hhcraig | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by hhcraig

From Sensors to Stories: Data Storytelling Workshop at Center for Civic Media

We recently hosted a “From Sensors to Stories” workshop at Civic Media. We brought together individuals from organizations working in data collection and visualization - including Ushahidi, Safecast, WITNESS, and Public Lab - to discuss strategies for crafting narratives from data. The workshop included a discussion of issues and challenges in collecting and visualizing data, a presentation of tools and trends in data storytelling, and a design exercise to quickly outline potential data storytelling tools.


The meeting began with Ethan framing the questions we’ve been asking about civic data collection, monitorial citizenship, and using data for advocacy. Ethan discussed his own efforts to gather radiation data in western Massachusetts (see Citizen Science vs. NIMBY), and representatives from SafeCast and Ushahidi talked about their approaches to data collection and visualization. The group then discussed some of the core issues with collecting and visualizing data, including:

Form Builders for Mobile Data Collection

Over the last few months Civic has been developing a form builder for mobile data collection campaigns. The form builder is one component of Promise Tracker, a project we’ve been working on over the last year with the goal of creating a set of tools and processes that allow a community to identify issues they want to track, design and deploy mobile data collection campaigns around those issues, and strategically leverage data for advocacy. For background on the project, read Ethan’s post about Promise Tracker and Monitorial Citizenship and a post about our initial design workshops.

Open Water Project: Exploring Open-Source Water Quality Monitoring

This post includes contributions from Don Blair.

Over the last several months, Civic has been working on the Open Water Project, which aims to develop and curate a set of low-cost, open-source tools enabling communities to collect, interpret, and share their water quality data. Open Water is an initiative of Public Lab, a community that uses inexpensive DIY techniques to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms (read more about Public Lab and the Open Water initiative here). The motivation behind Open Water derives partly from the fact that most water quality monitoring uses expensive, proprietary technology, limiting the accessibility of water quality data. Inexpensive, open-source approaches to water quality monitoring could enable groups ranging from watershed managers to homeowners to more easily collect and share water quality data.

Highlights from Tribeca Interactive

This past weekend I attended Tribeca Interactive, an all-day forum hosted by the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI). The forum brings together “thinkers and innovators from the worlds of film, media, gaming, technology and society to explore storytelling in the digital age.” Dalia Othman and I liveblogged some highlights from the day:

Exploring video storytelling tools at #netstory hack day

This past weekend the Networked Storytelling group hosted our first story-hack day at the Center for Civic Media. The Networked Storytelling group, based out of the Berkman Center, explores new forms of storytelling with digital media. During the story-hack day, we formed small groups and each group explored a different approach to audio-visual storytelling. One group created an experimental, audio narrative experience, another used impress.js to create a browser-based presentation, and others explored video tools and information architecture challenges.

My group experimented with creating stories on various video platforms. We started with a list of video storytelling platforms - including Korsakow, Mirocommunity, and Pixorial - but narrowed our scope to PopcornMaker, Popcorn.js, and Zeega. Here’s the breakdown of our experience with each tool: