Questions about Tech Stewardship in KM4Dev
- I'm hoping this conversation will attract people who will want to help support KM4Dev's own technologies, which are in need of technology stewardship. Those who were doing the job - always informally - have either moved on or some of us are simply burnt out. So we need revitalizing.
- Interested to develop tech stewardship for KM4dev bearing in mind that the email group remains far and away our most important obviously KM4Dev channel, but many of overlapping smaller groups of people in KM4Dev interact in a host of other platforms. I am interested in whether that can be in some way connected, not necessarily technically, but less randomly than happens now. And like Lucie I am worried about operating online without funds. I don't believe we are a strong enough network to ensure that our identity and activity will sustain itself without that support, however much I like to believe it might simply emerge from our normal processes of work and interaction
[Nancy] We have the DGroups email as our core tool, but a lot of activity on the NING site which is not well connected to the DGroup. Plus the wiki (which is currently being upgraded, but as we see, the communications around the tech was not always transparent.) Then we have people off setting up "KM4Dev" groups on other platforms and again, little coordination. So we ourselves are in need of tech stewardship.
[Neil] Very interested to read about KM4Dev's experience with "people off setting up "KM4Dev" groups on other platforms and again, little coordination". Instinctively, I feel that multiple groups with the same agenda, or with undefined agendas, will have less collective impact than one large group, or a manageable number of groups with clear, complementary agendas.
I suspect this is a feature of the entire CoP global ecosystem - lots of duplication and little communication between related CoPs. And this, I fear, could at best be confusing for participants, and at worst will undermine the whole potential of discussion forums for international development.
[Charles] Online CoPs have proved that sometimes learning requires reinventing the wheel. Unless you create something and test it, your learning may be limited. In that regard fragmentation and emergence of different types/size of groups is quite health as it demonstrates that people are doing something and imagining new ways around the technology (some using local languages such as kiSwahili, Hindi, etc). Rather than trying to get all the groups communicating with each other, we may need to just map them and leave them to their own devices. Those which thrive do so according to their purpose while those which die or go dormant will have achieved their goals. We can learn as much duplication as we do through emergence of new things/groups.
[Pete] The KM4Dev community is one of the most coherent I work with: others with which I interact are networks or collections of people and organisations who overlap and come together on projects
I am interested in the overlap of our different platforms, bearing in mind that the email group remains far and away our most important obviously KM4Dev channel, but many of overlapping smaller groups of people in KM4Dev interact in a host of other platforms. I am interested in whether that can be in some way connected, not necessarily technically, but less randomly than happens now. And like Lucie I am worried about operating online without funds. I don't believe we are a strong enough network to ensure that our identity and activity will sustain itself without that support, however much I like to believe it might simply emerge from our normal processes of work and interaction
[Bev] I like the idea of grounding some of our general questions in the case of KM4Dev. With resources for tech stewardship at zero we should be nailing down some of the issues!
Some of Neil's questions imply a certain amount of work for love rather than money. That would tie in with something Nancy said earlier (in her intro) that "Those who were doing the job - always informally - have either moved on or some of us are simply burnt out."
I'd be interested to know from the tech stewards who are still here: what are (or have been) the incentives for doing the tech stewardship of KM4Dev? And what would be the incentives for someone new coming in to take over? Or is "no funding" a good reason for not getting into such an enterprise nowadays - as it gets ever more complex and requires even more coordination and accountability? i.e. what kind of resources and support would it take not to send tech stewards into burn out?
Neil asked some questions about the NING group (which I have not answered!) and this triggered me to share the message I got from a member via NING today which is related to CTLAB! The only way to weave this is for me to do it personally!
Deependra Tandukar commented on Gabriele's group "Technology for KM4DeV" on knowledge management for development
I am looking for video streaming application that you could install in your server and broadcast events at your organisations. If any of you have such experiece, could you share you thoughts please. I am more intereseted in open source - if very good then enterprises software are preferable too.
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I followed the link and discovered all the Ning groups at last. I could not previously find them via the KM4Dev home page. I note that most of the groups are small and quite specialised, so perhaps they tend to serve a different kind of purpose/dynamic than the KM4Dev Dgroup. Also, most have not had any activity in the past 3 months. I have joined a few of them and look forward to following.
What are Dgroups and Ning groups???!!
When I joined KM4Dev about a year ago as far as I could tell I went to the website, signed up and started receiving emails. I’ve asked questions a few times, and contributed a few times, but have mostly lurked and learnt an awful lot from all of you! I am not an IT bod though, and have found the technical side of the discussions both beyond me and largely irrelevant to me (at the moment, though I may find I need to come back to the wiki to learn more another time!). I have heard mention of the Ning groups and Dgroups, but have found these emails discussions satisfactory, and to be honest the level of scanning, reading and deleting of just these emails has been more than enough, so I haven’t wanted to sign up to more! Reading between the lines I’m guessing that I’m signed up to the Dgroup???? (and where are the A, B or C groups?? Are they having even better discussions?! More fun?!)
Perhaps as a KM4dev old-timer I can chime in here. Lizzie, what is referred to "the Dgroup" is basically the mailing list component. So it you receive email messages with the prefix [km4dev-l] in your inbox, you are then subscribed to the Dgroup, a platform which was developed a sort of Yahoo Groups or Google Groups equivalent for the field of international development (hence the "D"!).
What is referred to as Ning is http://www.km4dev.org, which is using a social platform called.... wait for it... Ning! :-)
Now that was the easy part. Neil raises a lot of important questions and I'm not sure if anyone has the answers right now. The Social Network Analysis (SNA) results might shed a bit more light on the membership of the two tools. For those of you you are new to KM4dev, we made the decision to stick with Dgroup and email a while back, since KM4dev started 12 years ago on an email-based system called Lyris (Dgroups' predecessor, to cut a long story short). Ning was the platform that was chosen - for better, for worse - for our web presence, since the recent improvements to the Dgroup web interface were not available 3 years ago. If they had, life would have been much simpler...
The KM4dev.org URL circulates a lot and most people assume that if they sign up there, they are a "km4dev member", which is true. But my experience is that very few people read the first item on the page ("KM4Dev is a community of international development practitioners who are interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches. Our main communication forum is the KM4dev Dgroup. To join the discussion, send a blank email to:.."), so on a few occasion, I've told people about the KM4dev list (aka Dgroup).
But also, there seem to be a lot of people who feel more comfortable in a web environment and make the conscious choice to post there. As I said in another message, for some people, email is so 20th century ;-) Different stokes.
Re. stats or metrics, it's hard to compare the two tools' "memberships". Most people don't fill out the Dgroups info and if I recall from the initial SNA results, about half of the 1500 or so members are anonymous. Sometimes we only have an email address of the "firstname.lastname@example.org" variety and no name, so the cross-referencing would be a fair bit of work.
Just to end on this point, since this message is way too long already: any kind of analysis or comparative study is a big undertaking. With the IFAD grant, we hired someone to undertake the SNA study but a lot more will need to be done in terms of analysis once he finishes his work. This will need to be done by volunteers, as there is no "KM4dev Secretariat", not even a Coordinator (since 2010). There IS a Core group of very busy people who do their best to keep the community afloat. So whilst "looking at how to maximise the potential of the two groups individually and collectively" would be fantastic, we'll need to get a lot more people on board in order to do stuff like this. We are struggling just keeping the monthly admin rotation going!