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Republican Resistance in the Age of Trump

Stuart Stevens believes Republicans are in a “GOP apocalypse,” and he’s urging Republicans to resist. Stevens is a Republican political consultant who’s worked on presidential campaigns for Bob Dole and George W. Bush, served as the lead strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and helped elect more governors and US Senators than any other GOP consultant working today. He’s also an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, starting from the earliest days of Trump’s candidacy....


The City Talks: Storytelling at the New York Times's Metro Desk

As attention spans shrink and the representation of factual information is under scrutiny by the public, news organizations need clear, engaging storytelling that reaches readers where they are. In this talk, Emily Rueb, a reporter for The New York Times, shares insights gained in bursting boundaries of traditional storytelling for The New York Times’s Metro desk. Weaving video, audio, illustrations and text across multiple platforms, she chronicled aspects of New York’s complex but rarely...


Intimate Worlds - Reading For Intimate Affects In Contemporary Video Games

Presentations include the following, and are made public after the speaker grants permission. == Claudia Lo: "When All You Have Is A Banhammer" == The popular wisdom about internet moderation is, simply: moderators remove stuff. But there is plenty that they do that doesn’t fit in such a simple definition. Through research with large-scale Twitch esports moderators, we can see that there are social and communicative aspects to their work. From making their own moderation tools, creating...


The Motives Of Narrative And Style In Food Text Creation On Social Media

Presentations include the following, and are made public after the speaker grants permission. == Claudia Lo: "When All You Have Is A Banhammer" == The popular wisdom about internet moderation is, simply: moderators remove stuff. But there is plenty that they do that doesn’t fit in such a simple definition. Through research with large-scale Twitch esports moderators, we can see that there are social and communicative aspects to their work. From making their own moderation tools, creating...


Music Fandom and the Shaping of Online Culture

From the earliest days of networked computing, music fans were there, shaping the technologies and cultures that emerged online. By the time musicians and industry figures realized they could use the internet to reach audiences directly, those audiences had already established their presences and social norms online, putting them in unprecedented positions of power. Even widely-hailed innovators like David Bowie, Prince, and Trent Reznor were late to the game. This talk traces the...


Lisa Parks: "Internet Infrastructure and Digital Labor in Tanzania"

As digital networks are extended across the world, new forms of labor are required to enable and sustain mediated communication. This talk addresses the need for further critical conceptualizations of the labor and resource challenges inherent in extending the global internet from urban areas to rural, low-income communities in various parts of the world. The East African country of Tanzania hosts four major undersea cable landings, suggesting that the country’s 51 million people would be...


The Tip of the Iceberg: Sound Studies and the Future of Afrofuturism

Iconic developments in the artistic and intellectual ethos known as Afrofuturism are closely linked to music: Sun Ra’s experimental jazz, Parliament Funkadelic’s Mothership, John Akomfrah’s film Last Angel of History. What else is on the soundtrack to a livable future? How do we pursue further innovation in the human sensorium without reproducing an “audiovisual litany” that conflates rationality with the colonial gaze and isolates Black creativity to moments of sonic disruption? andré...


Designing for a Neurodiverse World

An MIT Communications Forum: The world is a neurologically diverse place, but the resources, workspaces and technologies we use often don’t reflect that. Sometimes simple changes can significantly expand accessibility to people who have neurological differences like autism, dyslexia, ADHD, or epilepsy, but designers and policymakers frequently aren’t aware of issues affecting this neurodiverse...


The (Non)Americans: Tracking and Analyzing Russian Influence Operations on Twitter

In late 2017, Twitter and Facebook revealed that agents backed by the Russian government had infiltrated American political conversations for years. Posing as concerned citizens from across the ideological spectrum, these agents surreptitiously spread propaganda disguised as home-grown political chatter. Two challenges, one theoretical and the other methodological, confront researchers interested in studying this campaign of information warfare. First, the fields of communication and...


ICTs for Refugees and Displaced Persons

Expanding use of information and communication technology (ICT) together with the humanitarian reform agenda are changing both the experience of being a refugee as well as humanitarian response. These forces are giving rise to the digital refugee and a new form of humanitarian operations, digital humanitarian brokerage. In this talk, Carleen Maitland presents these two concepts, evidence of their emergence and differences in the role information plays in each. The concepts emerge from a...


Eric Klopfer: "From Augmented to Virtual Learning"

Mixed realities that combine digital and real experiences are now becoming a true reality. These experiences are being delivered over smartphones as well as increasingly accessible and practical head mounted displays. This ubiquity of devices is in turn making mixed reality the next digital frontier in entertainment, education and the workplace. But what do we know about where these technologies have value? Where do they add to the learning experience? And what theories and evidence can we...


Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Humanity?

Silicon Valley innovations have given rise to a class of tech titans wielding immense economic and political influence and has paved the way for a cultural shift towards individualism. Has this resulted in historically marginalized groups being left behind once again? Noam Cohen, a former New York Times technology columnist and author of The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, argues that the disruption touted by Silicon Valley...


Fall 2017 Alumi Panel

Hear from four alums of the graduate program in Comparative Media Studies as they discuss their experience at MIT and what their careers have looked like in the fields a CMS degree prepared them for. Panelists include: Matthew Weise, ’04, a game designer and educator whose work spans industry and academia. He is the CEO of Empathy Box, a company that specializes in narrative design for games and across media. He was the Narrative Designer at Harmonix Music Systems on Fantasia: Music...


Cloud Policy: Anatomy of a Regulatory Crisis

Jennifer Holt examines the legal and cultural crises surrounding the regulation of data in “the cloud.” The complex landscape of laws and policies governing digital data are currently rife with unresolvable conflicts. The challenges of distributing and protecting digital data in a policy landscape that is simultaneously local, national, and global have created problems that often defy legal paradigms, national boundaries, and traditional geographies of control. She examines these...


An Evening with Sarah Vowell

Overthrown Hawaiian queens, religious zealots, swindlers, cranky cartographers, presidential assassins, and the people who visit their memorials on vacation are all fodder for historian and humorist Sarah Vowell. Vowell’s seven nonfiction books, many of which have topped the New York Times’ best sellers list, explore America’s not-so-squeaky-clean past and creates a framework for understanding our modern day values. Vowell brings her wit to the MIT Communications Forum for a moderated...


The Mediated Construction of Reality - From Berger and Luckmann to Norbert Elias

Nick Couldry outlined the project of his recent book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (Polity October 2016, co-written with Andreas Hepp). The book offers a critical reevaluation and rearticulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. Couldry outlined how a materialist phenomenology can...


Platforms in the Public Interest: Lessons from Minitel

Platforms such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook dominate the internet today, providing private infrastructures for public culture. These systems are so massive that it’s easy to forget that the digital world was not always like this. More than two decades before widespread Internet access, millions of people in France were already online, chatting, gaming, buying, selling, searching, and flirting. This explosion of digital culture came via Minitel, a simple video terminal provided for free...


Walter Menendez: "Engineering Virality: BuzzFeed’s Scientific Approach To Creating Content"

If you’ve heard of BuzzFeed, you probably think about our famous articles and quizzes, such as The Dress and Which State Are You Actually From?, as well as our video escapades, such as The Try Guys Try Sexy Halloween Costumes and our famous Watermelon Explosion experiment on Facebook Live. The success of our content might seem accidental, but as a result of BuzzFeed’s experimental approach to producing content, the virality of these posts is actually a very scientific and calculated...


Playful Practice: Designing the Future of Teacher Learning

All across the world, educational systems are exploring new ways to encourage more ambitious teaching and learning in classrooms: shifting away from recitation and rote learning to more engaging forms of collaborative, active, problem-centered learning. For this shift in classrooms to occur, we need to dramatically increase the quantity and quality of learning opportunities available to educators in these systems, and new forms of blended and online learning experiences will be central to...


Nicole Hemmer: "From Taft to Trump: How Conservative Media Activists Won — and Lost — the GOP"

As Donald Trump built his lead in the Republican primaries, the editors of National Review came out with an entire “Against Trump” issue, a full-throated — and ultimately ineffective — denunciation of the GOP nominee. Soon conservative media personalities were taking sides, culminating in the hiring of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to run the Trump campaign. But the centrality of conservative media to presidential politics is not a new development. As early as the 1950s, conservative media...


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