November 1, 2007
MIT Center for Future Civic Media Blog

Our cohorts over at MIT's new Center for Future Civic Media have been providing a lot of interesting and insightful pieces over on their new blog for the center, which is located here. The center is a collaboration between the Program in Comparative Media Studies and the Media Lab here at MIT, through a grant from the Knight Foundation. According to their Web site, the group will focus on creating the "technical and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information. These include developing new technologies that support and foster civic media and political action; serving as an international resource for the study and analysis of civic media; and coordinating community-based test beds both in the United States and internationally."

As longtime readers of the C3 blog may know, these issues are close to my heart. I have posted many times on issues surrounding journalism and particularly from my perspective as a practicing journalist (see here and here). I was lucky to be on the planning committee for what became the center along with a lot of other intelligent folks, and the push was toward understanding the ways in which new technologies don't just create virtual communities but also have a very real impact on the physical communities people live in, or as Henry Jenkins and the folks at Knight like to put it, the place where people "live, work, and vote."

However, the range of issues covered on the site isn't limited to issues directly surrounding journalism. Take, for instance, this recent post from new CMS graduate student Abhimanyu Das. Das writes about the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) as an example of an organization generating significant civic engagement from a community built around a common interest: in this case, the artistic freedom of comic book artists and creatives.

Das writes:

The media hub for this community is its website, which serves multiple functions. It is a portal for articles (external and in-house) on ongoing and resolved cases with CBLDF involvement as well as developments with regard to first amendment issues and comics. The linked mailing list and RSS feed perform the dual roles of keeping the community informed and maintaining a running interaction with the industry professionals (retailers, publishers, writers) that might require the assistance of the organization. Finances are also handled through the website as a place for fans to donate money as well as a forum for the publicizing of various fundraising initiatives. These efforts often involve an inventive melding of existing technologies and community involvement.

I will continue to direct C3 readers' attention toward the Center for Future Civic Media's blog as interesting posts arise, but I wanted to make sure to recommend it as a site worth subscribing to or following, and for more than just what is often narrowly defined as "civic media."

For those who are curious about the way research projects are structured here at MIT in the Program for Comparative Media Studies, C3 and The Center for Future Civic Media are two among six research groups affiliated with the program. The others are The Education Arcade, Metamedia, Project New Media Literacies, and GAMBIT.