Civic media in Moldova… and Cambridge, MA, too…

My friends at the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT are engaged in a very interesting crowdsourcing project. You may remember Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution” of April 2009, when activists took to the streets of Chisinau to protest what they saw as a rigged election. The events were neither a revolution, nor did they really involve Twitter (my posts on that matter here and here), but they were certainly relevant for the activists who participated and were detained by Moldovan authorities.

The Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism has come into possession of video feeds from the square where the protests took place and is working with the Center for Future Civic Media to put those videos online and encourage Moldovans to view the feeds and annotate the footage so that we have a better understanding of what happened during the protests. Were protesters behaving violently? Did security forces use excessive force? RCIJ is a very serious and credible reporting organization, which helps assure me that this won’t be a witchhunt for security officers, but a crowdsourced project designed to understand what happened and help dispel rumors about the protests.

You’re probably not going to be very helpful in unpacking the footage unless you know Chisinau well, speak some Romanian and understand local politics, but it’s interesting to see and perhaps you can forward to the favorite Moldovans in your life. The footage lives at dickgregoryforpresident.com, one of the best domain names I’ve seen in years (clearly the work of Civic Media co-founder Chris Csikszentmihalyi…)


While we’re at it, allow me to mention that I’m going to be spending more time at the Center for Future Civic Media in the near future. I’ll be a visiting fellow there this coming semester, and I’ll be trying to split my Cambridge time between Berkman and MIT.

If you’re interested in spending time at the Center for Future Civic Media, there’s a terrific opportunity open. The program is recruiting two masters students. Students will be working towards masters degrees at the MIT Media Lab, but would work closely with professors, researchers and fellows associated with the Center, and would focus their degree work on projects about civic media. It’s also possible to work with Center for Future Civic Media through MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, which looks at civic media through a lens more focused on analysis and less on producing new products and systems.

What’s civic media? Any media that a community uses to strengthen social bonds and lead to civic engagement. The program is looking for media geeks, people with some programming background, an interest in journalism or community media and the willingness to study the civic media space and build new projects to address needs of local and global communities. If you fit the description, hope you’ll apply – would be exciting to have fun new folks to work with.

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