abhidas | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by abhidas

Youth and Civic Engagement: The Advocacy Project

A central aspect of the future of civic media is the induction of younger generations into the front lines of civic engagement. Numerous civic-minded organizations around the world exist in which training young people to work in this space is a top priority. An example of such an organization is the Washington-based Advocacy Project.

The Advocacy Project is an organization committed to supporting community-based initiatives by helping to integrate civic media technologies into their efforts. The initiatives they choose to support are largely geared to representing the cause of disempowered constituencies. Recent work done by the organization includes helping set up a community radio program in Nepal to further the participation of indigenous and minority populations in the Nepalese electoral process.

A civic media success story: examining the BBC Action Network

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has a long history of innovation in civic media. One of the more intriguing instances of this tradition is the BBC Action Network, a grassroots online civic engagement initiative. It launched in 2003 under the name iCan, and quickly succeeded as a medium of choice for local community activism groups. The Action Network provides a space for the creation and organization of local action groups, incorporating a set of tools into the site that facilitates the operation of these groups.

Civic Engagement and Fan Communities: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Given the possibilities suggested by the Center’s goal of developing new technologies for communities that need them, it is easy to forget the ways in which pre-existing groups are utilizing older tools to further the cause of civic engagement. One example of such a group is that of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a non-profit organization incorporated in 1990 with the explicit intention of fighting censorship and defending the first amendment rights of comic book professionals throughout the United States.

John Coate speaks on Civic Media

John Coate spoke to the Center for Future Civic Media yesterday about the relationships between online and physical communities, and his experience with related projects he was involved in pioneering. The focus of the presentation was the importance of fieldwork, practical applications and face-to-face networking in the process of constructing civic media technologies and online communities. He illustrated this by connecting his time with travelling communes and activists in the 1960’s and ’70s to his later work in helping to launch landmark online communities such as the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link).

The WELL is one of the oldest surviving online communities. Its success was attributed by Coate, a member of its original management team, to accessibility, a democratic environment of user involvement and “above all, relationships – personal and professional.” He believes that “a key aspect of its significance” was its explicit identification of itself as a community.

Ellen Hume speaks on New England's Ethnic Media Landscape

Last week, Ellen Hume spoke to the MIT Center for Future Civic Media about her latest project, NEWz, a site for New England ethnic news. The website offers a sampling of the best news stories published in a week in over 100 ethnic publications across New England. NEWz is the only portal offering a snapshot of the diverse ethnic media landscape in the Greater Boston area.

Hume's real enthusiasm for the project stems from its threefold mandate. Beyond serving as an online platform for ethnic media, NEWz aims to be a forum for dialogue across ethnic boundaries, as well as a training resource for those who contribute to their migrant community's press.