Alexander Ho | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by Alexander Ho

"The Tanning of America": Entrepreneurship and Hip-Hop

My researching and brainstorming of my final project has taken me into an informal investigation of the nature of commerce and of racial inclusiveness in hip-hop culture. I have recently been looking at two books, “Beyond Resistance”!, ( an anthology of different urban youth development and civic engagement projects, edited by Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota, and “The Tanning of America” (, which is a consumer brand marketer’s account of how hip hop has reached such a broad mainstream audience and is a powerful commercial and branding tool.

Dollar Boyz: Hip-hop Culture in Civic Media

Over the weekend, while looking at various resources in digital media literacy teaching for my proposed digital media exemplar project, I began to think back at my experience teaching documentary production at WHYY. I remembered the disconnect that often happened between the documentary project that the students were expected to carry out and the media that our students were interested in and would spend their downtime watching. Although the instructors tried to give students the initiative to choose their own topics and way of making the documentary, the students still often had trouble engaging with the structured process that we laid out for them and with the sedate, objective style of news reportage. By contrast, they were engaged and adept media consumers. They followed humor vlogs, like “Asia Star”, a YouTube drag character, and video sharing sites outside of YouTube and Vimeo, like “World Star Hip Hop”. (

Engaging Youth with Civic Media

Hi, I'm Alex Ho, and I'm an Ed.M. student at the Arts in Education program in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. My interest in civic media stems from assisting at an after school program at Philadelphia's public radio member station WHYY, where we guided high school students to make documentaries and news stories. 

Prior to that, I had come from a film/media/communications background during undergrad, and I initially approached my position as a media educator with a focus on the formal and technical elements of quality media production. By the end of my experience at WHYY, I had modified what I initially thought were the key skill-sets that needed to be learned to be an effective media producer, moving from an emphasis on technique to an emphasis on content and critical thinking skills. I also grew more interested in engaging my student’s media consumption habits, and making sure that the assignments and projects that we set out for our students had a relevance to their lives and allowed them to think about and use media more critically and effectively.