Play into a Broader World View with Terra Incognita

My colleague Catherine D’Ignazio is one of those rare people who manages to create beautiful art and clever software while remaining incredibly down to earth. I’ve been helping out here and there on her Media Lab Master’s thesis, Terra Incognita. Here’s an overview of the project I wrote up for the Internews Center for Innovation & Learning.

We’re building a news game that helps you explore a wider swath of the globe than you may have before. Terra Incognita: 1000 Cities of the World is a game delivered by Chrome browser extension. When you open a new tab, you’ll be prompted to read a news story from one of the top 1,000 global cities. You’ll also get credit for news stories you read on a limited set of news sites. You can get early access to Terra Incognita today.

Terra Incognita screenshot

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Joi’s Guiding Principles for Innovation in the Network Era

I just got to hang out with my friends at MIT’s Center for Civic Media and the insanely relevant and great group of people that Civic and the Knight Foundation bring together for the annual conference. Here’s my liveblog of Joi Ito‘s 9 Principles for the Media Lab, some of which directly informed my thesis on participatory aid and crisis resilience. Check out the Civic blog for more coverage.

Liveblogged at #civicmedia with help from Ed Platt. Any errors are likely ours.

Joi Ito (@joi), Director of the MIT Media Lab, is here to share his nine principles.

Nearly thirty years ago when the Media Lab was founded, the internet was about connecting together supercomputers. The Media Lab was all about empowering the individual and making everything digital. The Lab’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte, wrote Being Digital.

What’s changed in these last thirty years is that we’ve made a lot of progress empowering the individual, and as a result, we now have a network. When you have a network, you need to think about systems rather than objects. ‘Media’ is plural for medium, and a medium is something in which you can express yourself. In the past, that was hardware: displays, robots. Today, a medium can also be society itself. Applied social science and journalism are newly relevant. Continue reading

Yahoo!’s employee diversity

Yahoo! has responded to Google’s release of employee diversity statistics with its own numbers. Also like Google’s report, Yahoo! has broken out tech and leadership categories versus the overall employee population. The numbers still aren’t great for African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans, but the regular release of these statistics will allow us to hold these companies accountable — from within and from outside — for improving diversity. So, without further blog post, here are Yahoo!’s employee diversity visualized on their new logo:

62% male, 37% female

Race at Yahoo!: 50% white, 39% Asian

50% White, 39% Asian, 4% Hispanic ethnicity, 2% Black, 2% Two + races, 2% Other / not disclosed Continue reading

Tally Your Next Panel

I just built a quick app with friends old and new. It’s called Tally, and it lets event attendees and media consumers call out the all-too-frequently terrible gender ratios on panels and in Who’s Who lists. We took an existing social practice, where feminists take and share photos of panels with awful gender ratios, and built software to support it.

Tally’s a very simple app: You just enter where you are (or what you’re reading), and the number of men and women represented in this particular slice of the public dialog. The tool generates a representative pie chart graphic for you to share with others, send to the organizers, or just document. Positive ratios are adorned with a happy star, and negative ratios earn a storm cloud.

A recent Tally chart of #FortuneTech's gender ratio
A recent Tally chart of #FortuneTech’s gender ratio

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2 Google Doodles Visualizing Employee Diversity

Disclaimer: I’ve been a contractor with Google’s civic research team this year. I also bought two shares of Google stock a few years ago. This post has nothing to do with either of those two things.

In a surprising gesture of transparency, Google has released their internal figures on employee diversity. The very first sentence gets to the point: “We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity.” The numbers aren’t great, but then again, it’s hard to compare Google to other tech companies of their size and stature because they’re the first to release this information.

I’ve created two Google Doodles of my own to graph these statistics:

Google logo visualizing gender diversity Google logo visualizing racial and ethnic diversity Continue reading

Entrepreneurship in Civic Tech

Liveblog of a Code for America event in San Francisco.

The phrase “civic technology” has been claimed by those using technology to advance government, activism, political campaigns, neighborhood involvement, journalism, humanitarian relief, urban planning, and ever more realms. These fields overlap, in many cases. Broadly, we might define ‘civic tech’ as technology deployed on behalf of the common good.

Code for America’s definition is “technology that’s spurring civic engagement, enhancing citizen communications, improving government infrastructure, or generally making government more effective.”

Civic Entrepreneurship

Dharmishta Rood introduces the Code for America Accelerator program, which is open for another week. She points to the success of two Texan police officers who founded Street Cred in the previous cohort. She’s joined by a roster of panelists to discuss the tactical strategies and steps of civic entrepreneurship: Continue reading

Fair Use & Creative Remixing on YouTube

A liveblog of a Berkman Center lunch.

Elisa Kreisinger (@popcultpirate) is a content creator and remixer who has used YouTube to host her artistic work. She uses pop culture to sugarcoat social political critiques. She finds that her work helps her navigate the tension between being a fan of pop culture and a critic of it. She phrases this creative work as a way to “work off her consumption” of pop culture. Continue reading