I first saw the news on Facebook. I didn’t believe it. It was from a news source I had never heard of and, more importantly, it couldn’t be true.
Then the YouTube spiral. I watched video after video of athletes and sportscasters reacting to the news. First their incredulity. Then shock. Then tears. Right there, on national television, the tears.
It was a Sunday, and I was supposed to do some work for a local gym that I had been helping out on the side while working at MassMutual. …
1. Governments: Design With–Not For–the People
2. Think of Engagement as Customer Service
3. Communicate With People About What They Care About
4. Vendors: Design With–Not For–Government
5. Be Real About “Innovation”
6. Get Out of the Office and Your Own Head
7. Support Local Journalism
I wrote this Playbook as a student in Professor Neil Kleiman’s class Civic Analytics and Urban ICT at the NYU Center for Urban Science + Progress.
This playbook begins with one large value judgment: more civic engagement is better for our society. It’s a stance worth debating, but we’re not going to have that…
Once again today, Ben Thompson published really great insights on his blog, Stratechery. This week’s article is titled “Tech Goes to Washington” and discusses recent testimony before Congress about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It highlights questions asked by Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA), John Kennedy (LA), Ted Cruz (TX), and Al Franken (MN) and answers given by representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Hello first readers!
It excites me to have come across an idea for a blog that will — I hope — inspire me to write on a regular basis: the intersection of cities, technology, and society.
The idea for The Little Urbanist was born at 12:12am a little while back while reading Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It was fleshed out a few days later while riding a Peter Pan bus from New York to Springfield and, again, reading Jacobs.
I am an avid reader of your website, listener to your podcasts, and believer in your mission. FiveThirtyEight brings evidence-driven storytelling into domains largely ruled by emotion: electoral politics, sports fandom, and culture. In this way the site helps keep us honest and founded in reality — and this is such important work, now and always.
Like many people, for a moment on November 9, my internal dialogue said “so much for the experts”. As a student of data science, I even felt a dose of despair; did I pick the wrong profession? …
As the mayor of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley championed a data-driven approach to governance. He started with CitiStat, a tool that helped the Baltimore police department predict and prevent crime and became essential to every city department. Then as Governor he launched state-level tools such as BayStat, which helps mobilize various state agencies to protect the water of the Chesapeake Bay. I first learned about O’Malley in depth by watching this interview he did with Brookings.
After serving as a city councilor, mayor, and governor, in May 2015, he announced he was running for the Democratic…
The chart above shows voter turnout in local elections in four major cities in the United States. Much has been made of the rapid urbanization of the US and the world (I won’t mention the oft-cited percentages, or Anthony Townsend might get mad at me), but if so many people are moving to cities, why aren’t they voting in city elections? …
In 2010, when I was a senior in college, a young politician by the name of Benjamin Downing came to Tufts University to give a talk to political science students. He was from Berkshire County — as far west and as far away from Boston as you can get in Massachusetts. Four years earlier, at the age of 25, he had run for State Senate and won, becoming the youngest State Senator in Massachusetts. He was also a graduate student in policy and planning at Tufts. …
Wow, this video of retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter hits home. It’s from 2012 and Rachel Maddow just shared it on Facebook. I think her intent was to compare Trump to the Roman Augustus, who came in saying “I can fix everything” and became emperor. I actually don’t think we’re so far gone that Trump as president could get away with as much authoritarianism as his rhetoric suggests.
However, I do find Justice Souter’s comments relevant all across our political system at the local, state, and national levels. Complicated problems further clouded by a lack of transparency and accountability…
At the beginning of their book, City Politics: Private Power and Public Policy (2002), Dennis Judd and Todd Swanstrom write, “City governments can influence, but they do not control, the voluntary actions and decisions that, taken together, determine the material well-being, the social character, and the quality of life of an urban community.” Indeed, the American cities we know have resulted from a long history of interplay between three sources of power: government, people (as voters and consumers), and private interests. Those who have best understood these sources of power have shaped our cities.
As urbanization continues in the 21st…