youth | MIT Center for Civic Media

Youth are the future of our communities. How we educate them and help them to become good and productive citizens is critical as they grow to take their places as future voters, activists, and leaders. Their understanding of their identity in their communities is an important part of civic education. Many civic media projects work with youth towards these ends. See also <a href="/topics/education">education</a>.

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.

Remixing and Newsjack-ing with Students from Press Pass TV

Early last week, the Center for Civic Media was able to conduct a Remix Workshop with a group of high school students from Press Pass TV. The facilitators from the Center for Civic Media included Co-Design Facilitator and Community Organizer Becky Hurwitz and CMS Civic Media Professor Sasha Costanza-Chock, along with myself. The workshop was intended as a hands-on space, where students had the opportunity to learn about remix culture, politics, and tools. The workshop began with introductions among all parties and a simple question to the students: “What is your favorite remix?” This question led to a discussion about the meaning of “remix,” and also comments about favorite hip hop remixes. The workshop then proceeded to a discussion about media remix culture, which includes many different types of remixes: hobbyist, musical, artistic, comical, political, etc.

Finding Bieber: Using Computers and Humans to Surface the Talent in Millions of YouTube Videos

This is a writeup of Hrishikesh Aradhye, Ph.D.'s talk at the Media Lab last month, with my own commentary sprinkled throughout.

Power to the people, at last! It's a new hour
Now we all ain't gon' be American Idols
But you can 'least grab a camera, shoot a viral

Kanye West, Power

An hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second (or ten years' worth of video every single day). Think about that for a minute. That's a lot of content. And, as haters everywhere have pointed out already, a lot of it is crap.

The more interesting point, though, is that some of these videos are actually really good. If YouTube can get better at surfacing the good stuff, whether it's a funny comedian, a talented singer, or a hilarious FAIL clip, we all benefit (including Google). Identifying talent has traditionally been a very subjective art, and as a result, the quantification of talent hasn't really been discussed in published literature.


Congratulations to the team behind CRONICAS DE HEROES for the recent Honorary Mention in PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA, Digital Communities category. PRIX ARS is one of the most important annual awards in the field of electronic art, interactive, animation, digital culture, and music

CRONICAS DE HEROES is civic platform of positivism which through technology, art, education, direct insertion, and other media focuses and promotes social values. We are a team of volunteers, promoters and local representatives who work with the support of the community. Contact us to be part of this initiative, to support by donating talent or funds, with questions, etc at

Workshopping NewsJack with Press Pass TV

Members of Press Pass TV (Press Pass, and members of the Center for Civic Media met last week for a codesign workshop to explore using NewJack in the Press Pass Respect in Reporting (RIP) campaign that seeks to establish new standards among journalists writing about violence.

Press Pass describes the RIP campaign: “When facts are missed or people are misrepresented, families, neighbors and community spend time and energy needed to grieve and move forward instead fighting to preserve the memories of their loved ones and restore their reputations. And when irrelevant information like addresses and hospitals are reported, innocent lives are put at risk. At Press Pass TV, we believe in the unlimited power of media to awaken individuals, create dialogue across race, religious and ethnic lines and empower communities to shape their own destiny. The Respect in Reporting campaign is an opportunity for news outlets to partner with communities to shape a more just and equitable future for all of the neighborhoods that they serve.”

Are open education resources essential to a future of technically-empowered citizens?

Ethan Zuckerman introduces Andrew Rens as "the sort of feral lawyer" he enjoys hanging out with, an intellectual property activist, legal scholar, lead legal counsel for Creative Commons South Africa, and involved in Africa Commons and Freedom to Innovate. If it has involved open source and fighting against intellectual property restrictions in an African context, he has been involved.

His work at the moment is focused on open educational resources, a compelling field, not just because it's incredibly important for people's education, but also because for people involved in the open copyright fight, it's one of the most winnable battles.

UROP position available with AAGO, "Mobile Media Diaries for Youth Citizen Journalists"

Are you an MIT undergrad with a coding background and interest in media? Check out this great opportunity with the AAGO project:

UROP Positions: MIT Center for Civic Media and the Comparative Media Studies Program
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. James Paradis

Project Title:
Aago: Mobile Media Diaries for Youth Citizen Journalists


Biko Baker talks Youth Voting and Organizing

We sat down for a Thursday Civic lunch with Biko Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters.

Like any good organizer, Biko begins with his Story of Self. He grew up in Milwaukee, WI, with a father who was a machinist and construction worker, and a mother who worked at the grocery store. He was a jock, and didn't grow into being an academic until his sophomore year at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He did his graduate work at UCLA in History, and labor. He became a researcher for the SEIU, but was also into hip hop, and got started as a party promoter on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, working with many of hip hop's biggest West Coast names, like Snoop Dogg and Xzibit. He and his fellow promoters were essentially organizing online, developing massive email and text lists and relationships without realizing this practice had a name. Biko also wrote for The Source, one of hip hop's top magazines.