I am a recent graduate of the Epistemology and Learning Group at the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . My research focuses upon applying constructionist models and theories to urban social settings outside of the classroom. To date, my work has developed into two major thematic projects and approaches:
I have worked on a number of projects that have sought to organize learning environments for at-risk teenagers and their adult neighbors through social apprenticeships involving economic activity. The apprenticeships focus on organizing adult tutors to help young people start youth-based micro-businesses. The young entrepreneurs learn different skills with which their adult neighbors can help them, and then they apply these skills in organizing youth-run neighborhood services. The various skills that young people were involved in learning and turning into local services included: appliance repair, snow-removal, landscaping, video taping, word processing, newsletter production, and most recently, web-page development. To learn more about the teenagers and adults involved in the web-page project, click here . Links to information about the other projects will be included on this page in the future.
Using a formulation I devised for the concept of "social constructionism," I have worked on a theoretical model to guide technological approaches intended to foster social development and urban renewal. As an experiment in this type of approach and an applied example of this model, I have developed computer networking software called MUSIC (Multi-User Sessions In Community) which has been used to develop neighborhood-based community networks in Boston, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey. It is a tool for residents to use in developing local forums and discussions around community concerns, and to organize and manage neighborhood-based programs and social activities (or social constructions). It is to help provide local information infrastructure (instead of national information infrastructure) so that neighborhoods can stay interdependent and actively engaged in the development of their own social setting.
Click here to see photographs taken of the Newark project and the participants.
Click here to see some examples of the user interface.
A demo version of the MUSIC software and instructions on how to use it are available for download. The demo only runs on the Macintosh:
The MUSIC client software is available for download in both Macintosh and Windows (3.1/95/NT) versions.
If you are downloading the Windows version, you can either download the Client Installer above as one file, OR if you want to put the Installer on diskettes, you can download it below as a 3 Disk Set made up of four files that fit on 3 disks. Note: File 1 and File 2 MUST be on the same disk:
The MUSIC server software and database folder are also available for download. To work properly, they must both be placed in the same folder after you have installed them, and like the demo, they only work on the Macintosh:
Additionally, the intention of this research has been to contribute to the discourse around addressing the difficulties faced by low-income urban communities. My doctoral dissertation is entitled, "Social Constructionism and the Inner City: Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal," and it provides a much more comprehensive treatment of these and related theories and research. The Introduction and Chapter 1 are available to read online, and the following versions are available for download:
The work that I have described here has been made possible by the support and guidance of the advisors on my thesis committee--Seymour Papert, Mitchel Resnick, Ceasar McDowell, and Anthony Maddox--and by the News in the Future Group here at the Media Lab.
For more information or discussion on any of these topics please send me some Email.
I graduated in 1985 with a BA in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University . I received my MS in Computer Science in 1988 from the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, and I got my Ph.D. in 1995 from the MIT Media Lab . I have been happily married to Michelle Shaw since 1990, and we have five wonderful children named Chinua, Yesuto, Obasi, Ima and Ife.