Breakthrough, a human rights organization based in New York and the folks behind ICED -- I Can End Deportation (which we featured here), recently launched Homeland Guantanamos, an online game that highlights the deplorable conditions that immigrants face in detention. Other project partners include CAIR Coalition, Stop Prisoners Rape, Immigration Equality, Families for Freedom, Rights Working Group, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. For more on Homeland Guantanamos, read the New York Times coverage here. For more on immigrant detention, be sure to check out Detention Watch Network, a coalition of advocates working to address the immigration detention crisis. - M
FreeRice.com, a website that helps you to improve your vocabulary while you provide food for the hungry, has been around for almost a year now. Supported by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program, FreeRice.com has raised over 44 billion grains of rice, which is enough to provide over 2 million days worth of food for hungry people. It's a great example of how one website can have a powerful impact.
When I visited the site recently, I noticed that they had added additional subjects: world capitals, chemical symbols, and non-English languages (Spanish, German, Italian, and French). I suspect that for most legal aid attorneys, chemical symbols aren't particularly useful, but if you are working on improving any second or third languages, this is a great way to build vocabulary and to do some good at the same time. - K
I was just browsing an interesting new anthology, Rebooting America, which includes forty-four essays "brimming with the hopes of re-energizing, reorganizing, and reorienting our government for the Internet Age," and came across a name that should be familiar to some of you. Included in the volume is an essay by Gene Koo called "Creating Humane Codelaw," which pulls from his experience as a statewide website coordinator at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, where he "became aware of a computer system called Beacon used by the MA Department of Transitional Assistance (aka "welfare") to distribute various benefits such as food stamps to Massachusetts residents." Gene goes on to describe how "software that executes law ("codelaw") presents a number of challenges to a democracy," and provide some ideas about how to ensure that codelaw "remains accountable to the people." Also included in the anthology are essays by Yochai Benkler, Newt Gingrich, Craig Newmark, Howard Rheingold, Clay Shirky, and David Weinberger. -M
An interesting AP article on the recent Pew Internet and the American Life Survey, "Teens, Video Games and Civics." The survey found that ninety-seven percent of young respondents play video games. That's 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls, with little difference in the percentages among various racial and ethnic groups and incomes." Will the Wii be the great equalizer? Only time will tell, but for now my wife and I still have to travel all the way to Baltimore to visit Kate and her husband for our marathon Rock Band sessions. -M
From the New York Times:
Speaking Wednesday afternoon at the annual Games for Change conference held at the New School in New York, Justice O'Connor described the game that will be offered free next year on the Internet. It is one of the main efforts of the Our Courts project that Justice O'Connor started in conjunction with Arizona State University and the Georgetown Law School. The game is being developed with James Gee, a professor at University of Wisconsin who studies the educational effect of video games.
Read the full article here. -M
Check out Breakthrough's video game trailer for ICED (I Can End Deportation) below, then download the game to see what it's like to be an immigrant without meaningful access to due process. It's a great example of technology being used to expose complex legal issues in a way that's both accessible and engaging. If you're interested in learning more about creating or using digital games for social change, check out Games for Change and join their discussion list. -M