September 2007

So you may be convinced or at least a little curious now but want to know where to find Web 2.0 tools to use, here are some ideas that i got during the past three days…







* Collaborative work


-Google Groups

-Yahoo Groups




*Video and audio


*Social networking




Ever tried any of these? Have positive or challenging experiences for using them in our type of work? Try it out…

Know other tools/applications?Please share

Here are some examples of ‘where 2 web 2.0’ from different angles…

* Think about the direction of your Web 2.0…

Ethan Zuckerman, the keynote speaker of the day, believes in web 2.0 but asked everyone to think about who we want to reach and how we want to reach them–this will help you to decide what tools to use. But he stressed that at the end of the day it is not about the tools, but it is about the people. He also stressed that there are alot of good tools out there–there is no need to develop software and tools from scratch always.

He recommends blogs as the ‘best bang for the buck’, as long as you make sure you make use of the value of linking. “The best way to get people to point to your site, is to point to others”.

* Web 2.0 in your institutions..

Thomas Metz from IRRI presented how a wiki was used by a dispersed program. A particular use of the wiki was for a workshop. The agenda was developed collaboratively on a wiki before the workshop, notes were taken on sessions during the workshop, and presentations were uploaded onto the wiki, and feedback and review were allowed through the wiki. The wiki allowed collaboration, sharing of information and documentation and storage of relevant workshop materials.

He suggests to web 2.0 in the framework of a project or program which can support the use and sustainability of this tool.

Day 3 and final day of the Web 2.0 for Dev conference.

The theme of today’s blogging is on where 2 web 2.0

Taking on angle of the ‘where’ theme, I would like to share with you some experiences from a session yesterday which proved that you CAN do/use Web 2.0 in Africa.

Ednah Karamagi from BROSDI in Uganda doesn’t let electricity rationing, low bandwidth and  not always knowing about the newest technologies stop her and her group from using a wide range of web 2.0 tools in many areas of development.

She showed us blogs that they use for allowing orphan children to share their thoughts and feelings, wikis which allow her group to share,store, manage and plan training programs, and websites which house information including audio files of statements, information and suggestions given by farmers in rural areas.

She showed us that you can Web 2.0 to other computer users, to cell phones using SMS services, and even to non-computer and internet accessible rural peoples through interacting with their radios, loudspeakers, providing print material and even through village ‘knowledge brokers’. They try everything to get information from farmers, to farmers, from others, to others and many more people and directions.

They support the use of these technologies through training, an annual knowledge fair, talking to other NGOs, and trying things out for themselves.

But not everything works the first time—Ednah said the first wiki was never used so she too stopped using it. But once they found a good purpose for the wiki tool/technology it was much more successful.

So where 2 web 2.0?

– you CAN web 2. in Africa was a strong message

-you can web 2.0 to rural areas, even if it has to be combined with other technologies (telephony) or even traditional formats –in the end it is all in the spirit of exchange and collaboration

-you can web 2.0 to farmers, health workers, orphans, other NGOS, etc

where else???

If it can be done by Ednah in the conditions in Uganda–i would like to challenge others out there, others in the CGIAR, to see how we can also adopt soem of these tools to enhance our work, collaboration, and outreach.

Anyone up for it?…

“How many of you are on Facebook?” asks Pete Cranston from OxfamGB during his session–most of the audience raised their hands. He told us that we are some of the approx. 42 million Facebook profiles.

So how many of you are on Facebook? do you only use it for personal use?

What about using Facebook for work?

Oxfam has been. They have set up Facebook groups or used applications in Facebook around the G8 meetings, Darfur, and the Starbucks and Ethiopian coffee issue. And they have had a really good response and managed to reach a very large group of people…many of whom are not usually targeted or reached by more traditional communication avenues.

Oxfam has also used MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube for communication, awareness raising, campaigning and interacting with others.

Could the CGIAR, its Centres, progams, projects etc also use such Web 2.0 tools in our work?

Some already are :

-Ask Luz Marina Alvare and Nancy Walczak from IFPRI who have been using blogs and wikis for sharing knowledge and enhancing collaboration of the institution on both an internal and external level

-Find out from Thomas Metz of IRRI how he has been achieving more open collaboration in an Institutional Context using Web 2.0 tools.

In the conference we have been learning about:

wikis, blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, RSS feeds, tagging, vlogging(video logging), Dgroups, social bookmarking

…and despite recognised problems of connectivity, capacity, and infrastructure, these tools have been used in:

-research, development work , by communities, in rural areas, in the North and the South etc


-share knowledge, increase collaboration, widen access to and from groups, discuss, plan, implement, store, manage, analyse and much more.

Why not try something out…

Today, Wednesday 26th September 2007, is Day 2 of the Web2.0 for Dev Conference. The schedule involves a number of plenary, parallel and open space sessions. In all of these sessions, tools, approaches and experiences are being presented and shared.

Some examples are:

-Web 2.0 for Rural Develoment and Community Empowerment, Opportunities and Barriers

-Using social networking platforms to support work

-Wikis, Blogs and Online profiles for African NGOs

We are all learning about how to use various Web 2.0 tools in our work.

This could be very useful in our work in the CGIAR as well.

We can use Web 2.0 tools to:

-share our information in different ways with a wide range of people

-collaborate more effectively with ourselves (internal) and also with our partners and other stakeholders (external)

-manage our information and data in better ways

SO how do we do it…

-go onto the web and try out some of these tools

-check out this blog, the Web2.0forDev website, other sources for ‘How to’

-ask IT and other people who know

Anyone have any experiences to share …

Stay tuned…

The theme of today’s blogging is “Why 2 Web 2.0” and we invite you to post any comments, responses, ideas or thoughts on this particular topic whether you are attending the Web 2.0 for Dev conference or not.

– Do want to or need to share information and knowledge with others?

-Do you work in or with a team that is geographically dispersed? Do you need something to help with communication, working together and sharing with this dispersed team?

-Do you want to improve and increase collaboration with others?

Web 2.0 is a new era of electronic, virtual, online tools and applications which move beyond static posting, managing and sharing of knowledge. Web 2.0 introduces new opportunities for interaction, collaboration, networking, and multi-dimensional sharing.

Have you ever used a blog to have a discussion?

What about a wiki for collaboration on projects with dispersed teams and partners?

There have been a lot of successes in the use of these tools to open up the globe and its people to the vast amount of valuable knowledge in written, visual, audio, video, and interaction with people formats.

So why 2 web 2.0? Because it offers potential for greater, wider, more effective, more efficient, and more participatory working and living.

Why not to web 2.0? Does everybody have the infrastructure, the connectivity, the capacity or even the desire to use these tools?

What do YOU think?

Stay tuned…

Today, Tuesday 25th September is Day 1 of the Web2.0forDev conference taking place at FAO HQ in Rome. The focus of this conference, being held in the midst of the E-Agriculture week is learning about, experiencing and exploring participatory web for development.

Along with other organisations, the CGIAR is helping to organise this interesting and innovative conference. The CGIAR is widely represented at this conference, with 5 presentations being given by CGIAR people, attendance by many IT and IM managers from various centres, as well as other projects from the CGIAR ICT-KM program.

There are people and organisations from around the globe and from various sectors, coming together to share knowledge and experiences of the use of web 2.0 tools in and for development.

To share with others out there the CGIAR representatives here plan to use this blog to present some of the ideas, discussions and approaches featuring in this conference.

Join us each day on this blog, where we will explore a different angle of Web2.0 for Dev:

Tuesday 25th Sept (Day 1)—Why 2 Web 2.0

Wednesday 26th Sept (Day2)—How to Web2.0

Thursday 27th Sept (Day 3)—Where 2 Web 2.0

Stay tuned…

I just finished facilitating a 4-day meeting for the IT Managers of the CGIAR: Around 16 participants (only one female participant) in mostly plenary settings. Some lessons learnt or confirmed:

  • It is so much better to be involved in the agenda setting… Making process suggestions during the meeting is difficult, and setting a different tone as well.
  • The people who talk little are definitively more at ease in small group discussions.
  • When a session is “only” for information sharing, there is not really much a facilitator can do.
  • Facilitating highly technical specialized conversations is a challenge.

And last week I facilitated an Open Space session for the Water and Food Challenge Program (CPWF) with only 12 participants, who gathered in 8 sessions during the morning, then prioritized three issues and moved forward to outline related synthesis papers. Lessons learnt:

  • Open Space works really well, also in small groups.
  • The reporting back can be a real stimulator and time-saver.
  • Facilitate a one-day portion of a longer workshop makes it difficult to reach closure.


gkp_logo.jpg During its 3rd Global Knowledge Conference (GK3), to be held in December 2007, and entitled  “Emerging People, Emerging Markets, Emerging Technologies, the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) will explore concrete solutions and possibilities within the interplay, interface and interweaving of issues related to the Knowledge for Development (K4D) and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) in the context of our globally evolving societies, economies and technologies worldwide

As part of GK3, a variety of online interactions and online events are engaging a broader audience. If you would like to join the discussion lists, have a look at: The current discussion is on Organizing Interactive and Participatory Sessions, an issue very close to the heart of the knowledge sharing project. Here is an interesting post from a participant,  Veronica Cretu, President of the “CMB” Training Center (NGO,

“From my almost 10 years of experience in designing/organizing sessions as well as conducting training programs, I want to share the Basic Principles hat after me, contribute essentially to a successful participatory session(compared to traditional formats of the sessions):

1.  Adults have a rich life experience and they know many things – building or developing further on their knowledge and experience is a more efficient way rather than a training or session based on the fact/assumption that adults do not know anything.

2. Learning by doing is more efficient than a lecture. It has been proven/demonstrated that people memorize only 10% of what they are told, 20% of what they are told and shown, and over 50% from what they try to do by themselves.

3.  Learning is more efficient when it is based on a real situation, or a real experiences rather than being based only on theories without real practical application;

4.  All the participants participate equally in the training/session process – thus, they contribute to their own learning as well as to the learning of their colleagues.

5.  Every participant is responsible for the success and efficiency of the training/session program – everyone has the possibility to share his/her points of views vis-à-vis the issues tackled/discussed in order to increase the program efficiency.

If these principles are implemented/followed, the sessions are much more interesting, participative, opened, fun, and at the end of the day, you feel reat with the results achieved:)!

Scientific research has historically been assessed by the level of citations a publication or researcher has – the more the better being the mantra.  The reasoning being that the “credible” researcher (or significant work) would automatically lead to citations or popularity: the more “credible” leading to more citations.  Problems with this model are quite obvious, as it leads to a “publish or perish” mentality and encourages “popular” or trendy research.  In addition, frequently cited publications are, at times, cited for their controversial nature, and not necessarily for their significance or impact in terms of research. But what does that mean for agricultural research?

The final product of agricultural research should, at the end of the day, have a measurable positive impact on the lives of the poor. If that is taken as a given, then we must reconsider our current evaluation models for agricultural scientific research. Various other strategies have been considered to address some of the shortcomings of the above model.  However, most of these strategies aim to include the end-users either in the developing of the project or in training at the tail end of the project.   

Is this enough? Is there not a better way to measure impact? How can we better link outputs to results? What about accountability? 

During a workshop held last year at the GFAR meetings in India, Frank Rijsberman, Sanjini De Silva, and I presented to the participants a model based on Outcome Contracting (you can access the article here).  The basis of this model is accountability, both in terms of project design and funding.  If the primary goal of our work and research is poverty reduction, should we not be held accountable for it?   In the new model, researchers, along with the end users, partners etc, identify the impact pathway of any particular project, and decide up to which point the project can be held responsible.  Accountability is established and funding, or partial funding, is awarded upon achieving the intended goal.   

Can such an inclusive model work in our current environment? How would that affect our current approach to research?  What would be the drawbacks for using such a model?

The KS Project is looking forward to promote the use of Web-based collaborative tools. To do so we need to share easy-to-understand resources.  One good example is this series of short explanatory videos, developed by Common Craft (, which “goal is to fight complexity with simple tools and plain language”.   The series contains so far videos on Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, Wikis and RSS.

It is interesting from the content perspective: The Institutional Knowledge Sharing (IKS) pilot project on Best Practices for Research Data Management (RDM) will use a wiki to develop a RDM cookbook. But it is also of interest from a process perspective: The use of short videos, downloadable from the Internet, which can be used for a variety of objectives, explanatory like in the Commoncraft series, or for marketing like in the “Storymercial” IKS pilot project.