🏞📲 What We Cherish
Here's what we want to lift up in the world
Welcome back to New_ Public, and hello to all our new readers! We hope you had a good holiday, even if it was partially (or mostly) online, and that you’re finding new ways to remain connected and safe.
It falls on a quiet week, this second issue, but we wanted to take some time to share our editorial values, round up the week’s news, and invite you to the New_ Public festival in January. We also wanted to share something we’re thankful for: a list of people and organizations working to build a public-friendly internet. Follow them, if you’re not already—and let us know who we missed. Who do you want to thank for making the internet a better place?
New_ Public’s Editorial Values
1. We believe that thriving societies require flourishing public spaces, offline and online.
2. We believe that the design of public spaces shapes the kinds of public conversations and communities that a society has.
3. We believe that the reckless design of our current, privately-owned digital spaces is tearing at our social fabric and poses a grave danger to our ability to collectively identify and solve social problems.
4. We believe that public spaces flourish when they are safe and welcoming to everyone, connect people to foster belonging and cohesion, help people make meaning and understand together, and support people to act together.
5. We believe that conflict and contention are vital elements of public space as well -- but that the design of spaces helps to shape whether conflicts are productive or destructive.
6. We believe that successful spaces cannot be designed by any one individual or discipline -- that they require ongoing collaboration not just from designers and technologists but also from social scientists, the communities they serve and the maintainers and stewards who will care for them.
7. We believe that for spaces to be equitable, they must work actively to design for difference and remediate the effects of racism, economic domination and willful manipulation.
8. We believe that public spaces should not be frictionless. Friction and under-optimization lead to the serendipitous, incidental and generative human interactions where we encounter, discover and negotiate difference.
9. We believe that our best solutions already exist and are hiding in public -- which is why finding common cause with other organizations and forging unlikely alliances is a centrally important task.
10. We believe that the experiment that is the Internet, like the experiment that is democracy, is an ongoing project, and that we are at the early stages of discovering what each can be. We believe that the best of both is yet to come.
Our Question For You
These are the editorial values we felt were most important when starting New_ Public. Which most speaks to you? What do you feel strongly about that you wish we’d included? Let us know in the comments!
Facebook built an algorithm to demote content that was “bad for the world,” but it reduced the # of times users opened Facebook, so they scrapped that approach.
Lots of important conversations around this Charlie Warzel piece—how do we balance research and surveillance?—but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the pandemic has exponentially worsened Facebook’s existing problems.
In 1966, a talking duck respectfully asked city planners to make space for cyclists. Why didn’t they listen?
We really enjoyed New_ Public Advisory Board member Ethan Zuckerman’s conversation with Charles Ingram for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Seriously, you should check out our Digital Public Spaces list. It’s very good!
We’re Throwing a Party, and You’re Invited
This January, Cory Doctorow, Esra’a Al Shafei, Danielle Allen, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Glen Weyl, Katherine Maher, and dozens of other incredible designers, urbanists, technologists, builders, artists, and civic futurists will join us to interrogate and imagine the future of digital space at the New_ Public festival in a unique immersive setting.
Thankful for everyone working to make the internet a better place,
The New_ Public Team