media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Media in the context of civic media work refers to all modes of mass communication: print - newspapers and magazines, broadcast - radio and TV, and internet sites - personal and from organizations. <em>Civic Media</em> are those forms of communication that strengthen the social bonds within a community or create a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents.

Oversharing as Digital towards the detail of Analog

Did you know there's a level of Dots Per Inch after which your eye simply cannot see any difference? Any added level of detail isn't perceptible to you unless you select an area to zoom in on, changing the inches over which the dots are distributed.

This is what came to mind when listening to the Oversharing Forum at Media In Transition 8 conference at MIT's Media Lab. The speakers covered EverydayCarry, the panopticon, and quantitative self. The point was brought up of how you must always assume you are being surveilled, and it only takes one person in a group to be recording for the entire group to be documented. The responsibility was bandied from the person recording to the person being recorded, to the person sharing, to the spaces themselves have default settings for recording (or not) (think theaters vs conferences). Zittrain brought up that the only way to NOT be recorded is to not do anything notable, and that is a long dark path of social blandness and fragility.

Encouraging Flexibility from Social Media Giants: How We Get Private Platforms to Support Public Speech

There are many problems with using commercial technology platforms to host democratic, social, or activist content and communications. These problems came up in multiple sessions at the National Conference on Media Reform last weekend. There are also obvious reasons to continue using these platforms (audience reach, most notably), and so we do. Some activist efforts that silo communications on more open, but relatively unknown platforms strike me as irresponsible, if the goal is to reach as many people as possible (but this is a fine line). The more I think about this issue, though, the more I see potential solutions and a future in working with the platform providers to build some degree of flexibility into their products and policies.

soapbox at #ncmr13
The spot on the carpet reserved for public ranting at #NCMR13

81 Ways Humanitarian Aid has Become Participatory

Update: I've since posted my full thesis and a short summary of it.

My Media Lab Master's thesis argues that information and communication technologies, and particularly the web, have expanded the range of ways the public can help in times of crisis, even (or especially) if we're nowhere near said crisis. Or, to be more formal about it, participatory aid is mutual, peer-to-peer aid mediated or powered by information and communication technology. We're building a platform to help coordinate participatory aid projects, but first, I wanted to share some examples.

Tracking memes across television news: A tool for analyzing how stories move through broadcast

Too long, didn’t read: You can use this Ruby script to query Archive.org’s recently-launched TVNews archive and download JSON files with the results. It’s great for tracking how frequently a person or topic shows up in U.S. televised news broadcasts.

(cross-posted at Nieman Journalism Lab)

Brian McGrory on The Boston Globe's new frontiers

Brian McGrory and Ethan Zuckerman at the Center for Civic Media, MIT

Photo: Brian McGrory, editor of The Boston Globe, and Ethan Zuckerman at the Center for Civic Media, 03/21/13

This is a liveblog by Catherine, Erhardt and Rodrigo and may contain errors and typos. Feel to correct typos, add useful links and references. You can watch a live-prezi of the talk by Willow Brugh at the bottom of the article.

Ethan Zuckerman starts his introduction of Brian by describing the Center's partnership with the Globe, and explains that the Globe is undergoing a transition in editorial, ownership and strategy.

5 Ways You Can Give Attention As Aid

When we really care about a community in crisis, there's a lot more we can do than give money to a formal aid organization. In fact, the range of activities we CAN do to help, even remotely, is much greater and richer than it has ever been before.

For my Media Lab Master's thesis, I'm looking at all of the new ways people can help each other in times of crisis (mutual aid), and how information & communication technology (the internet) has amplified this peer aid.

The Case for Informal Visualization

Data visualization is all over the place. On the hype curve, we’re clearly up in the area of inflated expectations. If you listen to the reporting, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking dataviz is going to bring world peace! I’m writing to beat the drum in favor of more informal presentations.  You can tell better data stories, and engage your audience more, by creating less formal data presentations.

Some Examples

What do I mean by "informal visualization"?  To start, toss out your computer, printer and graph paper. Pull our your crayons, big paper, tape, and your imagination.

From top-left, clockwise: 

More Females on Sina Weibo but Less Influential than Males?

This semester for a class on HCI, I have been looking at dual screen experience that people interact with mobile devices while watching TV in China. I collected over 1 million Sina Weibo messages during 'Chunwan' (春晚), a state sponsored TV program to celebrate Chinese New Year, which is also a popular cultural event that almost everyone in China participates. While the social engagement aspect of this study is still ongoing, for now one of the side findings from this data is quite worth-noting:

Within this data, over 60% users are female on Sina Weibo, but male users are almost twice likely to have a large number of followers(over 5000) than their female counterpart.

Using Tech in Africa as a Lever for Change (Amadou Mahtar)

(Liveblog post from #netexplo)

In the introduction, it's mentioned that AllAfrica is hosting the anniversary of USA4Africa We Are the World, and will promote crowdsourced versions of the song (parody away).

Amadou Mahtar (@amahtarba) of AllAfrica and African Media Initiative speaks on the use of the Internet and technology in Africa as levers for democracy and economic and social change. Technology is pointless, Amadou says, unless it improves human life, particularly in the context of the African continent.

Amadou provides a disclaimer that his talk today is more of a religion than a science. It comes from his personal belief in greater connectivity to provide greater economic and human development.

Crowdfunding an exit strategy for EveryBlock

everyblock_logo

The news that NBC is closing the hyper-local news site EveryBlock has been met with widespread disappointment - rooted as much in the failure of a good brand as the uncomfortable reminder that the hyper-local community is yet to find a business model that pays.

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