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  • Promise Tracker launches civic monitoring campaigns across Brazil | MIT Center for Civic Media
    an incredibly motivated movement that works under the wing of a coalition for corporate social responsibility in the city We had an inspiring group of 15 participants for the workshop including university students and civil society veterans that have been working in education transportation waste management and a variety of other issues for over a decade Throughout the course of the day we created campaigns to monitor bike lanes trash collection sites and the construction of elementary schools Unlike in São Paulo the local government in São Luis has not yet published a set of goals and promises specific enough to facilitate the type of monitoring we have carried out in other workshops While preparing a campaign to track the construction progress on promised elementary schools our education group came across a significant stumbling block Without a list of the proposed construction sites how could the group begin to monitor progress Throughout the course of the workshop leaders of Nossa São Luis and other participants got out their cell phones and began calling contacts within City Hall and the Secretary of Education to try to get ahold of the needed information Though we received only a partial list by the end of the day Nossa São Luis members recognized this very process as perhaps one of the most important for the use of the tool in Maranhão If citizen monitoring can increase the demand for detailed documentation on political promises it has the potential to make significant strides for improving access to information and encouraging accountability of local leaders Building on the momentum and energy generated during the workshop Nossa São Luis will be working with us to develop a team of local trainers in Maranhão and organize a formal launch event for Promise Tracker in São Luis gathering companies local government and civil society groups around the tool Belo Horizonte Minas Gerais Following the debut in São Luis we traveled to the capital of Minas Gerais to run a workshop with partners at Nossa BH Founded in 2008 the organization brings together community leaders residents representatives of local civil society groups and companies to improve quality of life in Belo Horizonte Nossa BH invited a group of 10 to participate in the workshop including university students urban planners and a representative from the city transportation authority The group developed 2 campaigns to track transportation goals related to the new bus system The first campaign focused on handicap accessibility in stations the second on the accuracy of arrival times posted on new electronic displays As a group we boarded the same bus line and dropped off participants at each of the first 6 stops to collect information at each station Initial data is available on the Promise Tracker site for accessibility and estimated arrival times We will be meeting with Nossa BH this week to discuss the organization of a more extensive accessibility campaign throughout the city and next steps for replicating the workshop with other interest groups in Belo

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/emreiser/promise-tracker-brazil-election-monitoring (2016-04-29)
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  • Piloting Promise Tracker in Sao Paulo | MIT Center for Civic Media
    encompasses a diverse range of neighborhoods some of which have been transformed over the past decade by the expansion of public transit to the area and increased gentrification In the lead up to the Butantã workshop we worked with a dynamic trio of councillors in the area who had participated in Promise Tracker sessions in August With their help we were able to bring in local residents and representatives from the departments of urban planning and environment within the local government to collaborate on a pilot parks campaign The group chose to monitor a project to develop a public park in a highly contested area bordering both favela communities and a group of luxury condos Though only 1 member of our group had visited the site all were aware of some of the obstacles blocking the park s development including controversial waste water drainage from the condos and a recent land occupation by favela residents The team decided to survey a section of the area in question to document drainage points land occupations and infringement on the territory demarcated for the park Participants talked with local residents and documented 60 points of interest represented on the map below Workshop takeaways The November workshops were some of the most exciting and fruitful of the sessions we ve run in Brazil and we attribute that in large part to getting the right people involved Having worked with the same partners throughout the year we ve built a continuity and trust that allowed us greater access into the communities this fall Collaborating directly with residents of each neighborhood we were able to target individuals that are deeply invested in their communities and actively engaged in local civic spaces They believe in the potential of creating change through local councils and were willing to embrace the political goals though perhaps incomplete or over ambitious as a necessary point of departure for advocating for accountability The groups had a wealth of ideas about how the tools could be practically applied to projects they are currently working on and issues they plan to address in the future We hope to work on some of these together in the coming months Below are some of our initial takeaways from the November pilot Closing the loop between data collectors and audience One of the key factors for success in running a monitoring campaign is ensuring that actionable information reaches the audiences and institutions that have the ability to create the desired change or apply pressure to those that might By integrating representatives of local forums and government into the survey design and data collection processes participants were able to create allies within some of the spaces that would be key target audiences for collected data Monitoring as a mechanism to further access to and dissemination of information Though the mayor s goals and promises for São Paulo are made publicly available online few citizens have or make the time to review the hundreds of projects that may impact

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/emreiser/piloting-promise-tracker-in-sao-paulo (2016-04-29)
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  • Final Project Post | MIT Center for Civic Media
    conditions affect the blogosphere s potential to impact offline civic engagement Methodology I only examine a small cross section of the Ukrainian blogosphere a total of one hundred influential blogs based on two ranking metrics Yandex s list of the top fifty most authoritative bloggers on www LiveJournal com mostly Russian language and Nash LJ s ranking for exclusively Ukrainian language bloggers I assess quality of discussion in several ways First I hand code blog posts in terms of their thematic focus Overall I examined the ten most recent posts as of December 13th 2011 of the top fifty Russian language and Ukrainian language bloggers for a total of 1000 posts Within the broader categories of civic and non civic public vs private interests I observed twelve main themes for blog posts Fig 2 As it turns out there are significant differences in the content of Russian language vs Ukrainian language blogs Fig 3 Within this section I also examine one particularly notable example of online political satire in Ukraine In May 2010 a gust of wind blew a large wreath onto President Yanukovych s face during a somber salute to World War Two soldiers in Kyiv The video quickly became an Internet sensation and a re mix tournament was led by LiveJournal user Kotyhoroshko who created and collected comical renditions of the debacle These images originated on LiveJournal com and then rapidly spread throughout other social media Fig 4 Two remixes of Yanukovych vs the Wreath From left to right a rendition of Yanukovych s struggle on the cover of Mein Kampf by LiveJournal user Ljazzy via http kotyhoroshko livejournal com 446778 html A remix by Comrade Molotov at http comrade molotov livejournal com 1444469 html Next I examine the comment threads of twenty civic blog entries from twelve Ukrainian language journals and three Russian language journals for rational critical discourse I begin by examining the extent to which participants are actively communicating with each other Do comments contribute to a greater dialogue i e are they responding to another comment or are they stand alone statements of a single user Comments are then grouped into five different categories 1 Passive Non critical agreement without contribution to the discussion ex 1 type comments 2 Active Critical support or critique buttressed by reasoned evidence and or other logical appeals 3 Abrasive flame wars intentionally provocative or rude comments without any rational backing 4 Neutral clarifications off topic tangents and 5 Pingback Bot a program that some bloggers use to receive alerts when another user has linked to their post Fig 5 Analysis of 746 Comments Here is an example of various comment types in action Fig 6 Discussion Sample from a Blog Post at mentbuster livejournal com From Tetyana Montyan Istinni prichiny toho chomu nas ne klichut do Evropy The real reason why they aren t calling us to Europe Yuridichni provokactsii Judicial Provocations October 31 2011 http mentbuster livejournal com 378312 html Last but not least I provide a

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro/final-project-post (2016-04-29)
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  • ashapiro's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media
    to gain an understanding of why the same tools that enabled Ukraine s democratic transition have been so ineffective at the stage of consolidation Mind you I am trying to avoid falling into the trap of techno determinism Rather than scrutinize the inherent qualities of the technology itself I am examining how ICTs have functioned in the context of a real life movement particularly when they are co opted by traditional civic actors Strengths Disseminate info more quickly and to a wider audience ex exposing election fraud organizing protests etc More platforms for critical discussion especially important in non democratic regimes where fewer opportunities exist offline Online coverage keeps international community informed of developments more likely to provide monetary support and or place pressure on government for democratic reform Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Something Short Project Update News Sources Submitted by ashapiro on November 14 2011 8 18am I recently undertook the task of comparing leading independent online news sources for the Central Eastern Western and Southern regions of Ukraine My overall goal was to get a better sense of the political orientations of these websites their readership and their content as well as gauge the inclusivity of voices At the same time I was also looking for material related to ICTs in Ukraine In the interest of time I ll briefly discuss some findings on two sites Ukrajins ka Pravda and Ostrov Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Project Update News Sources Project Update w Charts Submitted by ashapiro on November 6 2011 9 58pm To better visualize ICT accessibility and usage in Ukraine I ve created a few very rough charts based on data from the World Economic Forum s Global Information Technology Report from 2010 2011 find it here www3 weforum org docs WEF GITR Report 2011 pdf I ve also highlighted results from the US Russia and Estonia for broader context I chose Estonia because it is an EU memberstate that is rather democratic and technologically developed despite its Soviet past The shaded areas represent the other countries on the list 138 in all As far as I can tell digital ICT accessibility and usage is not necessarily correlated to GDP For example Internet users in Zambia Mongolia and Madagascar all utilize virtual social networks more heavily than Ukrainians Apparently respondents in Senegal felt that there was better Internet access in their schools than did their Ukrainian counterparts Bolivia enjoys a faster international broadband speed than Ukraine etc Continue reading to see the charts Here we go Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Project Update w Charts Project Update Submitted by ashapiro on October 31 2011 9 42am Project Update In writing my introduction I had to ask myself some important questions Why does my project matter Why should we care about the impact of ICTs in Ukraine I came across an interesting article by Michael McFaul suggesting that the 2004 Orange

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro (2016-04-29)
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  • Defining Civic Media, Again | MIT Center for Civic Media
    Civic Media Again Submitted by ashapiro on December 5 2011 9 34am Originally I defined civic media as the tools and technologies that facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between people often in pursuit of common goals I also noted that it s important to avoid normative judgments of civic media because the effects and potential of these tools are dependent upon the intentions of those who utilize them After learning more about digital inequalities however I would also like to add that the impact of civic media in a given community is largely dependent upon whom is using it New media in particular seem to exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities in communities by increasing the gap between information haves and have nots not to mention contributing to the global digital divide After examining various frameworks for civic media historical public sphere theory subaltern counterpublics radical media etc I suppose that I find the public sphere framework most compelling not because I think it is the best way to look at civic media but because it could be helpful for re framing civic participation in various contexts For example the United States a country once touted for its rich associational life Amidst declining membership rates in traditional civic organizations how are digital media changing the way that we interact with our communities articulate our interests and formulate public opinion Or in the case of the former Soviet space how can access to participatory media help overcome legacies of a weak civil society In both cases looking at how the Internet does and does not act as a public sphere could be a useful way for assessing new forms of civic participation The future of civic media clearly is online The question is how will differential access to digital ICTs affect

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro/defining-civic-media-again (2016-04-29)
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  • Civic Lulz: 11/21 Discussion Recap | MIT Center for Civic Media
    mockery to real world action Project Chanology was the name of 4chan users seminal raid against Scientology The debacle occurred after anonymous hacktivists leaked a classified video of Tom Cruise waxing maniacal about the Church of Scientology an institution which is evidently very protective of its intellectual property The Church s subsequent attempts to take the video off the Internet chafed Anon and its core value of freedom of information Here Anonymous beef with the Church transcended the lulz morphing into a more generalized objection to Scientology 4channers began black faxing the Church s headquarters to waste their ink Hundreds of people showed up to offline protests wearing Guy Fawkes masks And so on Lulz can also be a way of spreading serious messages for example the Pepper Spray Cop meme The difference between flash mobs and Anonymous however is that the latter is rooted in a deeper political culture and has a more entrenched collective identity Next we talked about the Critical Art Ensemble In the 1990s a group of artists activists theorists coders and makers converged to form a collective identity as one author By producing a series of texts and interventions they contributed to the theoretical discussion on media activism For example The Flesh Machine was written in opposition to increasing corporate control over the human genome and the new wave of eugenics When Electronic Disturbance was written in 1994 the work was widely read and caused many people to rethink their conception of protest politics Electronic Disturbance Theater was created in 1997 Governed by the belief that in the digital age the power resides in virtual networks not in the streets EDT promoted the pratice of e civil disobedience One of their first actions was FloodNet a program designed to continually reload URLs until servers were

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro/civic-lulz-1121-discussion-recap (2016-04-29)
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  • Something Short | MIT Center for Civic Media
    point of reference I decided to list some of the pros and cons of online media in democratic transition and consolidation My eventual aim is to gain an understanding of why the same tools that enabled Ukraine s democratic transition have been so ineffective at the stage of consolidation Mind you I am trying to avoid falling into the trap of techno determinism Rather than scrutinize the inherent qualities of the technology itself I am examining how ICTs have functioned in the context of a real life movement particularly when they are co opted by traditional civic actors Strengths Disseminate info more quickly and to a wider audience ex exposing election fraud organizing protests etc More platforms for critical discussion especially important in non democratic regimes where fewer opportunities exist offline Online coverage keeps international community informed of developments more likely to provide monetary support and or place pressure on government for democratic reform Weaknesses social media tend to focus around very specific goals causes at least the most successful examples e g meet ups scheduled on Facebook particular grievance of election results etc This doesn t really do much to promote democracy in the long run People can disband

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro/something-short (2016-04-29)
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  • Project Update: News Sources | MIT Center for Civic Media
    with the most politicized history In 2000 the website was created by oppositional journalist Heorhii Gongadze as an alternative news source to government biased traditional media Several months later his headless body was found in the woods outside of Kyiv and a recording of then president Leonid Kuchma instructing authorities to deal with Gongadze was leaked to the public Since then Ukrajins ka Pravda has grown into a robust media source complete with its own section of political blogs as well as a thriving section of People s Blogs Narodni Blohi written by everyday people Most articles and blog posts garner hundreds of comments not all of which are civil or rational of course Discussions of the political impact of digital ICTs abound seamlessly woven into articles on the upcoming parliamentary elections corruption public morality etc Most articles are demonstratively anti Yanukovych however commenters seem to be divided in their own political views For the Eastern part of Ukraine I looked at Ostrov a Donetsk based online newspaper written mostly in Russian However one does not need to know Cyrillic to sense the outdatedness of the site Its austere interface and lurid green color scheme are in my opinion neither attractive nor welcoming Whereas on Ukrajins ka Pravda the search term network Ukrainian мережа Russian сеть yielded many pages of articles and blog entries discussing online social media on Ostrov there were only two items that were actually related to the Internet the vast majority of results were about gaslines The two articles that I did find however were very telling Looking at Personal Profiles Where Have Politicians Gone Wrong in Social Media and Reading Diaries Where and How Politicians Live Online the Russian title is a pun on the popular blog hosting website LiveJournal Both articles are from 2011

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/ashapiro/project-update-news-sources (2016-04-29)
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