cite as: F. Bi. 2008. The Caliph instead of the Caliph. Intl. J. Inact., 1:176–177
This isn’t new, but it turns out that the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and lots of other think-tanks are members or associate members of an organization called the State Policy Network. (I’ve updated the diagram of think-tanks accordingly.)
Now, on to the new stuff. On the SPN site there’s a document titled New Media Mania which gives advice on how free-market think-tanks should design their web sites in the, um, Web 2.0 era. It contains this:
Content provision is the role of an independent think tank, any world in which all content is provided by dispersed users would be a world that did not require Think Tanks in their current form.
Notice the false dichotomy here: either all the content of a web site is provided by dispersed users, or none of it is. Obviously something like this blog (which has input from both myself and others) either doesn’t exist or is untenable anyway — because a think-tank’s role is to talk, not to listen, period!
This of course isn’t very compatible with freedom and democracy and Web 2.0, so our author (Seymour) proposes that think-tank sites should make up for this… by trying to look interactive:
However if we assume that Think Tanks are going to continue in their current form for the foreseeable future, then they need to provide their content in the most interactive way possible. Their websites must mimic the user-centered interactive style of those websites mentioned in the introduction that are riding the trend of users as content providers. This means separating two aspects of those sites. The first is that users become content providers. The second is that users shape their own personalized experience. Think tank websites must adapt the latter.
…where “user-centered interactive style” refers to stuff such as the FCPP’s “Climate Change Quiz” in which you “shape” your “own personalized experience” to arrive at the correct answers which your friendly think-tank has already figured out. All this is perfectly good and proper because the brave think-tanks are being suppressed by the mainstream media or something. Freedom!
Update 2008-11-25: Corrected the hyperlink on media ‘suppression’. Also, a directory of all the SPN’s members, associate members, and other organizations they’re interested in.