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March 25 2011


Civic Tools Video: "Tool for Consensus-Based Decision Making"

Charlie DeTar walks us through prototype software to aid medium-to-large groups in consensus-based decision making.


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February 22 2011


Lost in Boston Finds a New Partner in Hope House

Lost in Boston Real Time turns bookstores and burrito joints into bus stops by delivering the MBTA’s live bus and T data to these value add locations via LED signs. The first few deployments of the project validated the hypothesis: indeed knowing that the CT2 is still ten minutes away is much more valuable while sitting at Anna’s Taqueria with friends than standing alone at the bus stop.

LIB Real Time may be of limited value to all of us with smartphones and bus apps. But imagine you’re not sitting at Anna’s with the bean juice running down your arm as you check your smart phone app; instead you’re a client living at a residential treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction.

Say today is the first day of a new job and you need to find your way there on the bus. You don’t have a bus schedule, never mind a smart phone. You leave for the bus stop hoping that today the cards aren’t stacked against you and the bus is running on time.

This is a reality for many of the 102 individuals living at Hope House in Boston’s South End. When residents are faced with the inevitable delays that come with their daily commutes via public transit, it creates an additional stress in an already challenging time in their lives.

Hope House understands that support and empowerment for their comprehensive community-based treatment program can come from many sources. So when Development Director Susan Bradley heard about Lost In Boston Real Time, she knew it would be a perfect fit for the residents of Hope House. She contacted creator Rick Borovoy last summer:

Dear Lost in Boston team:
Would we be eligible to host a Real Time bus sign? Hope House is a
 non-profit residential rehab center for homeless men. We are located at the
 corner of Melnea Cass Blvd and Hampden Street. We have 102 residents, most of whom depend on public transportation. The #1 bus route is the one we
 would be interested in monitoring.

It turns out that Lost in Boston Real Time is uniquely positioned to support the residents of Hope House. And since partnering with Hope House, they have proven to be an ideal community collaborator: unwearied, bold and candid.

Unwearied: Hope House appreciates that Lost in Boston is a pilot project and is working out some kinks in its initial deployments. Hope House patiently and graciously waited until early November while a more reliable version of the software was developed before the signage and hardware were installed.

Bold: Hope House brings humor and a practical sensibility to the Lost in Boston project. Always willing to roll-up their sleeves, grab a ladder, and push a few buttons on the net book, Hope House takes sign administration in stride.

Candid: Straightforward, honest and direct, Hope House didn’t hesitate to let us know that the residents loved the sign and… when things weren’t working. Hope House also invited us to meet directly with residents -the end-users – facilitating an authentic and valuable feedback loop for the project.

Encouraged by the successful deployment of Lost In Boston Real Time at Hope House, the project is exploring new community partnerships. Upping the ante, this time around we’ll be seeking to build a system of signs within a community that combines real time event and public transportation information. Interested? Please contact Rick Borovoy at borovoy@media.mit.edu or Regan St. Pierre at reganstp@mit.edu here at the Center for Future Civic Media.

Sponsored post

December 06 2010


UN Global Pulse Camp 1.0

(Photo credit: Christopher Fabian of UNICEF & Global Pulse)

Just got back from the UN "Pulse Camp 1.0".

Global Pulse is a new and quite ambitious UN initiative "to improve evidence-based decision-making and close the information gap between the onset of a global crisis and the availability of actionable information to protect the vulnerable" (Full overview at http://www.unglobalpulse.org/about).

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June 25 2010


FNCM conference plenary videos now available

Please to enjoy the visual fruits of last week's Future of News and Civic Media conference plenaries. Below--available for viewing, downloading, and reusing--are the three plenary videos...

Announcement of the 2010 Knight News Challenge winners

Available for download at MIT TechTV.

"Crowd Building" with Gabriella Coleman and Karim Lakhani

Available for download at MIT TechTV.

"Data into Action" with Nick Grossman, Ellen Miller, and Laurel Ruma

Available for download at MIT TechTV.

C4FCM demo videos will be available early next week.

June 17 2010


April 01 2010


At PBS IdeaLab: "Sourcemap Makes Data Visualizations Transparent"

The latest C4FCM post from the Idea Lab blog:

While pitched as a way to create and visualize "open supply chains," Sourcemap's real virtue is that the data itself is fully sourced. Like the links at the bottom of a Wikipedia article and the accompanying edit history, you know exactly who added the data and where that data came from. You can take that data and make counter-visualizations if you feel the data isn't correctly represented. Sourcemap's very structure acknowledges that visualization is an editorial process and gives others a chance to work with the original data. For example, here's an example of a Sourcemap for an Ikea bed:

Read the rest at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab: "Sourcemap Makes Data Visualizations Transparent"

March 18 2010


At PBS IdeaLab: "How to Break Through the Difficult 'Phase 2' of Any Project"

If you want to know what it's like pitching a new media project, just go to the experts:

This South Park clip, a classic in its own right, is a favorite around the MIT Center for Future Civic Media because every single new media project -- ours and those from our Knight News Challenge colleagues -- inevitably hits a wall at "Phase 2."

For South Park's Underpants Gnomes, "Phase 1: Collect underpants" is like every great idea we've all had: It doesn't quite make sense to everyone else yet, but we know it's gold. We also know it totally will lead to reinventing the news industry for the better. It will use technology in a new way, it will draw upon existing competencies in communities, and it will be financially sustainable. Totally. It therefore leads to "Phase 3: Profit."

But the sound of crickets at Phase 2 is the challenge. You have that revolutionary idea, but how can you be sure you're meeting an information need of a particular community before you spend your time and money?

Continue reading at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab

November 16 2009


Communications Forum: "What's New at the Center for Future Civic Media"

MIT Center for Future Civic Media Director Chris Csikszentmihalyi presents the Center's most recent projects. From community mapping to news tracking, from collective action to rural empowerment, from cultural mixing to carbon consciousness, civic media is any technology or technique that strengthens a geographic community. Civic media researchers will demonstrate their projects in a lightning-round format, with time for discussion and questions following each presentation listed below.

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