Research Isn’t Linear, So Why Are Reports?

We want to show that all of our research themes are connected.

This was perhaps the most exciting line in any think tank project brief I’d ever read (I don’t get out much). The REMINDER project (Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and European Union Reforms) approached Soapbox to discuss building a toolkit that would help wrap up the fifty or so reports and briefs that the programme had generated across five major areas.

When it comes to intra-European Union (EU) migration, policy, media coverage, public attitudes, and actual migration statistics interact in complex and important ways. That means you can’t really understand, say, media coverage of EU migration without also understanding policy and public opinion or actual trends in migration.

The REMINDER team wanted to show those interactions.

On PDFs

For over a decade now, in think tank communications circles, I’ve had a reputation as That Guy Who Hates PDFs.

The truth is that I don’t really mind PDFs that much. I’m old enough to have spent a substantial portion of my graduate school stipend photocopying pages from books and journal articles. The PDF is orders of magnitude better than that.

I don’t dislike PDFs because of the format. I dislike them because of the way that they box in our thinking.

The PDF is inherently linear. Research generally isn’t.

Content Strategy, Philosophy, and a Bit More Philosophy

After going nearly a year (yikes!) without really writing much—or at least not much that I published under my own name—suddenly this week, I have two new pieces out.

At WonkComms, I make the case for smarter content that helps Google answer questions rather than just offer up links to pages. Much of that piece was inspired by a fantastic workshop on adaptive content, led by Noz Urbina at Confab last month.

And new this morning: my first-ever piece for The Pastry Box Project. This one is a lot more personal. I talk a bit about my winding path from academia into this whole weird world of content strategy.

On a side note: I still can’t quite believe they actually accepted my piece. Every time I look at the list of contributors, this clip starts playing in the back of my brain.

Oh, and one more note: we launched the redesigned ERG homepage this week, too. Still the same old site under the hood, but: progress. Next stop: a CMS. (I know.)