local communities

People in local geographic areas may need help communicating with each other in order to collaborate in building and sustaining healthy communities. Grassroots action at any level - neighborhoods, towns, or cities - can help improve local services, welcome newcomers, and develop cultural, economic and political capital.

Talking Fast II: More CrisisMapper Ignite Sessions

Luis Capelo (@luiscape) of Digital Humanitarian Network loves volunteers. DH exists to stimulate more interaction between humanitarian volunteers and large humanitarian institutions.

There's information overload in humanitarian responses. How do we collect and make sense of all this information? Luis credits humanitarian orgs with doing the hard work of adapting, but it's a rough sea to navigate. Volunteer & Technical Communities thrive in this environment. They're nimble, lightweight, and advanced, technically. Luis thinks its time to stop questioning whether VT&Cs can help, and begin to dive into how these groups can collaborate.

DH aims to create a consortium of groups that faciliates between the two worlds, and reduces the cost of collaboration
They have a simplified activation process: activate volunteers, triage the volume, and forward them to VT&Cs. They've produced a guide to manage the activation of VT&Cs.

Smarter Cities, Better Use of Resources?

Dr. Lisa AminiIf you've read a magazine or traveled through an airport in the last couple of years, you've probably seen ads for IBM's Smarter Cities initiative. Today in our Post-Oil Shanghai course, we got to learn about some of the projects behind the very public campaign. Dr. Lisa Amini is the first director of IBM Research Ireland, based in Dublin. They focus on creating urban-scale analytics, optimizations, and systems for sustainable energy and transportation.

Lisa's group focuses on transforming cities with:

Civindex: trying to measure individual civic activity

Earlier this year I came across a news piece on Wired, about Klout, What Your Klout Score Really Means. The company created a score that ranks people on the internet according to their activity in Social Media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. The piece describes how people gain “points” on their Klout score, according to number of tweets, products promotion, etc. Basically, Klout is a market oriented tool, that will use and stimulate people's activity on social media to promote products. A person with a high Klout score will be offered shopping coupons, promotions, access to concerts etc. What intrigued me was that Klout is extremely market oriented and doesn’t really analyse the quality of the person’s activity on the web. It also ranks Justin Bieber with a perfect Klout score.

As it turns out, I opted out of Klout.

Vojo at Parking Day with Cambridge Community Television

On Friday morning, Becky, Rodrigo and I set out for Central Square, where we had a date with Cambridge Community Television for Parking Day. Parking Day is an international celebration, with do-ocrats, organizations and cities eager to reclaim parking spaces as public spaces. Your typical street-side spot becomes a mini-park, an outdoor lounge, an open-air library—I've seen them all. And on Friday, the lot in front of CCTV became a pop-up broadcast station. On one side was a television studio, and on the other, Vojo.

"Enhanced Delegation" Model for Participation in Local Governance

What if residents could allocate their town's spending like some people do their 401(k)'s?

I've been a homeowner for a little over a year, so for the first time I'm tracking town expenditures and, as important, listening to other residents' town-solvable needs and frustrations.

Arlington's issues can feel piddly. (The divisive issue this year was a leaf blower ban.) But dissatisfaction can grow faster than my crabgrass, and my own dissatisfaction doesn't have to do with present issues as much as the process we'll have to use when things really do get serious.

The power of the crowdsourced documentary

Jigar Mehta is a documentary filmmaker and a journalist who came to address the MIT Open Doc Lab and the Center for Civic Media about the collaborative documentary project, #18 Days in Egypt. The project, which tells the story of the ongoing Egyptian revolution, is a collaborative web-native documentary project about the ongoing Egyptian revolution. For more information, see @18daysinegypt and @jigarmehta.

This is a liveblog of the event by rodrigodavies and schock - please let us know if you have corrections or additions.

Vojo at the Boston Brazilian Independence Day Festival

Vida Verde Cooperative

Last week, Becky, Sasha, and I went to the Brazilian Independence Day Festival in Boston: a lot of Brazilian food, music and dance. I have been in the US since August after joining the CMS Program as a Master’s student and the Center of Civic Media as a research assistant. It was amazing to hear Brazilian Pop Music again and clap along the Capoeira rhythm. In Brazil, I had been working as a Science reporter for O Estado de S. Paulo since 2007. Before that, I was a computer programmer.

Vojo workshop with CCTV!

I visited Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) today to do a Vojo workshop with CCTV staff and Neighbormedia reporters. We practiced posting stories, created accounts, and discussed how Neighbormedia will use Vojo on Friday's PARK(ing) Day to collect stories from the CCTV parking space about Central Square. To see some of the stories we posted, check out the CCTV group on Vojo.

We're beginning to standardize our workshop agendas which have their basis in workshops that the VozMob team run, customized for Vojo and groups we're working with.

What's Up

Project Status: 

What's Up is a software platform designed to allow people in a small geographic community to share information, plan events and make decisions, using media that is as broadly inclusive as possible.

The web today does a tremendous job in terms of storing and aggregating information. However, people still need to have access to the Internet in order to benefit from what is available online. Instead, What’s Up provides alternative pathways to get information to people wherever they are, independently of the level of access that they might have to computers or the Internet.

The platform can aggregate data from online community calendars to make the information available via low cost LED signs that can be placed in public locations, or via things like customized paper flyers and posters to be posted and distributed in the area.

What’s Up also generates a simple, yet powerful community hotline that is usable with the lowest-end mobile and touchtone phones.

Can digital literacy be sexy? An open question

Studio X-NYC VenueWhen I'm craving a solid design read, BLDG Blog is my fix. It explores the built world and the human relationship to nature and sculptures. Since I began subscribing, I have wanted to attend a Studio-X event, where author Geoff Manaugh is the director.