Thanks to Nancy White, workshop facilitator for sharing this update.

The “Social Media in International Development” Workshop kicked off on September 7th with four CGIAR members, two World Bank staffers, a representative from a Dutch NGO and from an Australian university.

With this diversity, the group was off to a great start in their work to understand the application of social media in international development. We covered four continents and 5 time zones!

The first week focused on understanding social media and the context for the its use in development. There are many potential applications from supporting scientific research, collaboration, engaging with stakeholders and disseminating information. The accompanying mind map offers a glimpse of the conversation, which included  defining social media, exploring the participant’s potential applications and then beginning to open up the implications of the use of social media.


Click here to enlarge

These week one conversations held  asynchronously online and with a weekly telephone/skype call set the stage for week two which began an exploration of three types of social media identified by the group: blogs, wikis and collaborative platforms. This activity will culminate in the production of a summary page on a blog, wiki or added to the existing base resource of the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit

In addition to the conversations,


Well, while the summer heat was blessing the northern emisphere, and many were enjoying some well deserved rest, the ICT-KM program team continued to work…. and I wanted to share some of the things we did in the month of August that make us very proud!

Reshaping Agricultural Research and Innovation

Our Simone Staiger-Rivas is supporting the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) process that is being organized by GFAR. Aimed at creating new ways of working together to enhance the development value of research, GCARD 2010 will see ICT-KM coordinating and facilitating several key e-consultation processes.

World Congress of Agroforestry, Nairobi, August 24 – 28

Our Antonella Pastore has been actively involved in the reporting of Congress activities with social media. A designated social reporting team embraced blogging and microblogging in providing informal, interesting reports from sessions and hallway conversations that took place. Many in the reporting team are first time users to blogs, Twitter and photo sharing, yet the impact was staggering – participation and sharing was extensive and it is reaching many beyond the participants of the congress. Read more on monitoring the buzz!

ICT-KM – a resource hub

Our Knowledge Sharing Toolkit is an excellent example of collaboration between ICT-KM, the Knowledge Management for Development (KM4Dev) community and also the FAO. This has resulted in us being tapped into as resource persons for training sessions on social media at the FAO.

On another note, the toolkit now boasts a new context page that offers scientists ideas, experiences and recommendations on tools and methods for knowledge sharing within the project cycle. Fruit of the hard work of our Nadia Manning-Thomas read about improving impact through knowledge sharing in research.

Monitoring our blogging impact

Those who know me best, know I do not easily get impressed with statistics. My favourite question is “So what?”. But numbers are a good place to start. We took stock of our foray into social media recently, namely blogging, to see how successful ICT-KM was in the last 6 months in the blogosphere. We looked at blog traffic statistics as key indicators to monitor and assess the value of putting our program-related activities and CGIAR initiatives on the Web, in our effort to improve our visibility, and – to later be able to answer the famous “so what?” question – our impact. An obvious finding was that more content meant more web traffic, but the trend showed that original work was more popular than our other blogs. Our Meena Arivananthan was queen of the month, with her very successful social media series. Read on to find out what the other 4 lessons learnt are. We are working to be able to answer the “So what?” question with full details….

Good Practice Guides: IT related issues

ICT-KM has just published a new series of Good Practice Guides based on the collective work of the IT community of practice. These useful guides address issues that CGIAR centers face worldwide, including challenging connectivity or minimal IT support. We believe these guides, which were developed in collaboration with the Internal Audit Office, will benefit IT departments seeking to implement improved approaches.

Sharing what we learn…

Our Tania Jordan has given presentations at FAO about the use of Wikis in the CGIAR with quite some success… they keep on asking her back!

And…. Michael Marus is hard at work on our research maps, our new site is being finalised, we are actively engaged in the CGIAR reform process….so much more going on…and more to look forward to making us proud next month.

What made me most proud this month? See the tenacious commitment of the ICT-KM team members despite the heat! Quite remarkable really!

For more updates on all activities of the ICT-KM program, keep following us on our blog or subscribe to our newsletter….

Last week I blogged about the 1st Training Session at FAO and it was such a success that they repeated the training session on Wikis again yesterday for those people that didn’t get the chance to register last week.

Tania Jordan, Gauri Salokhe, Romolo Tassone

Tania Jordan, Gauri Salokhe, Romolo Tassone

Usually after the training sessions, Gauri Salokhe and Romolo Tassone from the FAO Web Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division, perform an “After Action Review” to the participants to see what they liked the most or least, and use this feedback to improve future sessions.

It seems that many participants liked the ‘hands-on’ session last week where they had the opportunity to ‘play’ around with the tools, but participants requested  they should have more time …in other words: ‘less talk and more play‘…of course, nothing better than doing-it-yourself!

So considering last weeks feedback, yesterday’s 2-hour session was organized as to give more time to the participants for the ‘hands-on’ session.

Steve Katz

Steve Katz

Steve Katz, Chief of the Knowledge Exchange Facilitation Branch at FAO, introduced the session by saying:

FAO is a multi-disciplinary environment and we organize events such as the Sharefair and training sessions like these to introduce new knowledge sharing methods, tools and approaches to help us work more horizontally in the organization…the challenge is to see how these can be applied in your work…


Romolo continued by giving the participants an introduction about what makes a Wiki a Wiki, and he explained: 

  • inline edit/save
  • easy and open access to history, versioning/differences information and the ability to role back
  • The most recent additions/modifications of articles can be monitored actively or passively (RSS, email, summary page) – to facilitate collaborative editing
  • Discussion tab
  • User management/permissions
  • approach that focuses on trust, accountability and transparency, rather than security/authority/ownership
  • Moderation/advocacy required. Sense of community and personal involvement of content
Gauri Salokhe

Gauri Salokhe

Gauri showed the example of the Knowledge Sharing toolkit (KS Toolkit), a long-term collaborative Wiki site using Wikispaces that assembles knowledge sharing tools and methods resources as a clear example of collaboration between CGIAR ICT-KM, FAO and most recenly from the KMforDev community.

Tania Jordan

Tania Jordan

This time, I showed them an example of a private collaborative team site under our CGXchange 2.0 implementation where more than 25 people from the different continents were actively collaborating to produce 7 Enterprise Security Good Practice documents on a Google Sites Wiki.

There were interesting questions like: ‘ How do you get people to start on a Wiki?’, What if I need to work only on one document? or How do I know if I need a Wiki’… Like any website, to get people started on a Wiki, you really need someone that is constantly ‘pushing’ people to provide their input, someone (or a group of people) that as Gauri put it: acts as a ‘Wiki gardener’, that encourages people to provide their ideas and content on the site. Once people start feeling confident on the tools and see the potential of what they’re working on, the Wiki starts taking a life of its’ own!

Remember that in some cases, people don’t really need a Wiki site, sometimes a simple online document can do what you need and I explain these differences further on this post: Useful tips for collaborative writing with Google Docs and Google Sites.

Of course towards the end of the session, the moment they’ve all been waiting for…the participants were paired up on the computers and had the opportunity to get their hands-on the Wiki…indeed this is the moment where they have lots of fun!

Once again, I congratulate and thank Gauri and Romolo for organizing this wonderful session…it’s very nice to see that there are always new things to learn from each other.

Gauri also wrote a blog post about this Wiki session.

Until the next time, I look forward to your comments…

Chantal and Vanessa tweeting from the plenary on Day 1

Chantal and Vanessa tweeting from the plenary on Day 1, WCA2009

We’re past midway through the Congress, it’s end of Day 3. The WCA2009 blog is up and running with a variety of posts, lots of photos are available on the ICRAF Flickr photostream, and the @icraf on Twitter has 300 tweets from the plenary sessions and a few side events (and went from 0 to 90 followers in 3 days).

The reporting team embraced the idea of posting informal reports from the sessions and the conversations in the hallways. And even people who had never had the opportunity to blog before posted a few interesting things. In fact, most of the social media team became new users of blogging, photo sharing and microblogging tools.

At the beginning of this buzz-making adventure, we started to promote the use of the #WCA2009 tag. However, the full name of the Congress has been around for a while, so we’re keeping an eye on World Congress of Agroforestry as well.

While it’s early to draw any conclusions on how it’s going based on the numbers, here’s  a list of places I’m keeping an eye on to track how the WCA2009 is doing on the Social Web.

Google Blog Search

The name says it all: it’s Google search just for blogs. Using it to search for full name of Congress.

World Congress of Agroforestry on Google Blogs Search

World Congress of Agroforestry on Google Blogs Search helps you search selectively on blogs, microblogs, comments, events, bookmarks, videos, Q&As, audio, video. The hashtag and the full Congress name are showing results in real time (a bit contaminated by a concurrent use of the WCA2009 tag for a number of different events).

#WCA2009 hashtag search on microblogs via

#WCA2009 hashtag search on microblogs via


Real-time tracking and display of whatever you’re keeping an eye on. Here’s the fall this afternoon on the WCA2009 tag. Thanks to @romolotassone for pointing me to this.

WCA2009 on Twitterfall

WCA2009 on Twitterfall


Helps you visualize multiple real-time searches on one screen

Hashtag and Congress name search on Tweetgrid

Hashtag and Congress name search on Tweetgrid

Useful to track the links to the ICRAF site on Twitter, reads ‘through’ short URLs.



What else is out there? If you have tried these approaches before, how do they compare to each other? Any strategy you want to suggest? We’d love to know.

E. Porcari, CIO and J. Fitzsimon, Director Internal Audit

Enrica Porcari, CIO and John Fitzsimon, Director Internal Audit

We have just published a new series of Good Practice Guides on IT related issues.

Some people asked me: Why do you do this? I am not sure about the question…. if the the question is why Good Practice Guides and not Policies? Well, the answer is simple: The CGIAR is a voluntary association (pending its reform) of international research centers, which enjoy a high degree of independence but build on their collective experience to improve the way they do business. These are centers, organizations that collectively employ over 8,000 staff, in over 100 offices worldwide, often working in locations where connectivity or IT support is a challenge, but organizations that are cut across by very active Communities of Practice that work together to share, learn, improve. These Good Practice Guides are an example of the collective work of the IT community of practice. We built on the experience of external consultants, experts who helped us put our collective experiences at work. The results are a useful series of do’s and don’ts on how to manage your mail, on how to ensure you make good use of your limited connectivity, how to keep your network secure, how to avoid spam … This is why they are not policies. We do not believe in enforcement. We believe in collectively writing useful guides that everybody wants to implement. And to do this we joined hands with the Internal Audit Office. Better friends than foes, right?

Audience? For now, the IT departments in each center. But we have started compiling simple guide for users to ensure they make the best use of the technical resources they have.

Creative Commons? YES! In line with the CGIAR mandate of generating “public goods”, we wanted to make sure anybody could use the experiences we have collected.

If you use them, let us know. If you think we can improve them, let us know. If you have better ones, let us know!

And if I was wrong with guessing the question …let me know….

gcard_logo_21_5 FinalThe ICT-KM Program is supporting the GCARD process, starting with the e-consultations that should contribute a great deal in enhancing the development value of research.

Organized by GFAR, the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) is more than just a Conference – it’s a multi-year process of learning and continuous updating of the global agricultural research for development (AR4D) system. The aim is to create new ways of working together to enhance the development value of research. GCARD will be an open and inclusive process for consultation and change, which will aim to reshape agricultural research and innovation, improve resources for research, and increase its development impact.
The GCARD 2010 will result in an action plan and framework to improve agricultural research and innovation globally.

Through CIAT’s Simone Staiger-Rivas, the ICT-KM Program provides the coordination of the e-consultation process as well as support in their facilitation.

Get involved by subscribing to the regional e-consultations of your choice, following the GCARD blog or tweets.

Listen to an interview of Nancy White with Simone Staiger on the GCARD process

More about the e-consultations

Follow the Congress opening keynotes on @icraf.

We’re covering the keynotes (have a look at the speakers’ lineup) in turn. Connection is not helping us: working off mobile phone internet. It’s exciting, though.

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate, Green Belt Movement, closed her session today with the inspiring story of the hummingbird. A forest was on fire and all the animals were escaping to the margins of the forest, leaving it to its fate. Only the hummingbird started flying up and down from a water stream nearby, taking a drop of water at a time and putting it on the fire. All the animals were discouraging the industrious hummingbird. But the little bird continued its work and said: I can’t do it all, but I can do something.

Take home message: wifi failure won’t stop up. We’ve also agreed to tweet asynchronously if that’s necessary.  So keep an eye on @icraf.