mstem | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by mstem

Your Body as Platform

I'm at NetExplo at UNESCO in Paris today. They're presenting awards to the year's most innovative technologies today and tomorrow (including our project, LazyTruth). I'll liveblog as long as wifi and battery (personal and laptop) allow!

Nanshu Lu, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Austin, won Grand Prix for epidermal electronics, or bio-integrated peel-on electronic devices. The technology works within the metaphor of a temporary tattoo. Nanshu specializes in the material science involved (which, one can imagine, is considerable). She's worked with a team led by Professor John Rogers, a pioneer in the space.

The field of bio-integrated electronics allows new interfaces to measure human bio feedback data, like body temperature, activity, stress.

Nanshu says the team's research is motivated in large part by the imagination of science fiction writers, and specifically threatens to bring us T-2000 from Terminator.

Graph Search Rejiggers Your Personal Info

liveblog of an MIT Facebook recruiting event by Matt Stempeck, Rodrigo Davies, and Chris Peterson (slide doctored by mstem)

We've had all of our data on Facebook for years. And advertisers have used Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform, similar to Graph Search, to segment and target ads at us for years. But now, the rollout of Graph Search allows every Facebook user to sort their friends, friends of friends, and public profiles in great detail and by detailed refinements. You can see some fun and some creepy examples at the Actual Facebook Graph Searches Tumblr.

Exising critiques of Graph Search and its privacy implications:

Area Comedian Explains Humor to MIT

(blogged by @mstem and @natematias)

Today at the Media Lab, Baratunde Thurston is taking a moment out of Vacation Mode to have a conversation with the Media Lab community. How can we describe Baratunde? His personal website labels him a "politically-active, technology-loving comedian from the future." He was director of digital at The Onion until 2012. His most recent book is How to be Black (2012). He has also started a new company, Cultivated Wit.

Ethan Zuckerman and the Levers of Change

Liveblog of Ethan Zuckerman's Future of News keynote, composed with Nathan Matias. Errors are likely ours.

The usual conversation about innovation in journalism held by people who work in journalism assumes that there’s one main problem in the space: if we could just work out the revenue issue, we’d be fine forever. But it's also not the case that cross-subsidies from lighter matter will help us support the journalism we need for people to be effective civic actors.

What if we've got the problem wrong? Sometimes the stuff we think we're good at--producing high quality journalism that helps people figure out what they might do in society--turns out to be stuff we're not nearly as good at as we thought. This may well be one of the core problems of journalism.

Ethan offers two fairly easy arguments, and a fairly difficult one:

1) journalism matters (goes mostly unchallenged in this room)

2) civics is changing (particularly for younger people and for people who identify with the internet as their native medium)

3) journalism needs to change

3 Reasons MoveOn Put Members in Charge is already one of the more transparent, membership-driven political organizations this world has seen. Their local councils and rolling membership surveys drive the hive's priorities. This week, Justin Ruben announced that they were going one leap further, and "turning over the keys of our technological toolset to our more than 7 million members, asking them to step up and lead their own campaigns, and putting them squarely in the MoveOn driver's seat."

This is big. Here's why: