Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Gordon is an associate professor at Emerson College and a scholar/activist/practitioner working in the areas of civic media and design. His research explores the ways in which new technologies enable people or communities to interact with or bypass public sector institutions, from participating in formal processes to advocating for social change. He is particularly interested in design interventions that include play and games as a means of supporting or motivating civic action-taking. He partners with organizations ranging from municipal governments and community-based organizations to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the Red Cross. Gordon is the founder and executive director of the Engagement Lab, which is an applied research lab at Emerson College, and a faculty affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Presents a literature review exploring the intersection of theories of human behavior with the motivations for and benefits of engaging in civic life, bringing together literature from behavioral economics, sociology, psychology and communication studies to reveal how civic actors, institutions, and decision-making processes have been traditionally understood, and how emerging media tools and practices are forcing their reconsideration. Discusses how new technologies and corresponding social practices, from social media to mobile reporting, are providing different ways to record, share, and amplify that attentiveness.
Looks at how location-awareness on mobile phones is creating new forms of urban practice – from playful movements motivated by location-based games, to the practice of mapping neighborhoods and reporting civic problems, what we call networked locality is becoming a fundamental part of being in a city.
Frames an emerging field of study called Civic Media. With contributions from leading scholars and practitioners in the field, this volume explores the range of activities, methodologies and theoretical approaches that can be applied to the intentionally civic uses of digital media.
Engages in design-based research that assesses the affordances and effects of a specific digital platform meant to deepen civic engagement: an interactive online game for local engagement called Community PlanIt (CPI). Drawing on an analysis of game mechanics, in-game actions, and interviews and focus groups with players, we ask if and how CPI can move citizen participation beyond isolated transactions. We draw two conclusions: CPI creates and strengthens trust among individuals and local community groups that is linked to confidence in the process of engaging, and it encourages interactive practices of engagement that we define as civic learning.