Web2forDev 2007 (VI): Plenary Sessions: Web 2.0 for Development (III)

Armelle Arrou
Open Training Platform

Open Training Platform to share training materials. Open solutions allowing localization of the resources.

Content provided by UN agencies, development agencies, NGOs, foundations, associations… and in contact with Knowledge Centers, City Learning Centers, Civic Media Centers, IT kiosks, etc.

Avoid duplications, maximize existing resources circulation.

Prince Deh
Promoting Information and Knowledge Sharing through Vlogging

Vlogging requires low expertise or digital literacy, and there are plenty of (free) (online) tools to create, edit and upload your videos.

Major challenges

  • On the other hand, the major challenges are connectivity and/or access
  • the difficulty to get people share information and knowledge
  • Cost of equipment: camcorder, laptop/desktop, etc.

GINKS: how ICTs can help the development of rural areas in Africa.

More info:

Panel discussion: Moses Kisembo, Christian Kreutz, Kado Muir, Williams EzinwaNwagwu
Web 2.0 for Rural Development and Community Empowerment, Opportunities and Barriers

Major challenge of Web 2.0: people’s confidence. Maybe because most information does not come from rural communities but from “outside”.

Information collection, information availability is very low. Thus, the opportunity/challenge for Web 2.0 tools for rural development is knowledge management. Capacity development should be tied to information strategies.

Organizational challenges: open web, open content requires open institutions, open organizations. Knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing needs connected people, transparency.

The power of mashups: connecting two social software networks does not require any effort on the users’ part, but can add a lot of value.

Is it possible to empower, engage people through Web 2.0 applications… without saying ‘Web 2.0’? Is the term itself a barrier?

For Governments, Web 2.0 offers and interesting way to connect with people.

Same for cooperation for development agencies, making possible the subversion of top-down designs and enabling bottom-up initiatives.

Web 2.0 are helping people that are still in the Web 0.0 — no web, or just basic telecommunication infrastructures — to leapfrog Web 1.0 and land directly on Web 2.0: the reason being that both the needs for technological requisites and expert technicians are way lower in Web 2.0 than in Web 1.0.


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

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

Thierry Helmer
L’accès à l’Information Scientifique et Technique: Dispositif SIST [Access to Scientific and Technical Information: SIST Device

Strong bet for open archiving.

Meta search engines for syndicated search:

  • A single question to ask several databases, open access archives, websites, RSS feeds, etc.
  • A single RSS format for results representation.
  • Systematic access to the original source of data.

SIST also serves not only as a search engine, but also as a way of monitoring news and everything that’s happening on the Internet.

More info

Mark Davies
Agric Market Information Systems 2.0: Making it Private, Profitable and Peer2Peer

Tradenet is open source software product to manage information: realtime SMS uploads from markets, database customized for agricultural data, multi-currency, etc. Specifically designed to get market data for farmers.

The system is not only passive — you get data updates — but active: you can query the system through the mobile phone by means of SMS messages with specific codes.

Focus on basic group communication needs, but information can also go “out” of the group and be forwarded to third parties.

Registered users can also have personal spaces and manage their friends, colleagues, the messages they get, etc. — besides being an information and trading platform, it also has powerful social software features.

Importance of collaboration between ICT developers, users, stakeholders, etc. An example of bad design: setting up a platform such as Tradenet and not thinking on who’s going to pay for the SMSs. More examples would be understanding markets, understanding users and their needs: it’s about anthropology, not technology; public/private partnerships.

Lots of people do not interact directly with the system, but with someone that has a mobile phone or directly with Tradenet kiosks. It’s all about intermediation. This enables illiterate — or low literate people — to use the system, as language might not be an issue (if you just interact indirectly with the system through a third partie) or not a big barrier, as SMSs are quite easy to read and manage.

Anup Kumar Das [+]
Sharing Knowledge, Exchanging Solutions and Community Information Updates through Blogs and Social Networks: Case Study from India

Information and knowledge diffusion through portals and Web 2.0 apps

e.g. www.indiawaterportal.org, with its own blog.

Part of the Bharat Nirman scheme to bridge the rural divide — which includes the digital divide in rural areas.

Information “wrapped” with discussion groups, e-consultation, queries and responses, communities of practice, participated by development practitioners, social workers, policy makers (besides the target users, of course).

Solution exchange communities addressing the Millennium Development Goals.

Community Radio in India: localized radio contents, covering issues related to socio-economic development, literacy, education, social inclusion / empowerment. They include blogs for information and content sharing. 4000 community radio stations estimated by year 2008.

Digital Storytelling: creation of audio-visual conents by the members or the community. E.g. findingavoice.org.

Some conclusions:

  • Web 2.0 applications ensure participatory development communication.
  • Availability of ICT infrastructures and tools ensures people’s empowerment and social inclusion.
  • Government-led public information portals are also adopting Web 2.0 applications for more actions and interactions
  • A number of Indian language applications are available in free software, addressing content localization issues
  • Capacity building a need to be approached.


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (IV): Shared Virtual Spaces for Remote Stakeholder Collaboration

Luz Marina Alvaré, Nancy Walczak
Web 2.0 and IFPRI: Looking out and Looking in

Reach Internet users potentially interested in IFPRI‘s work and engage them in a dialog.

  • Goal: extend web presence beyond institutional website
  • Goal: establish dialogue on food policy issues: Blog World Hunger
  • Goal: help dispersed teams work more effectively: CGVlibrary
  • Goal: Quickly and collaboratively crate a list of best resources, e.g. by using del.icio.us

But also looking inside

  • Goal: increase participation, open communication, and create community: Let’s blog IFPRI, a blog on IFPRI’s intranet
  • Goal: to simplify the entry of content into IFPRI’s Intranet: using wikis as a content management system, avoiding bottlenecks, fostering initiative on the content creator/responsible
  • Goal: IFPRI staff participate in external research-related dialogues, to increase participation

Legitimating tools: “wikis are anarchic”, “blogs are just buzz”

As a transition: enable e-mail compatibilities, so people can choose while getting used to the new tools

Content matters, not its look. The user normally evaluates the quality of the content and understands that nice looks can wait for later. No need to have a sensation of “finished work” or a “finished app”, as long as content is OK.

Damir Simunic
Collaboration on the Edge of Network

Keys to success on collaboration

  • Ownership, in the sense of personalization/customization of look and feel, literals, etc.
  • Bringing “outsiders” inside, so people “inside” can freely interact with people “outside” (the department, the organization, etc.)
  • Simplicity, less is more: do not put features people don’t use or don’t understand at first sight.

Simunic states that e-mail is the only way to engage two-way communication and to have a digital identity. I couldn’t disagree more: latest social networking sites such a MySpace and FaceBook can perfectly work without any e-mail address at all. And, definitely, what positions yourself on the web — on search engines’ results — is not e-mail, that runs privately, but a website — yours, an account on any social networking site, or even a user on Wikipedia.


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (III): Knowledge Sharing for the Research Community

Juha Hautakangas
Global Partnerships for Sharing Forest Related Information through the GFIS-Gateway at www.gfis.net

GFIS: information service that stores metadata on forestry “under the same roof”, providing accurate search results and reliable information.

The system interacts with other databases all over the world using RSS format, and using the Open Search specification as a standard interface for search engines.

Multilingual search aggregator, where content comes from RSS feeds generated through searches.

Ismael Peña-López
The personal research portal: web 2.0 driven individual commitment with open access for development

There is unchallenged evidence that both researchers and research interests in developing countries are underrepresented in mainstream academic publishing systems. Reasons are many but publishing costs, research infrastructure financing and the vicious circle of researcher invisibility are among the most mentioned. Efforts have been made to mitigate this situation, being open access to scholarly literature – open access journals, self-archiving in institutional repositories – an increasingly common and successful approach.

It is our opinion that focus has been put on institutional initiatives, but the concept and tools around the web 2.0 seem to bring clear opportunities so that researchers, acting as individuals, can also contribute, to build a broader personal presence on the Internet and a better diffusion for their work, interests and publications.

By using a mesh of social software applications, we here propose the concept of the Personal Research Portal as a means to create a digital identity for the researcher – tied to his digital public notebook and personal repository – and a virtual network of colleagues working in the same field. Complementary to formal publishing or taking part in congresses, the Personal Research Portal would be a knowledge management system that would enhance reading, storing and creating at both the private and public levels, helping to bridge the academic digital divide.

Some comments from the audience
  • Stress on improving reputation systems for Web 2.0 apps/platforms
  • How to engage the “old school” scholar? My answer: let’s distinguish from what’s a scholar supposed to do — which is independent from being online — and what the “e-scholar” is supposed to do — the change of platform. The only answer is awareness on what a Network Society means: the more you give, the more you get.
  • Stress on the digital divide: no access, no Web 2.0. Which I fully agree, but Web 2.0 are ubiquitous — you can access them from any telecenter or public access point —, less power demanding — but more broadband demanding —, and feeding the Internet with content, which is part of the digital divide too.

Balaji Venkataraman

Use of Semantic Wiki Tool to Build a Repository of Re-usable Information objects in Agricultural Education and Extension: Results from a Preliminary Study

Being able to connect knowledge not only by keywords/tags, but also through content itself, linking fragments of information and knowledge through meanings, concepts and interlinking of concepts.

Mediawiki + semantic tool + FAO’s AGROVOC = Semantic VASAT Wiki (see also test2.icrisat.org)

New sources of content: Voiceblog. Question of mine: is this recorded sound from the voiceblog transcribed/analyzed so it can be related with written content. Answer: so far, this is being done, but done manually, in two ways: one, by transcribing recordings and two, by tagging sound or video recordings with keywords. But in the future it is expected that some kind of language recognition should be able to do this automatically.

More info on the DEAL – High Level view of Digital Ecology for Agriculture & Rural Livelihood portal and the way it works (White Papers, Presentations).


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (II): Plenary Sessions: Web 2.0 for Development

Amit Dasgupta
Leveraging Web 2.0 to Develop Better Applications for Rural Communities

Despite the progress in technology in India, the benefits have not reached the agricultural community — 60% of India’s population. Mostly because of lack of access to information and knowledge.


  • Without a large user base, difficult to justify cost
  • Large user base only if regional variations and localization needs are addressed

Web 2.0 can help:

  • Improve quality of information by linking information from multiple data sources
  • Reducte cost of content creating and deployment
  • Better access through multiple devices
  • Richer content using collective intelligence
  • Effective information exchange and knowledge management across geography through collaborative platforms

Besides the well known blogs and wikis, RSS feeds and tagging are really useful web 2.0 tools for knowledge sharing among stakeholders. Integration of data from multiple sources will be required to provide meaningful information and content.

Computers is just not enough: connectivity, content, services, B2C, B2B, G2B, etc.

Eric Gundersen
Portal 2.0: Using Social Software to Connect Geographically Dispersed Teams [+]

From tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. From information overload to dynamic filtering.

Being able to track the changes e.g. on a wiki brings huge transparency to the whole system, not only at the technological level, but also at the social one.

What if you had a system that allows your entire community to track, manage, analyze and act on news? Tracking, is not about the tool, is about how the tool helps your community/team.

Ability to take all your Web 2.0 data onto a USB stick so you can use it off-line. Gudersen himself commented that they were working on Google Gears to do so. I also think on the experience of Moulin, the offline Wikipedia. I personally use XAMPP, but must admit the syncing is not straightforward…

Chris Addison, Pier Andrea Pirani
Euforic2 – Putting Web 2.0 Applications to Work in a Development Community

From Euforic to Euforic2, to enable the use and contribution to the portal: for the trainees to practice, for the experts to share…: content, web to share, knowledge to share, virtual office

Blogs to leverage user generated content, reaching specific target audiences, tools to exchange stories inside organizations.

Wikis to integrate content in just one single place.

Videos, presentations, feed aggregators…

Some lessons learned:

  1. What Web 2.0 really means: web applications, not on your PC; data separate from display; online collaboration; low entry cost; promotion of content in different ways; support communities; user ‘chews’
  2. Blog not just a diary: content management system, even e-mail; easy to produce newsletters; multiple authors
  3. The four life stages of a wiki: wikis are very organic. Raise awareness and the quickstart, organizing simple menus to get content together; enthusiasm; sorting out the mess; keeping it going
  4. How to make a del.icio.us dish: the appealing of tag clouds
  5. Everywhere but our website: users find our content everywhere, in many places
  6. Brewing content: mash, aggregate, filter content; abstract your own (e.g. the blog); indexing others (del.icio.us); monitoring others (iGoogle)
  7. New costs to working
  8. Need for training and awareness
  9. Expanding the audience: alerts; registration in search engines
  10. Face2web

Panel discussion: Michael Powell, Mike Pereira, Jennifer Heney, Dorothy Mukhebi
The Core Aims of Knowledge Exchange and the Challenges of Using New Technologies to Meet Them

Organizational challenges: how do we reshape ourselves, build information share spaces, networking is implicit.

The organization becomes “2.0” just like the web: enable collaborations from anywhere/everywhere. But how to control relevance? Will this kill the discussion?

How’s the audience? The practitioner? The researcher? How do you open this? Is it a public good?

Most people use the sites not going to the sites but through alert systems [which, I guess, includes RSS feed subscriptions]

Decentralized approach to content development. Really difficult, as an institution, to feel comfortable with it, really difficult to find the balance, maintain certain degree of quality control.

The issue of the digital divide and the difficulties of access.

Find the appropriate communications (system) for the appropriate content. And the contrary: if e.g. mobile phone is the platform, think of the appropriate content (and not only the format, but the content itself) to be delivered through it.

The importance of mobile content.

To contribute: policy at the local level, resources and founding, technical expertise, infrastructure, access to relevant data / data sources, etc. So, the organizations that have capacity, should commit themselves to make relevant changes in the private sector so this empowerment, engagement takes place, for instance by affecting the regulatory framework.

Relevancy, quality control, suitability are difficult or just impossible to design ex ante, so give the practitioner, the user the ability to comment on resources, so you can help in the evaluation of this resource.


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)

Web2forDev 2007 (I): Anriette Esterhuysen: Keynote speech

The Web2forDev – Participatory Web for Development Conference is taking place at FAO Headquarters in Rome, organized by FAO, CTA, IICD, GTZ, UBC, IFAD, CGIAR, euforic, UCAD, APC, ACP and the European Commission. Here come my notes.

Presentation: Anton Mangstl

It’s the first time that the revolution is not about the development of systems, but empowerment.

Presentation: Hansjörg Neun

Holidays for me is getting no internet and no GSM. It is important not to get drowned by technologies, but to master them.

Jacques Diouf, Director-General Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Jacques Diouf, Director-General Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Keynote Speech: Anriette Esterhuysen

The importance of ICTs in leapfrogging.

Skilled development, that can be enhanced/fostered by ICTs, and has traditionally been forgotten from the (cooperation for) development agendas.

The focus of ICT4D can be focused into mainstream.

Proliferation of online content, along with language/translation tools, bringing in new users that do not come from the developed world.

Web 2.0 removes the barriers on the consumers, creators of content.

Partnerships are crucial, collaboration is critical for cooperation for development, but most especially engagement, which is widely enhanced by Web 2.0, a perfect platform for this multilayer commitment, response.

Sharing is a main challenge.

We need to rethink (cooperation for) development deeply. We have to provide access to the tools, and to let/help people use them effectively.

Participation, decision making, human rights… are new dimensions on development that the Web 2.0 can include on the development debate.

Online participation should be ways to promote a more inclusive society.

More info


Web 2.0 for Development related posts (2007)