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  • How to Apply to Be a Grad Student with the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media
    MIT Media Lab where they will be earning an S M degree in Media Arts and Sciences Others apply through Comparative Media Studies Writing where they will earn an S M in Comparative Media Studies We are not currently admitting doctoral candidates While the requirements for degrees through the Media Lab and through Comparative Media Studies are different successful candidates for Center for Civic Media tend to have certain traits in common They re interested in social change and involved with social movements in their communities or focused on global issues They write well and often have a background in journalism or citizen media They have a deep understanding of information technology and often are talented programmers Work through the Media Lab is highly project focused so successful candidates for Center for Civic Media need to be able to carry out projects either through their own programming and technical skills or by overseeing teams of undergraduate software developers We are far more likely to accept people with a track record of creating software than people who ve not programmed or managed programmers before Work through Comparative Media Studies can also involve implementing new tools but focuses heavily on scholarly research Demonstrated ability to carry out this research independently and at a high level is helpful for a strong candidacy What projects will I work on Both Media Lab and CMS students work on a combination of ongoing research projects and their own research ideas In effect students work twenty hours a week on Center for Civic Media research in exchange for a tuition waiver and a stipend It s helpful to identify projects you could contribute to in our portfolio of existing research It s at least as important to identify research ideas you want to explore While we understand your research interest may and perhaps should shift during your time at MIT it s really helpful to see what questions you are passionate about exploring as an applicant Who will I work with You re likely to work with a number of faculty members affiliates research fellows and students Most students end up working closely either with me or Sasha Costanza Chock two of the Center s principal investigators But you re likely to work in teams and with different groups of people as you work on different projects Can I visit Center for Civic Media Can I talk with faculty about my application Yes and no You re very welcome to visit us either during our formal open house during our Google Hangout sessions or by joining one of our public lab meetings held alternate Thursday afternoons or public lunches All these events are publicized on our website Unfortunately we cannot schedule meetings for candidates to talk about Center for Civic Media and discuss your portfolio and application We receive close to two hundred applications a year and cannot meet with everyone who requests a meeting And since not everyone is able to visit the Center we have

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ethanz/how-to-apply-as-grad-student (2016-04-29)
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  • EthanZ | MIT Center for Civic Media
    of news stories and blog posts applies language processing and presents ways to analyze and visualize the resulting data Zuckerman also founded Geekcorp a non profit technology volunteer corps that has done work in over a dozen countries and helped found Tripod an early participatory media company Media Cloud Recent blog posts by EthanZ Sasha Costanza Chock on move to MIT It s the most exciting possible place Submitted by EthanZ on August 15 2011 11 18am Sasha Costanza Chock is joining the faculty of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT as Assistant Professor of Civic Media and is one of the three principal investigators along with Ethan Zuckerman and Mitchel Resnick of the Center for Civic Media He caught up with his new colleague Ethan Zuckerman to talk about his background and his plans at MIT I m a scholar and activist as well as a media maker explains Costanza Chock My scholarship has been based on engagement with the world of media activism and civic media more broadly In his work at MIT Costanza Chock plans to continue straddling the line between action and reflection building tools and systems to help communities express themselves and reflecting on

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/users/ethanz?page=1 (2016-04-29)
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  • Political Bots, Subverting Twitter, and the Online Political Practices of Estonian Youth at AoIR16 | MIT Center for Civic Media
    been changed they have nostalgia from their privileged early adoption So how are features evolving not only technically but in how they are used and perceived by users She is focusing here on web use of Twitter because mobile and app usage of Twitter requires a different set of assumptions Subtweets are used to create buzz and indicate to others something about a known person This is like plausible deniability Marwick and boyd Subtweeting can take on a special quality when it comes from a private account You can sometimes only see half of a conversation based on whose private accounts you have access to Block unblock is a way to control your feed There is no official way to force an unfollow If someone is followed by someone they don t want to be followed by they can block them and unblock them which unfollows them without that user knowing This seems counter to the idea of Twitter that everyone can follow anyone else But it s a way to clean up your account from bots and low use users and a way to control your publicity Deleting tweets is another way to subvert Twitter Users delete tweets for multiple reasons Users can control their long term identity on Twitter but creates problems where interlocutors look like they are talking to themselves when the other have of the conversation disappears In the case of Politwoops Twitter shutt down that service s access to the API because they tracked the deleted tweets and other behaviors responding to their users wants just in time Promoted Tweets are mostly working on behalf of the celebrities and brands that use them without thought of how that interrupts flows of conversation on Twitter from recipients These are like pop up ads users have to expend emotional labor to dismiss or ignore them Trolls who sent out and promoted racist harassment showed how Promoted Tweets can be abused is used to broadcast a discussion to your followers but can also be used as an offensive bullying mechanism Storify is a useful way to preserve and present conversations But it can also be used as a form of abuse as curators selectively include and comment on a conversation Retweeting is a way to rebroadcast something to your followers The earliest form of retweeting required RT or MT plus copy and pasting the text The new retweet commenting allows you to use the full 140 characters while retweeting the cat Users before had more flexibility about how they used it Now it s harder to shame Twitter users Instead of a Tweeting a link to the original post now users sometimes screenshot the original tweet to draw negative attention without alerting users Fav was originally meant to be for bookmarking a Tweet now it is more broadly used as liking Some users prefer faving to retweeting so that they don t have explain context to their users Twitter s new feature While you were away breaks the

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/political-bots-subverting-twitter-and-the-online-political-practices-of-estonian-youth (2016-04-29)
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  • erhardt's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media
    by the Laboratorio para la Ciudad and MIT Media Lab Gabriella Gómez Mont the Laboratorio s founder and director is a Director s Fellow at the Media Lab this year which opened the door to collaboration In a few intense days we worked with Laboratorio staff and local experts as well as select students from nearby universities to prototype projects worthy of Mexico City s scale and complexity Our team focused on how to integrate new forms of citizen input into the planning and transformation of public spaces around the city using both digital and non digital strategies Our solution EncuestaCDMX encuesta labcd mx Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Building Civic Tech with Mexico City s Experts Its Citizens How Interfaces Demand Obedience Submitted by erhardt on April 23 2015 1 49pm This is a liveblog of a talk by Mushon Zer Aviv on April 23 2015 at the MIT Center for Civic Media This is not a perfect transcript but are notes collaboratively taken by Yu Wang Dalia Othman Erhardt Graeff and Catherine D Ignazio Mushon Zer Aviv introduces himself as interested in disinformation and ambiguity He is teaching at Shenkar College and is working with Public Knowledge Workshop on civic engagement and government transparency As a designer he s been working on these issues for many years and will discuss political design interface through Communication cycle Protocol Interface for resistance When we talk about life online it is distributed open social emancipatory Online life is repressive destructive shallow All these hopes and concerns when it comes to online life we meet them through interface It is at the heart of the debate What is interface Mushon defines interface as a common boundary or interconnection between systems equipment concepts or human beings Specifically the concept of common boundary and interconnection The idea that the interface is common implies some kind of relationship between all the components without implying a level of control or that one is more important than the other Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about How Interfaces Demand Obedience Yo Your Honor Carl Malamud s Fight to make Public Law Public Submitted by erhardt on April 7 2015 1 38pm Live notes from a lunch talk by Carl Malamud co hosted by the MIT Center for Civic Media and the Laboratory for Social Machines Notes by Rahul Bhargava Erhardt Graeff Yu Wang Chelsea Barabas and Ed Platt Ethan introduces Carl as a ferocious public domain advocate with a long history with the internet He led an election campaign for non elected office public printer of the United States He is working on making existing government docs online and machine readable form Today he will speak about Yo Your Honor which focuses on PACER a system that provides access to critical government documents for a price He started by doing a lot of workshops around the idea of law gov coming up with a set of principles about how the laws should be available in the United States But nothing concrete really came from this effort Carl mentions his history with the Media Lab he was here years ago writing a book His non profit public resource org s goal is to make all public governmental documents aka the raw materials of democracy free to access Carl wants to make the laws available to the people because in the US the people own the law unlike other countries The law has no copyright here In 2007 2008 Carl started publishing all the building codes in the country because these are law in all the states No one sent him takedown notices even though they are copyrighted documents published by standards organizations 501c3s They keep copyright for these documents even though they want to make them into the law When Carl started posting the safety regulations and he got sued The National Fire Protection Association argues they should be the only ones allowed to publish the code because it is their only revenue stream and if they can t sustain then babies will die But he argues that they are the law thus they should be public This case is currently in litigation he is being defended by the EFF At this same time he started looking at the PACER system This includes all arguments the lawyers make and all relevant briefs and other documents involved in public cases If you want access to these documents you pay 10 cents a page for every single page That makes research expensive There are close to 1 billion documents in the system He had the idea to have lots of people download documents from PACER and share them for free which he thought of as recycling the public domain Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Yo Your Honor Carl Malamud s Fight to make Public Law Public America s Interested Bystander New Research from Google on Civic Duty Submitted by erhardt on March 24 2015 2 27pm This is a liveblog of the talk Understanding America s Interested Bystander A Complicated Relationship with Civic Duty by Kate Krontiris John Webb Charlotte Krontiris and Chris Chapman Blogged by natematias and erhardt with illustrations by willowbl00 What motivates everyday people in America to do things that are civic and how do we engage the unengaged Kate Krontiris and John Webb shared the results of a major study carried out by Google s Civic Innovation team today at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society note we were asked not to include any photos of the event which was not recorded but we were allowed to publish these notes Kate Krontiris is a researcher strategist and facilitator working to transform civic life in America In pursuit of a society where more people assert greater ownership over the decisions that govern their lives she uses ethnographic tools to design products policies and services that enable a more equitable democratic future Charlotte Krontiris

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt (2016-04-29)
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  • Private Platforms under Public Pressure at AoIR16 | MIT Center for Civic Media
    Ministry of Emoji This seems silly but things now treated as regulated utilities were once novelties or luxuries and then eventually became critical like the telegraph or telephone The first step to getting from novelty and luxury to infrastructure is they need to be widespread We are already there with online platforms Next can we build substitutes where users can t move away from them We don t have a substitution problem we have at least token examples of other social networks and search engines Then there needs to be a public outrage like when the Titanic changed how we think about radio What would be Facebook s Titanic moment that moves the state to regulate them in a new way Another way regulation is motivated is when a platform serves a function of the state and supplies the state with important goods We are seemingly there with the surveillance systems and provision of geospatial data Google sells to the government It seems we are missing the Titanic moment though So what would it take to motivate platform intervention And if we don t see this framing as effective then what would be a more useful way to motivate the state to intervene Handling the constant evolution of platforms and search for normative frameworks to support regulation Mike Ananny Mike is interested in the dynamics of change and the reasons they occur or are justified Platforms are constantly changing and change for public like reasons but we are not well versed in the dynamics of them or what those changes mean for the public For instance we see forces of power that can make changes sometimes but cannot at other times Empirically grounding Mike s thinking are three cases One is the hostage crisis in Sydney where Uber increased the costs to individuals fleeing the area There was widespread outrage and Uber later apologized for the algorithms mistake and refunded consumers A second case was news sites during the Boston Marathon Bombing who dropped their paywalls to allow more people to get breaking news about the crisis And third was last week when AirBnb ran sarcastic ads about how the City of San Francisco should use the tax money they are now providing They pulled the ads after a negative response saying they got the tone wrong For Uber platform response meant changing an algorithm For the news sites it was decommoditizing an information resource And for AirBnB it was reorienting a public relations campaign Mike argues it s important to think about all the ways platforms change and that it s not just technical but legal and rhetorical Mike finds the work of Debra Satz helpful here She is an ethicist who coined the term noxious markets wherein sometimes things just should not be for sale These include lifesaving medicines coerced sex body parts etc In some cases it s because people are so poor or so desperate they accept any terms of sale There is also a loss of individual agency in these transactions Some times there are extremely harmful outcomes both social and economic outcomes that a violent toward individuals and society Mike wonders whether we can import a normative framework like noxious markets and see where this breaks down when is a platform noxious What sort of exogenous shocks resonate as important or are ignored by platforms When are things free When are users expected to absorb costs What would it mean to work in non noxious ways And how can individuals take on the responsibility to address noxious platform individual developers taking action funders pressuring companies Perhaps this normative framework can help the public and officials find a way to move from reactionary to regulatory around what is noxious Lastly what constitutes the ethos of shared consequences Dewey s ideas of a public What is a shared consequence versus a private consequence It s our job as scholars to read into those platforms and find how they are constructing the notion of publics and responsibilities in how they change over time Toward a view of platforms as ecosystems Karine Nahon respondent Karine wants to step outside the box of platforms which she sees as distracting and also to go beyond the low level issues of infrastructure She sees this discussion of platforms focusing too much on individual problematic cases or companies making mistakes under public pressure Instead we should see this topic as a much broader and more complex ecosystem with different forms of power working at different levels Can we find different levels of power being executed similarly across different cases Instead of focusing on how Facebook regulates harassment let s think about all the different factors that led to their reaction We often talk about the opacity of technology And we as researchers are the white black nights coming in to reveal what is behind the scenes And we too often assume that creating this transparency will solve the problem But this is dealing with only one kind of power and one perspective on the problem Also we often focus on big data and its problems of representation or its ethical conundrums But too often we stop at simply naming these issues rather than dealing with them in transformative ways Finally when we talk about markets we are rationalizing the stakeholders asserting they are rational actors in their exchanges with and through platforms But many of our exchanges are social and emotional and can t be rationalized by markets A better framing of these issues and role of platforms and how to regulate them should account for all of this GROUP DISCUSSION Alex Leavitt Talking about scale as Tarleton did it s not just about holistic scale and what happens when humans or algorithms respond We are missing the discussion of the political economy of design within the companies How do we move forward as researchers into the political economy discussions when access to the companies is a problem we aren t on

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/private-platforms-under-public-pressure-at-aoir16 (2016-04-29)
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  • Black Lives Matter Activism through Blogging, Gaming, Hashtags, and Citizen Journalism | MIT Center for Civic Media
    be fully engaged in that work All of this is moving toward a Digital Black Feminism and reframing activism Activist Gaming What Might Activist Gaming Look Like Kishonna L Gray Social media is a form of signifying black racial identity that indexes black racial culture It s important to understand how this is expressed in different ways online What does this look when it extends into video games as alternative form of activism How can video games further the causes of marginalized communities Video game activism requires the mobilization of both users and designers Activism is not just rooted in game development An activist orientation in video gaming will require Gamers for Change Game Developers for Change and Game Culture for Change Spawn4Good http spawnon me police brutality Using Twitch Spawn4Me ran a live tele a thin style stream to crowd fund money in support of families affected by police brutality They streamed constantly until they had hit their fundraising goals The effort was unique mobilization of black gamers but also received backlash from others arguing that Twitch was not a place to do this activism Xbox Live forums were also a place of activism for both gamergate and Black Lives Matter among female gamers who carve out their own communities there The injection of Black Lives Matter discussion and organization was controversial provoking the ire of female gamers who thought the space should be used for activism on Black Lives Matter which felt like a rejection of women of color in gaming Gray asserts that gaming culture and infrastructure is an extension of systemic racist policies and practices that oppress gamers of color She feels the whole community has a responsibility to respond to issues of racism and develop solutions to these problems This includes game companies themselves as well as gamers and game developers They all need to work toward a new inclusive environment Only by strengthening the entire ecosystem can activism transform these spaces in progressive directions Towards Social Justice Against Media Bias Creating Tumblr Content with Purpose Through IfTheyGunnedMeDown Jenny Ungbha Korn IfTheyGunnedMeDown was an activist hashtag responding to the problematic depiction of Michael Brown launched by a tweet from C J Lawrence only 2 days after Brown s murder Critical Race Theory posits that racism is daily and embedded in American society And oppositional consciousness represents the mindset of oppressed peoples like people of color who see their identity in opposition to a dominant culture and fight for their authentic representation Korn s study looked at all of the posts to the Tumblr iftheygunnedmedown tumblr com She found that 98 of the images contributed were black half men half women And the posts were 100 visual including an image or images 65 with text and 35 with only an image The question at the heart of contributor s images was What would mass media do if I died at the hands of a cop Would they tear me down or build me up Seeing this

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/black-lives-matter-activism-through-blogging-gaming-hashtags-and-citizen-journalism (2016-04-29)
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  • Building Civic Tech with Mexico City's Experts (Its Citizens) | MIT Center for Civic Media
    of Mexico City and community organizing around redevelopment We also sat down with representatives from the Public Space Authority a government entity responsible for revitalization projects in public spaces throughout the city to learn how they incorporate citizen input into their decision making We identified an opportunity to increase citizen voice and engagement in the planning process through the follow channels a multi modal data collection system inclusive to citizens with different levels of digital access in person interviews smartphone app use and a public dashboard to provide analysis and visualization of collected feedback for both government officials and citizens Our design goals for these channels emphasized securing buy in from both officials and participating citizens We considered the question how might we incentivize engagement on both sides of this planning dialogue by making the input and analysis components accessible and relevant Test Site Identification As a test location we chose Libertad de los Pueblos also known as Ho Chi Minh Park Located two blocks away from the Laboratorio in a high traffic area the park was an ideal pilot space due to its proximity The space was also under consideration for revitalization according to city staff making our citizen engagement more relevant and authentic Finally it offered the opportunity to engage with a diverse mix of citizens as it attracts all manner of commuters vendors bus drivers and residents Community Engagement Design Before developing our survey we did initial viability testing with citizens in the park to hear some of their initial impressions of the area One man we spoke with lives far to the north of the City He works as a plumber and comes to the park to rest on a daily basis His true passion is dancing and he said he would be interested in joining dance events if put on in the park This helped us confirm cultural activities as a resonant category Survey Development We built on the Public Space Authority s basic structure of prioritizing problems and opportunities by adding more experiential questions meant to assess how the space made residents feel and what words they associated with it Through these fields we hoped to get a quick impression of what the park represents to people rather than simply its specific problems or potential In order to ensure an inclusive range of feedback we developed both digital and non digital outlets for citizens to participate Working with a team of surveyors we used a tool already being deployed in Mexico City Flocktracker to record interview responses with over 50 users of the park during a 40 minute window We found citizens were happy to be asked their opinion and offered detailed feedback on how they currently used the park and what they would like to see implemented in the space The ENCDMX App To complement in person surveys we extended the Action Path app developed by the MIT Media Lab s Center for Civic Media to allow smartphone users to submit their feedback

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/building-civic-tech-with-mexico-citys-experts-its-citizens (2016-04-29)
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  • How Interfaces Demand Obedience | MIT Center for Civic Media
    are unknown unknowns Slavoj Zizek responded to the quote by suggesting Rumsfeld forgot the fourth option that there are unknown knowns This is where ideology concept and interface lives i e this is where design happens And Mushon argues this is how interface works Steve Krug would agree that design is to preserve unknown knowns He wrote the Bible of interface design Don t make me think The role of interaction design is to lower the cognitive load to the minimum Affordance is key issue when we talk about technologies communicating with each other and how our attention is being afforded We both use our attention and it is being used it is a currency on the web There are many political issues involved in this How do we resist the paradigm of the interface Interface for Resistance Mushon suggests tactical resistance strategic resistance and logistic resistance Web 2 0 inspired a lot of discourse about user generated content The web is no longer simply content but now interfaces that allows us to create content Mushon quips The interface is kind enough to allow us to be authors A second option is user generated context Mushon gives the example of taking craigslist postings and putting them onto a Google Map which was a huge deal when it first happened So there is a power in taking one thing and placing it on another A third option is user generated interface How the users change the site that allow them to do things One way is through browser extension It may be called interface literacy It is a way to mitigate political governance And this gets us to interface as resistance An example of Tactical Resistance is google bombing such as when bloggers linked the words weapons of mass destruction this page This is hacking culture jamming as a form of tactical resistance Another example is to use the application layer in tactical resistance A commercial example is Book Burro offering something Amazon doesn t do when you search for books Book Burro gives you details about the distance the book you need is from you suggesting you go to a library rather than buy it online This is something that many of us have not thought of doing Mushon mentioned the most popular browser extension Adblock Plus Google cannot stop Adblock Plus from entering their browser but they leverage the situation by paying AdBlock Plus to add a checkbox allow non obtrusive ads Google ads Mushon whispers Mushon s own project in collaboration with Helen Nissenbaum and Daniel Howe Ad Nauseum works with ad blockers to click every ad that is blocked which floods your user profile and reduces the value of your user profile to advertisers It is not only a symbolic resistance it has real impact on interfaces Logistic Resistance is changing the protocol through slow bureaucratic processes or revolutions Removing a hegemonic protocol like TCP IP requires that you replace with something new It is slow and

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/how-interfaces-demand-obedience (2016-04-29)
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