ICTlogy.net: 5th anniversary

This personal research portal just turned five. Five years that turned it from a simple blog to the platform per excellence where to write out thoughts, take down notes, collect lists of places and things, gather people and their works, keep track of some events and, of course, maintain a live CV, becoming, the whole thing, part of my virtual identity or part of my presence on the Net.

Some numbers:

In these last times of web 2.0 fever, I’ve been using some other external services, with variable intensity:

  • Slideshare, which now features 19 slideshows
  • Delicious, collecting now 183 bookmarks and yet to find its specific use. So far, two main uses: collections of bookmarks to prepare speeches; way to send bookmarks to other websites, by tagging them with an agreed tag (e.g. everything I tag with “IDP” — standing for Internet, Dret and Politics — goes to my department’s intrablog)
  • Twitter, with 83 updates, and turning itself into a sort of mix between a linkblog and a nanoblog (i.e. a place to put the links I want to let other people know, but that, for any reason, will not be on the blog, bibliography, wiki or whatever)
  • Dopplr, to show where in the World I am (and see where other friends and colleagues are)
  • Sweetcron, to gather all this mess in a common place

Last, but not least, two upgrades I’m specially proud of are:

  • Being able to present all my works (bibliography feed) — speeches, seminars, articles, book chapters, etc. — independently from the rest of the bibliography, but using the same database, so to keep everything up-to-date with minimum effort.
  • Put up the website in Catalan and in Spanish, even if some more dynamic places (e.g. the blog) keep English as a main language

Lotta work? Not really. Or, actually, yes, a lot of work, but the work had to be done anyway: impart seminars whose presentations I had to prepare anyway, write articles whose bibliographies I had to collect anyway, take down notes which I would have anyway… It’s actually a hell of reporting, not a lot of work, the key being to make it mainstream in your daily workflow:

  • I blog, edit the wiki, twit, bookmark, instead of using notebooks, sticky notes or napkins that I will loose or won’t be able to easily search and retrieve: everything in the same place and digitized
  • I use a bibliography manager, not a folder in my hard drive, or a spreadsheet, or just a text document: i.e. I use a database and one that works online
  • I keep the interesting events in another blog, so I can realize the ones that have several editions and prepare my attendance to them or to be aware of upcoming calls for papers
  • I take really seriously my presence on the Net: I absolutely believe that you and what you do have to be digitized and online to matter, specially if you’re a knowledge worker. Any effort to do so will always pay back.


ICTs, development and e-government 2.0: empowering the citizenry

ICTs, development and e-government 2.0: empowering the citizenry

Recommended Readings
Escher, T. & Margetts, H. (2007). Understanding Governments and Citizens On-line: Learning from E-commerce. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Chicago (30. August – 2. September 2007). Oxford: OII.
Fages, R. & Sangüesa, R. (2008). “Good practice exchange from a Web 2.0 point of view”. In European Journal of ePractice, (1). [online]: ePractice.eu.
Noveck, B. S. (2008). “Wiki-Government”. In Democracy, Winter 2008, (7), 31-43. Washington, DC: Democracy, a Journal of Ideas, Inc..

Find and choose an e-government, political or civil society project based in Web 2.0 applications (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, social networking sites, etc.).

Briefly describe it, stating its purpose, who is running the project, what technology is using, etc. and what difference does it make (i.e. what innovation or added value does it bring) to the status quo.

Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following answers (based on Zuckerman’s Innovation Test) briefly stating the reasons for your answer:

  1. Does the innovation come from constraint?
  2. Does it fight culture?
  3. Does it embrace market mechanisms?
  4. Does it innovate on existing platforms?
  5. Does it come from close observation of the target environment?
  6. Does it focus more on what you have more that what you lack?
  7. Is it based on a “infrastructure begets infrastructure” basis?

Evaluation criteria:

  • Identification of main/critical aspects
  • Depth of analysis, conclusions backed with data/evidence…
  • Use (and citation) of appropriate and complementary references
  • Quality of exposition, structure, clarity of language…

More information


ICTs, development and government: from e-Readiness to e-Awareness

These are the materials I used on a seminar belonging to the Executive Master in e-Governance organized by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and partnered by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

ICTs, development and government: from e-Readiness to e-Awareness

Recommended Readings
Association for Progressive Communications & Instituto del Tercer Mundo (2007). Global Information Society Watch 2007. [online]: APC & ITeM. (See, especially, pages 77-95)

Take your home country as the basis.

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of this country in the following five fields:

  • Infrastructures
  • ICT Sector
  • Digital Literacy
  • Content and Services
  • Legal Framework

and relate them to what you think is critical to establish a full range of operational e-Government initiatives (basic, intermediate and advanced levels).

Evaluation criteria:

  • Identification of main/critical aspects
  • Depth of analysis, conclusions backed with data/evidence…
  • Use (and citation) of appropriate and complementary references
  • Quality of exposition, structure, clarity of language…

Where to start from:

More information

Network Society course (XII). Round Table

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

(ideas and comments from the audience at random — bundled under subjects and attributed when possible: Q noting an unidentified participant)

Participation and Engagement

Carol Darr: The importance of enhanced participation by means of web 2.0 applications.

Enrique Dans: To reflect on how events can be taken to a new stage by overcoming geographical and chronological barriers, extending the debate beyond the four walls or the conference room, beyond the scheduled dates of the programme.

Ethan Zuckerman: Do not focus on technology, but on engagement and participation.

Q: The Internet, a discovery/invention or a technological approach to an existing background? Where’s the limit of the Network Society? Can we evolve into a connected network where is people — not computers — what we physically connect, and thus create a single entity?

Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubi: the possibility to report reality from within the reality, closer to it than mass media. And the challenge to connect the offline and the online worlds, avoiding to create two different agoras.

Felipe González Gil: the Network requires constant exposition and constant competitiveness. Is this a masculine model?

Felipe González Gil: if creativity, engagement, the person behind, is what really matters, what’s the difference between a pencil and a digital camera?

Ismael Peña-López: it is not about having computers connected, but people; it is not about having some people connected to their community, but to connect communities in the “global village”; and it is not about being connected to communicate with the World, but to be connected to policy-making, to decision-taking, to the ones that matter (to us) emotionally and economically.

Getting people on the Network Society

Carlos Domingo & Genís Roca: the need to fill this gap (between the online and the offline) with some stewards that bridge both worlds, by not staying back in the web 1.0, not leaping forward the web 2.0, but trying to shift towards a web 1.5. Genís Roca stresses the fact that it is economic crisis the ones that somehow “validate” new economic and ideological models. Carlos Domingo goes back to the “goodness” of crises to “clean” old structures.

Ricard Ruiz de Querol: two different kind of unconnected people. The disconnected ones at the bottom, because they lack infrastructures or how to afford them; the disconnected ones at the top, because they lack the awareness to do it.

Doris Obermair: asking Yochai Benkler whether the problem of ICT usage was a generation related one, he answered that no, that as far as we’re running comfortable lives, there is no need to change. Only if we face a crisis we’ve got incentives to change our status quo.

Marc López: there are more people connected (to the Internet) than we might think. The question is how to reach/find them.

Q: we should set aside all the web 2.0 jargon so to avoid creating the geek vs. non-geek worlds.

Antoni Gutierrez-Rubi: to achieve the change, we have to act at the grassroots level, but also directly at the policy-making and decision-taking level.

Net Neutrality

Xavi Capdevila: the importance to get people connected, but not depending on firms, platforms, what they say or what they think or what they do.

Research and analysis on the Network Society

Tom Steinberg: two can types of research can be done. (1) Do things and reflect ex post, (2) wait until we come out with a universal truth. We should focus on hands on research, identify the benefits (and the drawbacks) and diffuse them to other communities so that projects can be replicated, adapted or just created from the experience of others.

Ethan Zuckerman: the difference between what will happen and what has happened (or is happening). Wondering about the future is great, but understanding the past and the present might even be better.

Elena Sanz: The need of a multidisciplinary approach to debate and try to understand the challenges of the Network Society.

Jaume Gatell: The Net, by providing so much knowledge to everyone, has enabled more and better communication between people. This also empowers people to engage in the analysis of what the Network Society implies. And it also implies a cultural change so necessary to be aware of the changes and how to look at them.

More info

Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (XI). Ethan Zuckerman: Innovation in the Network Society (II)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

How do social change organizations innovate?
Ethan Zuckerman, Harvard Berkman Center

Social organizations do not innovate, do it badly, or just do it slowly. Quite usually, the assumption is to be unrealistic about the power of technology to enable social change.

Facing a blank canvas gives you the idea that everything is possible. But good art is about constraint. And if you don’t know your constraints, figure them out.

  • Innovation comes from constraint

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail saying does not apply to innovation: innovation is about hacking the hammer and making it better.

Von Hippel (see “more info” below): Lead user theory: users innovate all over the time.

Learning from extreme uses, hostile environments. Africa is a good place to test technology, as the environment is roughest. What works in Africa, works everywhere (AfriGadget, about African innovation).

Some examples of innovation from constraints: the Zeer Pot, the Solar Stove. The problem sometimes is not innovation in processes, but innovation in culture. Then innovation has to be reinvented, hence the solar stove becomes the Jiko:

  • Don’t fight culture
  • Embrace market mechanisms
  • Innovate on existing platforms

Innovation is using the ordinary in extraordinary ways: the Malawi Windmill. Innovation is about hacking existing technology. And the technology that now is spread on Africa is mobile phones: technological innovation in Africa will necessarily be related with hacking mobile phones. Mobile phones have already changed the way sub-Saharan Africans see and do things: TradeNet, to get agricultural information; M-Pesa, to transfer money and make payments; Ushahidi, crowdsourcing crisis information; reporting the 2008 Zimbabwe presidential election to report electoral rigging.

Incremental infrastructure: e.g. a mobile phone antenna that also is a vertical axis power windmill.

  • Problems are not always obvious from afar
  • What you have matters more that what you lack
  • Infrastructure can beget infrastructure
Ethan Zuckerman’s ICT4D Innovation test
  1. Does the innovation comes from constraint?
  2. Does it fight culture?
  3. Does it embrace market mechanisms?
  4. Does it innovate on existing platforms?
  5. Does it come from close observation of the target environment?
  6. Does it focus more on what you have more that what you lack?
  7. Is it based on a “infrastructure begets infrastructure” basis?

Example 1: the OLPC project fails on 1, 3, 5, 6 and maybe 7, only passing on 2 and 4.

Example 2: Kiva passes on 1-4, fails on 5, and not sure whether it passes or fails on 6-7

Example 3: Gobal Voices passes on 1, 4 and 7; fails on 5-6; not sure about 2-3.

Social innovation never comes from a blank canvas. Comes from understanding the needs of all parties. Caveat: sometimes constraints leverage innovation, but are also a limitation for an innovation to go beyond itself.


Ricard Ruiz de Querol: How to adapt the innovation based on constraints scheme to e.g. the digital divide in Spain? A: We should be aware whether there is a real digital divide or just a geeky will (unselfish, indeed) for everyone to be a digital native, when those people maybe already got what they needed. So, pushing people towards forced uses might be dysfunctional.

Carlos Domingo: But do we always have to bend to culture and stick to the past? A: It depends whether you’re talking short run or long run. In the long run, you want to figure out how to make culture smoothly evolve; in the short run, fighting culture just will enact an opposition reaction.

Personal reflections

Innovation as a darwinist evolution: no mutations, but adaptive non-disruptive changes based on what best performs on a specific environment.

More info

Von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge: MIT Press


Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (X). Carlos Domingo: Innovation in the Network Society (I)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Geek Is Good
Carlos Domingo, Telefónica I+D

Malcom Gladwell:

  • Connectors
  • Mavens: know everything’s that happening
  • Salesmen

The difference between the geek and the connected geek: for the first time in my life, more people greeted me for my birthday on social networking sites than “offline”. Being connected is becoming a must and a differential thing too.

Big companies, understanding this, are hiring connected geeks so that they bring in new knowledge and, most important, new knowledge sharing practices.

From greed is good to geek is good

The (libertarian) philosophy of the Internet, cutting down transaction costs in open networks, is increasingly been considered as an interesting way to move forward (and beyond the crisis) and reshape the organizations’ architectures.

  • Share everything
  • Conversation
  • Co-Creation & Crowdsourcing
  • Innovation Networks
  • Organization

These five axes of change driven by the “geeks inside”.

Share everything

All assets digitized, open and free to use.

This is made possible in an easy way by using web 2.0 applications that enable open sharing.

Traditional project repositories are good, but the problem is that they normally hold so much information that it makes it difficult to catch, at a glance, a general idea of a specific project. Multimedia or rich media applications (e.g. video based) allow quick information to be shared and spread and, above all, to catch the attention of the reader.


The importance of finding tools to communicate in an informal, horizontal, unstructured way: how to recreate the virtual coffee machine.

One strategy is having each one creating and updating their own content and, then, in a centralized way, harvest the relevant or appropriate information for a specific purpose and collect it according to one’s goals. E.g. people maintain their own blogs, nanoblogs, etc. and a “central” page gets the information from selected RSS depending on categories, tags…

Other ways of doing so is gathering people around a specific quasi-corporate tool: Yammer. The point is that many tools already exist and can be implemented instantly: there is no need to wait for its implementation, not even to do costly benchmarks and/or code corporate applications. And the tool and the environment implicitly shapes the tone of the debate (“what are you doing” — Twitter — vs. “what are you working on” — Yammer).

Co-Creation & Crowdsourcing

Leveraging the “sharing all” and the “conversation” levels.

Open MovilForum or other networks the like allow sharing work in process with other developers or users/customers (in this case for mobile phone applications).

Idea marketplaces work well inside firms as they allow employees to share their ideas, discuss about them and, when an idea is acknowledged as a good one, to receive funds to develop the idea. If people are already using other tools (blogs, twitter), the conversation trespasses the boundaries of a specific platform to permeate the organization at all levels.

Innovation Networks

Acknowledging that the R+D department is not the only source of innovation: manage the know how and the know who. This can be done in different ways:

  • Venture capital, to invest in ideas coming from outside of the firm, to know their thinkings, to benefit from their discoveries, to provide insight to their processes.
  • Startups and SMEs, supporting them to create an innovation constellation around you.
  • Large Corporations, co-operating with them, sharing different points of view from different realities to create a new shared hybrid output.

How to permeate innovative processes within the enterprise? How to organize?

Self-management being the optimum. But it is complex as it requires maturity from the employees to work independently, without hierarchies, to trust their own criterion, to incorporate failure as a normal thing in the essay and error process, ask for forgiveness (in case of failure) rather than asking (always) for permission (i.e. be proactive). A cultural change:

  • Preoccupation with failure
  • Reluctance to simplify
  • Sensitivity to operation
  • Commitment to resilience
  • Deference to expertise

Ambassadors for innovation are drivers of this cultural change. Learn how to manage effective chaos.

Digital Natives, Digital Divides

[see “more info” below]

Managing digital natives with digital aliens or digital immigrants is delicate. Digital immigrants and aliens have to incorporate the discourse of digital natives, understand it and respect it, which is not easy. On the other hand, the opposite has also to be done so that the new generations do not step over the existing structures and people.

These differences in training, perceptions and behaviour generates digital divides difficult to be bridged. But that need to before they become chasms.


Jordi Assens: has been crowdsourcing been implemented not at the consultation level but at the decision-taking level? A: Slowly. One of the things that can be done is the creation of in-company start-ups so that good ideas have their own independent development. But influencing the high-level of decision-taking is still a pending issue. But that leaders are present in the conversation is, to say the least, a good step forward.

Q: Can you send ideas to a firm from the “outside”? Will it be accepted? A: It normally depends on the industry and how this industry normally works. If a specific industry is more used to sharing ideas and working together with other firms is the norm (e.g. telcos) it is more probable that new sharing and crowdsourcing philosophies would be easily adopted.

Q: How to let the society at large know about the participative processes (and benefit from it)? A: Create a “participatory brand” sometimes enters in conflict with the “official” brand of a firm. It is just one more thing of the whole bunch of aspects that have to be dealt with in new innovation processes.

Jordi Graells: How to measure the impact? A: At the employee level, satisfaction surveys are run. At the corporate level, costs should go down, as an increase of efficiency is actively sought.

Enrique Dans: How to overcome all institutional barriers? How to endure and not to burn out the innovation ambassadors? A: Some institutional support is, of course, essential. Motivation and a motivated team/environment. Identify the people willing to adopt change, and the people willing to fight change.

Ethan Zuckerman: Collaborative mechanisms vs. market-like or stock exchange-like mechanisms inside the firm, which is best? A: Market-like or stock exchange-like mechanisms are more complex (and costly) to implement, but hopefully there’ll be appearing new tools easier to set up and adopt.

Q: Why in-company start-ups? A: Flexibility, independence, market-like environment.

Q: How to incentive engagement through patent fostering? A: It does work, besides the criticism that patents get precisely for “closing” knowledge. But, sometimes, owning this knowledge is the only way to carry on with your own idea or project.

Fernando Santamaria: Where do we put this new innovation department in the organization chart? What’s its weight? Budget? A: Up to the top. It is crucial that the R+D department has direct access to the top decision-takers so that it is understood and also has visibility.

More info

Carlos Domingo (2008) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants and the News Generations


Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)