Welcome, friends, to the new magazine format of The Civic Beat!  We’re excited to launch a sneak preview of the site, even while we’re tinkering in the background.  We’re excited to be joining the world class DERP Institute,  aka the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership, which will help us extend our research into the corners of the web occupied by the likes of Reddit, Imgur, Fark, StackExchange and Twitch.  You can read more about it at this great Guardian article (and with a special thanks to Tim Hwang!).

Short on the heels of the Sandbox, we saw an incredible outpouring of support from folks we didn’t necessarily expect—human rights activists, civic techies, artists, activists—all of whom seemed passionate about the idea of a space for capturing creative activity online around social and political issues. At the same time, we too were interested in those same people and organizations.

As our ragtag team of writers huddled together to figure out the best way to capture this energy, we realized that our real strengths were twofold: we’re researchers and we’re storytellers.  And threefold, really: we know how to talk to people engaging in social change work online, especially those who use creative expression. That’s part of the ethos behind the Sandbox, and it’s the ethos behind some of our stronger pieces in our blog, the Reader.

Drawing inspiration from a new wave of magazines like Makeshift, BOMB, and Offscreen; we too envision having an online publication complemented by a print quarterly. Our focus: stories and interviews from the front lines of civic tech and creativity. Imagine a conversation with leading academics in the field on one page and, on the next, a deep interview with Crazy Crab, one of China’s most compelling (and anonymous) political comic artists.

What we value is the diversity of perspective, both in terms of geography and subject matter. We take a global approach, and we find individual meme makers just as interesting as brand name organizers and activists. What matters to us is their story, the reasons behind their work, and the ins and outs of the work itself. We want to do more of what we did with Patrick Sharbaugh at Vietmeme and @verylemonade on #Bisexualfacts. We want to tell the very human stories at the heart of technology, creativity and social change.

We hope you like it. And as always… stay tuned for more to come.