Civic Signals seeks to build less divisive online spaces

(New_Public will be a hub for individuals imagining and building a new, more inclusive digital world. )

Civic Signals has announced the launch of New_Public, a media project for amplifying the ongoing conversation around building better digital public spaces through essays and opinion pieces from leading writers.

Civic Signals is a project of the National Conference on Citizenship and the Center for Media Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication

Founded in 2019 by Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble” and co-founder of Upworthy, and Talia Stroud, professor at University of Texas at Austin and founding Director of the Center for Media Engagement, Civic Signals’ mission is to support the development of more equitable and flourishing digital public spaces.

Edited by Vice Media and Wall Street Journal alum Marina Garcia-Vasquez, and backed by an editorial board of leaders in technology, media and design, New_Public will be a hub for individuals imagining and building a new, more inclusive digital world.

New_Public aims to draw on learnings from physical public spaces to envision more productive, open and democratic digital spaces. In an inaugural op-ed with WIRED, Eli Pariser explains the links between the design and functions of public parks and digital platforms, and why it is imperative that we look to this history when building more inclusive digital public spaces.

To describe this effort, New_Public released a launch video produced by Civic Signals and our friends at Lucky Post.

“We Are New_Public: The Light.” reflects what it means to have democratic public digital spaces to share information and ideas with people of all backgrounds. Lucky Post collaborated on this important launch video using a variety of animation and design techniques to reflect diversity, connection, support and innovation. Watch below:

ALSO READ: Sound Designer Matt Cimino joins Lucky Post

“After this historically divisive election, it’s imperative that we design digital spaces that help us come together — as communities and as a nation. Thriving societies require flourishing public spaces, and the design of our online spaces greatly shapes our public conversations and sense of national identity,” said Eli Pariser, co-founder and co-director of Civic Signals. “Our current, privately-owned digital spaces are not optimized for these public purposes, and this poses a grave danger to our ability to collectively identify and solve social problems. “

He adds, “Through New_Public, we hope to change this current trajectory by bringing together the builders of new spaces and pushing forward conversations around how we can redesign online public spaces that are equitable, and allow people to encounter, discover and negotiate differences. This work is too important to be left to platform companies alone. We aim to amplify the growing chorus demanding a public role in designing and maintaining the online spaces that have become the new public squares.”

“As the global pandemic continues to keep societies physically distanced, social interactions have increasingly moved online. Now more than ever, we need online public spaces that are safe and welcoming to everyone, and that connect people in ways that foster belonging and cohesion,” said Talia Stroud, co-founder and co-director of Civic Signals.

“Rather than continuing to perpetuate the isolation of opinions, digital spaces should be well-designed to allow contention to exist, while still ensuring those conflicts are productive by helping people understand each other, and supporting people’s ability to act together.

As part of its efforts to build and promote more responsible digital spaces, New_Public is launching a newsletter and magazine, led by new Editor in Chief Marina Garcia-Vasquez.

The New_Public newsletter will be published weekly, with the purpose of convening and curating important conversations happening in the public spirited tech space and to shine a light on the people leading the way. Additionally, New_Public will be launching pop-up community spaces and a Discord channel for the New_Public community to meet, connect and engage with each other.

“Successful online public spaces require ongoing collaboration, not just from designers and technologists, but also from social scientists, the communities they serve, and those who will care for them,” notes Marina Garcia-Vasquez. “With New_Public we will look to bring disparate groups together over salient themes to effectuate conversations about what these redesigned digital spaces could look like.”

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To advance this effort, New_Public has convened an editorial board comprised of 11 leaders in the civic tech conversation, who will help shape the conversation around how we can rebuild online public spaces.


CLIENT: Civic Signals

  • Co-Director: Eli Pariser & Talia Stroud 
  • Chief of Staff: Neelam Sakaria 
  • Creative Director: Romy Nehme 
  • Executive Producer: Erin Germain 

POST: Lucky Post

  • Creative Director, Writer, Director, Editor – Sai Selvarajan
  • Animation: Seth Olson, Jake Odgers
  • Audio: Scottie Richardson
  • Executive Producer: Jessica Berry

SOURCE: Lucky Post