civic contexts today.

One of the main goals of the presentation is to suggest four roles that civic organizations, including municipal governments, can play in the crowdfunding process.

Q: Why bother with emerging economies + narratives of work?

Work is a heartbreaking story, and a confusing one, too. Or at least the most familiar prescription of work in the U.S.

I grew up in Silicon Valley, too young to understand the dot-com bust but old enough to see the sinking morale. Researcher Gina Neff (@ginasue) says, "Economic downturns, company layoffs, booms and busts—these are collective phenomena, but people attribute managing these risks to individual." When my stepfather was ready to retire, he'd chuckle about the raw deal the next generation of workers were getting. This was when employees still expected companies to take care of them somehow. He retired with a pension, but he'd joke, what is this 401k business? I'm a few generations of work later, and I don't even know many young people who have a 401k.

Where does civic crowdfunding fit on a city's roadmap?

Bogardus Triangle Plaza map - from http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/plaza-bogardus-map.jpg

Several city officials I've spoken to about civic crowdfunding in the past few months raised the following problem: "Isn't resource allocation the primary function of government? You can't remove that and replace it with the will of the crowd. How could we possibly design a policy framework to accommodate this?"

Meet my thesis: Peer economy as an emerging narrative of work

This sums it up perfectly: "Job security is about as real as a free lunch."

With the first year of grad school over, I'm rolling up my sleeves for thesis research. I haven't talked about it much on the Civic blog, but I've been refining my idea since I arrived at MIT: how do narratives of work move into the mainstream, and what is an emerging narrative?

The short of it is this: Since the mid-20th century, we've idolized the full-time, salary + benefits narrative. That's been on the decline for the last 30 years—in entrepreneurship, in number of jobs even though gross domestic product climbs. We're graduating more qualified people into a shrinking job market; this narrative is not realistic anymore, which makes room for new narratives of work to emerge. 

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