How do you extend the impact of a TV series by building a publication with 50k loyal readers?

How We Get to Next – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The approach

Develop a companion online publication that tells stories about the diverse communities shaping our future.

One smart thing

By commissioning diverse writers and beautiful illustrations for every article, we were able to stay clear of tech cliches and explain challenging concepts in smart and beautiful ways.

The result

By focusing the publication on less heard stories and voices in innovation (instead of white men in Silicon Valley) we built a network of over 50,000 subscribers and over 4 million story reads.

Storythings is a rare combination of an agency that is innovative, diligent, and full of talented people, but also humble and adaptable. Recently we wanted to develop an online project as part of our support for the PBS/BBC TV series How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson.


The goal was to take that series’ core concept of how innovation develops out of communities, and apply it to current issues around global health. Storythings then developed How We Get To Next as a companion site, publishing essay series and podcasts on subjects including global pandemics, the future of education, and tuberculosis in South Africa.


Storythings developed an active audience of over 50k subscribers, continuing the project for four years beyond the initial run of the TV show. On this and other projects, we have always had the confidence that from design to implementation, quality delivery was ensured.

Miguel Castro, Head of Global Media Partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Short film of Brian Eno speaking to author Steven Johnson about his theories of art, music and creativity.