Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Next City’s New Column, “In Public,” Takes You Inside the Spaces That Foster Civic Life

Oct. 22, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is supporting the new Next City series "In Public" to help civic innovators better understand how public space and civic life intersect and how these lessons can help build more successful communities. This article is re-posted from (Photo by Allen Skyy via Flickr)

The High Line. Las Ramblas. Tahrir Square. Cincinnati’s Washington Park.

Urban landscapes may be covered by mostly private property, but when we think about cities, we usually picture the swathes of grass and pavement where we jumble together like so many bingo balls. These public spaces can become realms for inclusiveness and social integration or anxious spheres that encourage distance and sorting. While we intuitively sense the difference between Central Park and an office building plaza, rarely do we analyze why some civic spaces succeed in catalyzing empathy and connectivity, while others become isolated by class and race. To better understand how public space and civic life intersect, Next City is launching a new six-month series of articles called “In Public,” with funding from the the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Our global dreams and fears: News as emotion

Oct. 22, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Kalev H. Leetaru

Below, Kalev H. Leetaru, a data scientist and the past 2013-2014 Yahoo Fellow at Georgetown University, writes about reimagining news as emotion using the Internet Archives, which Knight Foundation supports

Description: C:\Users\leetaru\Desktop\GLOBALNET\PUBLICATIONS\GP-GDELT-KnightBlogPost-NewsEmotions\figure1-anxiety.png

Figure 1 - Intensity of the emotion “anxiety” in American television news over the last four years

The world’s news media isn’t merely a clinical chronology of global events: It is a lens onto the dreams and fears of our global world.  As journalists report on events from the mundane to the extraordinary, they do so through the lens of their own experiences, beliefs and views. Each unfolding detail is contextualized through the stories of those participating and affected. Coverage of a labor protest goes beyond the impersonal who, when and where, to the what and why, capturing the rich tapestry of emotional undercurrents that define human life.

What if we could quantitatively measure and visualize the emotion of the world’s news? Identifying areas where reporting on a disease outbreak devolves from concern to panic or where a previously downtrodden region suddenly finds a euphoric new vision for the future?  Creating a global “happiness” ranking of the world’s cities and identifying the topics that appear in the most positive and most negative light in every corner of the globe?  In short, what if we could reimagine the news not as a simple conveyer of facts, but as a coarse reflection onto the emotions, the dreams and fears, of global society? Last week we released a dataset that does just that. Here’s how we got there.

‘Knight Cities’: Jeff Risom of Gehl Architects on improving the quality of public life

Oct. 22, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Public life is making a comeback in U.S. cities after more than 50 years of decline, inspired, in large part, by the work of Gehl Architects in Copenhagen. Helping cities accelerate that movement and get the details of public space right is a special talent of Jeff Risom. He is partner and managing director of Gehl Studio, the U.S. subsidiary of Gehl Architects, where he oversees design, planning and research projects throughout the Americas. Gehl has worked with cities worldwide to use public space to shape public life.

Listen to my conversation with Jeff here. And sign up for the “Knight Cities” newsletter to get alerts as soon as new conversations are posted.