technology solutions | MIT Center for Civic Media

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.

Closing the first-mover advantage in digital societies

A few weeks ago, Rogelio and I attended an intriguingly titled talk, "What would W.E.B. Du Bois say about inequality in digital societies?" It was part of a lecture series probing inequality and exclusion in a digital economy. Rogelio has a full write-up of the event here.

The lecturer, Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III, noted that the digital divide is still very real, but its meaning has shifted. The argument for closing the digital divide always had an economic component: Computer access and basic literacy skills would enable people to build resumes and navigate professional networking sites. Now, Wilson argued, it means that those without digital skills will be left behind as the Western world moves toward a digital service economy.

LazyTruth

Project Status: 
Active

Have you ever been forwarded an email that you just can’t believe? Our inboxes are rife with misinformation. The truth is out there, just not when we actually need it. Lazy Truth is an experiment to make fact-checking viral chain emails as easy as forwarding them.

Obama’s grassroots calling campaign

How many emails, texts, or phone calls from an organization can you stand until you start automatically labeling the entire operation as spam? For my final project, I will focus on mass communication from organizations with the intention of driving civic action, particularly methods and frequency of communication.

With the 2012 elections, many found themselves the target of mass communication. This blog post will focus on one example of mass communication from a political campaign — Barack Obama’s calling campaign call.barackobama.com, a grassroots campaign to reach voters through their neighbors.

A blog post from April 18 by the campaign described the tool well — “The call tool is already changing what it means to volunteer—allowing anyone, anywhere, to pitch in.”

The power of a spicy chicken sandwich, or, beyond good and evil there's a bug

IMG_0275

If you've spent any time in the American south -- or at the food court in Burlington Mall, ten miles outside Boston -- you've likely gone weak at the knees at the mention of Chick-fil-A. The waffle fries. The sweet tea. And tops, the spicy chicken sandwich.

And you too may be conflicted about 1) Chick-fil-A's homophobia vs. 2) how good that spicy chicken sandwich is. (If this sounds like the Kenny Rogers Roaster episode of Seinfeld, it's not far off.)

So it came as a perversely pleasant surprise that the language associated with one of history's great homophobes, well, this happens:

HurricaneHackers in Boston - Sandy hackathon projects, lessons learned

Written with Pablo Rey Mazón

A day before Hurricane Sandy touched down, netizens began to congregate via etherpads, Google Docs and IRC, assuming the name “HurricaneHackers.”

HurricaneHackers teamed up with Sandy CrisisCamps—a series of hackathons organized by CrisisCommons around the world—to host a hackathon at MIT Media Lab. About 30 participants worked together throughout the day to figure out how a remote set of volunteers could support Sandy relief with communication technologies.

Pablo and Denise were the main facilitators for the hackathon. With Pablo’s experience organizing OccupyData hackathons and Denise’s participation in hackathons, we knew that a common gathering place is powerful for imaginative and holistic thinking, and to matchmake that thinking with real world needs.

Can peer progressives change institutions?

 Matt Stempeck

Last night the Center for Civic Media brought together Steven Johnson, Yochai Benkler, Susan Crawford and Lawrence Lessig to discuss Johnson’s new book Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked World. Substantively they centred on the issue of whether the success of peer-networked movements can be framed as a political ideology that can bring together the collective energies behind the likes of Wikipedia, Linux, Kiva and Kickstarter and build a movement for progressively minded change.

Designing Acknowledgment on the Web

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

I have a confession to make: my persona

T.I.C.K.L.E.

The Toy Interface Construction Kit Learning Environment (T.I.C.K.L.E.) is a universal construction kit for the rest of us. It doesn't require 3D printers or CAD skills. Instead, it's a DIY social process for creating construction interoperability.

Media Meter

What have you seen in the news this week? And what did you miss? Are you getting the blend of local, international, political, and sports stories you desire?

Resources for Civic Mapping: Toolkits and How-Tos

Some toolkits and how-tos for the CivicMaps Toolkit research file.

Title: Envisioning Development toolkits
Description: A set of 3 toolkits developed by the Center for Urban Pedagogy in NYC: Affordable Housing, Zoning, and Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (last two are in progress). All 3 relate to specific NYC policies. Affordable Housing toolkit includes a guidebook ("first-ever illustrated compendium of NYC affordable housing programs", freely downloadable or puchaseable in book form), a felt chart for comparing and explaining affordable housing policies (purchaseable?), and an online map showing income demographics and rents in NYC.
External link: http://envisioningdevelopment.net/
Location: New York, NY 40.7142° N, 74.0064° W
Name of organization: Center for Urban Pedagogy
Category: toolkit and downloadable pdf guidebook
Tags: community organizing, policy, advocacy, analog

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