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  • Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology | MIT Center for Civic Media
    computers to provide useful information for sugar cane farmers such as weather forecasts and other educational resources Several years after the projects launch Toyama s team discovered that the computers were primarily being used for a very limited subset of queries such as market prices for the farmers crops The team decided to replace the expensive brick and mortar infrastructure of the computer hub with a mobile phone based program which would enable farmers to access the information they wanted from the comfort of their own homes While the idea sounded great in theory Toyama s team never managed to get the pilot off the ground in the surrounding villages due to a wide range of non technical factors such as local village politics While the project was relatively straightforward to implement from a technical perspective ultimately these social and political complexities rendered the project unviable Example 2 Employment kiosk for women Another project Toyama s team worked on was developing a high tech kiosk for women to use for looking up job opportunities in their area His team worked hard to develop a friendly and intuitive user interface to help the women effectively use the technology Yet the user interface couldn t address the much bigger problem of getting potential employers to sign up to use the job posting service This was due in part to the fact that most of the target users for the kiosk did not actually have the skills necessary to be competitive for the jobs being posted No matter how fancy the user interface was no kiosk was going to be able to bridge the skills gap that prevented most of these women from securing gainful employment Over the five years that Toyama spent in India he worked on more than fifty projects that aimed to apply digital technology to development goals These projects almost always worked in a research context but as soon as his team tried to take their solution to scale they ran into serious difficulties in the wild This was due to what Toyama calls the amplifying effect of technology by itself technology can only amplify pre existing conditions and human characteristics rather than fundamentally disrupt them In order to help the audience develop an intuitive sense of technology s amplifying effects Toyama gave three more hypothetical thought exercises 1 Imagine you are the CEO of a company Although you have a strong product your sales team is consistently unable to meet their sales goals Would your response be to buy every employee on the team a new iPad or to set up an expensive data center to monitor their stats Probably not Similarly we can t assume that if we put more advanced technologies into classrooms we ll be able to automatically turn around academic performance in failing schools That s because the underlying human forces and social factors aren t going to necessarily change with the arrival of a fancy new technology 2 Imagine you and a person

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas/geek-heresy-rescuing-social-change-from-the-cult-of-technology (2016-04-29)
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  • chelsea.barabas's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media
    barabas on July 15 2014 3 11pm This past weekend I attended CODE2040 s second annual Hack 4 Diversity a weekend long hackathon focused on addressing issues of diversity within tech CODE2040 s summer fellows along with some amazingly helpful and inspiring members of the broader community spent the weekend working on projects to promote diversity in a sector that is still comprised largely by white males Teams explored a broad range of challenges that minorities and women face along the path to entering the professional world of tech Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Awesome Insights from Hack 4 Diversity Calculated bias The pitfalls and potential of algorithmic recruitment Submitted by chelsea barabas on May 8 2014 9 43am Ten years ago a pair of researchers decided to investigate the role that racial bias plays in the contemporary labor market They sent out fictitious resumes to companies who published help wanted ads in newspapers from Boston and Chicago To manipulate the perceived race of the applicant each resume was given either a very Black sounding name i e Jamal Lakisha or a very White sounding name i e Emily Greg The results revealed significant discrimination against stereotypical African American names White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews The variation was particularly stark for well qualified applications For White names high quality credentials elicited 30 percent more callbacks whereas a far smaller increase was documented for African Americans More recently a similar set of methods were used to document biases against women pursuing careers in academic science university faculty rated male applicants as significantly more competent and hireable than females with identical credentials Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Calculated bias The pitfalls and potential of algorithmic recruitment Why is tech so white Future Research on Educational Pathways to Tech Submitted by chelsea barabas on April 28 2014 10 24pm Last week I received a Summer Fellowship grant from MIT s Public Service Center to fund my research in collaboration with CODE2040 a nonprofit organization that creates career pathways into the technology sector for underrepresented minorities Recently there has been a growing concern over the lack of diversity within tech While 57 percent of the professional workforce is comprised of women they hold only 25 percent of the occupations in computer and engineering occupations The numbers get worse when we zero in on the startup space where 87 percent of founders of internet companies are white Asians comprise 12 percent of the population leaving only 1 percent for Blacks Latinos Native Americans and other groups Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Why is tech so white Future Research on Educational Pathways to Tech The People s Bot Submitted by chelsea barabas on April 18 2014 2 58pm Yesterday we launched The People s Bot offering scholarships media fellowships and an auction for people to attend and report on events where they are not physically present including

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas (2016-04-29)
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  • “Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement” - Sasha Costanza-Chock's Latest Book Release | MIT Center for Civic Media
    releases Sasha provides an example of a student organizer who talked about theimportance of people in his community putting real faces and names to an issues that s been largely abstracted from the issues of real people Sasha shares insights about how people from within the movement view social media as a tool to become visible In the case of sending a tweet versus sending a press release he explains that the media outlets are ten times more likely to respond to a tweet and it s ten times less work Transmedia Organizing Transmedia organizing as a term builds on the concept of transmedia storytelling put forth by Marsha Kinder Henry Jenkins built on this with his ideas of convergent media environments intellectual properties and storytelling Sasha sees transmedia organizing as cross platform participatory rooted in community action accountable to the community and transformative Within the immigrant rights movement participants produce posters films apps etc The point is not to list or categorize this work but rather to point out that these forms are coordinated to amplify the movement s message Some of this is designed to reach across generations organizers cover traditional media for the older generations and social media for younger contingents Sasha shares a poster from an Undocuqueer event at Georgetown Undoing Borders Queering the Undocumented Narrative Because of the heteronormativity of US immigration policy discussed earlier Sasha explains that there s a particular resonance between queer organizing and undocumented organizing Lots of leaders in the immigrant rights community identify as part of the LGBTQ community as well Community action Sasha explains the ways that this media is ideally deployed within a context of community action in which people are directly mobilizing their media resources to amplify their voice during moments when a critical decision is being made Accountability He discusses the importance of accountability to community and that the narratives reproduced must fit with how community members represent themselves and conceive of their issues Sasha explains that there is concerted effort to not reproduce the narrative that I was brought here through no fault of my own this implicitly criminalizes a set of parents that bring their children across borders illegally A competing narrative is that such parents are courageous brave and were trying to give their children a better life As a generation of immigrant children grows up here in the States and develops their own voice in the movement it has been interesting to see how their craft their narrative in ways that are in tension or support the work of their parents Transformative People are engaging in media workshops and skillshares Sasha gives examples from the UCLA labor center and of an undocumentation workshop in Charlotte North Carolina These workshops are building and sharing the capacity of members of the movement to make media and tell stories Sasha argues that these practices occur across movements He has a paper Mic Check on how this applies to Occupy He cites a scholarly work from

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas/%E2%80%9Cout-of-the-shadows-into-the-streets-transmedia-organizing-and-the-immigrant (2016-04-29)
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  • Awesome Insights from Hack 4 Diversity | MIT Center for Civic Media
    English language I m curious to learn if there are any other projects that deal with making code documentation more accessible to non native English populations One Thousand This team built an app based platform that lets you curate photos from professional experiences and index them using hashtags associated with particular skills and professional themes Employers can then use the same hashtags as a search tool in order to find people with the professional background they need This team sought to create an alternative to the traditional resume by reimagining the ways we could categorize and index what s valuable or marketable on the job market At the end of their demo on Sunday the team explained that the name for their project One Thousand was inspired by the phrase A picture is worth a thousand words The team wanted to explore novel ways of displaying information about one s career beyond what s typically found on a traditional resume Their project reflects a broader trend going on in higher education right now as companies like Degreed explore ways to capture and validate learning that happens outside of a formal classroom setting The concept of micro credentialing has grown in popularity in recent years as more people engage with online learning resources in order to develop new competencies and skills in their field If micro credentialing platforms gain traction they could provide alternative avenues to rewarding careers for students who can t access our current institutions of higher education but who engage in other types of rewarding professional development experiences Bias Analytics This team s project was inspired by Debbie McGhee s experiments in measuring implicit bias In her research McGhee asks people to make associations between two sets of images and positive negative attributes in order to capture the hidden biases people have about certain groups of people The Bias Analytics team wanted to create a similar experience that would enable recruiters and HR personnel to measure and understand their own biases in terms of race gender and educational background They created a site that pushes the user to make rapid decisions between two resumes with comparable credentials but which varied along one of the three variables mentioned above After a rapid series of comparisons the site would provide you with a sense of your own biases This reminds me of a number of other projects within the Center for Civic Media such as Open Gender Tracker which collects metrics that enable newsrooms to gain a better understanding of gender diversity within news publications The promise of these applications is that they provide the baseline information necessary for people to become aware of their own biases and take initial steps to implementing more fair decisions and practices in their work TechFindr and Hacknight TechFindr and Hacknight were two projects that sought to support a learner s burgeoning interest in computer programming within communities where few people are involved in the tech industry The Techfindr team created a mobile application

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas/awesome-insights-from-hack-4-diversity (2016-04-29)
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  • Calculated bias: The pitfalls and potential of algorithmic recruitment | MIT Center for Civic Media
    the lack of diversity in the field describe the culture of Silicon Valley as a die hard meritocracy I suggested that we needed to chart out the educational pathways that individuals take in pursuit of a career as a programmer My hope is that this will give us a better sense of the formal and informal learning experiences that shape who pursues this profession successfully In addition to strengthening the educational pipeline the other critical aspect of this issue is related to the hiring practices of tech companies As the research above indicates significant biases persist even when employers evaluate candidates with comparable educational backgrounds This week I came across a company called Gild which intentionally seeks to address these known human biases by offloading the job to a more objective recruiter the algorithm Gild is a start up which provides services to companies looking to hire a web developer The company uses an algorithm to sift through thousands of bits of publicly available data online in order to identify skilled coders Dr Vivienne Ming Gild s CEO and Chief Scientist argues that this approach is not only more efficient for companies it s also fairer She points to the case of Jade Dominguez a college dropout from a blue collar family in southern California who taught himself how to code In spite of having no college degree and minimal formal work experience Gild s algorithm identified Jade as one of the most promising developers in his region The young man now works for Gild and serves as an example of their algorithm s ability to find those precious diamond in the rough coders startups are so eager to unearth For some Jade s story is an optimistic example of the ways big data can be harnessed to provide opportunities to individuals who otherwise would not be considered for the job due to a lack of conventional credentials like a college degree In this way Gild situates itself squarely in line with the concept of merit based hiring the quality of a person s code is more valuable than their personal or academic background One could argue that Gild s services effectively address well documented human biases by enabling promising candidates to emerge from the data But before we herald a big data revolution in human resources we must consider the risks that come with using data as a proxy for talent and employment potential Just last week the White House released a report recommending that the government place limitations on how private companies gather and make use of information collected from their online clients In particular the report warned about the dangers of masking discriminatory practices behind a veneer of data based facts As the report concludes decisions based on algorithms are becoming used for everything from predicting behavior to denying opportunity in a way that can mask prejudices while maintaining a patina of scientific objectivity These concerns are echoed by other scholars such as Kate Crawford who has

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas/calculated-bias-the-pitfalls-and-potential-of-algorithmic-recruitment (2016-04-29)
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  • Why is tech so white? Future Research on Educational Pathways to Tech | MIT Center for Civic Media
    the powerful potential of making quality educational content widely available online providing opportunities for the best and the brightest from around the world to learn and be recognized for their talents However this framing of Battushig s story fails to recognize the importance of a few key details For instance the principal of Battushig s high school Enkhmunkh Zurgaanjin was the first Mongolian to ever graduate from MIT Upon graduation in 2009 Mr Zurgaanjin returned to Mongolia with a vision of strengthening the STEM education in his home country In addition to hosting the MOOC at school the principal purchased lab equipment and recruited a Stanford PhD candidate in electrical engineering to tutor a small cohort of students during the course While there is no doubt that Battushig is an exceptionally bright pupil these details are hugely important when we begin to think about the circumstances that shaped his ability to use these online resources to pursue his educational goals However these circumstances are frequently overlooked in the debates regarding the role of technology in the future of education Focus tends to be placed on emerging platforms and open resources rather than on the circumstances in which those technologies become transformative for students The risk of this kind of discourse is that it promotes the illusion of an objective merit based system in which talented and hardworking students rise to the top using resources free and available to all This kind of thinking has crept into the debate regarding diversity within tech as well where pundits describe their field as a meritocracy in which anyone who puts in the time can make a dime This sentiment is captured well in a statement made by Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis who last year was quoted saying The tech and tech media world are meritocracies To fall back to race as the reason why people don t break out in our wonderful oasis of openness is to do a massive injustice to what we ve fought so hard to create It flies in the face of our core beliefs 1 anyone can do it 2 innovation can come from anywhere and 3 product rules Such statements are reinforced by books and newspaper articles which depict the lone entrepreneur innovator who drops out of college to pursue the next disruptive idea This too cool for school narrative implies that raw talent is far more important than a piece of paper from a university which can be appealing when one considers the mounting costs of attaining a college degree As student debt continues to rise there is a growing interest in the expansion of alternative pathways to promising careers via online educational resources This is particularly true in the tech sector where online learning platforms like Treehouse Code Academy and Udacity advertise the promise of future prosperity for any hardworking individual looking to make a career change Yet this kind of talk gets uncomfortable when we think about just how white and male the tech

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/chelseabarabas/why-is-tech-so-white-future-research-on-educational-pathways-to-tech (2016-04-29)
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  • chelsea.barabas | MIT Center for Civic Media
    influence an individual s career trajectory in technical fields As a thin blooded Texas native Chelsea hopes to thrive in her studies by hiding from the cold weather aka anything below 80 degrees in the library and labs on campus Her desk will be the one with the vitamin D sun lamp nearby Recent blog posts by chelsea barabas The People s Bot Submitted by chelsea barabas on April 18 2014 2 58pm Yesterday we launched The People s Bot offering scholarships media fellowships and an auction for people to attend and report on events where they are not physically present including CHI 2014 and a 13 year retrospective on wearable computing and Google Glass Together with Nathan Matias we re imagining uses of robotic telepresence for the public good Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about The People s Bot chelsea barabas s blog Initial Reflections on Promise Tracker Submitted by chelsea barabas on February 9 2014 10 42pm Last week a group of us from Civic returned from a two week trip in Brazil where we were busy testing the initial prototype of a project called Promise Tracker Our work involved creating a mobile phone application that enables citizens to collect data on infrastructure developments related to promises made by their elected officials Google Plus One Tweet Widget Facebook Like Read more about Initial Reflections on Promise Tracker chelsea barabas s blog Participedia Like Wikipedia but different Submitted by chelsea barabas on November 11 2013 1 45pm This week I had the opportunity to meet with a team of individuals at Harvard who are working on a knowledge sharing platform called Participedia Participedia is the brainchild of Professors Archon Fung and Mark Warren who have devoted much of their esteemed careers to studying new forms

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/users/chelseabarabas?page=1 (2016-04-29)
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  • Liveblogging #ODR2015: Conceptualizing Process Re-Design. What’s Involved? | MIT Center for Civic Media
    the day and of my time at this year s ODR conference since I have to return to MIT tonight for commencement tomorrow is an interactive discussion workshop entitled Conceptualizing Process Re Design What s Involved The panelists include Professor Jan Martinez of Stanford Law School Dr Jin Ho Verdonschot Justice Technology Architect at Hiil Innovating Justice Chittu Nagarajan co Founder at Modria Janet begins by defining dispute system design as applied art and science of designing the means to prevent manage learn from and resolve streams of disputes or conflict Drawing on some of her scholarly publications she presents an analytic framework for dispute systems design consisting of goals e g what do decisionmakers seek to accomplish stakeholders e g who is disputing what is their relative power context culture why is there a design redesign what aspects of culture are salient and what norms govern in this context process structure what processes are operative how does it interact with other governing systems resources who pays in money labor etc success what are the goals and how will we know when we achieve them Having built this framework Janet hands off to Chittu who will talk about how these principles came into play in the design of Modria Chittu describes edit slides how Modria has evolved and continued to evolve by continuously returning to this framework to assess whether its product is well designed As mediators she says you learn to listen to a problem and understand the set of possible solutions and this is exactly what you have to do for your clients when you design a product The user experience is very important The main thing Modria is trying to do is get people into a process that meets their needs it is driven by them Chittu outlines the range of clients contexts that Modria works with American Arbitration Association property tax assessments courts consumer ecommerce payments divorce It s a challenge to design a tool that provides the underlying infrastructure that enables dispute resolution in all of these contexts but that s the goal As Colin said earlier the goal of Modria is to provide a platform flexible enough to be configured to meet the needs of the various stakeholders Chittu concludes by noting that while early efforts in ODR sought to remediate the traditional legal process companies like Modria are trying to design a system that resolves disputes as efficiently and fairly as possible in a way that satisfies the parties Following Chittu is Jin He has a focus on relational disputes such as divorce where the client focus is not so much on fast fair as in ecommerce as in empowerment support He defines his approach to ADR ODR as human interventions aimed at solving problems and a key challenge as doing so without recourse to the coercion of traditional legal processes Jin walks us through Rechtwijzer an implementation module of Modria that helps people with divorce related issues in the Netherlands An english

    Original URL path: https://civic.mit.edu/blog/petey/liveblogging-odr2015-conceptualizing-process-re-design-what%E2%80%99s-involved (2016-04-29)
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