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By Ismael Peña-López (@ictlogist), 14 June 2012
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After a long collaborative process of several months, the book Ciudadania y ONG (Citizenry and Nonprofits) has just seen the light. This has been a very interesting exercise of co-coordination along with Imanol Zubero, Carlos Giménez and Enrique Arnanz.
For the making of the book, the website CiudadaniayONG.org was used in two steps:
- A delimited survey open to everyone, to copse the main topics around the three axes that we had predefined:
intergenerational relationships, transforming participation, and digital citizenry.
- An open forum, where the main conclusions of the survey were discussed and complemented with many insights.
In each step documents were produced to provide the appropriate context for the coming reflection.
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Besides being part of the whole process, I concentrated in the third axis, that is, digital citizenry, and what did it mean for participation, volunteering and nonprofits in general entering the new era of the Information Society.
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I am deeply grateful to the promoters of the book, Fundación Esplai, and, of course, to the rest of the coordinators. Scholars have fewer occasions to collaborate with people outside the Academia and higher pressure not to: being part of the book was keeping a wire attached to the power that boosts citizen movements. Besides the later, some of the many people that helped in making the book a reality are Carles Barba, María Jesús, José Maria Pérez, Maria Jesús Manovel, Elvira Aliaga, Virginia Pareja, Cesk Gasulla, Josechu Ferreras, Jorge Hermida, Carles Campuzano, Luis M. López Aranguren, Consuelo Crespo and Rafael Rodríguez.
The book has been published in Spanish and translated into Catalan.
Main categories: Development
, Online Volunteering
, Participation, Engagement, Use, Activism
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Some months ago, professor in Social Pedagogy Xavier Úcar approached Francesc Balagué and I and told us he was very worried: after many years working in the field of community action, the Internet had come and changed every definition we had on what a community was, and changed every definition we had on what interaction (or action) was too. He had just found out that community action might be lagging behind the pace of times. And he invited us to write a book on the new communities and how did they interact on the net, so that he and his colleagues could use it to catch up with new scenario after the digital revolution.
An appealing invitation as it was, we had grounded reasons not to accept it: one of us is a pedagogue specialised in instructional technology and the other one an economist specialised in the impact of ICTs and development. Thus, we knew almost nothing about community action, and only had a chaotic approach to new expressions of communities working together in the most different types of ways and goals.
That is precisely the point, stated professor Úcar.
Hence the heterodoxy of the inner structure of the book that has just seen the light. Acción comunitaria en la red (Community action in the net) is neither a book on community action nor a book with very clear ideas. It is, but, a book that invites the reader to think, to elaborate their own conclusions, and to find out which and whether these conclusions can be applied and how to their own personal or professional cases.
The full book has been written by 15 authors and presents 8 case studies that depict and analyse how a specific community used the Internet and its different tools and platforms to share information, communicate amongst them, organize themselves and coordinate actions in order to achieve their particular goals. The structure of the chapters analysing the cases was totally free, but some relevant questions had to be answered somehow:
- What were the history, motivations, goals of the community?
- What led the community to use the Internet? How was the community articulated digitally? what provided the Internet that could not be found offline?
- How was the process of adoption of digital technologies, what tools and why?
- What happened to the sense of membership, identity, participation?
- What was the role of the mediator, facilitator, leader and how does it compare with an offline leadership?
- Is self-regulation possible? How was conflict handled?
- How is digital knowledge, experiences and learning “brought back” to the offline daily life and put into practice?
The cases are preceded by two introductory chapters, a first one on the social web and virtual participation, and a second on digital skills, as we thought some common background would help the reader to better understand some digital practices (and jargon). The book closes with what we, both authors, learnt during the preparation of the book and from reading other people’s chapters. This concluding chapter can be used too as a guideline for the preceding cases.
Table of contents
From the official page of the book Acción comunitaria en la red at Editorial Graó.
- Introduction, Francesc Balagué, Ismael Peña-López.
- What is the Web 2.0? New forms of participation and interaction. Francesc Balagué.
- Brief introduction to digital skills. Ismael Peña-López.
- APTIC. A social networking site for relativos of boys and girls with chronic diseases and conditions. Manuel Armayones, Beni Gómez Zúñiga, Eulàlia Hernández, Noemí Guillamón.
- School building: new communities. Berta Baquer, Beatriu Busquets.
- Social networking sites in education. Gregorio Toribio.
- Networked creation and the Wikipedia community. Enric Senabre Hidalgo.
- Social networking sites in the Administration: the Compartim programme on collaborative work. Jesús Martínez Marín
- Local politics, organizations and community. Ricard Espelt
- Towards cyberactivism from social movements. Núria Alonso, Jordi Bonet.
- Mobile phones, virtual communities and cybercafes: technologicla uses of international immigrants. Isidro Maya Jariego
- Concluding remarks. Ismael Peña-López, Francesc Balagué
There is a lot of people to be thankful to for making the book possible.
The first one is Xavier Úcar. I have only seldom been granted such a degree of total confidence and trust, not only in my work but in myself as a professional. He was supportive and provided guidance to two ignorants in the field. He totally gave us a blank cheque and one of my deepest fears during the whole process was — and still is — to have been able to pay him back with a quality book. I really hope it has been so.
The authors of the case studies were just great. Some of us did not know each other and I can count up to three people which I still have to meet personally (i.e. offline). They also trusted in us and gave away a valuable knowledge and work that money won’t pay. Many of them won’t even make much use of adding a line on their CVs for having written a book chapter. I guess this is part of this sense of new communities that the whole book is talking about.
My gratitude (but also apologies) to Antoni Garcia Porta and Sara Cardona at Editorial Graó. I am fully aware that we made them suffer: we succeeded in transferring some of our chaotic lives to them when they had not asked to. Being an editor today must be both a thrilling and a difficult challenge. We all gave away time in the making of the book but the published they represent invested money too, and that is something that we quickly forget these days.
Last, but absolutely not least, it has been a real pleasure working with Francesc. I think we only met once during the whole process: when Xavier invited us to coordinate the book. Francesc then packed and went around the world for 14 months. Luckily he took his laptop and would connect every now and then. Our e-mail archive and Google Documents can testify that almost everything is possible if there is the will to do it.
And it was fun too. Oh, yes it was!
On July 14th, 2011, I was at the University of Málaga (Spain) where I spoke at the summer course Acción ciudadana y voluntariado en la nueva sociedad global: voluntariado y universidad (Citizen action and volunteering in the new global society: volunteering and university).
My session was called
Volunteering from home, the office or the train: online volunteering, social networking sites and smartphones and was preceded by an excellent conference by Luis Arancibia Tapia, where he described how society is changing and how this crisis we are suffering since 2008 is not your usual crisis, but most likely a point of no-return.
That very same point — change and dire transformation of the society — is the one I used to base my speech on. Instead of providing zillions of examples of online volunteering, I tried to explain why is now possible to volunteer online, how are people behaving on the Net and what is the (different) nature of online volunteering and online citizen action.
My conference had four parts:
- The change of framework: what has been the impact from an industrial to a digital society.
- The direct macro-impact of that change: how have some concepts and practices in development cooperation been radically transformed due to the digitization of information and communications.
- The indirect micro-impact of that change: how have some personal practices in development cooperation, volunteering and citizen activism changed, especially in the nature of their contribution to charities and non-profit initiatives.
- Some examples, a suggestion for a categorization and a comment on the Arab Spring.
Please see below my presentation. You can also visit my bibliographic file for Volunteering from home, the office or the train: online volunteering, social networking sites and smartphones (the original title) for downloads both in English and Spanish.
Slides and references for my conference at the 6º Congreso Andaluz de Voluntariado (6th Andalousian Volunteering Congress) in Sevilla (Spain). I thank the invitation of Fran Santolaya, who is, with Isidro Maya, coordinator of e-Voluntas, a referent blog and discussion list about ICTs in nonprofits: online volunteering, ICT4D, etc.
Citation and downloads:
Peña-López, I. (2009). Voluntariado virtual: acción social en la Sociedad Red
. Conferencia en el 6º Congreso Andaluz de Voluntariado. Sevilla: ICTlogy. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://ictlogy.net/presentations/20090213_ismael_pena-lopez_-_voluntariado_virtual_accion_social_sociedad_red.pdf
Madden, M. & Jones, S. (2008). Networked Workers
. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved September 27, 2008 from http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Networked_Workers_FINAL.pdf
Slides and references for my seminar at the PhD programme of the Social Psychology Department at the University of Sevilla (Spain). I thank the invitation of Isidro Maya Jariego, who is, by the way, doing a terrific work on personal and community networks.
Citation and downloads:
Peña-López, I. (2009). Voluntariado virtual: e-learning para el desarrollo
. Seminario de Doctorado en el Departamento de Psicología Social de la Universidad de Sevilla. Sevilla: ICTlogy. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://ictlogy.net/presentations/20090213_ismael_pena-lopez_-_voluntariado_virtual_e-learning_for_development.pdf
Notes from the the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.
(unsorted contributions from the audience)
- Need for applied research on ITC4D processes, modelling and scaling
- Need for collaborative work among inst.
- Nothing about us without us
- Technological determinism: Mobiles are hammers and everything looks like a nail
- Richness on diversity of views
- Need for R&D agenda with South as shaper and agent
- Development 1st, ICT as resources and tools
- Don´t forget the users, they’re also stakeholders in ICT-based solutions
- Multi-stakeholder approach
- Spanish Coop to draw on available expertise for advice
- Next stage on ICT4D: focus on KM, agenda transformation, along with dev agenda too… towards a Development 2.0?
- Debate on ICT4D largely over, but still there underneath. More evidence, models?
- Build awareness
- Empower Southern actors for ICT4D innovation
- Scale of problems are huge, but analysis helps to disaggregate in order to facilitate interventions.
- Don’t discard pilots yet
- ICTs can even serve as a stimulus for self-esteem in gaining more capacity by people
- This presents a significant opportunity
- Incorporate socio-emotional factors in ICT4D -related work
- Knowledge and experience-based approaches, understanding models, process (the how’s?)
- Then assess those kinds of resulting projects programmes to see how relevant such models/processes
- Adequate KM is very important, hard to truly know what´s going on, but rigorous methods, evidence-based needed
- Demand-driven projects interventions – do users have an input?
- Detect real problems, then elaborate joint solutions
- ICT4D is not new, there is considerable work already and learning; beneficiaries also present practices themselves (thanks for ICTs…?)
- Capacity development
Vikas Nath: Wake up call that ICT4D have to focus on the “D”.
Merryl Ford: how do we know how, when and where we succeeded? How do we build the agenda? How do we reach the stage to collaborate in building together the agenda?
Anriette Esterhuysen: Development is continuous, and there are new challenges and everywhere, not only in developing countries or during crises. We need knowledge management, to keep learnings in mind. And look to small initiatives with small but really effective impact.
Najat Rochdi: Development 2.0 implies a huge shift, bringing in a new concept of multilateralism. We need to bring new stakeholders in.
Ismael Peña-López: What or who are development institutions? In a world 2.0 where everyone participates, institutions are in dire crisis of identity. We should bring in not only development institutions, governments or communities to whom we address development actions, but also the citizens that can enable them in the developed world by means of ICTs. Development 2.0 is not about institutions, it’s about people in both developing and developed countries.
Anriette Esterhuysen: Significant gaps in access to infrastructure makes it still difficult to link micro-to-micro levels of development cooperation. Notwithstanding, people are driven by commitment and come together to run projects. We have to let them build these projects on their own. To promote smooth evolution of projects instead of leaping from one to the other.
Vikas Nath: Cooperation has to balance powers, and be made from an even and empowered point of view. Countries have to enter the cooperation landscape in a position of strength. Cooperation 2.0 is the solution to balance powers. But we’re not seeing it: giving aid is somehow legitimizing donor countries to intervene at their own will in developing countries. And we have to end that.
Najat Rochdi: Cooperation 2.0 towards co-development.
Ismael Peña-López: we have to be able to list an inventory of all the resources available (funding, natural resources, human resources, knowledge), see who’s got what, and engage in a conversation on how to better allocate and exchange these resources. ICT4D are surely about knowledge management and the transmission of knowledge, not the transmission of “atoms”. And, the more countries specialize, the more likely we are to find ICT4D is the leading issue in Development Cooperation in general, as it is knowledge unbalance what really makes development differences dire (let aside humanitarian aid for emergencies).
Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)