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Collaboration, Education, Livelihoods and Development in a Changing World

Pamela's blog

#LandscapeOfChange and wierd by choice - Notes for Fred Garnett

Hi Fred - Last week you and I were talking generally about Wikiquals and also about my personal study of the #LandscapeOfChange. I told you I'd written some posts here in the past about it, but not for a while. Today I came across some links which put me in mind of Landscape of Change (LoF) posts where I've sung the praises of my "crazy-sane" friends. I think the links will provide useful references if I need to explain some aspects of LoF:

Dadamacademy - Open letter to Andrius Kulikauskas

Hi Andrius - I'm gathering together some thoughts and resources ready to start studying under your supervision.

1 - An online learning experiment

2 - Expectations

3 - Various levels of complexity and area(s) of study

4 - Previous work - and some ongoing work

 

1 - An online learning experiment

We've agreed to doing this online learning experiment together, and we've exchanged a couple of emails about it (in the public domain) and had a couple of Skype calls. We've agreed that I'm your student and you are my supervisor. Exactly what that will look like will emerge over time.

We think it's going to be a kind of alternative part-time PhD.

In any collaborative venture it's easy to agree what we want in general terms, but often there is disagreement over some of the details. We can expect that to happen. It's a natural part of the "forming, storming, norming, performing" cycle. We're at the easy, forming stage at the moment, both keen to do this and feeling positive about the idea and our collaboration.

Given how well we know each other, and the characters we are, I anticipate that we may have some stormy periods along the way, but they will be worth it for the norms that we develop as a result and the level of performance those norms enable us to achieve.

Dadamac Foundation April Update

This is where Dadamac Foundation is now, written as my personal preparation for the next strategy and planning meeting (our fourth) on Saturday April 12th.

1 - From emergence to strategy

2 - Registered UK Charity

3 - Our unique strength

4 - Geographical reach

5 - Pioneers in effective communication

6 - Horizontal not hierarchical structures

7 - Open Knowledge

8 - Accessing the Dadamac Foundation Knowledge Commons

9 - We don't have "failures", we have "rich learning experiences"

10 - Not just a store of information  -  a vibrant community

11 - What about the practicalities?

12 - Harvesting information from changemakers

14 - Sustainability

 

1 - From emergence to strategy

The current understanding of what Dadamac Foundation should be doing in the future has emerged from years of UK-Africa collaboration. Everything up to now can be looked on as preparation and a learning experience. Financially our work has been on a small scale, but we have been active and productive in other ways.

If you think of Dadamac Foundation don't imagine a "full-time" charity with a proper fundraiser or an established donor base. Think of Dadamac Foundation as an umbrella organisation that has enabled occasional specific fundraising. Then turn your attention to other resources besides money. Do imagine an organisation that is tremendously rich in valuable (but hard-to-measure) things like shared knowledge and extensive human networks.

Looking for my own information agent

Walking home tonight I was imagining how different my life would be if I had my own information ("info") agent. How would I describe the job to a potential applicant for a start? I guess the easiest thing it to compare it to a diary secretary - but instead of filling in the diary before-hand my info-agent would fill it in for me afterwards.

More like Samuel Pepys diary - but with tags and suchlike

Thanks to my info-agent I'd have the kind of journal that Samuel Pepys had as his diary - but I wouldn't have to write it for myself.

My journal would tell me where I'd been, what I'd done, who I'd met, what I'd learned, any "Aha! moments I'd had," what I'd like to follow up on, all that kind of thing.

Of course, unlike Pepys' diary mine would be online, and it wouldn't be a secret personal diary, most of it would be available to anyone who wanted to dip into it. Some of it would be private - just between me and the info-agent. Probably some things would just be temporarily private - things like ideas that would just cause confusion if they were shared early on in their half- formed state.

My info agent would be someone who could listen, and understand and, then communicate - in words or diagrams or a mixture of both. Her/his task would be to harvest and express coherently all the relevant stuff from my completely unstructured accounts of what I'd been doing and thinking. It would be a bit like Nikki used to do in her weekly blogs about Fantusam Foundation after the Dadamac UK-Ngeria meetings.

First Thursday Meeting Updates

Updated monthly

First Thursday meetings

On the First Thursday of each month I try to be online for an hour. It's a chance for friends and contacts, old and new, to drop in for a chat (a typed chat). It's very informal. People drop in as it suits them, so we don't have a set agenda. We share what we've been doing, introduce people to each other, explore areas of overlapping interest and so on. Sometimes we settle on a specific topic to explore in detail - it all depends on who turns up. (More about First Thursdays, which have been running each month since 2007.)

How it usually works

There is no pre-registration, but the software does limit how many people can attend. So far there has always been room for everyone. If you have any problems accessing First Thursday please let me know

The chatroom remains open all month - You're welcome to go to the First Thursday link at any time during the month. Introduce yourself and then add your news.

Don't be put off if you are the only person in the chat room. I visit during the month to see what is written.

Dadamac Foundation Information Agents

The idea of "information agents" has been emerging gradually within Dadamac. It's clear enough now to explore openly, to see where it has come from, and consider how it might develop. I'm expecting that information agents will play key roles in creating the Dadamac Foundation Knowledge Commons in 2014 and beyond. It's not a short explanation, so I've numbered the sections for ease of use. Prototype work supporting a changemaker was done with John Dada and Fantsuam Foundation but future work will include other projects and locations.

1 - Possible work, paid and unpaid

2 - The hidden work of Fantsuam Foundation

3 - Representing John's interests in London

4 - An information channel

5 - Setting up dadamac.net

6 - Prototype information agents and information flows

7 - Collecting the fragments

8 - Making sense of the fragments

9 - Presenting and sharing the information

10 - Internet trawling

11 - Other opportunities in Dadamac Foundation Trading or Services

12 - For more information or to volunteer

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1 - Possible work, paid and unpaid

This isn't going to be a complete list of tasks. It's just an idea of what information agents will be working on, so people who are interested can begin to see possibilities. I hope we'll be able to afford some paid people on the team, as well as volunteers, but obviously we'll need to be raising funds for that to happen.

Flowing together and separately - Dadamac 2014

Dadamac is at another transformative stage. It's time for a review of who we are, where we are, and where we seem to be going. This description is a "beginners guide" and also an overview for people who already know some parts of Dadamac well and want to see where they belong in the bigger picture. It covers how things flow together and where they go separate ways (so it's not short). The sections are:

An accidental ICT4D practitioner

Sometimes I need to explain where I fit on the spectrum of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development). The most accurate description is that I'm an "accidental ICT4D practitioner". With hindsight I can describe my work in a tidy "CV" kind of a way, although in reality it's been chaotic and emergent (and is unpaid so not full-time or neatly labelled). It's grown from doing things to help my friends, and has increasingly taken over my life.

Here's one possible tidy version:

  • 2001-2004 acting director of Oke-Ogun Community Agenda 2000 plus - an ICT based African Welfare and Development project in SW Nigeria, initiated by the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale.

Unusual because I didn't intend to do this. It just happened, because Peter had died, and people in Oke-Ogun knew I'd been helping him, and decided I knew the direction things should  be going

The main benefit I brought was that I knew that I knew nothing (beyond Peter's big vision). I had to direct from a distance, so it had to be light touch, and went the way circumstances dictated. We couldn't have done it at all without the Internet. I learned about rural realities and working at a distance.

The project is still continuing in a small, local, independent way, and I remain in contact with some of the people involved.

"Death of ICT4D" - Tony Roberts, Ken Banks and me.

Tony Robert's blog on Death of ICT4D 'Greatly Exaggerated' and the reference he makes to Ken Banks sounding the death knell of ICT4D for several years, prompts me to add my perspective on ICT4D.

A non-academic perspective

I'm not part of academia, or any other "expenses paying" organisation. This means that if I do go to any ICT4D conferences I have to foot the bills myself and I have to go in my own time, so I don't usually go.

December 2010 was an exception. ICTD conferences are held about every 18 months and move from country to country. ICTD2010 was held in London and had an emphasis on making connections between academia and practitioners. If ever I was going to make it to an ICTD conference this was it.

The story I'm going to tell you has to do with that conference and informs my take on the "Death of ICT4D" debate. I'll explain elsewhere how I fit in the ICT4D spectrum. For now I'll simply call myself an ICT4D practitioner.

It's not just me! - Hear Binyavanga Wainaina on "development"

Isn't it wonderful when someone puts into words something that you know but can't explain. That's exactly my feeling from watching Eliza Anyangwe of the Guardian interviewing Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina. They discuss aid, power and the politics of development in Africa (video link)

In her introduction Eliza refers to the feeling that many people have about being "displeased with how Africa is portrayed." I know what she means - though I feel that "displeased" is a somewhat mild word to choose. I have felt bewildered, confused, powerless and angry about the disconnect between things as they seem to me in the places I know in Nigeria and "how Africa is portrayed". I've also got increasingly cynical about "aid' and "development", delivered in what I've come to see as a top-down, tick-box culture - but I won't go on about that. Binyavanga Wainaina explains it with a humourous light touch and far more credibility. I'll simply relate the video to my experience.