Tucked down into an op-ed bemoaning the decline of Canadian think tanks:
First, think tanks can start thinking more like new media companies. At a minimum, they need to get on top of the possibilities afforded by social media, new communication tools, and dynamic forms of outreach. The ascendance of digital media is generating a dynamic ecosystem of media content, one where think tanks can add a valuable voice. This isn’t just a new means of content distribution, it actually changes the methods and nature of research itself. At OpenCanada.org, the CIC’s digital magazine, we have merged our media and research efforts, and use a dynamic publishing platform to injecting canadian research and mulltimedia content into global debates. The era of static websites and policy briefings is fading. Instead, Canada’s think tanks need to immerse themselves in the digital conversation. But to be effective, they need to make this a priority and build-in the requisite skills.
Brings to mind a few thoughts…
If I was editing this piece, I might have glanced at a thesaurus before passing “dynamic” for the third time in a paragraph. In fairness, it is a nice word, and most of the common synonyms don’t really work here.
My wordsnob snark aside, opencanada.org looks quite well done. Built using the open source platform WordPress, an immersion “into the digital conversation” is well within the grasp of any organization with basic IT capacity. And as I (and others) have argued before, building out our ability to do this sort of work ourselves strikes me as an effective and sustainability-minded use of resources.
The parallels between the challenges facing think tanks and universities are fairly self-evident. And yeah, using digital media intelligently, aligning the tools that we use for research with how we share the research not only makes sense but is something of an imperative today. But please, let’s see if we can do that without “thinking more like new media companies”. Rather than merely think in terms of how the web as it is changes what we do, let’s also think about how we can change the web.
This is something of a thin post, I know. It had its start as an intended email to TRU’s AVP of Research, with whom I have been having a fruitful ongoing dialogue about the relationships between open education and knowledge mobilization. But email is where information goes to die. And I was getting a little worried that if I didn’t post something on this blog soon that maybe my privileges would be revoked.