Medium is the New Home of How We Get To Next

9 Sep 2015

Today marks a year since HWGTN launched — in that time we’ve published more than 200 different stories of innovation from around the world. It’s been a good start, and we want the next year to do much, much more. Medium gives us the tools and the networks to start doing that.

First: We recognize that not every website actually needs a website.

Or, to put it another way, what’s important for us isn’t that we get people coming to us — it’s that we make sure we get ourselves to the people.

HWGTN is already more than just a site — see: the book, the PBS/BBC TV show — so spreading to other platforms makes sense for us. We’ve realized that what’s truly important to us isn’t carving out a small island in a rough sea; instead, we should embrace the currents around us, and let them take us wherever they please.

Medium’s perfect for this. It’s a beautiful site, with the friendliest CMS out there, and it’s going to be the ideal hub for our next stage. Our existing audience is here, and audiences we’ve yet to reach are here as well (or only a friend-of-a-friend or two away). We want to make the most of the resources our fantastic partners — the Lemelson, Gates and Knight Foundations — are providing us, and this is where we think we can do that. Their support means that we don’t need to run ads, and it gives us space to think creatively, for which we’re very grateful.

We’re also going to be producing videos, and commissioning interactive features and games. We’re going to be taking advantage of every format that the internet has to offer.

Plus, unless otherwise specified, our content will now be published underCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 licenses. World, take what we make, and build on it.

Second: We want to change how HWGTN works.

Sometimes it can be too easy to only skim the surface of any topic, let alone something as jargon-friendly as “innovation.” And yes, an app can be cool, or a project can be exciting for a village or town, or a product can be life-changing for someone who’s had to live without it for too long — but what’s the real story?

Can we even say there’s only ever one story?

We want to approach things more seriously, and more comprehensively. Soon, we’ll be introducing monthly “threads” — topics we want to talk about with you, and that we want to see you talk to each other about. (It’s that thing about being a hub again, right?)

Each month we’ll put out a call for submissions on our chosen thread. We’ll offer up a reading list to get started — everything from books to blogs to tweets to Tumblrs. We’ll commission writers whom we think should be heard on this, and we also want to know who we’re missing; who’s not getting the platform they deserve.

This is crucial: innovation isn’t a lone genius having a lightbulb-in-the-head moment. As Steven says in the show, it took 50 years for Galileo to go from a kid watching incense burners swinging in church to the scientist who realized that a pendulum could keep more accurate time than mechanical clockwork. Ideas take time to grow, to twist and sprout, and shrink and reflush anew.

They also don’t appear in isolation. Context is crucial. A simple phrase like “global innovation,” used casually, has a lot going on. Most of the time it’s probably intended to refer to innovation happening around the world that looks like the same stuff happening in labs and offices in places like San Francisco and London and Berlin.

Maybe it shouldn’t — maybe it should also mean stuff that’s happening outside of “our” gaze and understanding, across the planet, as people and communities take their own destinies into hand.

So, what next?

If you want to take part, it’s easy — email me: [email protected]

Check out our pitching guidelines for an idea of what we tend to like — or maybe take a punt anyway, if you think you’ve got something burning inside you that needs to be heard. Experience, knowledge and passion are the only qualifications necessary.

Here’s to the next year.

Ian Steadman for How We Get to Next

For all press enquiries contact: [email protected]

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