technology solutions

Technology solutions can be software or hardware or even new ways of using old processes. They are tools that assist individuals and communities to engage with each other, share information, and take action.

[Peer Economy] Keep it real to catalyze the sharing economy

Last week, I was in San Francisco as a panelist and plenary speaker at the inaugural SHARE conference. The event was organized by Peers (a research partner in January) and SOCAP, and I spoke about the future of work. I also gave a lightning talk at the closing plenary. All of the plenary speakers had to bookend their lightning talk with "--- catalyze the sharing economy." I took advantage of this five-minute window to urge thoughtful discussion. This is the script that I more or less adhered to: 

I’ve been at MIT for the last few years researching peer-to-peer marketplaces. When I got the prompt for this talk, “BLANK will catalyze the sharing economy,” I had lots of different reactions. But in the five minutes I have, I want to say that straight talk is what will catalyze the sharing economy.

The People's Bot

Yesterday, we launched The People's Bot, offering scholarships, media fellowships, and an auction for people to attend and report on events where they are not physically present, including CHI 2014 and a 13 year retrospective on wearable computing and Google Glass. Together with Nathan Matias, we're imagining uses of robotic telepresence for the public good.

A bot at the Tennis Court Oath

Peer economy - Blueprints for a worker support infrastructure

Status: 
Active

Airbnb, Etsy, Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit. These are some of the most well-known names in the peer economy—online, peer-to-peer marketplaces that enable people to monetize skills and assets they already have. People choose to work whenever they want, whereever they want.

[Peer economy] Media's place as herald and tastemaker

People are often boggled when I follow up my research interest in the future of work with the name of my M.S. program: Comparative Media Studies at MIT. While I could go on about how economic security is the cornerstone for meaningful pursuits—including civic participation—here's a direct media tie in. The following is an excerpt from my thesis draft. 

The Fordist framework1 is fraying quickly. Economic decline, technological displacement and globalization have resulted in a shortage of jobs that will not rebound. A powerful social contract is broken, leading Americans to question if investing in human capital—apprenticeships, internships, education, experience and technical know-how—is a smart use of time and personal resources.

These conditions account only partially for why attention is shifting to other work models. Another powerful influence is former and current media portrayal.

[Peer economy] Why the peer economy comes off as "share-washing"

Pay attention to Tom Slee; he's snide, but he's spot-on. In a recent blog post, he neatly sums up how peer economy proponents appear to advocate selectively for its place in the formal economy.

[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:

Clay Shirky: Planning Shan't Trump Reality

Clay Shirky's on stage with Ginny Hunt at Harvard's Institute of Politics discussing the lessons we can take away from the Healthcare.gov boondoggle (#netrevolution).

Clay's first point is that of all the criticism of Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act, no one has argued that it's a bad idea to rely on the web as the central component of citizen interaction with a government program. All of the other communications options, from phone to fax, have been considered second-rate fallback options.

This change has happened almost imperceptibly, but it is nevertheless a marker of where we are.


There's a lesson to be learned from the website's poor performance, especially given Obama for America's campaign success with technology.

Internet technology and politics have hooked up every 2-4 years since 1992, when Clinton hosted an internal campaign listserv on MIT servers. Now, the internet and politics have gotten married.

Four models for civic organizations to crowdfund

A few months ago I gave a talk at the Library of Congress's "Digital Preservation" conference in Washington, DC, in which I suggested four models that civic organizations could use to crowdfund projects: promoter, curator, facilitator and platform.

Thanks to the ending of the government shutdown, I now have the video of my presentation, which is below. You can read also a short writeup of the talk I posted earlier. My slides are here.

Liveblog: James Stewart, UK Government Digital Service

Today James Stewart, Head of Technology at the UK Government Digital Service came to the Center for our weekly Civic lunch. 

An internationally-recognized leader in design and implementation of digital public services, James' team is rebuilding 600 government services in the UK for the digital age. The team's work has impacted a wide range of functions, from filing taxes and starting a business to giving citizens better ways to engage with government and participate in decision-making processes, and has been the center of an initiative by the UK government to make all public services 'digital by default'.

[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 -

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