kanarinka | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by kanarinka

68 Blocks: The Boston Globe's Experiment in Embedded Local Journalism

The Boston Globe's 68 blocks series is a unique experiment in embedded local journalism.

In 2012, the Boston Globe undertook a year-long effort to understand the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood of Dorchester. For decades, journalists had been reporting shootings and homicides there -- rushing to crime scenes and then leaving to file an article on time. The Globe wanted to tell a more complete story of the neighborhood.

Bots for Civic Engagement at SXSW

Bots for Civic Engagement

From SmarterChild to the Low Orbit Ion Cannon to Horse_ebooks, humans have relationships of varying quality with bots. Mostly it’s commercial spam. But sometimes it’s less benign: for instance, the 2012 Mexican elections saw thousands of Twitter bots published by one candidate’s side denouncing the opposition with a flood of messages. There are countless examples of bots used for nefarious purposes, in America, Iran and elsewhere. What would a future look like where instead we see a proliferation of bots for positive civic engagement? Could we automate the distribution of civic information and education? Manipulate information flows to improve our welfare? Engineer reverse-Distributed-Denial-of-Service attacks? Should we? This panel takes a critical look at the discourse around, and architecture of, information overload to facilitate an important and timely debate around the engineering, usefulness, and ethics of bots for civic engagement.

The panel introduces themselves with an icebreaker question posed by Erhardt Graeff: "What is your favorite civic bot and why?"

Reflections on the First Hackathon at the White House

White House Hackathon poster

On Friday, February 22nd, 2013, the White House held its first ever hackathon. Twenty-one coders, data scientists, and user experience designers from around the country joined seven members of the White House’s development team to work on the first We the People API. I had the great privilege of participating in this event. (Dude! I went to the White House to hack! Ok, back to journalist voice).

Mapping the Globe: Initial Research into Regional Media Attention in Massachusetts

World - Mapping the Globe: Screenshots

Last fall the Center for Civic Media launched a new partnership with the Boston Globe, the preeminent newspaper in the Boston and New England region. Part of this partnership means that we get access to the last year or so of their archives via their alpha API. And one of the first things we noticed about the API data is that Boston Globe reporters have to enter a location for their news story.

At the Center, we think that media attention matters - in both quantity and quality. This geodata provided a perfect entry to studying how media attention from the Boston Globe plays out spatially across Boston neighborhoods and Massachusetts towns. And with access to the text of the articles associated with different places, we could start to answer some questions about not just the amount of media attention a place receives but how that attention is framed.

Erase the Border: A Petition of Voices for Change


Erase the Border is a project that took place on the US-Mexico border in May 2012 and continues on the Internet. In May 2012, O'odham activist/artist Ofelia Rivas and I worked with a group of Tohono O'odham youth from the village of Ali Jegk to create a symbolic action to "erase" the US-Mexico border fence on the O'odham's land.

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