The MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media is no longer active. This site provides background on some of the people and projects that were associated with this research. The most current information about Media Lab research can be found in our Research section.
Communities need information to make decisions and take action: to provide aid to neighbors in need, to purchase an environmentally sustainable product and shun a wasteful one, to choose leaders on local and global scales. Communities are also rich repositories of information and knowledge, and often develop their own innovative tools and practices for information sharing. Existing systems to inform communities are changing rapidly, and new ecosystems are emerging where old distinctions like writer/audience and journalist/amateur have collapsed. The Civic Media group is a partnership between the MIT Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies at MIT. Together, we work to understand these new ecosystems and to build tools and systems that help communities collect and share information and connect that information to action. We work closely with communities to understand their needs and strengths, and to develop useful tools together using collaborative design principles. We particularly focus on tools that can help amplify the voices of communities often excluded from the digital public sphere and connect them with new audiences, as well as on systems that help us understand media ecologies, augment civic participation, and foster digital inclusion.