Hello World

Hi everyone! My name is Rachel and I’m a first-year Master’s student studying City Planning. I’m originally from a bedroom community of New York City, but I was living in San Francisco for several years before coming to MIT. I’ve shifted my focus a bit in the last year (which prompted the grad school decision), but I have long been interested in projects and organizations that sit at the intersection of technology and social justice.

Accordingly, I originally moved to the Bay Area after college to do AmeriCorps with a multinational nonprofit working to empower underserved communities through technology access, tools, and training. After a bit of bouncing around, I began working with an organization aimed at expanding the availability of high-speed internet in U.S. public schools to democratize access to digital learning tools, with a particular focus on improving outcomes for students in underperforming districts.

Ultimately I realized that my interests were leaning more towards issues of affordable housing, which is what my studies are now focused on, but I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to be involved in this class and to collaborate with such great partner organizations. I think that as we as a society begin to take better stock of what it means to be a valued employee with any shred of work-life balance, the co-op model will be gaining increasing traction as a more humane and sustainable economic model. Looking forward to working with you all!

Introduction: Val Healy

Hi all!

My name is Val Healy, and I’m a senior here at MIT. I’m majoring in Comparative Media Studies and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. Most of my research interests lie at the intersections of these two fields. Lately, I’ve been particularly interested in feminist technology studies’ co-constructive model of gender and technology, textile-based data visualization, feminist cyborg theory (Haraway), educational media programming, queer theory, and the study of niche online communities. In my spare time, I can be found knitting, drinking tea, volunteering at my favorite summer camp, and cuddling chickens.

I decided to take this class for several reasons. For one, civic media is what drew me to major in Comparative Media Studies, and I worked with the Center for Civic Media last summer. Second, I have lived in co-ops for around four years now, and I’m very interested in learning more about cooperative businesses. Third, I love project-based classes, and I’m excited for the opportunity to build something (open source!) that will be used for good in the “real” world.

As for my technical skills, I have some programming experience (Python, Java, HTML, CSS, Javascript), some design experience, and lots of enthusiasm for learning new things!

intro: allan ko

Hi everyone,

I’m Allan, and I’m a first-semester junior studying Comparative Media Studies (CMS) and Aero/Astro (Course 16). I’ve just returned from a semester on leave working for Amazon’s Prime Air project, helping develop drones to deliver packages. I have broad interests but most recently I’ve been thinking about:

  • visualizing and representing data as art, in the process of “data play” (instead of “data science”)
  • rejecting the idea of data as “objective”, and methods for better representing subjective data
  • applying ethnographic practices to the study of online/mediated communities
  • power tensions between media “producers” (film companies, authors, Facebook) and media “consumers” (fans, Facebook users), and what more equitable or democratically-governed media platforms might look like

Not to say I necessarily have anything knowledgeable to say about these topics, but these are some things that have been on my mind and which I want to learn more about. On the side, I blog for the MIT Admissions website, where you can find an account of my past work for Credit for Reddit (CMS.400) exploring the relationship between majors and identities within MIT undergraduates. I also sing a capella with the MIT/Wellesley Toons and play a role on the MIT Design/Build/Fly remote-control aircraft team, so if you ever need anyone to help you build an airplane, I’m your guy.

I’m excited to see where our work together this semester goes; I expect to be learning a lot from all of your different backgrounds and perspectives!

Intro: Maya M. Wagoner

Hi Everyone!

My name is Maya and I’m a first-year Master’s Student in Comparative Media Studies. I grew up in LA (San Pedro, more specifically) and I’m trying to be more like my grandparents. 

Currently, I work in the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Lab with Professor Fox Harrell, and am focusing on how the design of social network algorithms creates different affordances for different types of users, and more specifically how that process can lead to anti-black public spaces and/or generative political discourse.

My undergraduate degree is in American Studies, but I’ve also been trained as a User Experience designer and have worked as a UX Designer and Usability Researcher. When I was living in San Francisco, I helped organize Code for San Francisco, a volunteer civic technology group that worked to solve city problems with technology. I felt like most of the civic technology spaces I came across were strangely disconnected from community organizations and thus were limited in what problems they could solve and how inclusive they were able to be. I would like to try different approaches, such as codesign, to solving community/political problems with technology.

Looking forward to working with you all soon!


Introduction: Insiyah Mohammad

Hi class! I am currently a first year student at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), working towards my Masters in City Planning degree.

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and came to the U.S. about 8 years ago to attend Bennington College, a small liberal arts college in the middle of the mountains in Southern Vermont. At Bennington, I studied film and psychology. After graduation, I worked in various capacities with the Vera Institute of Justice, a national non-profit that focuses on criminal justice reform. Seeing the devastating impacts of the criminal justice on communities of color, and being frustrated with how late we were able to intervene in the lives of people for whom countless public systems had failed, I started to look for other answers. I joined DUSP to learn about solutions in housing, community and economic development that empower low income communities to work towards a more stable future and avoid involvement with punitive systems.

I am excited to be in this class to learn more about our partner organizations that are organizing themselves in innovative ways to build community wealth. I also look forward to working with students from other parts of MIT and beyond to support these organizations.

Insiyah Mohammad

Character Profile: Jason Ma


My name is Jason Ma, I am a junior studying course 2A, mechanical engineering with some Robotic, Controls, and Computer Science thrown in there. I was originally from the Southern part of China outside of Guangzhou, but I move to Washington D.C / Maryland Area when I was 9 years old.

I wouldn’t consider myself a true designer; I see myself as a technologists at heart, and an engineer by trade. My skills are very interdisciplinary; I know a bit about computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. I think design then connects all these skills together in utilizing them for a common purposes. One of my long term goal or careers is to place myself somewhere between technology and policy, bridging the two together. In order to achieve that, I realize I need to gain more of a perspective.I think this class will allow me to learn about the community and people aspect of the policy side of the problem, specifically how technology influences people or communities.

Much like Lucia, I am very involved in extracurricular. I am the director of a student group called TechX, a student group that empowers students through technology. We run HackMIT, MakeMIT, xFair, and ProjX etc. You can learn more here: http://techx.mit.edu/. Also, you can learn more about me at jsma.scripts.mit.edu.

Looking forward to a great semester!

Jason Ma



Hello! I’m Lucia.

I’m a sophomore at MIT majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Industrial/Product Design. Before coming to the Boston area, I lived in a small suburb in New Jersey where a grew up with my parents, brother, and dog.

I love design, whether it’s making things look pretty, fabricating physical products, or coming up with innovative solutions to human challenges. My interest for visual arts in high school, which involved painting, drawing, and building 3D art, evolved into many of the activities I’m interested in now. This includes being involved in product design projects in my classes, creating graphic design assets for my student groups, and working on casing design for HCI technology in my student job. Since attending MIT, I have also gained experience with user interaction design, front-end web development, and programming. I’m currently searching for a summer internship that’s a mix of industrial/product design, CAD, and addressing design solutions in a collaborative team environment, in order to continue my interests as a designer.

Besides lectures and design projects, I spend my time on extracurriculars, such as being on the HackMIT organizing committee and dancing in MIT Asian Dance Team, or hanging out with friends.

I’m a do-er and a go-getter, but I also value having fun and being happy. I love to work hard, laugh, and follow my passions.

Thanks for reading!


Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio 2016: Co-ops


Image source: occupy.com

The Civic Media: Collaborative Design Studio (Co-Design Studio: http://codesign.mit.edu), based at MIT and working in collaboration with partners in multiple locations, generates civic media projects that are grounded in real-world community needs. We partner with community-based organizations, and use co-design and lean startup methods for project ideation, design, prototyping, testing, launch, and stewardship. In 2016, our partners will be worker-owned cooperatives.

TL;DR: We are running a project-based course in co-design with worker coops from February to May 2016 at MIT, and we’re planning to organize a 1-3 day event (DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam with cooperatives) to take place in multiple locations in the Spring of 2016. In the future, we’d like to explore an open, distributed, parallel courses model (like FemTechNet.org). Check out the draft syllabus, here. More info follows; let us know if you’d like to collaborate! @schock / schock@mit.edu, or sign up for updates here: 

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What is the Co-Design Studio?

The Civic Media Co-Design Studio at MIT works to create civic media projects grounded in real-world community needs. We partner with community-based organizations and use co-design and lean startup methods for project ideation, design, prototyping, testing, launch, and stewardship.

Why Worker Cooperatives?

There’s growing interest in worker cooperatives as a powerful form of re-organizing the economy. If we’re going to ‘disrupt’ every sector with apps, why replace today’s crappy boss with another crappy boss tomorrow? Let’s disrupt the whole model and build a stronger, more democratic, more just, and more sustainable economy! “Worker cooperatives build community wealth and help make a democratic economy real,” since workers have a direct role in decision-making and a share of all profits. For more info, see platformcoop.net and www.usworker.coop.

Who are you?

The Co-Design Studio is organized by Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT and worker/owner at Research Action Design (RAD.cat). This year Evan Henshaw-Plath will work with us to share lean UX and lean startup methods. Additional resource partners may include RAD.cat, MIT CoLab, and more.

Who are partner organizations?

TBD. Likely candidates include cooperatives of home health aides, bicycle delivery, and gardening, among others.

What will you be doing?

  1. A course with Design teams making and launching projects

  2. A DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam

  3. (Possibly) launch a lean co-op startup incubator!

When is it happening?

We’ll kick it off in February 2016, and see how long it lasts!

Where is it?

We’ll be running a course at the MIT Media Lab. We’re hoping that others will run similar courses in parallel. We’ll also be organizing and promoting a DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam that will take place at multiple locations around the world. For updates see codesign.mit.edu.

What will happen to the projects you make?

They’ll be owned by the cooperatives we partner with, and also released as Free Software and Creative Commons content.

How can I get involved?

That depends on who you are and how much time/energy/resources you want to commit!

  • Join the co-design studio course during the Spring semester at MIT

  • Run your own co-design studio with worker-owned cooperatives! (We’ll provide some resource materials based on our own process that you can use or remix as you see fit, and we’ll host video check-ins for teams that are working in different locations).

  • Volunteer with one of the codesign studio design teams

  • Attend (or organize!) a DiscoTech, Hackathon, or Design Jam focused on worker-owned cooperatives (dates TBD).

  • Sponsor us!

Co-Design: Cooperatives! Preparing for the Spring 2016 Co-Design Studio.

Worker Owned Cooperative logo

Worker-Owned Cooperatives FTW!

We’re pleased to announce that in the Spring of 2016, the Co-Design Studio will be partnering with worker-owned cooperatives in low-wage sectors. We haven’t finalized partners yet, but most likely we will collaborate with cooperatives of home health aides, gardeners, and possibly a bicycle delivery coop.

Stay tuned, more soon! In the meantime, you can learn more from the U.S. Federation of Worker-Owned Cooperatives.