Published in


Can think tanks move from ‘digital by design’ to ‘digital by default’?

By Nick Scott

  • We’ve published the print outputs we already produced online;
  • We’ve streamed the events we already held to an online audience;
  • We’ve pitched the same articles to new online media;
  • We’ve hired website officers to work alongside our existing communications staff.

Can we move from being digital by design to digital by default?

What does that mean?

  • Every journalist has to produce for their digital channels — digital savvy is a core competency.
  • The deadlines they work to are not based on the paper version, but on a constant production cycle for the website, the phone app, the Facebook news feed.
  • In fact, they are ‘seriously discussing’ the end to the print edition.
  1. Cradle to grey
  2. Being there
  3. Reusing the wheel
  4. Revolutionary evolution

Finally, after maturity, comes the grey. This is the lifespan of the research once it’s published, as it starts to age.

Research on the Internet is immortal. It never goes to the grave. It just gets elderly, a little grey around the edges.

  • We try to post information to the most appropriate site. It could be The Guardian, or even the site of a competitor.
  • We’ve used Twitter and Facebook from day one, and it is a core part of our media function to reach audiences through these networks.
  • We aim to make everything available by email — it is the one tool everyone will check every day.
  • Commercial companies release free tools for consumers all the time. So why pay a website developer to recreate the functionality you can get from WordPress.com or Google Sites. Our most successful project sites, Climate Funds Update and Post2015.org ,are both built on these free tools.
  • Private individuals release vast quantities of content under Creative Commons Licenses. So why pay for photo libraries when you can use Flickr or Wikimedia? Almost all images on the ODI website come from talented amateurs or other organisations who’ve posted them on Flickr.
  • Our intranet already works on Microsoft Sharepoint. So why pay tens of thousands for a new digital production system to hold details of our publication and events? No, not necessary.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

What's the future for think tank & research communications? #wonkcomms is a collaborative project. This account rotates.