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Archive for September, 2012

Scientist and activist gone missing in Mexico after fearing for his safety

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Here is my attempt at capturing some of the information I have read in Spanish on the apparent forced disappearance of Aleph Jiménez, a scientist at CICESE (one of the leading research centers in Mexico) and the spokesperson for the local branch of the #YoSoy132 activist movement. His disappearance is generating a lot of discussion on Mexican social media. For example, his name is currently one of Mexico’s trending topics on Twitter. A couple of things are particularly troublesome about the case:

  1. Jiménez was arrested and released for being part of a protest on September 15. Two days later he and his fellow activists held a press conference denouncing police repression.
  2. Subsequently, Jiménez reported being followed and fearing for his safety.
  3. Apparently, the bodies of two of his colleagues at CICESE were found in the past few weeks, something that he interpreted as a warning. I was only able to find this news article about the apparent homicide of one of his colleagues on September 14.
  4. In an interview, Aleph’s father mentioned that he feared the authorities are behind. Read the rest of this entry »

Panel discussion on the #YoSoy132: Mexico’s Networked Social Movement – Sep 20, 5pm at the NERD Center

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

In collaboration with the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, Microsoft Research New England is hosting a discussion about the #YoSoy132 activist movement. Open to the public.

What: #YoSoy132: Mexico’s Networked Social Movement

When: Thursday September 20 at 5:00 PM

Where: Microsoft Conference Center (Barton Room) located at One Memorial Drive, First Floor, Cambridge, MA

Photo: (c) Omar Torres/AFP/Getty


The role of social media in movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street has been much discussed, and such “hashtagged” social movements continue to appear in multiple latitudes. The panelists will discuss the development of the #YoSoy132 movement, “I am 132” in English, an ongoing student-led activist group that fights for democracy and against media bias in an apparent attempt to impose the next president of Mexico during the recent 2012 general election. The movement embodies the collision between centralized traditional media and distributed social media, and reveals the limitations of social media in reaching beyond those who are already networked. The panelists include a member of the #YoSoy132 and researchers investigating networked social movements. Read the rest of this entry »

Turn This into That: a Remixing Experiment

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Two sides of social production: crowdsourcing and remixing

Networked technologies have facilitated two forms of social production: remixing and crowdsourcing. Remixing has been typically associated with creative, expressive, and unconstrained work such as the creation of video mashups or funny image macros that we often see on social media websites. Crowdsourcing, on the other hand, has been associated with large-scale mechanical work, like labeling images or transcribing audio, performed as microtasks on services like Amazon Mechanical Turk. So the stereotype is that remixing is playful, creative, expressive, but undirected and often chaotic, while crowdsourcing is useful to achieve actual work but it is monotonous, and requires (small) financial incentives.

Crowdsoucing Creativity: “Mixsourcing”

The space between remixing and crowdsourcing has partially been explored. For example, one could argue that Wikipedia exists in a unique space in between these two ideas as it relies on some, albeit small, degree of human creativity, requires no financial incentives, and leverages large numbers of contributors who are encouraged to tweak one another’s submissions. However, Wikipedia’s texts are mainly functional, purposely devoid of any personal expressiveness, and constrained by the task at hand.

On the more creative end of the spectrum, artists have explored the use of crowdsourcing, such as the Johnny Cash Project and the Sheep Market, and researchers have evaluated the uses of creative crowdsourcing for design. We wondered then, if there is a way to create a generic platform to perform creative and artistic work in a more directed, crowdsourcing-like way, some kind of “bounded creativity,” which we called “mixsourcing.”

Read the rest of this entry »