sjHuber | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by sjHuber

Sight Unseen: Uncovering Carcinogens in Cosmetics

People go about their daily routine unaware of the risks they may encounter by using their personal "care" products, the very products meant to keep them looking and feeling healthy. This is an issue that only recently came to my attention, and through conversation I quickly realized that many others knew little to nothing about it as well. My inquiries led me to the topic for my Introduction to Civic Media final project "Sight Unseen: Uncovering Carcinogens in Cosmetics." After some initial research, I interviewed a few classmates about the topic to gauge their level of awareness. See if you can answer the questions I asked:

1. What personal care products do you use daily?
2. What ingredients are in the personal care products you use daily?
3. What do you want to know about the personal care products you use daily?

Conversations in Intro to Civic Media: 3 Different Topics, 1 Goal

One of the wonderful things and challenges of Intro to Civic Media is that there are a lot of topics to cover, but this is only because there are a lot of incredible things happening to call attention to problems, mobilize people to confront those problems and make change in communities around the world.

A week ago, the Introduction to Civic Media class began by viewing hard-to-watch videos of atrocities and discussing the media strategies used to produce them. Then we had a conversation about youth activism, followed by a fun and inspirational workshop where we envisioned the news the way we wanted it to be and used Newsjack to rewrite the day’s news headlines.

Remixing Human Rights

A montage of graphic images of human rights violations flash on and off the screen to the tune of Michael Jackson’s "They Don’t Care about Us." The lyrics take on an eerie new meaning, "Bang bang, shot dead. Everybody's gone mad...All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us." The videos are a haunting and disturbing way to share with internet users what has happened and is happening in various parts of the world.

What is breast cancer awareness?

With the ‘theory of change’ model as a starting point, I used a lot of ink thinking through my final project for Intro to Civic Media. As the theory of change model instructs, I began by thinking of the outcome of the project and worked my way back through it until I had determined the very first step. I realized while writing that I needed to ask and answer more questions about the project than I had anticipated.

The biggest challenge I faced with my model was that I did not know what aspect I wanted to focus on regarding the role of breast cancer marketing on cancer culture. All roads, or arrows in the case of the diagram, lead to the term “awareness.” What is “awareness” exactly? How do corporations think they are making consumers more “aware” of breast cancer by selling pink products? What does it mean to be aware of a cause? Does awareness create action?

Buy the change you wish to see in the world

Media has shaped the culture of cancer in the United States, and even more broadly, it has changed the country’s general sense of social responsibility. For my final project for Intro to Civic Media, I want to explore this further.

I am the cure

After someone close to me was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found myself drowning in pink ribbon products—pink t-shirts, pink pens, pink socks, a pink hairdryer.

The sale of pink ribbon products is a form of cause marketing. Breast cancer cause marketing can take many forms, but it is commonly understood to be when a business sells their product and promises to give a portion of the profit to a breast cancer foundation. There are a number of challenges that arise from this practice, one of them being that more and more people are giving to social causes by being a consumer.