Web2forDev 2007 (XII): Closing Session

Two questions launched to the audience. Gathered on the fly, some might be redundant:

The most inspiring thing that you will take home from the conference
  • So much going on
  • All about people
  • Discovered progress achieved in Africa
  • Interdisciplinarity, so many people engaged/interested in these issues
  • RSS feeds to unlock the information on websites
  • The Web 2.0 allows the dissemination of content
  • Some people have already implemented some Web 2.0 applications
  • But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and you have to work hard
  • Even if there are strong barriers to Web 2.0 implementation, most people in developing countries believe that once you have infrastructures (computers, connectivity) the remaining barriers (literacy, change of mind…) will be easily overcome
  • These technologies can bring welfare as they are addressed to people, and once the “wall” of the digital divide falls, there’ll be a revolution
  • The real and huge possibilities of blending everything together
How will you take what you have learned and apply what you have learned
  • The infrastructure needs to catch up with the applications
  • Spread the word of Web 2.0
  • Start tagging out of the established taxonomies — and adding web2fordev tag to the list of possible tags to be used on own content
  • Rethink all strategies
  • Think on how to apply those tools in your day-to-day work
  • And more especially how to apply them on the field
  • Make information circulate in pervasive ways, give it life, deattach it from the source and let if fly
Five things you need to know to get to the Web 2.0
  • Write: Blogs
  • Store: Wikis
  • Categorize: Tagging, keywords
  • Spread: Feeds
  • Get it all together: mashups
Main challenges
  • People centered
  • Access
  • Participation, motivation
  • Content creation, dissemination
  • Evaluate and assess: what’s the impact, the change, the progress
More info
Last words

On my own side, I cannot but sincerely thank the organization (and the attendants too!) for such a huge effort and for such a brilliant success. I really enjoyed the conference and learned from everyone to my limits. Thank you! :)

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (XI): Spatial Knowledge Sharing

Michael Saunby
Climate Change Mashups

Climate change: not a change in the climate but (also) a change in the variability of the climate.

By looking at the map applications, it is easier to see where e.g. there’ll be water stress in the (nearest) future, or human health crisis due to high ozone levels.

Mashups are about e.g. enough people collecting, reusing and distributing public sector information on already existing (commercial) online applications — e.g. Google Earth — so anyone can contribute again and close the loop — and make the scope of diffusion way wider.

It’s possible to mashup news RSS feeds with Google Earth so you can geolocate where the news took place.

To my (provoking) “concern” that you might be putting all your eggs in one basket, and relying too much on third parties’ applications to publish your content, Michael Saunby answers that it is just about tracking those applications as they appear and evolve, and go along with them, not that you invest on them, but just use them — use them for your own purposes and with all the benefits they have.

More info:

Patrizia Monteduro
GeoNetwork OpenSource: Geographic data sharing for everyone

Provide a common platform and standards to (online) manage geographic data, improving accessibility while monitoring quality.

Features

  • Metadata and data publication and distribution
  • Metadata and data search
  • Interactive access to maps
  • Metadata editing and management
  • Different metadata standards
  • Different sharing levels

Metadata harvesting and synchronization allows the system to gather metadata from distributed information hosted in other services/servers, done by the user himself.

More info:

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (X): Plenary Sessions: Web 2.0 for Development (V)

Giacomo Rambaldi
The Story of Web2ForDev

Used DGroups, Website, Google Analytics, Blog, Wiki, Social Bookmarking, Google Coop, Facebook… and many more.

We were technologically not ready when the whole thing began, not even had proper microphones for skype conferences, but they’ve caught up at tremendous speed. Keeping up-to-date with fast changing technologies.

Different work style and attitudes required by innovative appraoch and “new” technologies.

Rules and regulations within institutions, such as security concerns.

Getting to the minimum level of equipment (low investment)

Main outputs of the online effort:

Enrico Bertacchini
The Creative Commons Project: Sharing Knowledge in the Digital Age

What happens with databases? Are they covered by CC licenses? Do they suppose creativity? In Europe, they are not covered by copyright (but the content they hold do)

Creative Commons International: launched in 2003, adapts CC licenses to national jurisdictions (License Porting), creates an international netework of copyright experts.

Science Commons (launched 2006) to help scholars publish and disseminate their knowledge, scientific findings, etc. See their projects for further and up-to-date details:

Stephan Dohrn, Peter Shelton
Using Web 2.0 to Reduce Data Input and Maximize Output: A Case Study of the CAPRi Web Site

The Collective Action and Property Rights is a website hosted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that went recently renewed to join new trends of the Web: RSS feeds, database integration by means of XML broadcasting, resource lists in del.icio.us, blogs.

The search box is powered by Google Custom Search, which features plenty of built-in features such as filtering by presentations, documents… besides the intelligent filtering of a custom search.

The blog was created to keep track of the listserve mails.

Lessons learned

  • Think and learn about the user.
  • How to use Web 2.0 services behind a Web 1.0 interface: use the institutional website as a portal that gathers or hubs other external services/applications were your content is also hosted. The important thing is to spread content, to make it accessible, wherever it is.
  • Be willing to experiment and take risks.
  • Links, links, links. Search engines love links.
  • See what others are doing and get inspired
  • Content and technology folks work best together
More info:

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (IX): Plenary Sessions: Web 2.0 for Development (IV)

Ethan Zuckerman
Web 2.0: Simple Tools & Smart People

It’s not about technology — which, by the way, is quite old —, it’s about people. People have always found ways to communicate through the Internet by using features of applications that were not designed to do so, e.g. chating by using an online chess game.

The mobile phone is the biggest revolution in telecommunications — not laptops, not handhelds… — because it changes all the rules of the game. e.g. in Kenya you can pay a taxi with your mobile phone… but you can’t in the United States.

Interactive Radio for Justice: radio + mobile phone project.

Mobilemonitors.org, to make elections more transparent thanks to mobile enhanced monitoring.

Manal and Alaa’s bit bucket, using blogs as a newsroom.

Blogs for advocacy: Free Alaa!

If you are an activist there’s a great benefit in using Web 2.0 tools. Ironically, the more crap there’s on the Internet, the better: noone will ban a site full of funny, boring, trivial things. Indeed, there’s no need to create a “development site”: you can be banned and you have to develop it and maintain it, so just use what’s out there, the tools that already exist. Forget the notion that you have to build everything from scratch.

Think on who do you want to reach. Second Life? Cool, shiny, but how many users?

Participation, engagement, add content.

The reason to blog: search engines love blogs, because they link and are linked, and search engines do rely a lot on linking.

When 100 million people speak, you need a filter. With 100 million people talking, it’s really hard to listen: Buzzmonitor.

Selection, translation, context: Global Voices

The best tools are those that amplify a message and do it very selective.

One of the problems of the web in general is that is written, so it needs some level of literacy: if we can develop applications for mobile phones, and apply voice recognition on them, you’d be able to talk to the phone — instead of having to type —, get the information you asked for (e.g. price of crops) and have it read for you on your phone by another application — instead of having to read it.

More info:

Thomas Metz
Open Collaboration in an Institutional Context

The Generation Challenge Programme was created to bridge the gap between health and hunger, by using advances in molecular biology and harnessing the rich global stocks of crop genetic resources to create and provide a new generation of plants that meet these farmers’ needs.

CropForge is a collaborative software development site, providing tools and a centralized workspace for developers to control and manage software development, the difference being with SourceForge is that it hosts all kind of information about projects and software related to development, food and food security, hunger, etc., including fora and communication spaces where collaboration, support takes place.

The site also uses mediawiki to run a the GCPWiki to gather information, notes, impressions on workshops, presentations, etc.

Some lessons learned:

  • At the institutional level, it is important to be careful with the intellectual property policy, the code of conduct; the publication and quality control procedures; the reward and recognition system.
  • It is important to preserve transparency and history (of edits, of changes). The sytem must be easy to join, meritocratic and based on a non anonymous use.
  • Concerning content scope and quality, you have to keep in mind that there’ll be uneven quality, coverage and maintenance. But it’s good to make world-wide visible your work-in-progress under a clear disclaimer, where you explain very clearly what this content is about, what’s its quality, what the procedures or content creation and quality monitoring are, the release policy.
  • The major barrier usually are institutional constraints, the (already existing) organizational design, which are not necessarily compatible with how the Web 2.0 works.

Kwami Ahiabenu
Empowering Journalists with Online Tools: Making a Case for Online Training

Journalists need constant training in online tools to ride the tide with the information revolution.

Online tools offer free to low cost options for training. So, set up an online course on Web 2.0 tools for journalists, based on real practice through weekly assignments.

Connectivity not really an issue as most journalists already have connexion to the Internet at their work places.

Learning by doing makes a difference in information and knowledge sharing experience, and skills transfer processes.

Tools used

  • e-mail
  • Yahoo Groups
  • DGroups
  • Google Groups, divided by subgroups (some students didn’t understand the difference between the main group and the subgroups)
  • Blogs, on a weekly basis: classroom blog and students’ blogs
  • Class wiki, as a newsroom where stories where created
  • Flickr, to “put faces to names”
  • Podcasts
  • del.icio.us
  • Skype, though it did not succeed

Challenges

  • Lack of access to affordable and reliable Internet: hence, focus on e-mail, keep it simple, no Moodle, e-Learning for dummies
  • Sometimes, high bandwidth demanding Web 2.0 applications
  • Time commitment issues
  • Challenge of change: develop an “online” mindset
  • Online collaboration and communication difficulties
  • Information overload issues
More info:

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (VIII): Appropriate Technologies — Web 2.0 at the Grassroots

Tobias Eigen
Wikis, Blogs and Online Profiles for African NGOs at Kabissa – Space for Change in Africa

Empower civil society so they can better act as change agents.

African organizations are using web 2.0 but not actively in support of their mission, mostly because of lack of understanding of the tools due to poor access, and, sometimes, because they get misled by technical (unnecessary? geeky? cool? trendy?) terminology (buzz? hype?).

So, keep it simple, keep it useful, keep it understandable.

Caleb Wall
Cairo Concept: Village to Village Knowledge Sharing

It’s going to be successful it the user finds it useful. Accessible, easy… is just not enough.

Set up a Virtual Development Neighborhood, to design together, with the future/potential user, how the network, the application will be. So, at this stage, we’re proud to state that we don’t know how the system will look like.

Working together with: universities, governments, civil society, local communities, donnors, all inside the Virtual Development Neighborhood.

Ednah Karamagi
Enhancing Knowledge Sharing in the Rural Community through Adoption of Web 2.0 Tools

BROSDI is an NGO that works for the envolvement of government and civil society in facilitating the grassroots rural person to improve their livelihood. They run CELAC for agricultural information in Uganda.

Some Web 2.0 tools used:

  • Information websites
  • Blogs, where people can talk, something very especial for kids, whose ideas are usually not taken into consideration
  • Google Maps, to geolocalize resources
  • Wiki [login/password protected wiki], as a training materials repository
  • SMS, sent through a website
  • Podcasts
  • FlickR, discussion groups, Skype, e-Learning tools, etc.

Advantages of Web 2.0

  • Knowledge gets documented
  • Enhanced community sharing, which sometimes does not happen offline but does online, and then they cannot stop!
  • Improved livelihoods

Challenges of Web 2.0

  • Requires Internet: Internet’s expensive; electricity is bad scheduled in the whole country; differing peoples’ susceptibility to change
  • Information hoarding

Some real results

  • Diversified (agricultural) production
  • Used center information to build a house and set up banana plantation
  • Grew turkeys
  • New plantations
  • Learn to make natural fertilizers

Answering a question, Karamagi states that this system has also been successful in the Education and Health fields.

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (VII): Knowledge Sharing for the Research Community (II)

Alioune Thioune, Fatou Dieng Sarr
Dispositif de Collaboration et Partage de Données pour la Communauté Scientifique: Cas du Système d’Information Scientifique et Technique (SIST) du Sénégal [Collaboration and Data Sharing Device por the Scientific Community: Senegal’s Scientific and Technical Information System case]

Twofold goal: make available information about Senegal for everyone and make accessible information from developed countries for Senegal researchers.

Find information: syndicated search

Exchange: discussion fora, wikis

Know and let know: e-mail subscriptions, RSS feeds

More info:

Paul Matthews, Arne Wunder
Evaluation of Google Coop and Social Bookmarking at the Overseas Development Institute

Evaluation/assessment of www.focuss.eu that uses Google Custom Search, fed by users themselves, and also investigate how staff use bookmarking.

The analysis showed that Focuss search engine brought more relevant results than normal (non-custom) Google, being the strength of the custom search engine how it deals with relatively ambiguous terms. Thus, Focuss appears to be a bit more targeted starting point than Google, though it is no replacement for other sources (e.g. journals).

Concerning bookmarking, what are the incentives for and advantages of sharing?

There is a preference for structured over free tagging. Hence, the use of implicit taxonomy is useful and time-saving, though users like both order (taxonomy) and flexibility (free tagging). The value of sharing and reuse is still a thing to be proved — maybe harness in RSS.

More info:
  • Brophy, J. and Bawden, D. (2005). “Is Google enough? Comparison of an internet search engine with academic library resources”, In Aslib Proceedings, 57(6), pp.498 – 512

Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)