As you know, we have been trying to promote social reporting and live blogging, the on-line summary of conferences we attend or organize as a way of present a synopsis of each presentation, talk-by-talk, in nearly real time, so that you can feel included in the event even if you cannot travel to it.

At its best, reading the liveblog can be better than attending the talk. All the non-essential bla bla has been removed, and almost every talk captured. While video recordings of conferences are becoming more popular, a good liveblog is much quicker to scan and digest. We want to offer more and more liveblogging, so here we are pointing you to a great resource co-authored by Ethan Zuckerman, of Geek Corp, one of the best conference bloggers alive.

Ethan was the keynote speaker in the Web2fordev conference we organized two years ago in Rome.

We have more than 40 blog posts that our reporters from the ShareFair prepared for you. Hope you find them interesting. Let us know what you think!

Hope you will find these tips useful and they will inspire to join the CGIAR livebloggers movement:
Tips for conference bloggers

Thanks Jenin for pointing us to this resource!

In November 08 I posted: CGIAR, Change and another way to look at it! where I used Wordle to give an visual representation of what people were discussing in the CGIAR Change management blog.

I thought I would use Wordle again and use the feeds from the ShareFair blog on ICT-KM

Sharefair through Wordle

Sharefair through Wordle

A picture is worth a thousand words…

The ShareFair 09 has just come to a close. Months of preparations, negotiations, discussions, worrying whether this was a good decision, will people come, will they understand?….

When Mrs. Williams, Assistant Director General for the Knowledge Department in FAO declared the ShareFair closed, I had shivers down my back, and more so when the crowd in the Green Room spontaneously clapped seeing the names of all the people who contributed to the Fair and its success displayed on the screen in the closing ceremony. It was done..a job well done by all of us. We should all feel very proud!

Only 3 days earlier I was sitting in the main podium of the Plenary Hall trying to explain in two minutes that knowledge sharing was just a way of doing things smarter.

Three days of ShareFair…what are my 3 take home messages:

– You cannot manage knowledge, let is flow, let it grow. Allow others to stand “on the shoulders of the giants”.

– Given the chance, people are eager to share and learn. Reward those who ‘dare to share’.

– People speak differently when they speak to their superiors. Create a safe space where they can talk, express their ideas, their creative juice. Let them grow, your organization will only benefit from it.

Usually at the end of such an intense period, you feel a certain anticlimax. This time it has not happened to me, I still feel the buzz of people walking along the corridors, meeting and talking to people they had not talked to before, even if they worked in the same organizations for years, finding out they had similar issues and together they could find solutions. People asking “when can we do this again”? What else can we, as organizers, ask for?

A heartfelt “thank you” goes to all who worked so hard to make this possible, from the steering committee, to the management who “dared” to support such an event and be ready to ‘face the consequences’, to my fellow CGIAR colleagues who traveled from afar to participate, to the volunteers, the translators, all the unsung heroes….

It is never fair to try and single out a person….but if I were pushed to do so, no hesitation. Gauri Salokhe, an information management officer in FAO, who worked so hard, so relentlessly, so creatively and always with a smile. She has been dubbed by a fellow Steering committee member as the “Saint of the Fair” a title well deserved!

Keep up the energy, we started a movement and we must keep it up!

I presented the KS workshop at the session on KS for Teams. 

I was surprised and perhaps a bit disappointed that the session focused so much on tools and less on KS and teamwork as a process and the principles of it.

Here is a summary of the session:

The first presenter, Benoit Thierry from IFAD, claimed that when he came from the field to bureaucracy he realized how little knowledge staff had about IFADs own projects. He considers each project having its own value Chain which goes from evaluation to KM to Communication. That is why the M&E system has to be strengthened so that KM issue can be identified and communication processes improved and fine tuned. Benoit asks each of his project teams to have its own website and to work along a Project Knowledge Pyramid that links the project value chain to HQ as well as to local governments and users. He insists in the use of tools like YouTube or Google, or any other media to show his teams that they are able to produce relevant Knowledge. ¨It is amazing how the local teams were strengthened through this process¨ he said.

In my presentation of the workshop I highlighted the action learning principle of our concept where participants get to understand their context better through a Social Networking Analysis and select a project or issue related to their work and to which they would like to apply the learnings. The workshop is a team exercise in itself where each online session or face to face dynamic unfolds using KS tools, methods and principles.

Nicholas MacGowan von Holstein presented us Twidox, a document uploading tool that allows organization to create digital repositories and libraries.

Wolfgang Prante introduced us to the context in which he developed a team working and information sharing tool for a internal division at FAO. The software allows the team members to share information, keep documents, to have online discussions and more. First feedback is positive, also the team uses more the information sharing features of the application then the interactive ones (forums, blogs)

Johannes Keizer from FAO brought up his case about the moment when he wanted to create a better work environment through an online tool where his team was asked to share their work. The first attempt was quite a failure as he admits and the application was called The Devil as it created an atmosphere of competition and also because the media wiki was not the right tool. Johannes didn’t give up but changed his strategy. He decided to change the tool and to use it just for himself at first, and sharing the updates with the team who could join, but this time it was not mandatory. The tool is a HTTP setup that all FAO can see, which a login for team members, and a mash up of news, the colleagues own blogs, and a tagging system that allows to retrieve content easily

In the discussion a question was about how to help users to get tool to be used and how much discipline should have to use the same tool. I was happy to be able to make my point on the need to build trust in a team through strong f2f interaction, which allows the team then to feel more comfortable in their online interaction. I was also emphasizing that in my experience it is much more efficient to choose one tool per purpose, even with the risk to have to use multiple tools within a team, rather than trying to find or develop the “one tool that does everything”. Finally my third point was to build on the strengths of a team-champion who is excited about team work and who the others trust and follow in the exploration and adoption of tools and approaches this person suggests.

At the end of the session we went around the circle to summarize some important points for the participants, as:

  • There are many tools: which one is right?
  • We can strengthen teams by showing them that they can produce relevant Knowledge
  • We need to build trust. No trust, no team work.
  • The right tool is the tool you like
  • There are many tools but you need to control your time and have a clear purpose
  • Choose the right tool for the right job
  • I feel dizzy by the number of tools out there
  • For KS to happen we need a cultural change in our bureaucracies
  • Choose the tool and adapt it to people’s way of working
  • Life is an experiment
  • Tools work better when there is trust among the team members
  • Team work is not easy. We need tools

After a mad dash through the Colosseo to get into FAO this morning, I barely have time to acknowledge that this will probably be the last time I use this route for this week anyway – Sharefair 09 ends today. On that note, my first task is to facilitate discussions on ‘Assessment Methodologies and Learning for Policy-making’. A quick check-in with the FAO presenters working on ‘Livelihood adaptation to Climate Change’ reveals their need for recommendations to take their project to policy makers – How do we get their attention?

A peer-assist is what we decide on. The participants here are resources who would be a great opportunity for the FAO group to tap into. Following an extensive look into their project and the communication tools they produced based on their research in Bangladesh, we jump right into a discussion on the challenges the group was facing. It was exciting to see such involvement and sharing, which reinforces my belief that people generally like to share BUT lack the time and the trust-based environment to do so.

It was with some difficulty that I had to bring the session to a close, when obviously, many in the group had warmed up to debate and explore the issues/recommendations put forth.

A little note though – someone in the group said “we need a whole day to get to the heart of this”. I disagree. If the project problem/ challenge is visualised clearly in less than 10 mins, I believe 2 hours of facilitated discussion is probably what you would need to get the desired results. Explaining your problem in a concise, crystal clear manner goes a long way in starting a discussion with people whom you reach out to. Having a facilitator helps to cut out the white noise and keeps the focus on the desired outcome. Just my two cents…

Peter Ballantayne, given the honour of leading us through the closing to this exciting event, told us that we will be getting an idea of what information is already available on the Share Fair and then we will have a conversation.

He started by running through some key highlights (on powerpoint!) from the Share Fair:

  • More than 700 registered, 112 sessions, 160+ official contributions
  • Photos available online
  • social reporting has been going on throughout the fair
  • Tree of Knowledge-was an interesting feature (that even moved during the event)
  • Plenary opening
  • conversations in the booths
  • a fishbowl-with glass bowl included!!
  • alot of training–despite the short time people got to get a taste of what some tools can be valuable for and a little of how to use them
  • THE BAR!
  • …” and finally the inaguration of Obama!”

What did we all talk about?

Peter presented a tag cloud of the words that were used in the programme. Major words included- knowledge, sharing, iafd, fao, cgiar, rural

Again last night he went onto a share fair blog and used woordle again to develop a tag cloud to see what had been talked about–knowledge, methods, see, sharing, people, useful, project

Who made this possible?:

  • alot of volunteers
  • facilitators and trainers
  • steering committee
  • participants

What are some of the visible outputs?

  • 40+ video blips
  • 150+ tweets
  • 130+delicious bookmarks
  • 50+blogposts (30 from ictkm)
  • 250+ photos
  • only 3 powerpoints
  • 22 training sessions with more than 400 people going to them
  • Facebook page
  • 90 second challenge (video clips of people saying what knowledge sharing means for their organisation)

What is the added-value of knowledge sharing?–let’s see what people had to say:

  • “is nothing but added value!”

A survey was done about the Share Fair and so far from the results we can tell you that the best learning moment was—Hands-on training sessions.

Peter then invited all participants to think about what the Share Fair meant for them, what they liked or not, what was a highlight, what did they learn. He asked people to gather with a few people around them and to discuss this and then he will go around and see what the groups came up with.

“What do you take away with you from this fair?that you will act upon?”

Peter went around the room getting people to share their perceptions–and these were captured on Twitter immediately and shown on the screen(available on Share Fair website).

 Lorraine Williams from FAO gave some concluding remarks, congratulating all on a successful event.

 “Knowledge is not power–sharing is power” a quote from Peter’s favourite leaf from the Tree of Knowledge

I was very happy to attend the Share Fair session where the FAO Official Representatives Web site was presented. Not that I have much to do with its content. But the person who designed and developed the site, Maria Grazia Bovo, was one of our alumni in the first KS workshop. When we started the workshop this web site didn’t exist and Maria Grazia designed the site as the workshop unfolded.

It was fabulous to see it up and running now and I really liked the site:

  • It has a sober FAO design adapted to its user group
  • It has blog lines that are daily updated
  • It also allows non official representatives who work at FAO to access lots of information through the Intranet
  • It has a Google calendar with all FAO events and it allows to follow webcasts and offers podcasts through a clever mash up with other parts of FAOs Intranet.
  • In addition it is now the only way to access important information that was beforehand distributed via fax o paper copies, a good way to get users on board and increase consultations.

Bravo Maria!