We work with nonprofits, social movement organizations, and cities to develop civic engagement technologies that improve public understanding of civic processes and bolster participation in local democracy.
Forward emerged from Libby Falck's thesis research at MIT on digital organizing practices in her home state of Wisconsin. Based on the work of media scholars Sasha Costanza-Chock, Scot Osterweil, Ben Stokes, Eric Gordon, Mary Flanagan, Henry Jenkins, Stephen Duncombe, and dozens of others Forward Labs helps organizations advance their missions through games, crowdsourcing, and participatory engagement. Our experiments focus on three needs that are underserved by existing technologies:
Our projects aim to increase access to information about issues, candidates, and civic actions at the municipal and county levels.
We seek to introduce activists to new causes by increasing awareness of the ways various issues and organiziation are connected.
Our initiatives prioritize people-driven, creative engagement by local residents, not fundraising for professionalized action.
Sasha Costanza-Chock and Scot Osterweil, both in the MIT Comparative Media Studies program, for advising Libby Falck's related thesis work.
George Penn and Jim Crist from WIUTA and Karen Harkness from the City of Appleton for their research collaboration and mentorship.
Teachers and students from Neenah High School for playtesting the game.
Contributors from the MIT Hacking Arts team members who helped build prototypes: Justin Warren, Aparna Krishnakumar, Efua Akonor, Tiffany Shen, Tommy Mintz, Stephanie MacConnell, Krishna Gadia, and Tess.
The MIT Open Documentary Lab fellows and members for their ongoing feedback.
Students in the following classes for playtesting the game: Playful Social Interactive Design Explorations (Spring 2018 and Spring 2019), Networked Social Movements (Fall 2018), and Games for Social Change (Spring 2019).
We seek to follow the principles outlined by the Design Justice Network while also demonstrating a safe, equitable, and sustainable model of platform ownership.