LaborTech: bringing technology to serve the labor movement

Labor Tech

The purpose of LaborTech is to bring together labor video, computer and media activists in the US and from around the world to build and develop labor communication technology and media. The first conference was held in 1990 and they have been held throughout the United States as well as Canada and Russia. Labor Media conferences are also held in Seoul. We believe that a critical task for labor is building a labor communication media movement that can tell our stories and break the corporate information blockade in every corner of the world.

LaborTech HomePage

Technological Initiatives for Social Empowerment

Dissertation by Leo Burd, MIT Media Lab

Despite the recent advances in science and technology, never in history has
the world seen so much discrepancy in wealth, power and living conditions.
Believing that information and communication technologies can help address
this issue, governments and funding organizations have been investing in
bringing computers and internet connectivity to underserved communities.
Unfortunately, many of those initiatives end up privileging the community
residents who were the most visible, literate or active, leaving behind the
ones who would need additional support and reinforcing even more the status

In order to foster a more democratic and participatory society, it is
important to create initiatives that are more inclusive and empower
individuals to control their own development. In this thesis, I propose a
framework for the design and analysis of technological initiatives for
social empowerment and I apply the framework in the implementation of two
initiatives that focus primarily on youth participation and local civic

In the Young Activists Network initiative, I worked with youth technology
centers from different parts of the world organizing young people to become
agents of change in the places where they live. After two years trying
different ideas, it became clear that, in spite of the localized successes,
the Young Activists Network approach required so much effort from our
partner community organizations and volunteers that it would be virtually
impossible to sustain it over time and scale it to other sites.

Based on the lessons learned, I started the What’s Up Lawrence project, an
initiative that aimed at building a self-reinforcing, city-wide network to
help young people in the organization of personally meaningful community
events. In order to support such a network, I built What’s Up, a
neighborhood news system that combines the power of the telephone and of the
web to make it easier for young people to share information, promote
community events, and find out what is happening in their region.

This thesis provides a detailed description of the process that led to What’s
Up. It also highlights the main technical, educational and organizational
elements that have to be considered in the implementation of technological
initiatives for social empowerment and suggests the creation of a special
organization to help in the adoption and further refinement of the proposed

Yochai Benkler

My colleague Hans Klien at Georgia Tech recommended this book and I find that Benkler’s research interests are closely aligned with my own.

Wealth of Networks

Yochai Benkler -  Yale Law School –

Research interests

  • General theoretical problems
    • Commons-based information production and exchange 
      • sustainability and comparative efficiency  
    • Freedom, justice, and the organization of information
      on nonproprietary principles
      • Normative analysis of the implications of commons-based
        and exchange of information and culture

  • Specific problem areas
    • Peer-production of information and culture in the networked

    • Large-scale effective sharing of privately owned goods and

    • Open wireless communications
    • Uses of non-proprietary production models for development and
      global redistribution

    • Free software
    • Free and open science: scientific publication models; open
      science organizational models


Wired and wireless; Open Standards; Anarchy; Smart Mobs

So these are the concepts that have been forming over the last couple of weeks. Part of my to do list is to begin aggregating the core of what will be my dissertation and research bibilography. I’ll need figure out how these ideas intersect. Physical layer, content layer, and guiding political philosophies that will shape how we come to understand the possibilities for civic sector use of communications tools and infrastructure.

Starting to revive MediaMix

It’s been sometime since I’ve posted content to the MediaMix blog. But since I’ll be beginning my doctoral program in the fall thought this would be a good time to start re-orienting my thinking towards media, community, technology, sustainability, and the ways in which civic, government, and business sectors intersect.

I’m going to use this as the place for my thinking and shaping of my research and eventually dissertation.