Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Mar 05th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Logging on to Make a Difference

facebookSLUG REPORT > Websites like Facebook and Twitter have become a part of daily life for many people—social media is used to connect with others, document lives, and arrange social calendars. But UC Santa Cruz film and digital media associate professor Warren Sack is joining forces with two professors from UC Berkeley to see if social media can be used for more than just tagging and poking.

Sack has been appointed Director of the Data for Democracy Initiative by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). In his new post, Sack is charged with exploring the possibility of social media as a catalyst for social change. He will be bringing with him his experience as chair of the UCSC Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) graduate program.

CITRIS is a UC-based organization formed in 2001 that strives to not only create new technologies, but also apply them to different relevant issues and causes. According to CITRIS director and UC Berkeley Professor Ruzena Bajcsy, the focus is on helping people.

“The title is self-explainable,” she says. “It’s in the interest of society.”

Data for Democracy builds on that theme, and applies it to social media.

“Social media today has been about connecting with family and friends,” Sack said in a June 28 UCSC press release. “The next phase of social media has to be connecting with each other as citizens, and making it possible to take action.

Sack pointed to moveon.org, a progressive website that “began as just an email list, but actually catalyzed a whole political movement.” This is the type of work he and his colleagues will try to emulate as part of the cross-campus initiative.

Sack also brought up “citizen-centered media,” such as the way different rebel leaders in the Middle East have taken advantage of Twitter and Facebook to spread their messages, as proof that social media has the potential to bring people together around different causes.

Data for Democracy has already implemented a few different projects, such as Peer to PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology), which allows expert scientists to give their input on different government issues.

“We invite high profile scientists to say what they think of the testimony,” Sack said in the press release. “The idea is that if you develop the right kind of website, you can allow people to peer review the advice the government is getting.”

Another endeavor is Metavid, an interactive archive system created by UCSC graduate students in 2006, which is currently used by both houses of congress. By combining video with a wiki format, users can correct transcripts and add to speeches on the web.

It remains to be seen what new projects Sack and his team will come up with, but Bajcsy shared what CITRIS as a whole is paying attention to at the moment, which may have some influence over what path Data for Democracy takes.

“Right now we’re all collectively focusing on health care and energy savings,” she says.

Another factor shaping the Initiative is the help it will likely receive from different partners, which will include UCSC’s Center for Games and Playable Media and UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media.

Regardless of what issues Data for Democracy tackles next, Sack is focused on moving social media beyond its current functions by giving people more of a stake in things.

“You’re not just saying you ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ it,” he said. “You actually have a role to play.”

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Crop Circles

How the confusion over GMOs is undermining the organic movement

 

Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Don’t Tell a Soul

The Secret Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Water Street Grill

YOLO gets reincarnated

 

What would make Santa Cruz better?

A lot more outdoor activities such as outdoor movies and concerts, food and art festivals, and more multicultural activites. Emmanuel Cole, Santa Cruz, Bicycle Industry Product Developer

 

Thomas Fogarty Winery

When looking for a bottle of something to have with dinner, Gewürztraminer 2012 is not the first wine to come to mind. Given the popularity of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir—to name but a few—Gewürztraminer sits low on the totem pole.

 

So Long, Louie’s

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour