Building Communities Through Mesh Networks

Alyx Baldwin is the kind of technologist we love. While we are impressed which much of Baldwin’s work, the project Tidepools is a brilliant blend of technology, community organizing, and local creativity. Tidepools was created as Baldwin’s thesis project for Parsons School of Design, and works as a localized mapping platform »

Crowd-Sourced Comics and the Power of Political Cartoons

Nikahang Kowsar loves to make people laugh at the world’s problems, and he is deeply committed to doing so. As an Iranian-born and Canadian-based cartoonist now based in DC, Kowsar is the Editor in Chief at the citizen journalism platform Khodnevis, and founder of Toonistan, a social network for making »

A Chinese Comic Artist Inspired by Animal Farm

In late 2011, the Chinese comic artist Crazy Crab came to my attention when he kicked off the Dark Glasses Portrait project. As an internet meme in support of the blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng, the Dark Glasses Portrait encouraged netizens to post pictures of themselves wearing sunglasses. The meme »

Challenging tropes of Native American representation, hashtag by hashtag

Earlier this year, the Washington Redsk*ns trademarks have been canceled by the US Patent Office on the grounds of being “disparaging to Native Americans.”  “Redskins,” defined a racial slur in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, has long been associated with this major football team and used publicly in a wide variety of »

The Life of a Hashtag Meme: #BringBackOurGirls

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag meme is everywhere – as I’m writing this article, there are over three million tweets and over 377,000 Instagram photos tagged with it (not including whatever’s happening on Facebook, Tumblr, etc.). As such, #BringBackOurGirls makes for a great case study of a great, global, political hashtag meme. »

Breaking down the Knight News Challenge Applicants

Updated 4/29: head to the bottom of this post to see who did and didn’t get into the semi-finals! As you may have already read, we submitted a project to the Knight News Challenge to amplify, archive and create a community around social change memes. (More about that on our »

SXSW Follow-Up: Understanding Global Memes and the LOLs of Nations

The second day of SXSW I spoke on the panel, The LOLs of Nations: Understanding Global Memes, looking at the role of memes in civic life around the world, focusing specifically on Azerbaijan, Mexico, Romania, Uganda, and Kenya. I joined Andres Monroy-Hernandez, who discussed Mexican memes and Elena Agapie, who »

Introducing Our New Editor: Dorothy Santos

In the past year, The Civic Beat has published some great articles and developed a small but dedicated readership curious about this emerging space of social change memes around the world.  We’ve been thrilled to see some of our recent articles–like a long interview with Vietmeme about Vietnam’s internet, and »

Journalism and Citizens: Reflections on Lessons Learned at SXSW

Spending a week in Austin, TX for my first SXSW conference was exciting, but the opportunity to be a panelist discussing social change memes around the world alongside accomplished scholars and researchers was thrilling. Our panel, The LOLs of Nations: Understanding Global Memes, was a great success, and a recap »

Recent Protest Memes and Music in Uganda

With the recent passage of the Anti-Pornography Bill and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, memes and art have emerged quickly online.  The Civic Beat writers An Xiao Mina and Ben Valentine recently contributed a couple articles to Hyperallergic looking at the responses: From An Xiao Mina: Nkoyooyo Brian, aka Brayo Bryans, »