Intro to Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Dollar Boyz: Hip-hop Culture in Civic Media

Over the weekend, while looking at various resources in digital media literacy teaching for my proposed digital media exemplar project, I began to think back at my experience teaching documentary production at WHYY. I remembered the disconnect that often happened between the documentary project that the students were expected to carry out and the media that our students were interested in and would spend their downtime watching. Although the instructors tried to give students the initiative to choose their own topics and way of making the documentary, the students still often had trouble engaging with the structured process that we laid out for them and with the sedate, objective style of news reportage. By contrast, they were engaged and adept media consumers. They followed humor vlogs, like “Asia Star”, a YouTube drag character, and video sharing sites outside of YouTube and Vimeo, like “World Star Hip Hop”. (

Creating a Civic Maps Toolkit for Grassroots Mapping Projects


Civic Mapping or, in other words, mapping information for civic engagement, has taken quite an interesting turn in the last few years. Technology has become more accessible and data more available, but the essential difference is that there is a growing interest in using maps to display information.

Maps can be great aids to decision-making as we all know very well. They have been used many times throughout the history of humanity, and probably one of its most important elements is that maps give a spatial reference to information, giving decision-makers great insights. On that regard, with so much data available nowadays, the barrier to contextualize information spatially has diminished, and much more data can be put into a map.

Understanding politics: a Civic Media project for a better news consumption

The Internet is continuing to erode the other channels of information like TV, radio, and newspapers as the source of news. One of the latest survey made by Pew Research Center (conducted in the late Spring 2012), which is taken biannually and cover the changing in the news landscape, argues that the faster spreading of mobile devices and social networks is accelerating the shift to online news consumption.

“The percentage of Americans saying they saw news or news headlines on a social networking site yesterday has doubled – from 9% to 19% – since 2010. Among adults younger than age 30, as many saw news on a social networking site the previous day (33%) as saw any television news (34%), with just 13% having read a newspaper either in print or digital form”

(Credit: Pew Research Center )

Tracking the Meme-ification of the 2012 Presidential Election

Internet memes and image macros—once relegated to marginal/niche online communities and subcultures such as the boards of 4chan—have in the past few years broken into the public consciousness to become an integral part of modern popular culture. We see stories about viral videos and meme culture in the Atlantic, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Today, these internet memes are not only based on referential or non-sequitur humor, but have taken on the topics of civic media, commenting on current events, political affairs, and social issues. Certainly, Know Your Meme is filled with election-related image macros, and Tumblr is even running live animated gif coverage of the upcoming presidential debates.

Civic Media in Chinatown: Then and Now

For the past three years, I have been tracking Boston Chinatown's movement to locate a branch of the Boston Public Library in their neighborhood. In order to understand the meaning and function of this needed public space in an immigrant enclave, I not only interviewed various community members and stakeholders, but also consulted several forms of media that discussed the Chinatown Library. This material took the form of newspaper articles from well-known sources, local television coverage, radio archives, community group newsletters, posters, Chinatown newspapers and pamphlets, as well as Chinatown and other Boston resident blog posts. While I was tracking the history of the branch library and the grassroots movement to regain one in Chinatown, I did not really pay attention to the history and evolution of civic media in Chinatown.

Intro to Civic Media: Understanding Daily Media Practice in Immigrant Communities

October just started, and it is that time of the semester when final project proposals are due. This is the case for my Introduction to Civic Media course, taught by CMS professor Sasha Costanza-Chock, where I am interested in understanding the daily media practice of immigrant communities in Boston.

For the past few years, my research has focused on media use among immigrant communities in the United States. Specifically, I have been looking at media activism and media practice in social movements for immigrants’ rights. Inspired by one of the earliest exercises in our Intro to Civic Media course about creating a model of digital inclusion, I am interested in understanding how immigrant communities, are already using media on a day-to-day basis. My previous research in this area has confirmed that there is no single “magic tool” that immigrant youth are using when communicating and networking with others. Instead, many media practitioners in the immigrants’ rights movement use a wide variety of media at their disposal, often entire media ecologies, in order to accomplish their goals. What’s more, for older generations, traditional media is still very central.

The Role of Technology and the Media in Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing has been the subject of recent controversies due to the rise of WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing websites. These websites mark a new form of whistleblowing only possible because of the Internet and computers as well as connected media partners worldwide. However, whistleblowing has relied on technology and media for a long time. Cryptome has accepted documents online for sixteen years. Daniel Ellsberg used a copier to copy the Pentagon Papers so he could give them to the New York Times. Muckrakers relied on the printing press to spread their findings.

Updated Project Proposal

Last week, we discussed our final project proposals and received feedback from one another. Although I feel that my project proposals are much more elementary than the others, I still have some positive feedback from a few of my ideas. I've essentially narrowed it down to two ideas: the humorous educational sketches and analyzing data visualization of various networks. I really like the first idea of creating humorous, yet informative shows on Youtube, mostly because it would take form of a pilot script rather than a paper. I realize that I would also have to write about my project no matter what, but executing the former idea seems a lot more enjoyable than the latter. Thus, I have decided to choose my final project to be about creating humorous educational sketches on Youtube.

Project proposal: an analysis of current commenting systems

With the growth of social media and various forms of participatory media, the line between the traditional content generators and the content consumers is fading. As a result, conversations and comments from consumers as well as their posts on social media are starting to become considered content itself.

As media moves towards utilizing conversations and comments to provide more content and context, it’s important to think about the definition of having a “good” conversation, the motives and incentives to get people to contribute to a good conversation, and also how to get a diverse set of commenters to avoid bias.