Brad Seawell of the MIT Communications Forum writes to note that a free public forum on Thurs., Sept. 20 launches a new center studying the relationship between emerging media and civic engagement. A key area of inquiry is how virtual worlds such as SecondLife affect civic engagement in the real world.
The "MIT Center for Future Civic Media," is funded with a $5-million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Its directors are Chris Csikszentmihalyi and Mitchel Resnick of the Media Lab and Henry Jenkins of MIT's comparative media studies department.
The event: "What Is Civic Media?" will run from 5-7 p.m. in the Bartos Theater at the MIT Media Lab, 20 Ames St., Cambridge, Mass. Speakers, besides Csikszentmihalyi and Henry Jenkins, will be Beth Noveck, New York Law School and Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard Law School)
Seawell writes: "In [the book] 'Bowling Alone' (2000), Robert Putnam wrote about a generation of Americans cut off from traditional forms of community life and civic engagement, passive consumers of mass media. But others have noted the expansion of participatory cultures and virtual communities on the web, the growth of blogs, podcasts, and other forms of citizen journalism, the rise of new kinds of social affiliations within virtual worlds. What lessons can we learn from these online worlds that will make an impact in the communities where we work, sleep, and vote? What new technologies and practices offer us the best chance of revitalizing civic engagement?"
Also in the series: Games and Cvic Engagement on Thursday, Nov. 8, 5-7 p.m. in Bartos Theater.