ExtrAct, a research group at MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM), developed web-based tools for community monitoring of the oil and gas industry. MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media (became the Center for Civic Media) funded by the Knight Journalism Foundation, sought to create novel “civic media” technologies to invigorate civic learning and action. Our research group developed web-based tools for citizen science and advocacy in communities experiencing oil and gas development. The work of the Extract group is described in Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds, published in 2018 by Duke University Press.

ExtrAct Tools:

Landman Report Card (LRC): LCR was a site for community reporting and accountability for Landmen, representatives of the oil and gas industry who broker leases for surface or mineral rights. The site was publicly released January of 2010. The design and development of LRC is described in Chapter 7 of Fractivism, use of LRC is analyzed in Chapter 8 of the book.

Fractivism’s Landman Report Card Appendix provides examples of report card made by LRC users.

News Positioning System (NPS): Released in its initial version in the summer of 2010, NPS was a way to geographically tag and share news on any issue within small community groups. The site was developed to help small, isolated gas development communities maintain and share an archive of news on related to this industry.

WellWatch: was a map and complaint interface through which landowners could geographically tag and share complaints about oil and gas wells across the country. WellWatch was a platform for community monitoring of the oil and gas industry.

The results of WellWatch are described in Chapter 9 of Fractivism and in a paper I co-authored with sociologist Len Albright:

Wylie, Sara and Len Albright. 2014. “WellWatch: reflections on designing digital media for multi-sited para-ethnography.” Journal of Political Ecology 21: 320-348.

Fractivism’s WellWatch Appendix provides an archive of WellWatch complaints and reports submitted by users.

Extract Project Repositories:


Selected Media Coverage:

Urbina, Ian and McGinty, Craven, Jo .2011. Learning Too Late the Perils of Gas Well Leases. New York Times, December 1.

Santo, Alysia. 2011. The Landman Cometh: Innovation Trail and other New York outlets help readers prepare for fracking prospectors. Columbia Journalism Review. December 1.

Johnson, Laura. 2009. “Ohio laws governing gas drilling among most lenient in nation, experts sayThe Cleveland Plain Dealer. July 5.

LabCAST. 2009. “#36 extrACT”. MIT Media Lab. February 25. Video describing the ExtrACT project.

Blake, Harriet. 2008. “Help for landowners who could be victimized by natural gas drilling”. KABC Los Angeles. December 17.

Outlook Series. 2008. “MIT Software Draws Bead on Natural Gas Land Man”. December 3.

Chandler, David. 2008. “Bringing the Power of Information to the People,” MIT News Office, December 2.


Co-Director: Chris Csikszentmihalyi, former director of MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM).

Co-Director: Christina Xu

Web design: Matthew Hockenberry

Community Outreach: Lisa Sumi, Earthworks/OGAP

WellWatch Community Coordinator: Tara Meixsell

Programming: Dan Ring

Programming: Matt Gordan