Center for Future Civic Media

MIT Media Lab

Date Awarded
Grant Period
03/12/07 to 03/31/12
Focus Areas
Journalism, Media Innovation
Knight News Challenge

Grantee Contact

  • Cambridge, MA

Featured Media

Christina Xu's Center For Future Civic Media Update from Matthew Hockenberry on Vimeo.

To create new community news products in a major national center with MIT's Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies program

With its $5 million Knight News Challenge award to the Media Lab and the Comparative Media Studies Program at the >Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Knight Foundation teams up with one of world's premier technological innovators. MIT will create a Center for Future Civic Media to test and investigate civic media in local communities. The center pairs the technological innovation of the Media Lab with the social and cultural expertise of the Comparative Media Studies Program.

"We are moving to a Fifth Estate where everyone is able to pool their knowledge, share experience and expertise, and speak truth to power," says Chris Csikszentmihályi (pronounced Cheek-sent-me-hi), MIT's director of the Computing Culture Research Group, who will lead the center as co-director, together with Henry Jenkins, co-director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. Says Jenkins: "We now have more than a decade's worth of research into the kinds of online communities which emerge within networked cultures. With this project, we seek to draw on that research to strengthen people's ties to their own local communities."

The Center will develop new theories, techniques, technologies and practices that support and foster community news and civic engagement. "All good journalists worry about what the digital revolution is doing to the news citizens need to run their communities and their lives. Now, the awesome array of science and technology at MIT will focus on this question. From their experiments we expect to see a new generation of useful community news technology and technique," says Eric Newton, Knight Foundation's vice president/journalism program.

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Project Team

Christopher Csikszentmihalyi


Chris Csikszentmihályi is former director member of the the MIT Center for Civic Media, which develops new technologies and techniques to strengthen geographic communities. He has worked in the intersection of new technologies, media, and the arts for 13 years, lecturing, showing new media work, and presenting installations in both Europe and North America. He is a 2005 Rockefeller New Media Fellow, and recently finished a solo exhibition at the Location One Gallery in New York's Soho. Csikszentmihályi has taught at the University of California at San Diego, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and at Turku University. He toured museums and nightclubs with his mechanical hip hop device, DJ I, Robot, which was nominated for the Best Artistic Software award at Berlin's Transmediale, while a previous piece, Natural Language Processor, was commissioned by the KIASMA Museum in Helsinki, Finland. The catalog for his installations Skin and Control is published by Charta and distributed by DAP, and he served on the National Academy of Science's IT and Creativity panel. He was David and Roberta Logie Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2007-2008. Csikszentmihályi received an MFA from the University of California at San Diego, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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