erhardt | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by erhardt

Opening Open Government at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

Social Justice through Data

Eyeo Festival logo

In my last post about this year's Eyeo Festival, I talked about the theme of "Respecting the Data." Another theme baked into several panels and presentations was how to use data for social justice. In fact, many of the same, deep thinkers at Eyeo who weighed in on the former theme did so from a position of thinking about how data can be used for social justice, social change, and activism. An interest in creating work that could served as instruments of political messaging or even audience empowerment seemed to be shared not only by those who did such work in their day job, but also those spending a large chunk of their time on client work eager to employ their skills on meaningful side projects.

Respecting the Data

Eyeo Festival logo

I was lucky enough to attend Eyeo Festival this year thanks to the Ford Foundation. There were many thought provoking and inspiring talks as well as conversations over Minneapolitan cuisine. One of the recurring themes I picked up on was how to respect data when doing data visualization, illustration, or art. This came up in different ways and under different names among speakers whom I saw talk. Furthermore there was tension and contradiction across the talks about the type of and level of respect due to data.

When Identities Turn Violent

Facing History and Ourselves hosted a Day of Learning "Reimagining Self and Others" at Harvard Law School on May 10, 2013. This is a summary of the "When Identities Turn Violent" segment featuring historian of genocide Omer Bartov and sociologist of religion Jose Casanova.

Anthony Appiah on the Ethics of Diversity

Facing History and Ourselves hosted a Day of Learning "Reimagining Self and Others" at Harvard Law School on May 10, 2013. This is a liveblog of the opening presentation by Anthony Appiah, a philosopher at Princeton University, whose latest book is The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.

Appiah begins by framing the ethics of diversity with motivating questions that go back to Aristotle's ethics: 1) What is it for a life to go well? 2) What is human well-being? These are tied to Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia, which is poorly translated as 'happiness' but is more robust, representing the successful life, or flourishing life.

To work through the ethics of diversity, Appiah suggests three ethical principles:

  1. Everybody matters (this was not true in Aristotle's Athens, he only spoke of free, adult males)
  2. We owe everyone respect for their human dignity: we must bear in mind the facts about them that should shape how we treat them
  3. Each person is in charge of managing his or her own life