Friday, May 23, 2008

euforic workshop on web2share

In April I participated in a 2-day workshop by euforic on Introducing Blogs, Wikis, Newsfeeds and RSS, hosted by ECDPM in Maastricht. The purpose of my participation was to increase my knowledge of web-based collaborative tools for use in equalinrights’ work, particularly in relation to building relationships with and among human rights and development practitioners in our network. The workshop complemented ongoing research on such tools that I had been conducting. The workshop was very hands-on. The trainers made the sessions fun and interactive, and welcomed questions.

The first session of the workshop established the main differences between the World Wide Web in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century. The trainers highlighted the following in regards to using the “new web”:

5 Basic Approaches: Management - Tools
• Publishing online – Blogging
• Working together on a document – Wikis
• Keywording your work – Tagging
• A new interface – Feeds
• Bringing info together – Mashup (e.g., euforic website)

5 Important Points
• All about people – collaboration and shared understanding
Access – keep in mind that not everyone has high bandwidth
Motivation – key to help people understand the benefits
Content – still same issues of content management, e.g., risks, guidelines
Impact – measure what you’re doing

The next day and a half we explored four main tools of the “new web”. Descriptions of these tools and more can be found on the nifty euforic-ICCO web2share wiki.

Finding information – let it come to you!
RSS, Feeds, Tagging, Googology

Making the news – blogging, video blogging, podcasting
120Mill created since 2003; Appeal to high # of small audiences

Social bookmarking – creating/sharing knowledge and information
The favorite of the development field is – store, organize, share, search, manage!

Wikis – creating content collaboratively
A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

I found the workshop very relevant for equalinrights’ work. Other than providing an opportunity to enhance my familiarity with online tools, and that of our staff in general, the workshop has led to several proposed changes in equalinrights’ way of working and some new potential projects. Thanks very much to euforic for a great learning experience, and to ICCO for facilitating my participation!


Why is Open Source Software a good option for developing countries?

The ecollaboration meeting in Amsterdam had the title: Going Open! and focused on Open Source, Open Access, Open Content, etc. Karsten Gerloff of the United Nations University UNU-Merit explained why open source software is a good option for developing countries. Watch the 1,5 minutes video by clicking below:

Karsten explains that Open Source gives you the opportunity to adapt the software to your local needs (eg. in local languages!), to the local culture, or to include certain functions that are important to you. It gives you the fishing rod rather than the fish. It lets you build businesses on top of the skills developed and those skills remain in-country. This as opposed to proprietary software where money will flow out of the country.