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Designing Games for Civic Action December 10, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, MIT5, Social Media, Trends.
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Some food for thought for designers, theorists, and activists on game design as insights, tools, and practices from gaming are increasingly integrated across different areas of life, leading to talk of the ‘gamification’ of everything – including civic media.

What are the possibilities of and challenges for civic games? Independent game designers, networks like Games for Change, and perhaps even major industry players are moving towards linking gameplay with realworld civic actions.

What is the state of play, and what is coming just over the horizon? In theorizing and developing civic games, what can we learn from games with civic content – as texts, processes, and points of community engagement? How can we understand game design itself as civic engagement, as communities become not only game players but increasingly also design, mod, develop, and critique games?

The age of e-mail is ending. A recent PEW study found that email is now the least used form of digital communication for young people, with 11% of teens engaging in daily email use. On the other hand, as of 2009, over half of teens were communicating daily via SMS, up almost 50% from 2006. For civic organizations, SMS open rates of texts are near 100%, whereas email open rates often hover between 5 – 15%.

Moving forward, organizations wishing to communicate effectively, especially with young people, must develop mobile strategies. What are the opportunities and limitations of SMS as a communication tool, particularly for driving user behavior?

This lunch talk at MIT will discuss learnings from some initial experiments designed to maximize engagement via SMS, as well as provide their insights into trends to watch for the coming years.

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Will Journalism Survive? April 14, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, MIT5, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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While not dead, the news industry in the US is severely depleted and likely to diminish further, an MIT panel agree. But they also believe something vibrant and enduring might emerge from this period of digital disruption.

The key to survival in the digital age will involve using new tools to engage the many different publics, especially those who might have been alienated by a partisan or compliant media. There is a hunger for understanding the world around, and one way is to engage different audiences through a “partnership model,” where users inform the journalistic process.

Legendary MIT Lectures On The Web December 23, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, MIT5, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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Professor Walter Lewin’s Lectures on Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are legendary for their clear and dazzling presentations. Now they can be viewed anywhere, anytime on the MIT OpenCourseWare site which shares free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from over 1800 courses spanning its entire curriculum.

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The Walter Lewin Video Lectures

8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics
8.02 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves

Thanks to the global classroom the university has created to spread knowledge online, Lewin is today a Web guru. The professor is part of the Web generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and iTunes U. MIT on iTunes U contains video and audio files of MIT faculty lectures, public lectures, and community events.

And if you’re thinking of homeschooling a high schooler or gifted teenager, here’s an invaluable resource. M.I.T. recently expanded its online classes by opening a site aimed at high school students and teachers. Lewin is among those featured.

Open CourseWare is not an MIT education. It does not grant degrees and certificates or provide access to MIT faculty. Most educators use it to plan and teach a course.

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Re-imagining Journalism 2.0 November 14, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, MIT5, News, Reviews, Social Media, Trends.
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It is time to re-imagine journalism now that the Web and affordable digital media tools have empowered anyone to decide what’s news, to report it and deliver it. There are many opportunities in the concept of a “news info-structure” for people who want to commit random acts of journalism.

Alternative channels of information cannot be dismissed. Jan Schafer, Executive Director of J-Lab at the University of Maryland and a leading thinker in the journalism reform movement asserts that the new core mission for journalism is one in which news will become less of a concrete deliverable.

Indeed, it is time to revisit journalistic practices to decide what to discard and what to keep so that journalism is repositioned in our communities to include all voices. Take a look at these innovative recent models:

Placeblogger.com, a portal that aggregates and researches community news and commentary sites. GlobalVoicesOnline.org, curates, translates and aggregates news from under-represented communities from more than 200 countries.

BlogHer.org, a portal that indexes news and information from 10,500 blogs, mostly by women. And just all of two-weeks old, SCOOP08, a new kind of Web newspaper by students for students covering the 2008 US Presidential elections.


SCOOP08 Video Contest trailer

The new News is not about requiring a conflict before information is decreed a “story.” It is not about parroting quotes because someone important said them, nor reporting lies, because high officials said them.

“Journalism needs to be re-imagined beyond stories or packages of stories occupying some form of real estate online or on the printed page – and become more of an ongoing process of imparting and learning about information,” says Schafer.

“This new mission requires journalists to embrace new partners, validate supplemental news channels, and support -without always controlling – a vibrant local newscape. “Denouncing these alternative channels of information as not ‘real journalism’ will no longer work.”

That mission calls for building an overarching local ‘info-structure,’ one created to support new definitions of ‘news,’ new participants in content creation and interaction, and new pathways for news and information.

News organizations need to construct the hub that will enable ordinary people with passions and expertise to commit acts of news and information.

JAN SCHAFER, Executive Director, J-Lab

Professional journalists can add value by focusing their expertise and skills on doing investigations, identifying trends, building databases, holding public officials accountable and articulating the master narratives in their communities.

News orgs need to think beyond employing journalists, too. Here are some of the roles Schaffer sees expanding:

Can do-ers “instead of those who whine about what they can’t do.”

Computer programmers to build searchable databases or news games.

Collaborators with “the sensibility to see the possibilities of working together instead of moving into kneejerk competitor mode.”

News analysts to “trawl incoming information looking for Big-J opportunities.”

Tribe expanders: “Journalism in the future will come from many places. We should contribute to the momentum of the best and most responsible efforts and recruit them for the info-structure.

One take-away lesson is information design. Consider doing “charticles” for simple updates. Tell what happened, what’s at stake, what’s next – and put it in a box. Link to a timeline with background on your Web site. If readers need it, they will find it.

While citizen journalism may be a new form of volunteerism, Schafer notes that there should be a balance between the giving and the getting, in these initiatives. “People contribute for a reason – either because of a personal passion, to effect change, to learn something, or even to get smarter about technology.”

The new News can make room for citizen journalists, student journalists, think tanks, nonprofits, individual bloggers and advocacy groups in the community who are paying attention to what’s going on.

For instance, “Crisis Guides” offers a comprehensive examination of international crisis zones and TechPresident.com tracks online activities of presidential candidates. These resources deserve to be supported with space, attention and even small grants to encourage them to contribute to the info-structure.

For example, residents of Deerfield, N.H. created their own paper when they had no available media. The Forum is now an online newspaper with 220 contributors who produce about 40 original stories a week.

Other examples: NewHavenIndependent.org and the Twin Cities Daily Planet have attracted support from community foundations that traditionally look to build community capacity.

Related Reads:
Construct Your Community’s Info-Structure by Jan Schafer
Impact of the Internet on Teaching and Practicing Journalism by Joanne Teoh
Be a Better Journalist by Unlearning What You Know by Robert Niles

Webs@Work Weekly Buzz #2 November 4, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, MIT5, News, Trends, Web Video, Webs@Work Buzz.
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Welcome to the Webs@Work Weekly Buzz, a regular brief highlighting recent blog posts, online media news, and other new content on civic media.

A webcast of What Is Civic Media? is now available from MIT World. The forum marked the launch of the new MIT Center for Future Civic Media and was the first in a series on the relationship between emerging media and civic engagement.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a report that sets out guidelines to minimize collateral damage that copyright enforcement efforts may inflict on video creators who remix copyrighted material.

The report includes a test suite of videos that software engineers can use to test whether their automated filtering technologies are taking proper account of fair use principles.

“Rising Voices, the outreach arm of Global Voices, is accepting proposals for microgrant funding for citizen media outreach projects. Ideal applicants will present proposals to teach citizen media techniques to communities poorly positioned to take advantage of them.

Queen of media Oprah Winfrey is set to go viral, joining the fun on YouTube with the launch this week of her dedicated channel. It will have clips and behind-the-scenes footage from her TV show.

MIT, MTV, bloggers share honors May 30, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, Journalism, MIT5, News, Social Media.
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The Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the top winners of the Knight News Challenge contest. MIT received $5 million to create a Center for Future Civic Media to develop, test and study new forms of high-tech community news and civic engagement. The center pairs the technological innovation of the Media Lab with the social and cultural expertise of the Comparative Media Studies Program.

We talk about the fifth estate – the fourth estate is traditionally newspapers, but the fifth estate might be an army of citizens that uses new media to keep an eye both on government officials and on professional journalists. It’s an extra check in the system of checks and balances.

HENRY JENKINS Director, MIT Comparative Media Studies Program

We are moving to a Fifth Estate where everyone is able to pool their knowledge, share experience and expertise, and speak truth to power.

CHRIS CSIKSZENTMIHAILYI Director, MIT Computing Culture Research Group

“All good journalists worry about what the digital revolution is doing to the news citizens need to run their communities and their lives. Now, the awesome array of science and technology at MIT will focus on this question. From their experiments we expect to see a new generation of useful community news technology and technique,” says Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s vice president/journalism program.

The contest challenged applicants to develop ways of using digital media to foster local communities. New England winners took home over half the grant money. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funded the contest, pledging $25 million over five years to digital journalism efforts. Other winners are listed here.

We want to spur discovery of how digital platforms can be used to disseminate news and information on a timely basis within a defined geographic space, and thereby build and bind community. That’s what newspapers and local television stations used to do in the 20th century, and it’s something that our communities still need today.

ALBERTO IBARGUEN Knight Foundation President and CEO

Winners included a motley crew of bloggers and organizations including MTV. Funded by $1.1 million, Adrian Holavaty, one of the most talented news developers around, is leaving washingtonpost.com to start EveryBlock, an effort to create open-source apps that will let citizens “learn and act on information about their neighborhood.

Also of note, David Ardia, of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School won $250,000 to support the Citizen Media Law Project, an online legal resource for citizen journalists. Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center won $244,000 for Rising Voices, a new project to bring people developing countries and rural areas into the blogosphere.

Lisa Williams, of Placeblogger gets $220,000 to make finding hyperlocal news easier. Richard Anderson of Village Soup gets $885,000 to create an open-source of Village Soup’s community news software. Jay Rosen and J.D. Lasica each get $15,000 while Amy Gahran and Adam Glenn, co-founders of citizen j effort I, Reporter get $90.000.

Media in Transition 5 at MIT May 4, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, MIT5, News, YouTube.
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by Joanne KY Teoh
I just spent a very scholarly week in Cambridge, where I spoke on a panel at the Media in Transition 5 Conference at MIT. My presentation on journalism in the digital age examined the YouTube phenomenon and the emergence online of grassroots video narratives from Asia. My panel took very probing questions from the many digital visionaries in the audience, including Henry Jenkins and William Uricchio, Co-Directors of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program.

The conference is a joint effort of MIT Comparative Media Studies and the MIT Communications Forum. The Spring weekend was jam-packed with plenaries and breakouts as an international panel of thinkers, scholars, artists, practitioners and writers descended on the MIT campus to dissect thinking, trade research and toss ideas that don’t yet exist around the conference themes of creativity, ownership, and collaboration in the digital age.

What a smorgasbord of conversations on theory and practice. What a feast of thinking across media forms, theoretical domains, cultural contexts, and historical periods. Despite mostly standing room only at the plenaries, a global audience could follow the proceedings. Plenary sessions have been posted to the MIT CMS Podcast.

1: Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures
2: Collaboration and Collective Intelligence
3: Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons
4: Learning through Remixing
5: Reproduction, Mimicry, Critique and Distribution Systems in Visual Art
6: Summary Perspectives

To subscribe to the MIT CMS Podcast for future recordings, go here.

Henry Jenkins has invited feedback in his post-conference thread.

The theme for the conference:

Our understanding of the technical and social processes by which culture is made and reproduced is being challenged and enlarged by digital technologies. An emerging generation of media producers is sampling and remixing existing materials as core ingredients in their own work. Readers are actively reshaping media content as they personalize it for their own use or customize it for the needs of grassroots and online communities. Of course, the idea that artists build on earlier traditions or that new texts speak to and about earlier texts is scarcely a new idea. This fifth Media in Transition conference aims to generate a conversation that compares historical forms of cultural expression with contemporary media practices.

Here’s a sampling of the menu:

advertising; blogs; collective intelligence; cultural studies; digital storytelling; fair use; Flickr; folk culture; history of tech; creative labor; media literacy; music; remixing and mashups; copyright and copyleft; networked culture; films; photoblogs; photography; creative commons; urban cultures; YouTube; MySpace; Shakespeare; Homer; Gutenberg parenthesis, etc etc.