Citizen Media

Digital-Age Civics: Media Makes a Difference

Thursday, May 15, 2014 Comment people working on laptops outside making media

If you caught Joe Kahne’s recent post, you’ll know something about a concept that’s also central to my latest mini-book. As a member of the MacArthur Foundation-backed research network Joe chairs, I’m also exploring the notion of “participatory politics” as a useful way to understand young people’s engagement with digital-age civics. I got interested in this topic both as a media maker who collaborates with teens at Youth Radio, a Peabody Award-winning youth-driven production in Oakland that serves as NPR’s youth desk, and as a researcher who’s spent the last few years exploring the digital afterlife


Engaging Youth: 7 ‘Epic’ Tips

Monday, April 07, 2014 Comment 6 young people on video conference call together for ypp

“The irony is the more personal your story is, the more universal it is. And, the more you keep that nuance that makes your story personal, the more it will spread,” Nirvan Mullick, the founder of Imagination Foundation noted during a webinar podcast earlier this year. Mullick spoke from experience. “Caine’s Arcade,” a short documentary film he released in 2009, became an overnight internet grassroots-driven sensation and inspired a movement of youth-driven “cardboard creativity.” This success led Mullick to eventually launch the Imagination Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “find, foster and fund creativity


Human Rights and Social Media in India: Blank Noise

Monday, October 21, 2013 Comment group of teenagers leaning against outside fence in india

On a recent visit to Sarai, a Delhi research think tank housed in the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, I met a number of female university students who described participating in the mass protests that occurred after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered in what many perceived as an event that unleashed a torrent of dissent to express longstanding dissatisfaction about lax policing and prosecution of crimes against women in India.  Participants recounted assaults at demonstrations that included braving tear gas, water cannons, and violent interruptions by police of the peaceful sharing


What Comes After Election Monitoring? Citizen Monitoring of Infrastructure

Monday, April 29, 2013 Comment black man speaking into bull horn at rally

I was recently in Senegal at a board meeting for Open Society Foundation, meeting organizations the foundation supports around the continent. Two projects in particular stuck in my mind. One is Y’en a Marre (“Fed Up”), a Senegalese activist organization led by hiphop artists and journalists, who worked to register voters and oust long-time president Abdoulaye Wade. (I wrote about them last week here, and on Wikipedia). The other is a project run by Open Society Foundation West Africa – OSIWA – with support from partners in Senegal, Liberia, Nigeria and the UK. It’s an election


PortoAlegre.cc: Giving A City Back to Its Citizens

Monday, June 11, 2012 Comment girl in sound booth working on laptop with headphones on

Several new projects are trying to use cyberspace as a platform to help citizens build an information network and share information about their cities. One effort that has achieved significant traction is PortoAlegre.cc, a platform for the citizens of Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil to interact, share information about their city, and mobilize for cause. The idea is to provide an online space for people to discuss the city’s problems and to collectively think about solutions. It was the fruit of a smaller project created by Rio dos Sinos


Basta! Telling Stories About Occupy Wall Street

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Comment occupy wall street protest rally people marching holding up signs

Media activists Marisa Jahn and Julian Rubinstein recently joined us at the Center for Civic Media for our weekly Civic Media Lunch series. Marisa is the new director of the People’s Production House, a New York based project that works with low income workers and youth, building capacity around media creation. Julian is an author and journalist who now works on Newsmotion.org, a civic media and documentary storytelling initiative. Marisa walked us through some of her history as an activist and artist, showcasing some of her work as a graphic designer. For the 2008 Wall Street


Four Questions about Civic Media

Monday, June 27, 2011 Comment man holding up sign saying Egypt using social media icons during protest

The civic media field is often better defined by example than in abstractions. The field is so nascent and fluid that any comprehensive, conceptual definition will likely miss key aspects of the field. For those of us who believe civic media – the various ways communities create, find and share actionable information – is transforming media and civic life, exciting examples are always an opportunity to think about the future of the field.


Digital Learning and the Arab Spring

Thursday, June 23, 2011 Comment close up of computer keyboard

As revolution and revolt spreads across the Arab world, Americans often see social networking sites and online video as playing a starring role. Whether it is testimony about police brutality or jubilation in the squares, examples of so-called witness journalism captured by cell phone cameras, webcams, and other mobile devices have made many citizens feel more engaged with the political plight of those struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.


A Teenager Taps Social Media to Help Change his Struggling Community

Monday, June 20, 2011 Comment large pictures of human portraits covering front of buildings in poor community

“Intense shootings happening at this moment in the Complexo do Alemao!” tweeted teenager Rene Silva on Nov. 9, 2010.  Using his personal Twitter account (@Rene_Silva_RJ) and the Twitter account of a newspaper he created, “Voz da Comunidade,” (Community Voice – @vozdacomunidade), Rene was able to broadcast information about a standoff between police and drug traffickers from inside the “Complexo do Alemão,” one of the major groups of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. During the dangerous conflict, Rene and two other kids drew media attention in Brazil because they were able to send out news in real


UK Student Protests: Democratic Participation, Digital Age

Monday, January 10, 2011 Comment screenshot of google maps and icons representing student protest

The stereotypical characterization of young people as politically apathetic, interested only in using digital media for socializing and gaming, has been punctured by recent events in the UK. University and high school students took to the streets to protest against the tripling of tuition fees for higher education, reductions to grants for 16-18 year olds, and cuts in government university funding. During November and December, students, staff, parents and the wider public marched in London and other UK cities and many universities had buildings occupied, with University of Kent staying in occupation over the Christmas and