Intro to Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Conversations in Intro to Civic Media: 3 Different Topics, 1 Goal

One of the wonderful things and challenges of Intro to Civic Media is that there are a lot of topics to cover, but this is only because there are a lot of incredible things happening to call attention to problems, mobilize people to confront those problems and make change in communities around the world.

A week ago, the Introduction to Civic Media class began by viewing hard-to-watch videos of atrocities and discussing the media strategies used to produce them. Then we had a conversation about youth activism, followed by a fun and inspirational workshop where we envisioned the news the way we wanted it to be and used Newsjack to rewrite the day’s news headlines.

Remixing Human Rights

A montage of graphic images of human rights violations flash on and off the screen to the tune of Michael Jackson’s "They Don’t Care about Us." The lyrics take on an eerie new meaning, "Bang bang, shot dead. Everybody's gone mad...All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us." The videos are a haunting and disturbing way to share with internet users what has happened and is happening in various parts of the world.

youth organization hype

This is the youth initiative I mentioned at the Intro to Civic Media course:

Copyright or Not?

The Introduction to Civic Media class participated in a role play discussing the pros and cons of copyright within creative industries, from different points of view. The roles were randomly assigned and each person had to argue their own case. Copyright was discussed from eight different points of view of: an idealist owner of an illegal streaming site, a bootlegger, a social activist, a “western world” consumer, a “third world” consumer (in lack of better terms, sorry), a musician, a documentary filmmaker, and the CEO of Fox media.

Some of the pros were: A good tool for users' rights to control their own material, preventing theft and uncontrolled remakes of original content, creative control over product in general, better release quality, protection of investments, protection of brands, artistic control over remixes, payment for work (and connected to this: a devaluation of creative work could mean the death of professionalism), maintaining ethical control over documentary content.


Building upon my last blog post and comments provided, I will summarize my project proposal here:

Project proposal: Women's activism in Uzbekistan

Members of an unveiled club at the Bukhara district Women's Division (Soviet Uzbekistan, 1928).

The social role of an Uzbek woman is frequently defined within the context of patriarchal values and is considered secondary and inferior to that of men. Major media outlets censored and produced under the government authority, propagate a traditional female ideal – a good mother and wife contained within the private domestic sphere and guided primarily by family values, rather than career ambitions in the professional sphere. While such view of women does widely reflect reality in Uzbekistan, it becomes too easy to be blinded by it and overlook some important localized activist efforts on the part of women. Women’s activism in Uzbekistan does take place and it has been driven by individual female activists’ work, as well as collective women’s protests organized for different reasons at different points in history of independent Uzbekistan.

Platforms and Affordances: From Pamphleteers to Peer to Peer

James Carey[1] illustrates the importance of the telegraph and how the telegraph does set the base for future development within the communication realm. He shows how the telegraph was the only device to separate transport and communication in the past. Before the invention of the telegraph, the main way messages were passed across was through movement from one place to the other.

He asserts that the telegraph was the brain and would help in the expansion of the empire. Though it was masked in religious undertones, that is that it would harmonize and unite all of humanity, it was also an ideological mask for its real function. Its real function was the expansion of global military hegemony and neoliberalism. This is very similar to today’s context where the internet is viewed as the medium through which the world will become a global village.

Theory of Change for Tane

After the last class, I was in this spiral thought while reading various articles on rural depopulation. It was clear that the problem cannot be solved by a mere project, or I wasn't even sure what the problem was anymore. Is depopulation something we need to prevent? Would there be a local community I could work over this semester in Boston area? ...

What is breast cancer awareness?

With the ‘theory of change’ model as a starting point, I used a lot of ink thinking through my final project for Intro to Civic Media. As the theory of change model instructs, I began by thinking of the outcome of the project and worked my way back through it until I had determined the very first step. I realized while writing that I needed to ask and answer more questions about the project than I had anticipated.

The biggest challenge I faced with my model was that I did not know what aspect I wanted to focus on regarding the role of breast cancer marketing on cancer culture. All roads, or arrows in the case of the diagram, lead to the term “awareness.” What is “awareness” exactly? How do corporations think they are making consumers more “aware” of breast cancer by selling pink products? What does it mean to be aware of a cause? Does awareness create action?

Flux - possible futures of a gender-blurred society

As an artist in residence at the Open Doc Lab and a freelance filmmaker, I am currently working on an interactive documentary with the preliminary title ”Flux”, which explores gender identities and gender roles. ”Flux” will be an immersive web experience that will open a space to discuss alternative social structures for a society where gender roles are less prevalent. I believe that questioning and becoming aware of our thought patterns is at the core of change, and I hope that discussions evolving from ”Flux” can help this process. Personally I often discover that I have blind spots to the social structures that I am part of, until someone or something puts them into perspective.

flux - early concept sketch

Delivering inspiring narratives from all over the world: theory of change

My original idea was to write a paper analyzing what makes civic movements that employ media and originate from repressed communities possible and successful. The intended goal of the project would be to give me and others a clue about what kind of conditions help enthusiasm to bring about change within a community be actualized through collective effort. The discovered conditions could then be related to other communities to see if this particular experience or some parts of it can be applied in a different context. The ultimate goal was inspiration for action. Yet, the more I thought about this, the more I doubted that I could come up with specific enough “how to” conclusion that could be universally applied to other environments. An academic paper or case study would not be relatable to audience from different places and communities, it would not inspire them.