Seeking “Truth”: My Process for Critically Assessing Information

OK, so I recently started working for CIRCLE ( and one of my first tasks was to share data and analysis on a recent poll on young Americans 18 to 29 and their attitudes towards the upcoming  election , leading policy issues, their involvement with civic organizations, methods that influence their voting behavior and a range of other questions.  The data and initial post about this poll can be found here —

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Academy Awards 2007

So I’ve been sitting here watching the Oscars over the last almostthree hours – so some thoughts. The host, Ellen Degeneris, is setting atone that is casual and low-key. Environmentalism is highlighted. -the live event seems infused with diversity. There have been manylanguages, countries, races, and lifestyles portrayed by the livepeople and the films themselves. There are lots of behind the scenesactiom and the underpinnings of filmmaking. I have this feeling thatwe are being pulled in as important elements of the event. Thebroadcast makes me think that maybe as a culture Americans are on theverge of finally expanding and growing into the global communities weare part of it. It’s been a hopeful and comforting night. Something Iwouldn’t have expected at all.

Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere

Can social media increase and improve civic participation? If so, in what ways? There’s a lot being said and written about the subject these days, but it is difficult to get a clear overview of the opinions. I attempt here to collect viewpoints both for and against the premise that social media is creating a better public sphere, and analyze them in the context of what constitutes a public and its antithesis, a mass. In presenting what are sometimes extreme positions within this debate (too idealistic v. too critical), my hope is to begin to understand the reality that lies in the middle, and come closer to understanding social media’s potential (and limitations) as a tool to bring about social change.

i d e a n t: Social Media and the Networked Public Sphere

citizen film

Featured Member – Citizen Film
Founded in 2002 by Sophie Constantinou, Sam Ball and Kate Stilley Steiner, Citizen Film is an independent documentary production company dedicated to telling personal stories with care and dignity. We work with community institutions to make and distribute films that foster active participation in civic and cultural life. Citizen Film’s directors have also provided intensive film training at a variety of educational and community institutions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Beyond Cable

Within the last two days, I had two separate individuals indicated that putting media up on their blogs (video and / or audio) was more powerful to them than simply putting it on the local cable channel.  The ability to reach an audience beyond the geographic boundaries of the municipality were attractive to both.  They didn’t like the confines of cable.  Here is shape of things to come.

Everything Old is New Again

The winter issue of the Community Media Review is about ready to hit the stands.  I know its almost summer.  Perhaps it is the winter issue for the southern hemisphere.  This issue, entitled “Beyond Access,” looks at new forms of community media that are beyond simple access or the technologies of cable.  I wrote a piece about the foundations of community media and links to new technology.  You can check it out here:

And while you’re at it check out the other articles in the publication.

A Clash of Values

On Thursday, Russ Newman of Free Press and Susie Lindsay of the Berkman Center presented as part of the UMASS Lowell’sNew Directions luncheon series. The series is designed to bring thinkers and practitioners in the fields of new media and technology to the Lowell community. This particular presentation wrapped up the 2005-2006 series. Both speakers provided great background and activity in the realm of communication’s policy and participants were enaged in disucssing some of the key point highlighted.

For me, one of the most valauable insights came from Susie Lindsay and how she defined the various ages of “television” (broadcast, cable, Internet) and their varying value priorities. I’ve misplaced my notebook for the time being and with it the specifics of what the values in each era are. But the key thought was the idea that current communication battles are reflective of these clash of values (i.e; universal access vs. innovation).

I have thought for a while that the variety of regulatory environments (which I would also include telephony and sattelite) each brought with it a separate set of business practices and public give backs that have been embedded in the ways companies, communities and indivdiuals have come to expect and experience their variety of communication services. Looking at these battles from a value perspective helped me in attaching language to thoughts I’ve had for some time. Thanks Susie.

Fake TV News

While prepping for my Media Literacy class on journalism and mainstream news, I came across this site on Fake TV News.  Even for a critical (and old) media consumer as myself, it is still pretty amazing how constructed and manipulated our news environments.

Teaching this class has awakened my awareness about how much consumer society and corporate agendas are seemlessly woven into our experience of reality and our information / communication systems. Consumption, capital, corporations – you know they are there, but its good to get a wake-up call every once in a while.