Centers and Joint Programs

Center for Civic Media

Directed by: 
Ethan Zuckerman
Contact: 
Lorrie LeJeune
Communities need information to make decisions and take action: to provide aid to neighbors in need, to purchase an environmentally sustainable product and shun a wasteful one, to choose leaders on local and global scales. Communities are also rich repositories of information and knowledge, and often develop their own innovative tools and practices for information sharing. Existing systems to inform communities are changing rapidly, and new ecosystems are emerging where old distinctions like writer/audience and journalist/amateur have collapsed. The Civic Media group is a partnership between the MIT Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies at MIT. Together, we work to understand these new ecosystems and to build tools and systems that help communities collect and share information and connect that information to action. We work closely with communities to understand their needs and strengths, and to develop useful tools together using collaborative design principles. We particularly focus on tools that can help amplify the voices of communities often excluded from the digital public sphere and connect them with new audiences, as well as on systems that help us understand media ecologies, augment civic participation, and foster digital inclusion.

Center for Mobile Learning

Directed by: 
Mitchel Resnick
Directed by: 
Hal Abelson
Directed by: 
Eric Klopfer

The Center for Mobile Learning invents and studies new mobile technologies to promote learning anywhere anytime for anyone. The Center focuses on mobile tools that empower learners to think creatively, collaborate broadly, and develop applications that are useful to themselves and others around them. The Center's work covers location-aware learning applications, mobile sensing and data collection, augmented reality gaming, and other educational uses of mobile technologies. The Center’s first major activity will focus on App Inventor, a programming system that makes it easy for learners to create mobile apps by fitting together puzzle piece-shaped “blocks” in a web browser.

City Science

Directed by: 
Kent Larson
Directed by: 
Cesar A. Hidalgo
Directed by: 
Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

The world is experiencing a period of extreme urbanization. In China alone, 300 million rural inhabitants will move to urban areas over the next 15 years. This will require building an infrastructure equivalent to the one housing the entire population of the United States in a matter of a few decades. In the future, cities will account for nearly 90 percent of global population growth, 80 percent of wealth creation, and 60 percent of total energy consumption. Developing better strategies for the creation of new cities, is therefore, a global imperative. Our need to improve our understanding of cities, however, is pressed not only by the social relevance of urban environments, but also by the availability of new strategies for city-scale interventions that are enabled by emerging technologies. Leveraging advances in data analysis, sensor technologies, and urban experiments, City Science will provide new insights into creating a data-driven approach to urban design and planning. To build the cities that the world needs, we need a scientific understanding of cities that considers our built environments and the people who inhabit them. Our future cities will desperately need such understanding.

Communications Futures Program

Directed by: 
Andrew Lippman
Contact: 
Deborah Widener
The Communications Futures Program conducts research on industry dynamics, technology opportunities, and regulatory issues that form the basis for communications endeavors of all kinds, from telephony to RFID tags. The program operates through a series of working groups led jointly by MIT researchers and industry collaborators. It is highly participatory, and its agenda reflects the interests of member companies that include both traditional stakeholders and innovators. It is jointly directed by Dave Clark (CSAIL), Charles Fine (Sloan School of Management), and Andrew Lippman (Media Lab).

Connection Science and Engineering

Directed by: 
Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

Our lives have been transformed by networks that combine people and computers in new ways. They have revolutionized the nature of the economy, business, government, politics, and our day-to-day existence. But there is little understanding of the fundamental nature of these networks precisely because the combination of human and technological elements poses a host of conceptual and empirical challenges. Our goal is to forge the foundations of an integrated framework for understanding the connected world we live in. This requires a multidisciplinary, interdepartmental effort that leverages and supports existing disciplinary network projects. The Center is jointly directed by Asu Ozdaglar (EECS) and Alex 'Sandy' Pentland.

Future Storytelling

Directed by: 
V. Michael Bove
Directed by: 
Ramesh Raskar
Directed by: 
Cynthia Breazeal
The Future Storytelling working group at the Media Lab is rethinking storytelling for the 21st century. The group takes a new and dynamic approach to how we tell our stories, creating new methods, technologies, and learning programs that recognize and respond to the changing communications landscape. The group builds on the Media Lab's more than 25 years of experience in developing society-changing technologies for human expression and interactivity. By applying leading-edge technologies to make stories more interactive, improvisational, and social, researchers are working to transform audiences into active participants in the storytelling process, bridging the real and virtual worlds, and allowing everyone to make and share their own unique stories. Research also explores ways to revolutionize imaging and display technologies, including developing next-generation cameras and programmable studios, making movie production more versatile and economic.