networks | MIT Center for Civic Media

Computer networks (computers or other devices that are connected via wires or wireless connections) have changed the way that people work and socialize. New developments in network technology such as mesh networking show promise for even more innovative ways that networks can support communities and civic engagement.

[Peer economy] Is collaborative consumption an excuse to own more?

Since Rachel Botsman coined the term "collaborative consumption," independent analysts, corporate consultants, startups and thought leaders have all translated the idea for diverse audiences. The Mesh author Lisa Gansky* has said it's about access, not ownership. Resulting questions ask whether certain generations are more amenable to sharing. Are urban areas predisposed to sharing? Is Europe an intrinsically more sharing culture than America? Can this ethic be rolled into environmental benchmarks? Co-living, coworking, lending and borrowing… some venture that this is a market disruption driven by disgust with excess. The potential reduction in consumerism is a sign that people are returning to to what really matters.

[Peer economy] The home stretch!

The radio silence is over; the last time I posted specifically for the Civic blog was fall 2013. I'm not continuing onto a Ph.D. after June, so before I leave my post as an academic who researches the peer economy, I'm going to report what I'm seeing and sensing as I see and sense it.

20-20! Get it?! This will also be the last semester of bad puns.

To keep myself accountable, here's a smattering of what I'll dive into this semester:

[Shareable] The past, present & future of work in the peer economy

In fall 2013, I played the occassional columnist on Shareable, a group that tracks the roots and development of cooperative, economic movements. This is my first post published on 17 Sept. 2013, crossposted from Shareable.

I hear it a lot: "Sharing isn't new."

Controversy Mapper

Project Status: 

How does a media controversy become the only thing any of us talk about? Using the Media Cloud platform, we're reverse-engineering major news stories to visualize how ideas spread and media frames change over time, and whose voices dominate a discussion.

Do we own part of this? What Obama’s vision of OFA means for crowdfunding

As the field of civic crowdfunding emerges and grows, it is spawning many competing visions of what the field is and where its appeal comes from. Lately I’ve been thinking about questions such as: how much is crowdfunding about community and shared values? How much is it about physical places? How much is it about a desire to participate and feel agency, and how much is it about ownership?

It’s unlikely to be just one of the above, and surely differs across contexts. But there are instances that present one vision over the others. Last week President Obama made a clear appeal to the last category, ownership, by tweeting this image about Organizing for Action.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 5.09.56 PM

What We Watch

Project Status: 

A new tool for watching how popular videos spread online.

Beyond Civic Apps: Making All Apps More Civic

(cross-posted from Nick Grossman's Slow Hunch)

A few years ago when I was working on the Civic Commons project with Code for America and OpenPlans, I did a presentation at Living Cities called “Cities that Work Like the Web”  which discussed using open standards and internet architectures to build a foundation for open innovation.

[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 -