d_martin | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by d_martin

Wanna Come Out and Play? Community Engagement & Technology Development

[This post originally appeared on the MIT CoLab Radio blog, in Danielle Martin's Media Mindfulness column.]

When my old friend and collaborator Leo Burd returned to MIT as a research scientist for the Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), we started to gather some like-minded folks to discuss how media and mapping tools and youth civic engagement can intersect in the world of the Media Lab. Both of us have often been called a bridge or a translator between technology developers and underserved community members. We see a value in equalizing the power that comes from self construction, blurring the role of creator and user.

Introducing the Department of Play

[This post originally appeared on the MIT CoLab Radio blog, in Danielle Martin's Media Mindfulness column.]

The Department of Play (DoP) is a working group of researchers, developers, and community practitioners at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM) bonded by a common value: the design of new technologies and methodologies to support youth as active participants in their local urban neighborhoods.

We might glance at the teen sitting next to us on the bus with a smart-phone and think: “Wow, the digital divide is shrinking.”  My first thought goes to all the youth who don’t have access to mobile phones, who also have things to say.  But I do see the divide diminishing when I see the wide smile of a Peruvian youth playing around with a big red balloon with a makeshift camera rig he made himself, to make his own map of his favela neighborhood.

While higher broadband speeds and affordability recommended by the FCC’s recent national broadband plan should increase access to internet tools in under-served communities, we still need to consider the increased digital literacy and local facilitation necessary to use fully tap the power of these tools. While access is important, much more is needed to make sure technology can be used to empower young people.

GrassrootsMapping in Peru