Storymercials Wordfish

florine-limHow long does it take to make an impact on a potential investor? Several days, perhaps? Or several hours? Or a few minutes?

Florine Lim will tell you that The WorldFish Center can get the job done in just 90 seconds.

According to Florine, two WorldFish storymercials shown during the recent Share Fair in Rome, Italy, have been causing quite a stir. These short videos of 90 seconds, which were co-sponsored by the ICT-KM Program and feature the Center’s work on fish farming in Malawi and the rehabilitation of communities following disasters in Aceh, Indonesia, have been enthusiastically received by investors, both current and potential, and have attracted much media interest since their release last year.

Florine, an Office Manager at WorldFish, Penang, talked enthusiastically during her interview about the interest generated by the videos.

“I presented the two storymercials at the WorldFish exhibition booth at the Share Fair, where quite a number of people expressed interested in them as communication tools,” she said. “Although the storymercials were originally created to attract potential investors (busy people who usually don’t have time to sit through lengthy video presentations), we wanted to get as many people as possible interested in this medium of knowledge sharing. The demand for our knowledge kit, a step-by-step guide on how to produce a storymercial, was fantastic. Indeed, almost all the available kits were snapped up on day one of the Fair.”

Click here for a more detailed report on the storymercials.

While at the Fair, Florine also had an opportunity to sit in on a few of the other sessions.

“I found facilitator Nancy White’s session on Low Bandwidth Solutions for Communications to be quite enlightening. She shared tool kits and a link that can be used for lower-cost calls. We also talked about Skype and other Internet communication tools: their pros and cons.

“WorldFish has a number of regional offices in Africa and South East Asia that have Internet connection problems, especially when using Skype, which sometimes doesn’t work well for conference calls or sending large files over low bandwidths. Nancy’s session provided several options that we were encouraged to try out for ourselves.”

Florine also attended a session on Google Apps facilitated by the ICT-KM Program’s Antonella Pastore.

“The response to this session was overwhelming,” she said. “I learnt about online collaboration tools and services like Gmail, Calendar, etc. At WorldFish, we’d already been using Google Documents, a tool that our scientists use when they want to share files online, so it was good to learn about some of the other applications.

“The best thing about these sessions, though, was the best practices shared by some of the participants. It was rewarding listening to the experiences of those who had already tried and tested the various applications.”

Like many Share Fair participants, Florine was also impressed by the eagerness of everyone to share their experiences.

“This was the first time that I’d had an opportunity to come together with people so determined to share,” she explained. “You could feel the enthusiasm. Although the purpose of the event was to share, everyone seemed open-minded and eager to learn too. I also had a lot of fun meeting new people, putting faces to email contacts and catching up with old friends. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Upon her return to Penang, Florine immediately began making plans to share her experiences and the knowledge she had gained at the Fair with her colleagues and other members of staff. During one of the Center’s weekly ‘Food for Thought’ meetings, a session entitled ‘Speed Dating for Knowledge’ used the speed dating methodology highlighted during the Fair. Staff were also given an opportunity give Florine some insights into the sort of knowledge sharing tools they would like to use in the future, while colleague Silvia Renn showed some other knowledge sharing approaches picked up at the Fair.
Although the Food for Thought session lasted a little longer than 90 seconds, you can’t help but be blown away by Florine’s determination to share.

An interview with Florine Lim by Mary Schneider

Meena in Penang

Meena in Penang

Mary Schneider talks with Meena Arivananthan

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you might have gotten a high out of the recent Share Fair held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. Or as Meena Arivananthan described it “A buzz from the buzz.”

“I enjoyed the adrenaline rush,” said Meena, the ICT-KM Program’s Knowledge Management & Sharing Officer. “Just the idea that I could meet so many different people from different organizations in one place was quite exciting. When you find out that they’re doing things that you’re interested to know more about, it helps you to open up a conversation. Now that I’m back at The WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia, where I’m based, I find myself going back to the Share Fair website in an attempt to relive that feeling. It was a great experience.”

Meena was also asked to facilitate two sessions at the Fair. To make sure she carried out the tasks assigned to her with ease, she began familiarizing herself with the content of the presentations as soon as she’d agreed to be a facilitator and was immediately impressed by the originality of the methodology highlighted in one of the video presentations.

Share Fair participants who sat in on this particular presentation were shown a video of a water contest in Bolivia – an event that helped rural communities to capture and share local good practices. Finalist in the water contest had their practices documented by a film team, and the resulting videos were then shown at an exposition fair in the country. Showcasing the videos in such a way enabled the exchange of local knowledge and experiences on good water use practices. The contest also provided an opportunity to link the rural poor to national policy level and other development institutions.

“People who attended this session were interested to find out who would actually benefit from such a video and also how much it would cost to make one,” said Meena. “Although it can be relatively expensive to put such an effective communication tool together, there is a lot of scope for replication and upscaling. To give you an idea of cost, a similar video shot in Africa using a local film crew cost about US$10-15,000.”

The other session Meena facilitated involved a successful pilot project in Bangladesh that is now looking to upscale its activities with input from others. The project aims to educate policy makers in Bangladesh and seeks their involvement to bring about change.

During this Share Fair session, participants were asked to give their comments and views on the project’s goals.

“I think the project did make some progress,” said Meena. “The session got a lot of people interested in what the project was doing, and I think this may lead to meetings outside of the session. So that meeting really did make a difference.”

Other than facilitating her two events, Meena also attended some of the Fair’s other sessions.

“By far, my highlight of the Share Fair was seeing people from FAO, IFAD and the CGIAR actually talking. Anyone who has been to FAO headquarters before will probably remember it as a stoic-looking building that doesn’t encourage conversation. But during the Share Fair, booths were set up in the atrium, giving it a marketplace feel. People just walked in and out of booths eager to share what they had with others. A lot of interest was generated. Collaboration was in the air, which is what you expect from such an event. People were so open to sharing. I just hope this attitude continues outside of the Fair.”

The Fair also benefited Meena in ways that will help her with her work at The WorldFish Center.

“I attended a hands-on session on podcasting,” she explained. “I was wondering how tough podcasting might be, but Luca Servo of FAO explained it in a simplified way. It was like an “Idiot’s Guide” type of presentation. I found that very useful, and I can see me using it in the future.”

Meena also commented on the impact the Share Fair and other knowledge sharing activities might have on the CGIAR as a system.

“I think that many new linkages were formed at the Fair. There is already an online community of knowledge sharing proponents (KM4DEV), and I think more CGIAR staff are getting involved in this. Beyond that, I also think people are very excited about using the KS Toolkit as a result of its increased visibility at the Fair. A lot of new CGIAR staff also attended the event and were quite excited with the things that were going on. I think that’s also something that’s going to grow.”

Time for another buzz, perhaps.