About Popula

Blockchain technology powers Popula
flickr/internet archive

Popula is an experimental news, arts and culture magazine with a humanistic, global focus, dedicated to protecting press freedom and speech rights.

Popula is journalist-owned, reader-supported, and dedicated to developing new business models for online publishing, including new forms of ownership and blockchain-based innovations in archiving and revenue generation. Our goal: to create a first quality, ad-free publication that can support a small group of journalists and artists responsibly and sustainably, and to show that this model is reproducible.

Since June of 2018, we’ve been bringing you a wide variety of interesting, beautiful writing, art, and information from all over the world. Here’s a small sampling:

Examining the soaring, mythological height of a beloved South Asian filmmaker

A hidden feud inside the walls of the Chelsea Hotel, New York’s legendary bohemian palace

The long, stubborn legacy of Nazism in Poland

Revisiting America’s greatest police reporter

Indian/Pakistani tensions explained through a bad haircut received at the age of nine

Navigating Beirut on-foot in the aftermath of a tragedy

A terrorist attack on Pakistan’s Ahmadi community and its subsequent political and personal fallout

Our columns include:

My Airport, an examination of our ever-changing world through the lens of a writer’s hometown airport

Me Today, a description of one person’s day, somewhere on Earth

Things Unseen, a column that makes the hidden, invisible universe a bit more tangible

The My Dictator series of first-person accounts of growing up with, for example, Nicolae Ceausescu, Saddam Hussein and Chiang Kai-Shek

We started Popula with a generous grant from Civil, which we used, in part, to demonstrate how blockchain technology can protect the quality and integrity of what you read. On December 17th, 2018, Popula made history by archiving the first news article directly onto the Ethereum public blockchain. On February 14, 2019, we introduced our crypto microtipping system; using the MetaMask in-browser wallet, you can now leave tips of just about any value you like for your favorite authors and artists. In May 2019, we introduced a crypto-based commenting system for our subscribers.

Popula is a founding member of The Brick House, a new journalism cooperative with no owners, no executives, and no investors that launched in December 2020. We’re joined by eight sister publications, including outlets like Sludge, Hmm Weekly, and FAQ NYC who, like us, were previously powered by Civil. The Brick House welcomes several new publications, including a pan-African digital magazine of art and culture, a hub for experimental comics, and a space for quiet contemplation and spiritual musings.

We don’t believe that there are only a few important places or people in the world. We seek interesting views and commentary from everyone, everywhere, and we are amplifying conversations large and small, though we’re not at all “cosmopolitan”: When someone famous dies or gets divorced or ends up in jail, you might not hear anything about it from us for a long time, or ever. We’re not trying to get anywhere first.

In case you’re interested—though you needn’t ever be in order to read Popula—we’re experimenting with blockchain technology in a number of ways. Our developing program of fulltext blockchain archives will ensure that our work can never be altered, censored or destroyed, at least not while the Ethereum blockchain exists.

Civilization rests on our ability to preserve history as it really happened, not as various powerful interests would prefer us to see it. And blockchain archiving also keeps us honest, and accountable to you. When we make a mistake, the history of our errors will not disappear; we’re in the business of keeping permanent receipts.

Mainly, we plan to continue tell the truth and, when possible, have fun.

If you like what you see here, please sign up to receive at no charge the Popula Planet, an occasional email from us. To keep up-to-date with the wider Brick House ecosystem, subscribe to our cooperative’s weekly newsletter by clicking the icon on the bottom-right corner of your screen. Or go all the way with a subscriber membership, which gives you access to all nine Brick House publications for $7/month or $75/year. Thank you for joining us on this wild ride into the future of journalism. Thank you so much for reading Popula. You mean the world to us.

revised 01/16/2020