We took a chance, sending out an Open Thread, with a question really open to interpretation: What are you working on and what could be useful to you? And all we can say is … Wow! So many of you came through to share incredibly interesting projects and ideas — and started helping each other out. This is everything to us. We encourage you to take a peek and add your contribution here. Like some 24-hour diners, we literally do not have a lock on these doors — this thread will stay open.
📒 A sampling of the connections and themes between readers’ work
📚 Your nonfiction and fiction book recommendations
🗣 We need your help on a New_ Public motto!
That said, we’re honestly still deciding how public these threads should be. Is a Las Vegas-style standard (what happens in the Thread stays in the Thread) appropriate? Or is the Thread a bulletin board, where the contents within are fair game to distribute in other places, such as this newsletter? We don’t quite know yet, but for now, this remains a work in progress. If you have an opinion about thread accessibility and publicness, please let us know.
We’ve pulled out some connections and themes below, along with some unattributed quotes to give you some of the texture, but you’re welcome to read and comment on the Thread if you want to know more or connect with anyone.
“I live in the UK and I work as a transport planner - my current projects include researching how rail is organised in Scotland, and analysing how train guards do the doors on trains. Outside of strictly 'work work' projects I'm working towards my goal of making the transport network and industry more accessible to disabled people (including myself).”
“We're about to launch our community product (adding private channels to our public space) so that communities can strengthen belonging, fueled by empathy and insight.”
creating social networks / platforms / projects
building a new commons
“We are interested in building/nurturing/learning about projects to build the digital public sphere that are owned and governed by the communities that use them.”
research about social media
journalism innovation / publications
changing nature of work/ family / home
“This year I started ... a newsletter, community and safe space for modern fathers to connect and discuss the changing face of fatherhood.”
These themes are a bit reductive, but they get at some of the common interests and topics. It’s a little like a map of our collective interests. We’ll be checking in again on different topics from time to time. If you make a connection and find something or someone here, please come back and tell us about it.
In Our Readers We Trust
Another serendipitous realization from the Thread is that a lot of us are fans of the podcast 99% Invisible. This, of course, is not a huge surprise, as the show is an exploration of design and the built environments we live in. The show has a motto:
Our motto is ‘always read the plaque’. It’s always worth stopping to see what person or event is being commemorated in stone and metal. The person being depicted is not always worthy. The story being told is not always true. Plaques often tell you more about the person who commissioned them than the historical figure that they are honoring. It’s still worth always reading the plaque, but it’s not enough to just read the plaque.
This led me to muse that we could use a digital version of this motto, and at least one reader enthusiastically agreed: “YES. THIS. 1000%. What would you suggest?”
So let’s open it up! Leave a comment, or tweet us your ideas. Now that I know it’s an option, we absolutely need a New_ Public motto!
Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high
Without meaning to, we also got a lot of great book recommendations in the Thread, which I’ve pulled out for you here. If you pick one up, we’d love to hear what you think of the book.
Real Estate: A Living Autobiography, Deborah Levy
The Mushroom At The End Of The World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber
A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (second in a trilogy)
Mercury Retrograde, Emily Segal
See you there
Just another reminder that we’ll be at Unfinished Live — an immersive festival experience on the future of tech and the possibilities of a decentralized future — on September 23-24, online and at The Shed, Hudson Yards, NYC. This fully-vaccinated event will be two days of panels, “Clubhouse conversations, live podcasts, networking and more.” We hope you’ll join us!
Because we’re a partner in the Unfinished Network, we’re excited to be able to pass on complimentary tickets to the in-person conference at The Shed to subscribers of this newsletter using the promo code NEWPUBLIC100 at this link.
Threading the needle,
Image courtesy of Unfinished
New_ Public is a partnership between the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin, and the National Conference on Citizenship, and was incubated by New America.