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762 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Willow Brugh 762 days ago
Systems are currently becoming more networked and complex, but generally in a haphazard way. 
How can we teach about how networks work & how they are useful? 
How can we build healthy social scripts for connection and action? 
How can we build these networks intentionally, designing to leave out acknowledged flaws? 
We gather to describe, plan, execute, celebrate, & share movement from default-world hierarchies into intentional network structures.

703 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Willow Brugh 703 days ago
Willow B Civics in an age of mistrust and decentralization
For the January salon at NECSI, Ethan Zuckerman and Erhardt Graeff led a discussion and workshop on civics in a distributed society. Both are at the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab, Ethan as director and Erhardt as a PhD researcher. We explored how people in with influence/power/money try to create change in the world, how those affected by those changes view and respond to those attempts and changes, and also what we would do as people of influence/power/money.
Many people want to change the world.Leverage through money or power
Democracy as it tends to be generally practiced is the act of selecting people for positions of power, and then pressuring them through petitions, protests, and letters. Ethan remarks that this is a remarkably impoverished view. We interact with governance and our social systems also based on what we buy (and don’t buy), where we live, how we speak. Regardless, our trust is low, and not just in government ,  but in institutions as well; and not just in the US, but all over the world. This distrust comes from many sources — leaders who insist government is useless while diminishing funding to the point it can’t be effective, an unfettered (and high-velocity, highly-connected) press, visibly lacking integrity.
<img class="progressiveMedia-noscript js-progressiveMedia-inner" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*gaeUXMUjtb3lUfQA373UNA.jpeg">
But what about individuals and foundations with large amounts of wealth who also hope to act in the public interest, who aren’t elected, and aren’t subject to public opinion in the same ways? They might invest in think tanks, in market-based interventions (like Tesla), in campaigns to affect public opinion to place pressure on courts and elected officials.
Regardless of if an individual came to have influence through an electoral process or through having access to wealth, Lawrence Lessig provides a framework in his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace on which most (if not all) change is attempted.
Four fulcrums
  • Laws are explicit, and created and enforced through governance systems.
  • Norms are implicit social expectations, enforced through social pressure and assumptions based on media and other environmental factors.
  • Markets shape behavior by making some actions more or less expensive financially or time-wise.
<img class="progressiveMedia-noscript js-progressiveMedia-inner" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*qmrgNO8uuWW4i0bv1xQd8w.jpeg">
How do you know if what you’re doing is working?
It’s possible to track enforcement of laws. A market-based intervention is either successful in the market or fails out. Architecture demands use and maintenance, but use implies success (except for those pesky hackers and other reappropriators). Ethan and Erhardt primarily focus on changing norms. These are also arguably the most difficult to know if your hoped-for-change is occurring, as norms are implicit, rather than explicit. At the Center for Civic Media, we think about the attention economy, and so one way of seeing shifts in norms is by tracking how the media talks about and shows topics. Media Cloud is a tool for gathering media sources, creating visualizations, and comparing various topics. For instance, Erhardt showed a shift in the media conversation around Trayvon Martin (highly recommended reading - w).
<img class="progressiveMedia-noscript js-progressiveMedia-inner" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*4ef5aBpNPWf-8f6uCs69hA.png">
In short, creating change is hard, even if you’ve got money and/or power.
Here’s the video from our salon:
More on the topic of civics in a distributed society from Ethan’s post about his keynote at Syracuse University’s Humanities annual symposium on Insurrectionist Civics in the Age of Mistrust (highly recommended reading, and most of the images on this blog comes from the associated slide deck- w).
How would YOU create change?
With this framing, this question was posited to the salon attendees. Erhardt facilitated an interactive workshop he’d designed. “So let’s say you have 10 million dollars. Powerball hooray! What would you do, to deal with climate change? Fund think tanks and organizations? Fund advocacy groups / passing laws? Fund research? Create tech to do things we can’t otherwise do?” The room divided into 4 groups, and then picked one of Lessig’s 4 means of interventions.
First, what would you focus on doing?
The markets group suggested moving businesses from current energy consumption modes to “greener” methods. Architecture focused on triggers against bad behavior, as well as visualizations about industry consumption and pollution automatically sent to surrounding populations. The norms group suggested outright bribing of COP representatives to sign binding agreements which countries would then have to adhere to.
We were also joined on Twitter:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-conversation=”none” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/willowbl00">@willowbl00</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/NECSI">@NECSI</a> I think the Great African Tree Wall is a good start; ban Urban commutes by automobile on penalty of stoning; nuke plants.</p>&mdash; Kevin Foobar (@fu9ar) <a href=”https://twitter.com/fu9ar/status/687417685123153920">January 13, 2016</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-conversation=”none” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/willowbl00">@willowbl00</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/NECSI">@NECSI</a> Investments in <a href=”https://t.co/gNtzicIT9q">https://t.co/gNtzicIT9q</a> 2.Battery tech 3.Ending animal agriculture (bigger than transportation)</p>&mdash; Ben Rupert (@Meowdip) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Meowdip/status/687460558803611648">January 14, 2016</a></blockquote>
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How would you know if it was working?
Erhardt then asked the groups how they would know that their initiative was working. The architecture group spoke of running similar experiments with sensor networks in two cities - one with the information visible to the population, and the other where it wasn’t. Pushback was that it’s considered unethical to collect data without letting the participants view it, and that there are many confounding factors at play with your N is 2. The law group focused on microgrids, and passing legislation which required a shift to modernized infrastructure. Pushback was around sufficient infrastructure for the change to take place. The markets group spent their cool 10mil on shifting ALL transport systems to bicycles, and norms created individual carbon-based emission scores which reminded yours truly of buycott.
To shift the world, even with massive funding and assumed power, is difficult to do. All of the posited interventions at the salon were pilot/demo level. To know you’re succeeding in any way is also difficult. Empathy was certainly built for those who have money and power, and who still aren’t wildly successful at changing the world. Perhaps a few “why don’t you just…” phrases were put to rest. At the same time, as individual citizens, we saw how much of a role we have to play in societal shifts — perhaps more effectively in our distributed and connected networks.
706 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Samuel Klein 706 days ago
Samuel K
  • Threatened Voices
Coordinate with current projects: police shooting trackers
  • Find the scripts they run on public documents, build a shared library
  • Use a similar form-workflow, metadata (age, gender), visualizations
Try tracking threats, before damage is done
+ Legal (prosecution)
+ Physical (attack)
+ Intimidation (of the person)
+ Interference (w/ the work)
728 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Willow Brugh 728 days ago
How connectivity matters -- smartphones and wifi all over.
This means governments etc are losing control. Hungarian goverment trying to say "we won't let you in illegally" when the migrating population knows better. The rhetoric versus the actuality.
733 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Samuel Klein 733 days ago
Samuel K Patent.ly
Christopher Wong on previous work  X for PTO  - you could at least upload suggestions to a machine-readable db.  That would be searchable by everyone (given that currently found p.a. isn't always searchable by new patent agents)
X was improving on the EFS design for 3d party submissions: (title 8)
  • used to need to have a 'confirmation #' that noone remembers
  • concise description of relevance: in 250 chars (now up to 1k, plus PDF)
  • you can't write about whether target is patentable (e.g., this tech shouldn't be patentable; genes shouldn't be) - they will send back for amendment, ignore rest.
Didn't want to launch, bc it would be different.
a. One thing (a cleaner way to submit prior art) doesn't need PTO input to do it.
b. A non-patent lit db wouldn't be used w/o their support.  At least it would need to have an API that the next-gen PTO setup could access.  
JM - could get a net of entities to apply pressure to the Office
 } knowledge db.  public disclosure db.  structure, timestamps, public searchable
 ) invalidation using the above.
 ) submission fluidity using the above.  [when you want to submit to the PTO] 
 ) script-writing and extraction ('soft knowledge') - glue b/t less structured repos: sw hubs, mailing lists, red boards. 
 ) campaigns: a/b tests of comms? form letters to send the PTO, ...
Options for Moz: ask engs to monitor filings and file against them.  file actively agains bad subs.  have topical db.  
Pitch to other partners: how to help them contribute?  
+ integrate w existing workflows.  make this a clean way to disclose.
+ talk about db quality, human curation and classification
Danelle thinking about hackathon for other patent issues//  come up with 3-4 issues to resolve.  then dev rollout plans.  tried this w/ data@M, helped create initiatives.
Framing: 'public disclosure' site.  also, protecting rights/agency of original author
Politics: internally building 'Patents End-to-End' suite of tools.  to emerge by 2020.  Listen closely to CTO's office.
Check boxes people use to evaluate of things have been 'published'.
740 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Samuel Klein 740 days ago
NECSI dec 9 meetings w/ Nadeem & Urban Mechanics
Samuel K About City of Cambridge
3 councillors would be interested.  Jan Devereau (new), Nadeem, ?
Takes months to get people excited, but things currently in place are:
+ Master Plan (w/ consultants who were just picked; takes 2 yrs)
  • Not unheard of to expand around a relevant component; studies all the time
+ HL charette (driven by ?, followup?)
About what's possible
Links to data sets currently used / what's available via the city
+ See what other cities have done; consider a proposal linking to such work
+ Find sources of data comparable to B.Ground in Cambridge.
+ Consider an environmental study to ID what data is available: feed into Open Data Portal and inform future. Homelessness & Housing research
A Better Cambridge - "build housing now"
lux + subs + homeless?
Current inclusionary zoning: 10% affordable
 [60% of AMI, for 35-50k/yr]
Trying to increase IZ [requires nexus study b/c Boston developers have sued in the past]
 (models/reports run by the city manager, 2MM for results few trust or read)
Lower bracket <35k is housing authority
lg non-profits, fed/state funding & tax breaks, no incl.zon'g.  mostly stopped building in recent years
What data exists?
CDG - handles IZ affordable housing, and zoning generally.  
(necsi note: Kendall Sq office rates exploding.  Structural change.  Ditto H moving into Allston.  Models need to include these larger struct changes)
What people exist?
Dan Miller - voting pattersn & models
NECSI topics
+ visualizations to help locals
+ find a local program to work with (BG)
City conversations about housing
+ noone is driving the conv now
+ builders & city might both invest
City: master planning 
Students & families leaving want to engage.  Temp advocacy groups.  Neighborhood response to large buildings.  Architects (design schools x2)
Media Labs et al
740 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Samuel Klein 740 days ago
Samuel K Platform Cooperative Incubator
MIT design studio
Teachers & mentors:  Sasha CS, Mary Gray, Samuel Klein, Aisha Shillingford, 
Potential partners
Trebor Sholtz @ NYU 
Blue Cab of Watertown - Mo (via Yaneer)
Related work
Members (28)
Patrick Murck Yaneer Patrick Murck Paul Whitty Jason Griffey Matthew Hardcastle Edward Lowry Jayson Lynch Joseph K DeRosa Catalina Butnaru Willow Brugh Catalina Butnaru Marshall Wallace NECSI Programs Ayman Grada Matt Blumberg Maryam Ghaffari Saadat debcha * ddalal2@u.rochester.edu yaneerbaryam@gmail.com

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