Knight Blog

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

Beyond clicktivism: exploring ways technology can engage citizens in improving their communities

May 31, 2012, 9:09 a.m., Posted by Charles Tsai


Photo Credit: Flickr user TEDxHonolulu

Knight Foundation is convening its first summit today on the theme of Technology for Engagement, bringing together leaders and innovators to “think together” about lessons learned and what’s next.

Co-hosted by MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the “unconference” is designed to give thought leaders in the field a rare platform to compare experiences, speak openly about successes and failures and identify areas for collaboration. Participants will collectively set the agenda and goals and define topics for discussion for the 24-hour event.

The summit marks a new milestone for Knight’s Technology for Engagement Initiative, launched in 2010 to fund better ways to harness the power of technology for community engagement. The initiative asks: Beyond clicks and comments, how can people use the Internet, online social networks, apps, and mobile devices to take “real life” action and improve their communities?

Over the last two years, Knight Foundation has funded more than a dozen organizations to experiment with possible answers. Initial grantees included Code for America, a “Peace Corps for Geeks” and Community PlanIt, a platform that uses gaming to involve citizens in community planning efforts.

Many of the fund’s grantees are attending this week’s summit, including Jennifer Pahlka of Code for AmericaEric Gordon of Community PlanItLee Fisher of CEOs for Cities, and Nancy Lublin of

Joining them in the unconference are Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media LabEthan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic MediaUrs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman CenterBenjamin Stokes, co-founder of Games for Change, and others.

While the discussion topics have yet to be decided, they are likely to address key themes emerging in the field:

Millennial-led engagement helps students address educational challenges

May 30, 2012, 9:06 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Starting Friday June 1, is bringing together close to 100 community college students from across South Florida to discuss the challenges they face in completing their degrees.

During the three-day summit, the organization’s first in Florida, college students will work collaboratively to propose ways to increase the number of people finishing school.

On the third day of the summit, students will compete to win a share of $25,000 to implement the most innovative of their solutions. Winners also participate in a 12-month fellowship and skill-building curriculum intended to help them successfully implement their projects.

The Target 2020 summit is supported by Knight Foundation, as part of its efforts to expand’s model of millennial-led engagement in five communities: Detroit, San Jose, Miami, Charlotte and Philadelphia.

At the summit, Sen. Bob Graham and other local leaders will release the Miami Millennial Civic Health Report. The report found that Miami’s residents ages 18-30 ranked lower than their counterparts across the state and nation on issues related to civic health like volunteering and voting. The report also shows that young adults without any college experience were particularly cut off from civic life.

The weekend summit will be webcast live. To join the conversation on Twitter, follow @mob_org and use the hashtag #T2020.

Hockey fans like donuts: why it could make online news content more valuable

May 29, 2012, 9:24 a.m., Posted by Benoit Wirz


Photo Credit: Flickr user slidingsideways

Here’s a news flash: Hockey fans like donuts. Dunkin Donuts, to be more precise. And to be even more specific, a significant portion of the 2.5 million fans who visit the Boston Bruins web site every month also like Dunkin Donuts. Earth shattering, I know.

Here’s the thing: What if I were the Boston Bruins, and you were Dunkin Donuts and I could actually prove this to you? I could show you precisely how many of my monthly visitors were fans of your product, and give you a really clear picture of who those fans were, and how they matched up with the types of fans you were trying to reach with your advertising: wouldn’t you be more likely to buy advertising directly from me and pay me a decent price for it?

Most online publishers are unable to easily gather granular data about their audience. According to Pew, less than 4% of newspapers’ digital ad revenue today comes from targeted ads. It is difficult and expensive to get the granular market research that advertisers require to make buying decisions. Data-driven ad networks that can provide some of this information buy ad inventory in bulk, driving down ad revenue for original publishers by 5-10x.