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Collaboration, Education, Livelihoods and Development in a Changing World


Internet Governance Forum at Istanbul- September 2014

Filed under : Africa

" I came, I saw...."

John reports on a conference in Istanbul.

My attendance at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul has clarified for me what this event is all about. There were abundant opportunities to learn. The first interesting fact about the IGF is that it is not a decision-making body. So why should any government pay attention to it? The fact that its decisions are not binding on any stakeholder, seem to be its biggest selling point as governments can chose from its discussions what is most relevant for them. The IGF outcome document is a reference document for all policy makers, civil societies and development organizations. There were 135 countries with over 3,000 participants at the 2014 IGF. It was massive.

The IGF is the forum where the international agenda on internet governance is set. What is discussed here influences what happens in other international forums. The multi-stakeholder composition of IGF encourages free conversations on a wide range issues of national and global relevance including the core values of inter-operability, protection of human rights, prevention of child abuse, critical internet infrastructure, gender, disability and internet surveillance. These discussions provide governments with information and ideas that can influence policy development at national and regional levels. The multi-stakeholder approach at IGF helps countries to adopt a more inclusive, bottom-up approach in developing their national policies.

Dadamac Connect Update "2014-09-17"

Dadamac Connect believes in doing things in the public domain as much as possible. So here goes with my personal "Connections" update - in no particular order. It will be what comes to mind first (knowing that some good stuff will get left out and that I don't have time to put in live links).


Nikki and I are working on making our ideas about Dadamac Connect become real. See our tweets #dadamac for odds and ends of progress - not just for Dadamac Connect but for Dadamac Foundation (which I connect with on a deep level - it's my unpaid "passion" work) and the wider Dadamac community (which influenced our decision to start providing the services of Dadamac Connect).

Dadamac Connect's First  Founder Member

The most exciting connection for me this week was with our first Dadamac Connect founder member - William Dyer

We met yesterday at Hub Westminster in the DIY kitchen (one of my favourite regular haunts for meeting new and interesting people). He kindly agreed to give me some feedback on the first ideas for the Dadamac Connect logo. Of course that led to more information about Dadamac Connect. 

Simplest starting points include that it's a new social business and it's a membership organisation.

Emboldened by a recent challenge to "Get rejected more often" I told William that, if he had £10 on him, he could become our very first founder member - and he did.

Kabissa-Dadamac Collaboration

Kabissa and Dadamac are exploring areas of overlap and how we might collaborate in 2015.

First connections with Kabissa

Way back in about 2002, when I was trying to find my way on how best to continue the work of the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale, Tobias Eigen (founder of Kabissa) provided support.

Kabissa enabled me to publish a newsletter telling the unfolding story of Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus (OOCD 2000+) and the  Information Centre at Ago-Are. I felt we'd been given the Kabissa "seal of approval" and I was greatly encouraged.

Learning support online

I remember logging on to Kabissa and being very uncertain of how to set up an account and post my first newsletter. I made mistakes and asked for help. I remember the patient and supportive emails from Tobias as he helped me through the process. (I was somewhat in awe of him because of the reputation of Kabissa, so I was doubly impressed by his help.) That was probably my first experience of one-to-one learning support via the Internet.

When people talk about e-learning my first thought is always about this kind of practical, when-it's-needed, individual support (rather than traditional set courses and the one-to-many approach of MOOCs  - "Massive Online Open Courses").

From local to global

Filed under : Africa

John writes:

Taking the reality of rural Kafanchan across the world

The Fantsuam Foundation team that attends national and global events always has to justify and clarify its presence and participation at these events. Whether we are in Lagos, Abuja, Melbourne, Johannesburg or London we carry in our head the realities of a different world and sometimes we struggle to make sense of that world outside our rural constituency in BayanLoco, Kafanchan.

When Comfort attends the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid global forum’ in Singapore, or Teresa is invited to an experts’ consultation on children and teenager's rights in Africa to input into the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion. Or if John is invited to join the Nigerian working group on internet freedoms and freedom of information in Abuja, we always ask ourselves the same questions: 'Should I really be here at this event? Or what is the relevance of these frontline, top-level issues to those villagers whose homes have dissolved in the recent floods, or to the patient with the burst appendix who cannot afford to pay for an operation, or to the children whose school has been closed for months because the contractor paid to renovate their classrooms has absconded?' These daily interactions in our communities can easily drown out the outside world.

First Thursday Meeting Updates

Updated monthly

September  meeting update

Something completely different. The problem of using the etherpad has not been resolved (see note below for August for more information.)

Last month I tried facebook and it was a fruitful expereiment - as evidenced on my facebook page. 

This month I'm taking a similar low key approach. i.e. no reminders sent out about first Thurs but I'll go visible somewhere in the cloud at the usual First Thursday time and see who I connect with. It may be a total failure regarding making any contacts as I'll be on the move and trying out my new smart phone which is still very unfamiliar to me, but it will be good use fo teh time as a learning experience. 

I'll see how I get on with Twitter, or Facebook or Skype, and that will help me decide what to do next First Thursday, and for the rest of the year. In 2015 we have various plans for a new look Dadamac, and as those firm up they will have an impact on how First Thursdays will develop, so I'm happy to just experiment a bit for the rest of this year if the etherpad is not available.

Dadamac Connect - first announcement

This first announcement about Dadamac Connect is aimed at people who are already in contact with Nikki Fishman and/or me (Pamela McLean) in some way. Others are welcome to read this of course, but it will make more sense to people who know us. 

A new enterprise

Nikki and I are setting up a new enterprise called Dadamac Connect.

As individuals, inside and outside of Dadamac, we have a track record of "connecting the dots" in various ways. For years, in a comparatively informal way, we've been:

  • Bringing together new combinations of ideas, individuals and organisations.
  • Introducing people and helping them to do useful stuff together. 
  • Enabling people to collaborate despite communication barriers (such as separation through distance, and belonging in different cultures).
  • Building people's skills, confidence and connections as they face new challenges and opportunities.

Connecting the past and the future.

Now, in Dadamac Connect, Nikki and I are creating a point of connection for all the things we've done in the past and all the things we'll be doing in the future.

Dadamac Connect is going to be financially sustainable, earning its living through the services it provides. It may do some pro-bono work, especially while it is developing its client base (and later when it's rich enough to do generous social corporate responsibility projects) but it is being set up as a business. If we can't see a way to make something pay, then we won't do it.

Community radios for Ebola control

Filed under : Africa

The need for community radio licences

In response to the Ebola virus disease, the WHO emergency committee is considering whether the unfolding threat amounts to an international public health emergency. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention EOC has moved its activation to the highest level, an action it last took during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, while the Nigerian Government has also declared a red alert. With this unfolding scenario, we need to consider all measures to contain the disease. Nigeria should no longer delay the approval of licences for community radios.

The importance of local information

Recently, the absence of effective public communication allowed a rumour to spread about the curative powers of salt water and bitter kola. This type of misinformation can be quickly checked through appropriate messages on community radios – a very localized medium under the control of its people using their language. The widening distrust between the public and healthcare professionals is a major obstacle in the containment of this disease. In Uganda during a similar health care crisis, a simple but highly effective approach was employed to gain the trust of people through intensive communication using community radio. The role of local community and traditional leaders was recognized and they worked closely with health care staff to convey appropriate information.

A glimpse of Teresa’s day in Fantsuam

Filed under : Africa


The start of the day

My average day starts at 5.00 to 6.00 am with some exercise and house chores, ready to report for work between 7.30 and 8.00 am. First I sort out work priorities for staff and volunteers, monitor reports and program registers to ensure compliance and struggle to complete the evaluation of an on-going programme. John calls me for two unscheduled meetings including a job interview. My colleague needs my advice about a difficult client. Oh it’s already 10 am and I have yet to be fully prepared for my phone interview with Athina from University of Southampton where I am seeking admission for an MSc in Geriatrics and Gerontology. Will she understand when I tell her that I need to start planning the purchase of Christmas and Eid wrappers for our hundred and twelve grandmothers? I still have some documentation to do on each of them……..

Then I remember that I need to follow up the case of a surgical emergency of one of my clients: she needed referral to a bigger hospital in the city. My next worry is how to raise the fees for her next major surgery. John, can you help?

The power in my office has been off and I have to move to another office and shuttle between the two for internet access to study some documents and complete more reports.

Organisational issues of 21st-century systems and #RSA

This was first published (August 27, 2010) as an open letter on posterous. I'm reposting a (slighly shortened) version here as posterous no longer exists and I need to refer to it.

Hi Kellie.


A year or two back, I was involved in a workshop relevant to your interest in 21st century organisations. It was organised by a group connected to the RSA, and the day involved exploring issues related to the formal, long-established, RSA and a complementary informal network.

It was definitely not a typical talking shop. I think it would have appealed to you. We were divided into three or four groups and started in a fairly normal warm-up way of telling our neighbour what we knew about the RSA. In theory we had all brought with us an object that was in some way was representative of the RSA, so those objects were included in the discussion. Then we had to express what we had described using Lego and plasticine - and our brought objects.

During the course of the day we developed our ideas about the RSA and about the network, their similarities and differences, their present relationship with each other, areas of difficulty, and how these difficulties might be overcome. At various points in the day the groups got up to visit the models forming on the other tables, and to have them explained. (There were photos and video recordings – perhaps they still exist somewhere.)

In appreciation of "The Evolution of Trust"

"The Evolution of Trust" by David Brooks is a helpful and clear explanation of how things are changing regarding trust. He writes

I’m one of those people who thought Airbnb would never work. I thought people would never rent out space in their homes to near strangers. But I was clearly wrong. Eleven million travelers have stayed in Airbnb destinations, according to data shared by the company. (snip).

And Airbnb is only a piece of the peer-to-peer economy. People are renting out their cars to people they don’t know, dropping off their pets with people they don’t know, renting power tools to people they don’t know... (more - "The Evolution of Trust").