November 11, 2007

civic media @ mit

by Mary Flanagan · , 1:40 pm

Hi all, watch for materials emerging from the Center for future civic media at MIT (C4FCM) made possible by a four-year grant from the Knight Foundation.

“The Center for Future Civic Media aims to create technical and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information.” The group, led by an MIT team spanning Comparative Media Studies (Henry Jenkins) and the Media Lab (Mitch Resnick, Chris Csikszentmihalyi), has a goal of developing new technologies that support and foster civic media and political action as well as serve for an analysis tool for the study of civic media.

The MIT team uses the term “civic media,” rather than “citizen journalism”, because, as they put it, “civic media is any form of communication that strengthens the social bonds within a community or creates a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents. Civic media goes beyond news gathering and reporting. MIT students have experimented with a variety of new civic media techniques, from technologies for protests and civil disobedience to phone-texting systems that allow instant, sophisticated votes on everyday activities. The Center will amplify the development of these technologies for community empowerment, while also serving to generate curricula and open-source frameworks for civic action.” from: http://civic.mit.edu/?page_id=36

The folks in my lab are excited by this move, and I hope the MIT team can gather up the existing resources and groups doing civic media, including getting the participation of some of our grads in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program. We’ve got about 70 MFA students in our rather new program creating everything from community media, to social networks, computer games, audio tours, ad campaigns, and performative projects and installations which engage in activist themes.

It will be exciting to watch how the MIT group transforms knowledge into social action, as stated in their project goals!