Ethan ZuckermanI direct the Center for Civic Media, a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab and MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies and lead research there along with Sasha Costanza-Chock and Mitch Resnick. My research group at the Media Lab works on building tools that help communities discover information, make decisions and take action. Here are some of our current projects.
The Center for Civic Media hosts lunches that are open to the public on almost every Thursday during the academic year - you can see our schedule and reserve a seat here. Our lunches and public talks are the best way to get to know the work we do at the Center, and you're encouraged to come by if you want to get a sense for what the Center is all about.
In Spring 2012, I'm teaching News in the Age of Participatory Media, a project-based class that invites students to report several different types of stories, and build tools designed to make it easier to report complex stories. If you're interested in the future of news, please take a look at the syllabus and consider joining us.
My interests and projects include:
Global Voices: Global Voices is an international citizens media network, offering news, perspective and opinion from around the world through participatory media like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube videos and shared photos. More than 400 people - the vast majority of whom are volunteers - produce editions of Global Voices in more than twenty languages. Our site is often the first English-language news outlet to report on critical news stories, like the Tunisian revolution. I co-founded the site in 2004 with journalist and activist Rebecca MacKinnon.
Online Freedom of Speech: Prior to joining the Media Lab, I was based at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where my research focused on developing tools and strategies to overcome internet censorship. (I remain a senior researcher at the Center.) With Sami ben Gharbia of Global Voices, I've offered a practical guide to anonymous blogging. With Hal Roberts, I've published research on the use of Denial of Service attacks as a form of censorship, and on the state of the art of censorship circumvention tools. Two of my most widely cited works in this space are a talk I gave in 2008, proposing the Cute Cat Theory of Internet Censorship, and a 2010 essay arguing against a specific vision of "internet freedom".
Mapping Media Ecosystems: In a digital age, no media exists in isolation. A newspaper story is the beginning of a conversation, which includes online comments, blog posts and tweets reacting to the initial post. While most people acknowledge that the media landscape has shifted sharply, we understand very little about how ideas across media. The Media Cloud platform we're developing at MIT and Berkman helps us map this new ecosystem and serves as the backbone of much of the research we're doing at the Center for Civic Media.
Digital Cosmopolitanism: I'm interested in the ways the internet makes it possible for us to have a more global view of the world... and how often we fall short of that broad perspective. My 2010 TED talk outlines the problems of "imaginary cosmopolitanism", and my forthcoming book, Rewire, offers some possible solutions.
I give a lot of talks and presentations. While my TED talk is a better introduction to my current work, this seven-minute history of the internet is a good (and quick) introduction on how I like to present. I'm represented by Monitor Talent for speaking engagments - you can contact them here.
I maintain a blog that covers all these issues, as well as regular excursions into African politics, geocaching and the exploits of Mongolian sumo wrestlers. There's a personal homepage on that site as well. I tweet at @ethanz, and that handle is also my email address at mit.edu should you want to get in touch.
Some papers and publications: