Talk:CTLab:Big Picture

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Adrian 2012/07/12

In a previous thread Neil raised the question of making ‘it easier for users to find the community that is right for them, quickly and easily’. I think this important question opens up all sorts of other issues and prompts me to ask a wider and more ‘wicked’ question at this stage in these discussions: In an increasingly challenging funding environment what can providers of online interactive spaces do together to a) deliver greater value for their own users, b) demonstrate better value for money to their funders and c) sustain and grow the richness and diversity of the landscape, especially the more vulnerable (and Southern-based) spaces?

I’d like to open up an area of discussion to explore the technologies that might be within our collective reach (with the appropriate strategies, resources, skills and political will) to respond to these ‘big picture’ challenges. My belief is that none of us can effectively tackle these independently but many of us could probably contribute something to the development of solutions that might be somehow helpful. Who knows, we might even have some agenda-setting and fundraising clout if we approach things as a crowd.

Here’s a few areas for starters I’m hoping might be of interest to members on this list:

  • Connecting platforms e.g. CMS plug-ins, user passports,
  • Linking data e.g. APIs, shared taxonomies, big data initiatives and standards
  • Making sense of content e.g. semantic analysis tools, trending tools
  • Signposting through editorial processes e.g. social bookmarking
  • Supporting diversity of perspective e.g. amplification of Southern voices, translation tools, building safe spaces for democratic debate
  • Measuring analytics across the social and linked web e.g. data-sharing protocols

For me it is important to bring together people with hard and soft skills (and I’m very much a non-techie) into such discussions, so technologies can be tied in with structures and systems necessary to make them useful. I would say this is an essential role that ‘technology stewards’ should be playing in their organisations and beyond. So it would be great if those people already here could bring in their (more or less technical) colleagues to contribute as appropriate.

I look forward to comments and responses about this proposition, and also to examples of recent work or ideas for new avenues to explore from people here and their collaborators. One request though – please make every effort to explain or reference explanations elsewhere to jargon, potentially unfamiliar terms or technologies so that we can make the space accessible for the broadest range of contributors!

Neil 2012/07/12

"what can providers of online interactive spaces do together to a) deliver greater value for their own users, b) demonstrate better value for money to their funders and c) sustain and grow the richness and diversity of the landscape, especially the more vulnerable (and Southern-based) spaces?"

I find these questions to be inspiring, and I would add an even higher-level, strategic question "What can providers of online interactive spaces do to increase their individual and collective impact on international (health and) development?"

My feeling is that your questions, and this higher-level question, are not yet being adequately addressed, and there is a huge potential for us to do so. The technologies that might help to respond to these questions, including the 'few areas for starters' that you list, would be only a part of the solution.

These strategic discussions take us beyond the remit of ctlab, and into the scope of KM4Dev and beyond. But each of us, as 'technology stewards' or 'CoP facilitators', has a unique understanding of the potential of CoPs, and a vision/sense of how this potential might be developed, both strategically and/or technologically.

Peter 2012/07/13

In between Adrian lines ...

In a previous thread Neil raised the question of making ‘it easier for users to find the community that is right for them, quickly and easily’.

Peter: fortunately KM4Dev doesn't have this problem. What we can improve though on all pointing platforms (e.g. linkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and our corporate platforms (Ning, dGroups, Wiki) is to show a visual roadmap to all options KM4Dev offers (e.g. ning and its groups and other features, dlists, wiki) and their typical purpose.

I think this important question opens up all sorts of other issues and prompts me to ask a wider and more ‘wicked’ question at this stage in these discussions: In an increasingly challenging funding environment

Peter: I fail to see how and why funding comes in (as in external funding? what about membership fees and/or crowd funding, social funding?). I mean either people feel to create or join a community (CoP) or not. And if the community is worth it, members will contribute (in cash or kind) accordingly.

what can providers of online interactive spaces do together

Peter: what kind of providers are you thinking of Adrian? Who would be the provider in KM4Dev???

to a) deliver greater value for their own users, b) demonstrate better value for money to their funders

Peter: old fashioned thinking about funding mechanisms I'm afraid.

and c) sustain and grow the richness and diversity of the landscape, especially the more vulnerable (and Southern-based) spaces?

Peter: we have a meeting with SA-GE (KM4Dev) Burkina on Saturday, I'll raise this, but as of now I do not have the impression Southern based platforms are necessarily more vulnerable than anything around Karlsruhe or Phoenix.

I’d like to open up an area of discussion to explore the technologies that might be within our collective reach (with the appropriate strategies, resources, skills and political will) to respond to these ‘big picture’ challenges.

Peter: can you mention examples of what type of technologies you have in mind? PayPal?

* Connecting platforms e.g. CMS plug-ins, user passports,

Peter: user passports? Connecting: definitively and KM4Dev can do better than we do so far

* Linking data e.g. APIs, shared taxonomies, big data initiatives and standards

Peter: I can't follow, sorry not enough of a techie.

* Making sense of content e.g. semantic analysis tools, trending tools

Peter: ???

* Signposting through editorial processes e.g. social bookmarking

Peter: okay but how would this exactly work and benefit the community's health?

* Supporting diversity of perspective e.g. amplification of Southern voices, translation tools, building safe spaces for democratic debate

Peter: okay no experience with political sensitive groups. Translation: start small start cheap use and promote the use of Google Translate.

* Measuring analytics across the social and linked web e.g. data-sharing protocols

Peter: we are trying at KM4Dev, it is expensive thing to do!

Charles 2012/07/13

Adrian raise a very important issue!

The development that we are trying to influence through KM happens in many diverse languages at local level. How can providers of online spaces such as DGroup take these issues into account? The language through which a technology is crafted has an enormous influence on how such a technology functions. That's why the Chinese are adapting Western technology into their own language first before using it.

While SA-GE (KM4Dev) is a noble idea, to what extent is it going to get direction from local languages spoken by the majority of West Africans? Is SA-GE (KM4Dev) a reaction to the dominance of English language in KM4Dev? The same question can be asked for the Spanish Version of KM4Dev.

If we put our minds together, isnt it possible use online spaces for creative something that meshes, for instance, French and Fulani?

Neil 2012/07/13

Peter: fortunately KM4Dev doesn't have this problem. What we can improve though on all pointing platforms (e.g. linkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and our corporate platforms (Ning, dGroups, Wiki) is to show a visual roadmap to all options KM4Dev offers (e.g. ning and its groups and other features, dlists, wiki) and their typical purpose.

I raised the problem of making ‘it easier for users to find the community that is right for them, quickly and easily’ as a global issue, not specifically an internal KM4Dev issue. There are thousands of CoPs dealing with international development, and collectively we are not as effective as we might be, partly because of fragmentation, duplication, failure to share lessons learned, and also because it is not easy for users (or indeed us as CoP facilitators) to make sense of what is happening/available.

  • Measuring analytics across the social and linked web e.g. data-sharing protocols

Peter: we are trying at KM4Dev, it is expensive thing to do!

If a case can be made that web analytics can strengthen CoPs and thereby have a greater impact on international development, it should be possible to obtain pro bono support from a web analytics company, particularly if they have a Corporate Social Responsibility programme (eg SAS: http://www.sas.com/company/csr/index.html ).

Adrian 2012/07/13

One example of technology playing a role in terms of multilingual support that I’ve come across is the Google website translator (https://translate.google.com/manager/) that can be used to dynamically translate content i.e. when a page loads translate it in situ according to a user’s preferences.

I recently helped to co-facilitate the RioDialogues event last month that UNDP organised on their Teamworks platform, which brought together 63,000 participants from over 190 countries around sustainable development concerns – if you browse to the following page you should see the Google Translate drop-down bar appear in action: https://www.riodialogues.org/

During that discussion, I’ve no doubt that the toolbar played a useful role in enabling individuals who didn’t speak each other’s languages at all to engage and share perspectives (but I haven’t seen any numbers or narrative to qualify this). But I would add that there remain issues with the quality of translation that such automated tool provide, and challenges for how platforms indicate to users which content is being translated and when.

Is anyone on this list involved with UNDP or the developers behind Teamworks? It would be great to hear first-hand examples of implementing this kind of tool or user feedback on its effectiveness.

And does anyone have experience of working in non-technical ways across linguistic boundaries (and especially where English is not used at all)? Or perhaps ideas for how we could work together to be more effective where it matters in pushing and pulling ideas over these barriers?

Peter 2012/07/15

I increasingly, in various contexts and groups, use google translator. Translator is built-into Chrome (probably currently the best browser). The great thing is that Translator is social and crowd-based improved and indeed improves constantly!

Jaap 2012/07/15

Yes, for the WAWASH KM team we agreed on going Chrome / Google and it works! I can at least understand the French / Swahili!!