{learning} The Art of Evaluation_#ICM820

We at #ICM820 course have discussed successful strategies of community-building as well as cases gone very wrong. But evaluating – quantitatively measuring and qualitatively assessing – successes is a tricky issue.

From a macro-level vantage point of societies and its institutions, we could ponder how to assess media systems (or, as many tend to say about the digital era of multiplicity, media ecosystems) work effectively, democratically, openly, and so on. I have collected some links to projects, ideas, and cases that aim at measuring media systems and media development from a global perspective.

The meso-level of organizations outlook would be to look at effectiveness of particular political, economic, social, etc. communities, organizations, or campaigns. Is it about eye-balls, likes/shares/follows, comments, retweets/repins etc.? Is it about the ratio between lurkers vs. active participants? Professionally, do we value media differently than we did before, in terms of it as an advertising distribution tool, a news source, a forum for debate, an entertainment source? Here are just some examples of the infinite amount of views on how to measure success and impact in the digital age:


Finally, at the micro – or individual – level: How do you (does one) measure a digital community? Usability, access, relevance, engagement/familiarity, security…?

As experts of digital communities, how do we balance structural/technological concerns, big data metrics, and individual experiences?

{research} Snowden Live @#PDF14

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I am taking part of the Personal Democracy Forum (#PDF14) in NYC. Edward Snowden is one of the first speakers, via Google+, honoring the NSA Leaks that he provided exactly one year ago.

In and of itself, this is a great example of the complexities of internet rights. Snowden can’t be here in person. His live image is presented by the tech that an organization that has a stake in the surveillance regime. Now that organization is part of the Reset the Net campaign and has launched a new encryption tool for gmail.

But his dialogue with John Berry Barlow of the EFF has turned even more basic — and profound — than I could have ever expected.

The core questions discussed are:

What are data, information, and knowledge? How do different stakeholders understand those terms? What can big data and metadata tell about us (as I mused before).

How do we weigh ‘security’ as a priority? As Barlow joked, for him, “security comes always 3rd”. This reminded me of the recent debate about “trigger warnings” and our obsession to be safe. Is it time to reconfigure our understanding what safety and security are? Zygmunt Bauman talked about the unholy trinity uncertainty, unsafety, and insecurity already while back, as the core definers of “liquid modernity”. How right he was.

And finally, the eternal question of who’s a change-maker, who makes a difference, who says: I have had enough. Snowden:

I didn’t do anything remarkable, I’m not particularly morally gifted. I did my civic duty. The reason that people don’t campaign against to solve these problems because they don’t see them.


Once again, it is about the change starting with the grassroots, people, developers of crypto, or whistle blowing, or… As Snowden’s ending words just stated, structures of power will need to bend when the conversations like those around the NSA start to happen en masse.

If you want to support Snowden’s legal defense, go to: freesnowden.is.