New media & policy making: Presentation to Institute for Policy Studies

See presentation in full screen here.

On the invitation of the resident new media champion and researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, Anushka Wijesinghe, I delivered a presentation today to their research and communications staff on the use of new media for their work. IPS describes itself as “the apex economic policy research institute in Sri Lanka, recognized as a regional centre of excellence offering an authoritative and independent voice on economic policy analysis.”

The presentation was tailored to the work IPS did, both as a research organisation and one that through its output, seeks to influence policy making, no easy challenge even for a semi-governmental institution. What struck me in the discussion that ensued was how far ahead IPS even today is in its use of new media, from it’s Talking Economics blog to its Twitter feed. What I focussed on were platforms they could use to both do more interesting research leveraging the power of the crowd, and also push their output through new platforms and in new formats, helping what was a text / report based organisation think differently on how it could engage existing audiences and foster more wider interest in its work, across a larger demographic, by using new media.

I also stressed the need to open their data(sets), talking about the challenge of open data for semi and non-governmental organisations. IPS would, by nature of their work, sit on a goldmine of socio-economic data. If it ever were to make available online in the manner of other open data initiatives on the web, I submitted that it could help fuel independent research and also enhance the quality and value of its own output.

Questions tended to focus of technology, whereas I kept coming back to asking what they wanted to do, why and for whom. I noted that complementarity – looking at a new media ecosystem instead of one or two platforms as the be all and end all – required strategic foresight, technical competence, new ways of content creation and hardest of all, genuine interest within the organisation sustained over the long term.

I enjoyed the session and hope to see IPS use some of these platforms, tools and strategies, under the leadership of Anushka and others, to strengthen it work internally, and enhance the appeal of its work externally.

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