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 Entrepreneurship in Civic Tech

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 Fair Use & Creative Remixing on YouTube

Voto Latino’s 2014 Power Summits

I’m heading to New York this weekend to help launch Voto Latino‘s Power Summit (#VLPowerSummit). Hundreds of young Latinos will further develop their leadership, advocacy, and media & technology skills this Saturday. There will be three additional Power Summits over the course of 2014, in San Jose, San Antonio, and Miami. And in addition to the impressive speaker lineup and training schedule, the Summit includes a couple of other interactive components I’m excited to follow. Continue reading Voto Latino’s 2014 Power Summits

Questioning the Quantified Self as it Marches Towards Mainstream

I’m back at the Media Lab today and got to attend a talk by cultural anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll, of MIT’s Science, Technology, and Society program, who’s speaking at Pattie Maes’s Tools for Well-Being series.


Digital technologies can have negative impacts on our well-being. Natasha grew interested in the topic over the course of writing Addiction by Design, on the game elements throughout machine gambling in Las Vegas. Speed, repetition, continuity, and designer chairs lure players into a zen flow and open wallet. The casino industry seeks to produce this bubble state, and closely tracks players’ behavior to further refine its profit engines. Loyalty cards are a key mechanism for these studies, recording the games we prefer, the denominations we default to. As “Dividuals“, we are treated as a collection of habits and preferences that can be marketed upon, often in real-time. Continue reading Questioning the Quantified Self as it Marches Towards Mainstream

#HackATTN @ SXSWi 2014

attn hack

The plane tickets are purchased and I’m getting closer to a place to sleep, so I can now announce that I’m going to SXSW for the first time since 2008 (that time I met Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook nightclub event). I’ll speaking in a session with Josh Stearns of Free Press, Madeleine Bair of WITNESS, and Adaora Udoji of Syria Deeply. We’ll be sharing our experiences hacking global attention for the purposes of disasters and revolutions.

If you’re going to be in town, I’d love to see your face at the session (or over some incarnation of a taco).
Continue reading #HackATTN @ SXSWi 2014

Companies Mobilizing Customers

Because I don’t have enough Tumblrs, I’ve started Companies Mobilizing Customers to collect examples of web-native companies mobilizing their customers to advocate on behalf of the services the companies offer. It’s a brave new world of corporate advocacy, disruptive technological possibilities, and evolving regulatory landscapes. Help me add new examples and those I’ve missed?

Uber intervenes in Boston bus driver striker
Uber intervenes in Boston bus driver strike

On feeling comfortable in new places

It can take some time (2.5 years?) before you really feel comfortable living in a new city. Some people jump right in, others need time. Even though I’m pretty nomadic and love things like bikeshares and coworking spots and Amazon Prime for purposes of pretending I live in places I don’t, I’m emotionally more in the latter camp.

I moved to San Francisco yesterday to try it out for a bit, and even though I’ve been all over the area on previous trips I haven’t been a good explorer these past 24 hours. For example, today I made the conscious decision to take a right hand turn for the sole purpose of breaking my one-street life thus far. It’s Catherine D’Ignazio’s thesis in real-time — she’s working to create a Fog of War for real life to encourage geographic serendipity.

I’m chatting with a friend in a new city going through the same thing. Her city is colder and darker. But I told her I’d write up my list of shortcuts to feeling like you belong somewhere. Here’s what I’ve got: Continue reading On feeling comfortable in new places