Greatest Hits

Cute Cats to the Rescue? Participatory Media and Political Expression

Some years back, I gave a talk at O’Reilly’s ETech conference that urged the audience to spend less time thinking up clever ways dissidents could blog secretly from inside repressive regim…

What comes after election monitoring? Citizen monitoring of infrastructure.

I spent last week in Senegal at a board meeting for Open Society Foundation, meeting organizations the foundation supports around the continent. Two projects in particular stuck in my mind. One is Y&#…

Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk

Two weeks ago, I gave the opening keynote at the Digital Media and Learning conference in Chicago. The conference, which explores how digital media is and could be changing education and learning, foc…

How do we make civic crowdfunding awesome?

Ten people each contribute $100 a month into a pool. They meet once a month and discuss possible projects to support. Each month, they give a grant of $1000 to a project that meets a simple criterion:…

When the world is your dance teacher

In 2005, Matt Harding posted a video on the internet. It’s a compilation of clips of him dancing – badly – in locations around the world. It was his video postcard of an extended wal…

An idea worth at least 40 nanoKardashians of your attention

In my class today, celebrated science journalist Alister Doyle shared an insight that crystalized for me a line of thinking I’ve been exploring about media attention, celebrity and charity. Doyl…

The tweetbomb and the ethics of attention

Bachir (Chiren) Boumaaz, known as “Athene”, is an online gamer known for his prowess at World of Warcraft and other multiplayer games. His YouTube channel, which describes him as “wo…

The Passion of Mike Daisey: Journalism, Storytelling and the Ethics of Attention

I am telling you that I do not speak Mandarin, I do not speak Cantonese, I have only a passing familiarity with Chinese culture and to call what I have a passing familiarity is an insult to Chinese cu…

Unpacking Kony 2012

Traduzido para o Português por Natália Mazotte e Bruno Serman This Monday, March 5th, the advocacy organization Invisible Children released a 30 minute video titled “Kony 2012“. The goal…

Understanding #amina

On Monday, June 6th, a post appeared on the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” announcing that Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, the “girl” in question, had been kidnapped, possibly by …

CHI keynote: Desperately Seeking Serendipity

I’m giving the closing keynote at CHI 2011 this afternoon. I’m thrilled to have the chance to share some thoughts with some of the smartest researchers and practitioners working on questio…

Overcoming political polarization… but not through facts

A recent New York Times poll suggests that Americans are in a dark mood. 70% of people think the country is moving in the wrong direction, a number not seen since the peak of the Great Recession two y…

Those White Plastic Chairs – The Monobloc and the Context-Free Object

Ian Frazier, writing about the return of seals to the waters that surround New York City, offers this poetic observation about a white plastic chair: On a higher part of the beach, a single patio chai…

What if Tunisia had a revolution, but nobody watched?

On December 17, a 26 year old Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi reached the end of his rope. An unemployed university graduate, Bouazizi had become a seller of fruits and vegetables in the southern …

Makmende’s so huge, he can’t fit in Wikipedia

“After platinum, albums go Makmende” “They once made a makmende toilet paper, but there was a problem: It wouldn’t take shit from anybody!!!” “Makmende hangs his cl…

Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention

Secretary Clinton’s recent speech on Internet Freedom has signaled a strong interest from the US State Department in promoting the use of the internet to promote political reforms in closed soci…

Is ad-supported journalism viable in a pay-for-performance age?

While a great deal of what I write here is underinformed speculation, this piece is unusually speculative and underinformed. It’s possible that I’m flat out wrong about the idea I’m …

Mapping: Infrastructure and flow

I love airline route maps. I’ve fallen asleep staring at the tangle of possible journeys so often that I sometimes confuse the capilaries I see with my eyes closed with the red paths of Northwes…

Innovation from Constraint (the extended dance mix)

I gave a talk a few weeks ago in Barcelona that was pretty well-received and widely blogged. Specifically, several bloggers have picked up and amplified the seven key points I offered in the talk &#82…

The polyglot internet

I’ve been invited to participate in the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the future of the internet. This is a group of extremely smart folks who’ll be meeting both in…

Financial models for “difficult” journalism

One of the themes I was struck by at the Berkman at Ten conference was the idea that the net is now mature enough that we should be studying what’s actually happening, not just what we think sho…

Homophily, serendipity, xenophilia

There’s been a small but fascinating blog conversation going on surrounding the term “homophily”. Journalism and media critic Amy Gahran encountered the term in an interview I and So…

The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech

I’d forgotten just how much fun ETech is. Not only are the talks some of the most creative and innovative you can hear in the tech community, the room full of people is one of the most congenial…

The 5-4-3 double play, or “The Art of Conference Blogging”

When I was about seven years old, my father taught me how to score a baseball game. We were probably in Florida, combining a trip to a spring training game with a visit to one of my grandmothers. He e…

Incremental infrastructure, or how mobile phones might wire Africa

One of the consequences (intended or otherwise) of the TED Global conferencein Arusha, Tanzania last month is that many of the bloggers I read regularly are spending a good deal of time thinking about…

Draft paper on mobile phones and activism

I’m giving a talk on activist uses of mobile phones in the developing world later this month. Prior to the talk, the organizers have asked me to submit a short paper on the topic – here&#8…

Just how crazy is Joseph Kony?

The ongoing war in northern Uganda is one of the worst conflicts one rarely hears about. Jan Egeland, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, describes Northern Uganda as “the w…

Recovery 2.0 – thoughts on what worked and failed on PeopleFinder so far

Update: The interface to search the PeopleFinder database is up. According to our friends at Salesforce.com, there are now 87,000 records in the database, all entered by hand. Jeff Jarvis, who’s…

Africa’s a continent. Not a crisis.

My friend Brian at Black Star Journal has an excellent critical response to my post a few days back expressing frustration with today’s Live 8 concerts. Conceding me a few points – the pau…

Behold the Power of String

I got interested in gers about ten minutes before I first landed in Mongolia. As the plane descended to the Ulaanbaatar airport, I saw green hills dotted with white. The little dots were sheep –…

Media Attention, the UN, Sean MacBride and “ancient” media history

Last week, I had the pleasure of leading a class of Digital Democracy, a Harvard Law School course being team taught by Berkman Center staff and faculty. The class, as a whole, is concerned with issue…