Civic Media

The Construction of Civic Identities in Pop Culture

Monday, May 16, 2016 Comment Beyonce Knowles singing

“I said, ‘Well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles.’ ” — “Excursions,” A Tribe Called Quest A fever dream in 15 steps. This past weekend, Ukrainian singer Jamala won the globally popular 2016 “Eurovision” Contest. A turn from the saccharine love ditties that often take the competition, the winning song, “1944,” is a harrowing narrative of historical deportation of under Stalin’s soviet regime: When strangers are coming They come to your house They kill you all And say We’re not guilty Not guilty A week earlier, the album “Hopelessness” by Anohni was released. Its


Game Impact: New Report on Field Cohesion

Thursday, May 21, 2015 Comment different ages of kids using phone and ipad to learn and play games

After more than a decade, the field of social impact games may be mature enough to step back and investigate how “impact” is understood. To start the conversation, Games for Change has released a new report, published by ETC Press. (The report was co-authored by myself, Nicole Walden, Gerad O’Shea, Francesco Nasso, Giancarlo Mariutto and Asi Burak.  Our advisory group included game scholars and designers like Tracy Fullerton, Debra Lieberman and Constance Steinkuehler.) Right now may be an inflexion point in the evolution of games in the public interest — from civic learning to fighting asthma.


Addressing Race, Inequity Issues Through Social Media Power

Monday, September 22, 2014 Comment black twitter text over black twitter logo graphic

The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. began dominating the national headlines instantly. One of the biggest factors, as Newsweek’s Elijah Wolfson points out, was the use of social media by the residents of Ferguson as well as those sympathetic to the concerns about hyper-aggressive police tactics. Speaking about Ferguson, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes told a New York Times reporter, “this story was put on the map, driven, and followed on social media more so than any story I can remember since the Arab spring.” Amidst the surge of social media, a number of journalists reported on what they perceived


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


The Role of Social Media, Citizen Media in Latest Anti-Government Unrest in Brazil

Friday, June 14, 2013 Comment passe livre sao paulo political organization facebook group page

Like Turkey, Brazil is seeing a wave of anti-government protests it hasn’t seen in years. Thousands of residents in several cities, including Brazil’s two biggest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are now organizing protests. Protests started in Sao Paolo after the government had authorized (another) increase in bus fares in the city. Through social media, the movement “Passe Livre” (Free Pass) formed online and quickly drew more than 50,000 supporters. Most of the protesters are university students, although officials said “anarchists” looking for a fight were also taking part. Mainstream media are portraying the


DML Conference 2013: Democratic Futures (Ethan Zuckerman, Keynote)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 Comment dml 2013 logo

Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ) will deliver the keynote at this year’s Digital Media & Learning Conference, “Democratic Futures,” March 14-16 in Chicago, and we asked Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) to vlog with Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and co-founder of Global Voices. As Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs and Net Smart, writes below: “Don’t miss the video. Zuckerman does most of the talking, and he knows what he’s talking about.” “What’s the most important possible effect of many-to-many communication?” I asked myself when I first started writing about life online. The term “social


What Ancient Greek Rhetoric Might Teach Us About New Civics

Thursday, November 29, 2012 Comment picture of old new greece city skyline

A great deal of our conversation lately has focused on getting governments to open up their data and to share what they know with the general public. We are beginning to see a larger trend emerge -– much of the thinking of the power of technology to transform societies, especially societies in the developing world, focuses on government transparency. I think this focus is deeply important, but I also think it’s an incomplete way to understand the space of technology and social change. We need to understand not just governments and transparency, but the rights and


How Do We Make Civic Crowdfunding Awesome?

Monday, August 13, 2012 Comment thousands of hands in the air

Ten people each contribute $100 a month into a pool. They meet once a month and discuss possible projects to support. Each month, they give a grant of $1000 to a project that meets a simple criterion: it’s awesome. That’s the logic behind the Awesome Foundation, founded by Tim Hwang and friends, brilliantly built and managed by Christia Xu. Awesome Foundation now has 50 chapters in 10 countries and has given 252 grants, sponsoring awesome projects like Float, which attaches air pollution sensors to kites to report on air quality, and Free the Billboards, which invites


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.