High quality policy research requires collection, processing and structuring of reliable information. This information, when collected properly and competently analyzed, is a prerequisite for making any evidence-based arguments and impacting concrete policies. Policy researchers collect and process vast amounts of data, however their outputs often remain in form of technical language of lengthy policy papers consisting of textual and static visual knowledge products (texts and charts), accessible to only a handful of experts.
While rigorous technical analysis provides necessary basis for informed expert discussions, and sometimes it directly influences policy makers, such approach is no longer sufficient to reach wider audiences and mobilize coalitions of stakeholders. Technical formulation of policy research products both limits the audience of these products to the experts, as well as often preventing collaboration and reuse of the publicly available data and analysis which was once already processed, for same or other policy goals. In transitional and emerging democracies the information and corresponding policy analysis not only remains scarce and/or underutilized, it often remains siloed with important context and connections being lost. As such it misses opportunities to create essential knowledge in the society and to add the necessary depth and evidence backup to policy discourse.
The recent advancement of new media has further exacerbated the challenges think tanks face. Today think tanks are forced to compete with their knowledge products on the same market of ideas with blogs, news outlets, magazines and electronic media in general. For example the way how people receive and consume information has changed since the
times of books, printed newsletters and offline information sharing in general. We have noticed that many think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe, while aware of these trends, have yet to master the art of using the new media and interactive information technology both to communicate their results, as well as to bring their work to their existing audiences and promote it among new, wider audiences by utilizing user-friendly formats and thus increase the impact of their ideas. Not only would think tanks benefit from higher visibility and impact of their ideas, but also their products could be of more value for their societies.
Based in CEE and interested to attend an event on this subject organized by the Think Tank Fund, check it out here.
Still puzzled what is this about, check out some cool visualizations and presentations of data online:
2. Perhaps the best of the NGOs/ advocacy organizations: Sunlight Foundations.
Check the wealth of their different projects.
My favorite: Dashboard on US national data catalog with almost 4,000 data sets at the tip of your fingers
3. Highlight from CEE:
4. Example of great civic activism from Great Britain: Fix My Street
5. Gapminder: Another pioneer of data visualization:
6. The iconic Truth-o-Meter at Polity Fact
7. ProPublica explaining the Wall Stet Money Machine, or who bought
“collateralized debt obligations” from whom — those financial instruments that got the world into the financial mess
Interested? Check the upcoming event of the Think Tank Fund