Knight Blog

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

The Civic Commons needs your help to turn talk into community action

May 10, 2012, 2:09 p.m., Posted by Dan Moulthrop

Knight Foundation funds The Civic Commons to build on existing citizen engagement efforts to provide new ways for citizens to learn about local issues. Here, its curator of conversation, Dan Moulthrop, writes about its new and improved website. 

Last month, we released version 2.0 of our website It may be too lofty and overreaching to say this is the coming to fruition of months and months of work, dreaming, and something in between the two, but on our good days, that's kind of what it feels like. There's a little bit missing, though, to be sure, and we need some dreamers and doers in different communities to help us get it to the next level. 

So what's new? Well, ever since we launched the website eighteen months ago, we've been saying over and over that we were giving community members a chance to turn talk into action. Thing is, while we said that a lot, we hadn't really given anyone the tools to do so. Until now. In our new and improved website, Commons activity has three basic steps--conversationaction and reflection.

Amara - making Internet video truly global

May 10, 2012, 9:13 a.m., Posted by Nicholas Reville

Knight Foundation and Mozilla announced today a $1 million investment in Amara, which makes video more accessible around the globe by simplifying the way to caption and subtitle it. Here, Amara's Nicholas Reville write about the service:

The famous (and maybe infamous) KONY 2012 video from March was a global sensation, both in viewership and in production. The video is about Africa, it was produced by a team in the U.S., and was looking to spark global activism-- and yet it was posted exclusively in English. That means the audience it could reach was dramatically restricted.

Using Amara, volunteers translated KONY 2012 into more than 34 languages in just four days. Look at the language list:


And KONY 2012 is just a microcosm of online video. Video is the most popular medium in the world, and the online video revolution has made everyone a potential global video publisher. But when a video is posted in language that we don’t speak, how can we enjoy it?

To truly have access to video around the world, we need a way to watch and understand it. For people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, the challenge is even greater -- without captions, all videos are inaccessible.

At Amara, we want to solve this problem at a mass scale -- we want to remove all the barriers that have made subtitling and captioning so rare online. We’ve built the simplest subtitling interface anywhere online. We are making it easy for companies and organizations to manage subtitle workflows, and most importantly, we’re involving viewers in making videos accessible. And inviting viewers to subtitle is the key to reaching hundreds of millions of online videos. Without their help, the problem becomes impossible.

Exploring the future of social entrepreneurship

May 9, 2012, 6:10 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


(l to r): Bill Drayton, Matthew Bishop and Alberto Ibargüen discuss social entrepreneurship 

If social entrepreneurs have learned anything over the past several years, it’s that collaboration is the key to advancing social change. Success in the field will only come through partnerships between the social sector and the business world, Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka, told a crowd of leaders gathered in Miami this week.

The three-day Ashoka Support Network’s Global Summit, funded by Knight Foundation, is part of a larger discussion on how to best move social entrepreneurship forward, both locally in South Florida and also globally.

During an opening conversation on the future of social entrepreneurship, panelists focused on how teams, and also “teams of teams,” can ensure a brighter, more successful future for the field. By doing so, social change leaders can help build a world where everyone has the ability to become a changemaker.

Knight Foundation’s President & CEO Alberto Ibargüen welcomed the crowd by saying that Miami is a “fantastic” place to talk about where the field is headed, citing its unique diversity as central to the conversation around entrepreneurship: “75 percent of us were born someplace else and over 50 percent of us are from another country.” It’s a community where people express their opinions freely, where debate is constant and the discovery of other points of view is commonplace, he said.