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Civic Media Project

Eric Gordon, Author

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Community + Action

Digital connectivity has transformed how and why messages circulate, ideas generate, and crowds mobilize. A local protest in Eastern Europe spreads around the world and put pressure on local officials; climate change activists use an online image competition to generate influence; and a political meme spreads on Twitter and challenges the discourse of a US presidential candidate. This section presents cases where people or organizations mobilize digital networks for civic or political action and where social movements intersect with social circles.
 
      CASE STUDIES:

Blogging for Truth: Ai Weiwei’s Citizen Investigation Project on China’s 2008 Sichuan Earthquake ​ ​

by: Jian Xu
On December 15, 2008, Ai Weiwei’s Citizen Investigation Group (CIG) was formally set up in his studio in Beijing. The CIG started collecting profiles of student casualties through limited online information, such as mourning websites and reports from NGOs...

Strike​ ​Debt and the Rolling Jubilee: ​Building a Debt Resistance ​​

Growing out of Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt has been working since May 2012 to build a social movement through various forms of media and market-based activism under the banner of “debt resistance”...

Idle No More: Media and the Indigenous People Revolution in Canada

Idle No More (INM) is an indigenous-led multi-vocal movement that used social media to mobilize and engage Canadian and global audiences. Social media facilitated the emergence of a crowdsourced elite composed of a significant number of indigenous and alternative voices, and collective articulations and negotiations of the movement’s concerns...

Digital Feminism in Italy: The Se Non Ora Quando Social Movement

This case study examines the digital platforms used by the newly formed Italian feminist group Se Non Ora Quando (SNOQ; ‘If not now, when?’) to protest the continued sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies in mainstream media and to reclaim women’s dignity as equal citizens…

38 Degrees

38 Degrees, a political activist movement based in the United Kingdom has amassed a membership of 2.5 million individuals. Through their use of email and social media, 38 Degrees mobilizes its geographically dispersed membership across sedimentary networks: loose affiliations of digitally connected individuals that periodically come together to act across a diverse range of issue campaigns…

Harassment and Karen Klein: A Case Study

The harassment of bus monitor Karen Klein was broadcasted as 7th graders videotaped themselves bullying Klein and posted the videos online. After the videos were submitted to Reddit and 4chan, members of the two communities began looking for information about Klein, the school, and the identity of her tormentors. Users also started a fundraiser on Indiegogo, intending to give her a vacation. The viral story raised over $700,000...

The 2013 Gezi Park Protest and #resistgezi

The Gezi Park Protest in Istanbul was the most massive in modern Turkish history. While hailed as a ‘social media revolution’ by techno-centric researchers and techno-optimists, the roots of resistance can be traced to a pre-social-media era where people still had reasons to go out and protest. Social media served an informational function where TV channels were suppressed, as evidenced by the recent Twitter ban…

350.org: A Case of Online-to-Offline Activism

Since fall 2011, 350.org, a climate change advocacy organization, has led a (so far) successful campaign to stop approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport various forms of oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Their most visible tactic has been a civil disobedience campaign, during which more than 1,000 activists have been arrested in front of the White House.

Social Media Use and Political Activism in Turkey: 140journos, the Post of Others, and Vote and Beyond

Since the massive anti-government protests of June 2013, a number of social media projects (@140journos, @OtekilerinPostasi and others) have served as tools of organization and coordination, but more importantly as outlets for dissent and means of political participation...

Horizontal Networking and the Music of Idle No More

Idle No More’s success derives in large part from the way young people have commandeered social networking technologies to encourage civic participation. Through Twitter, participants created horizontal networking structures that reached young people who were previously unheard in international discourses on environmentalism and Indigenous rights…

#aufschrei – The role of twitter for feminist activism and as platform for alternative publics

Following an allegation of sexism by a journalist in the German newspaper Stern against the (former) chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) Parliamentary Group, Rainer Brüderle, the twitter community was invited to share experiences with #shoutingback and #everydaysexism...

Kony 2012: Using Technology for Empathy

This case study outlines Invisible Children’s civic programs that lead up to Kony 2012 written by the Chief Operations Office. This viral phenomenon provides an opportunity to examine the opportunities when technology, film, and sound educational pedagogy are used to engage the empathic potential of millennials...

It Gets Better Project

The “It Gets Better Project” (IGBP) is an ongoing strategic communication campaign comprised of over 50,000 YouTube videos created by LGBTQ individuals and allies targeting suicidal LGBTQ youth. Examples of twenty first century activism via social media are plentiful, but few have garnered over 50 million YouTube video views…

Citizen journalism and Civic Inclusion: Access Dorset

by: Einar Thorsen, Daniel Jackson, and Ann Luce

Access Dorset TV (ADTV) is a community media partnership aiming to provide a voice to over 4,000 disabled and older people across Dorset (UK) through citizen journalism – produced by and for its user-groups. ADTV provides web-based peer support, information and lifestyle videos about disabled life experiences like independent living…

Galas: Mobilizing and Managing Volunteer Humanitarian Efforts Online During Euromaidan Protests in Ukraine

Galas is a crowdmapping initiative that sprang up during Euromaidan protests in Ukraine (fall 2013–winter 2014) Founded by a group of enthusiasts seeking to help coordinate human, material and other resources for protesters’ needs…

MídiaNINJA and the Rise of Citizen Journalism in Brazil

In June 2013 Brazil was shaken by a series of massive nationwide protests. Though demonstrators raised a variety of grievances including reckless public spending on mega-events and entrenched corruption, a central issue was the bias produced by corporate control of news media.One of the most vocal critics was MídiaNINJA…

An #EpicFail #FTW: Considering the Discursive Changes And Civic Engagement of #MyNYPD

On April 22, @NYPDNews tweeted, “Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet it and tag it #MyNYPD” Rather than produce the expected images of New York's Finest alongside grateful citizens, the twittersphere responded by mobilizing #MyNYPD to share hundreds of images of explicit police brutality…

From #destroythejoint to far reaching digital activism: Feminist Revitalisation stemming from social media and reaching beyond

Destroy the Joint, a largely online group of over 42,000 people on Facebook and 11,500 on Twitter, shows how what began as a humorous turnaround of a gendered offense from a talk-show host, is now a broad-based and effective organization…

“Bury Until They Change Their Ways”: The Digg Patriots As User-Generated Censorship

The Digg Patriots were a group of conservative Digg users who conspired to coordinate their voting to make social news services like Digg more conservative than they would have otherwise been. They viewed their actions as a form of political activism…

The #YoSoy132 Movement in Mexico

The #YoSoy132 movement emerged in Mexico in 2012 during the presidential campaign, fighting for media democratization against Mexican media monopolies. It impacted the electoral campaign and influenced the creation of a new Telecommunication Law…

The PolyXpress Mobile Ethnographic Storytelling System

The PolyXpress system is a mobile, platform-agnostic geolocational storytelling application that storytellers can easily use. PolyXpress is tested in an ethnic studies memory project with settler and native communities along the California Central Coast and in an aboriginal storytelling project in Brisbane, Australia…

Becoming Civic: Fracking, Air Pollution and Environmental Sensing Technologies

by: Jennifer Gabrys, Nera Calvillo, Tom Keene, Helen Pritchard, and Nick Shapiro
The Citizen Sense project investigates the use of DIY and low-tech monitoring devices used by “citizens” who seek to understand and act upon environmental problems. Environmental sensors are not technologies that are immediately “civic,” but that become civic in specific ways...

Pivot: Surreptitious Communications Design for Victims of Human Trafficking

Pivot is an outreach tool that provides rescue information to human trafficking victims by hiding messages in generic-looking menstrual pads, which can be discretely distributed by medical workers, social service providers, and other civic groups. Pivot is a low-tech, interventionist civic media project that enables citizens to take direct action addressing a pressing public issue…

Guerrilla Research Tactics: Alternative Research Methods in Urban Environments

This case-study examines innovative experimentation with mobile and cloud-based technologies, utilising “Guerrilla Research Tactics” (GRT), as a means of covertly retrieving data from the urban fabric. Originally triggered by participatory action research and unobtrusive research methods…

Marriage equality, Facebook Profiles Pictures, and Civic Participation

In March '13, the 'Human Rights Campaign’ (HRC) - an LGBT lobby - urged people to change their Facebook profile pictures to show support for marriage equality, corresponding with the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue. The Facebook data science team reported that 2.7 million more U.S. users changed their profile pictures than usual, which they attributed to the global phenomenon…

The Human Rights Campaign Facebook Logo

In 2013 the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans, encouraged Facebook users to adopt a version of its famous logo on their profile. The symbol was liked over 25,000 times and shared 78,000 times in the first 24 hours of its transmission alone. The logo was a significant element in the larger overall moment that led to the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Proposition 8 in California…

Civic Media Case: Iran, the U.S. and Online Diplomacy

For thirty-two years little changed for Iranians wanting greater access to and knowledge about the United States. Then in 2011 the State Department announced a new policy based on President Obama’s 2011 Nowruz pledge to support Iranians and “build new avenues for engagement with the Iranian youth…

DIY Citizenship in the “New Northern Ireland”: The Case of a Belfast Makerspace

Branded a makerspace, Farset Labs offers new paradigms of civic participation inspired by a culture of contribution, social learning, and technology experimentation. Farset provides a platform for the assembling of self-directed civic identities, or do-it-yourself (DIY) citizenship. The organization offers evidence of emergent, multifaceted civic participation linked to a global movement…

The 2013 Protests in Brazil

As Brazil was getting ready to host FIFA Confederations Cup, an official test event for the World Cup, the excitement that enthralled the Brazilian people turned into deep frustration. In June of 2013, an avalanche of protests led more than one million people to the streets in over a hundred cities in Brazil. The wave of protests began in early June in the city of São Paulo and spread throughout the country…

Twitter Use and Negative Campaigning: A Case Study from the World’s Largest Election

India, the largest democracy, with 815 million voters, went to the polls on nine dates between April 7 and May 12, 2014, to elect 543 members of its lower house of Parliament. The election was accompanied by unprecedented Twitter campaigns by many of approximately 8,000 candidates…
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