KM4Dev Technology Assessment Group Work Area

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Preliminary word of caution on TAG and future TSGroup - 10 December 2012

During the 2012 - 2013 IFAD funded research on the future of the KM4Dev community, the [CTLab component] recommended to address the [Technology Stewardship] of KM4Dev. Very briefly the recommendation is to create a Technology Stewardship Group (TSGroup) as a sub-committee of the KM4Dev Coregroup (report on Google Docs). The TSGroup would consist of about 4-5 people at most, of which the chair and one other member are active members of the Coregroup. The reason being that Technology Stewardship should be integral part of managing the community. The TSGroup would retain close relationship with "techies" who provide backup and pure technical support on the various technologies that KM4Dev is using.
Note that currently (early 2014) neither the former TAG nor the TSGroup are in place!
Tech support (please edit and improve) currently is provided on request by:

  • dGroup lists by Damir Simunic
  • wiki by Davide Piga
  • Ning by Jaap Pels
  • Facebook group by Peter J Bury
  • Twitter account by Jaap Pels
  • LinkedIn group by Peter J Bury
  • Google+ community by Davide Piga and Peter J Bury

Terms of Reference for the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) - 2009

Given the following pre-identified criteria:

  • Email-based system
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Preferably Open Source (OS)
  • Similar CMS functionalities (i.e. adding documents, links, photos, videos, books, member profiles, etc.) + wiki, Journal, potentially blog
  • Simplified authentification mecanism (i.e. username/password administration)

... and the key considerations discussed at the Almada workshop:

  • If willing to not be OS, online platforms (e.g. Ning) that allows users to create social networks could be considered because the maintenance is minimal
  • OS applications are more work and require people to maintain
  • Importance of privacy, non-commercial - not belong to a major brand
  • Importance of building on things that already exist (e.g. Dgroups mailing list)
  • Reaching more developing country participants (e.g. looking at mobile phone functionality or Twitter)

...the TAG will:

  • (a) identify the types of activities which need to be supported by technology and from that, suggest potential technologies and platforms for consideration by the KM4dev Core group
  • (b) provide technical advice on what solutions are available and feasible, given limited resources (both human and financial)
  • (c) make a recommendation to the Core group on which solution should be implemented in September 2008
  • (d) provide feedback on potential content architecture (to be developed by another group)
  • (e) help recruit members of diverse technical and style preference to test possible platforms so that any technical selection is informed by not only technical specs, but the social and experience aspects of the larger community

Contextual Issues and Questions Raised by TAG - 2009

  • Do we have clarity about the diverse community needs, which creates a very real tension between what might be cool and useful but which cannot be useful in limited bandwidth settings. What are our values around that diversity? Do we not use things because they can't be done w/ dialup or do we exclude those who can't get the access? Where is the space in between?
  • Using/participating/networking with KM4Dev is a personal choice of professionals in this field. Meaning there is 90% personal professional motivation for the KM individual in an organisation, and 10% organisational support, in paricipating/contributing to KM4Dev (Lucie may correct me here).
  • What are the potential number of the individuals and organisations that are participating in KM4Dev now?
  • What would be the expected growth rate of individuals and organisations that would be participating in KM4Dev in next 5 years?
  • What are the common tasks/deliverables of KM4Dev individual participants in her organisation? What are the benefits/services/incentives KM4Dev currently offering in fulfilling those tasks in her work? What are the benefits/services/incentives KM4Dev can offer in next 5 years in order to fulfill those tasks?
  • What are the expectations of the organisations? What are the roles of partnerships, collaborations in KM4Dev? How can organisations take advantage for their 10% contribution/participation?
  • How can KM4Dev position itself in making itself viable and visible for the participants?
  • Because we are a loose network that really reacts more than plans, what does it mean to plan for the future? Does this mean we should take small, iterative steps rather than trying to plan some big migration?
  • Wouldn't it be interesting to see how we could customise larger platforms (like facebook, linkedin, ning) for our purposes rather than creating our own new one? - Ref: - Marc.steinlin's comments August 14

What KM4dev Community Activities do we need to support? - 2009

The following indicates broader activity areas followed by comments of TAG members. The broader activity areas also build upon research that Nancy White and some of her colleagues have been doing in regards to online collaboration as a guideline to assist in the grouping of TAG feedback.

Open-ended Conversations

  • A communication mechanism for the exchange of experiences and a space to be able to ask for help / solutions for ones own problems
    • related with the challenges people are facing in their work
    • this is a big part of who we are, this back and forth, those discussions/exchanges
    • to learn what km4dev-ers are doing
    • education and career development, to learn from the kmdev community
    • online Discussion tool (currently DGroups)
    • the discussion of some issues, more conceptual, where the participants express the state of their reflections.
    • increasing participation from people in emerging markets
  • Blogs (individual participation/voice)
  • Member/participant feedback and decision making
    • polling,voting
  • Highlighting key learning
    • wiki knowledge base
  • Subgroups/privacy - Supporting for ad-hoc working groups, sub-communities and teams
    • private - whose proceedings are not automatically distributed to the entire community, but which are accessible to those who wish to see them.
    • private spaces (at least for this type of discussion) that is not public and indexed by search engines so people feel more compelled to share their opinions
    • these sub-groups may have different working methods from the main community - in particular they will need to reach conclusions from their discussions.
    • group blog with RSS and email notification (for sub groups like TAG)
    • it should have space for communities and teams
  • Translation between languages
    • parallel discussions in other languages


  • Member/participant feedback and decision making
    • polling, voting
  • At-a-distance participation in a face-to-face meeting
    • conferencing calls
    • online meetings
    • sharing presentations
  • Collaborative note-taking for online or face-to-face meetings
    • wiki
  • Archiving
    • past km4dev workshops

Content - Creating and accessing information

  • Uploading and sharing document files
    • sharing content/expertise/documents/photos/audio/video/
    • KM4D Journal
  • Commenting on, annotating, and discussing content
    • learning from the knowledge base
    • KM F.A.Q.
    • KM4dev Job Centre
    • currently have website and wiki
    • to be able to collaboratively contribute
  • Shared events/calendar
  • Archiving
    • past km4dev workshops

Individual Participation

  • Open-source portal where members could subscribe to feeds that will give them what they want on - say weekly basis
  • Members could fill out their profile and list their areas of expertise
  • To Do List - along with the capability to create to dos with an associated timelines and who is the party assigned to each to do


  • KM4D Journal
  • KM F.A.Q.

Access to expertise

  • A space to be able to ask for help / solutions for ones own problems
    • related with the challenges people are facing in their work
  • Directory of members - Who's Who? Profiles/Access to expertise/contact info
    • membership Management- profile updates,
    • mapping members / sharing location information
    • network with fellow KM4Dev-ers (personal and organisational profile)
    • facebook style approach, where members can follow each others daily activities
    • members could fill out their profile and list their areas of expertise
    • perhaps our wiki could be the receptacle of those profiles: we could go to a main page of members of KM4Dev, organized by continents, open an empty page, write down our profiles according to the outline you developed, including photo, and perhaps include some other stuff


  • The annual km4dev meeting
    • support for km4dev meeting activities virtually
      • IM - eg twitter
      • wiki
      • website

Serving a Context International Development - so an open, outward facing way of existing

  • Public Face for the Community
    • website to showcase km4dev
    • website could become a showcase for KM technologies, and for the talents of technology developers(?)
    • website that allows for posting news items
    • website that allows books titles to be shared
  • Offering community content to the world
    • tagging of content eg. photos flickr
    • documents should be associated with a tag cloud, like, to enable search by author or by tag, it should have a wike - like MediaWiki
    • visually display in a way of some sort of map of different networks we are connected to
  • Compatibility
    • api service to connect with others and other services such as Amazon Books?

Ref: - Michael's Summarized July 27th Notes
Ref: - Marc.steinlin's comments August 14
Ref: - How to these group into orientations?
Ref: - Michael's August Message to the Community

Ideas/types of technology that could support km4dev activities - 2009

Note: Terms of Reference for TAG (above)

  • Ning (note - option to pay to have ads removed if need be)
  • Drupal CMS
  • Sakai?
  • Joomla
  • Dgroups - mailing list support and general framework for collaboration - new version coming by early 2009

Specific recommendations in terms of platforms and technology for the km4dev CORE group (2008)

The following is a summary of the recommendations and suggestions. Although no complete consensus emerged, there were certain themes and ideas that continued to resonate within the TAG group. The following tries to summary these thoughts below:

(1) Generally there was a strong sense amongst the group that the km4dev open-ended conversations represent one of the most important and primary activities within the community and that this service should not only be maintained but expanded to include areas for breakout subgroups, and those speaking in other languages. It was also felt the conversational spaces (mailing lists) were the most open and inclusive in terms of one's ability to participate within km4dev and the tool's ability include those in areas where Internet bandwidth is a concern. Thus it has been recommended to strengthen km4dev's current relationship with Dgroups, explore its method of connecting to external platforms, learn what new features Dgroups plan to offer and where gaps exist.

(2) In addition, other activities were also highlighted which have also been deemed very important to km4dev such as content (document sharing etc, km4dev wiki), Individual Participation, Access to Expertise (participants profiles), meetings (km4dev events for those not able to attend), projects (km4dev Journal), and relationships. (See above for more detail). No one tool was identified that could address all these diverse needs, and so it is envisioned that the new platform will be a coupling of platforms. At this point, it is recommended that the km4dev core team consider coupling Dgroups with one other platform to form its core. Suggestions include Ning (service), Drupal (platform) primarily and others mentioned above. Together Dgroups and an additional platform would provide the CORE km4dev platform, with other services, and platforms connecting to them.

(3) Thus in such a scenario, some of the existing platforms like mediawiki which provide support for km4dev wiki activities, could continue to be used as is, at this time without much disruption to its current use and new services like Twitter to compliment meetings could be integrated. Similarly km4dev could become part of the Dgroups transition plan for its new services, with hopefully little disruption to the km4dev dialogues (mailing lists). The primary website functionality would migrate to either Ning, Drupal, or some other platform.

The choice between Ning and Drupal is not readily clear. Below are some issues for the km4dev core team to consider when choosing an alternative to the current Postnuke CMS platform:

  • Ning
    • Free or near free, but no control over what services are available or how they work
    • Advertisement on the free service, none of the pay service
    • Might be bandwidth issue - needs to be checked
    • Uses Open ID for creating one login across platforms
    • Some members of the km4dev community are interested to try using free web 2.0 tools
  • Drupal
    • Open source, but would require a host and some programmer time to setup - the cost is unclear without a clear specification
    • More flexibility
    • Very active development community, healthy state of growth, long future
    • Uses Open ID for creating one login across platforms
    • Several members of the km4dev have advocated for the use of an open source platform
    • Several members of the km4dev community have offered their technical services to assist in the creation of this platform

Below is a list of essential activities and the potential platform/services that could support them:

  • Activity: ongoing community conversations - Dgroups
  • Activity: support community knowledge base - Wiki (currently Mediawiki) and/or CMS like Drupal
  • Activity: support of community relationships/networking - consider Ning / Drupal
  • Activity: support experimentation with new technologies in application in development context- experiment with tools in ad hoc manner and potentially recommend one or more for adoption by community
  • Activity: KM4Dev Journal - Journal might be moved to another platform as of May 2009. km4dev Journal Eds in talks with Routledge but still unconfirmed).

Timeline for Implementation

  • Would like to begin to implement core elements of a new km4dev webspace by the end of 2008, if possible but will probably go into early 2009

Ref: - September 24th 2008 km4dev TAG Skype call

KM4dev Core group decision, following Nov 26 (2009?) Skype call

Full notes from Skype call - Wed Nov 26

Participants: Sophie, Riff, Peter, Camilo, Carl, Vijaya, Denise, Josien and Lucie.


  1. Quick overview of TAG process
  2. Review of recommendations: pros and cons
  3. Decision on how to move forward

KM4Dev-l on dGroups

This section is about anything regarding the KM4Dev-list on dGroups. The KM4Dev-l on dGroups can be viewed here KM4Dev-l

Current main managers of KM4Dev-l: Bruce and Peter J Bury backed-up by Lucie, all member of the Core Group
Technical support on dGroups: Damir (can someone specify his type of support and contact details?)
Current dGroup account holders: Lucie and Riff (needs to be confirmed)

dGroups technical things to know
This section still needs some structuring
if you want non-moderated list, then go to 'admin->edit community settings' (you'll see it on the drop down as 'edit settings') and choose tab 'tools' and turn off 'Moderated'.

Otherwise, if you are thinking about removing 'action required' only for your own messages, for now this is not possible. If email is moderated, it's moderated for everyone. Admins don't need approval for posting from the web.

New admin:

  • add '' as a member (members, add member, paste the email address)
  • then go to admin tab
  • click on 'edit' next to the list of admins
  • remove yourself from the list
  • start typing 'co…' and when your new email appears in the search results, click on it to add it to the list

KM4dev Wiki

The very wiki you are reading right now

KM4dev Ning

This section is about anything regarding the KM4Dev Ning site. The KM4Dev Ning website is here
Current main manager of Jaap Pels also member of the Core Group.
Technical support on Ning: Michael (can someone specify his type of support and contact details?)
Current Ning account holders: Lucie and Riff (needs to be confirmed)

Feedback on the Ning provided before December 2012

1. Your comments on the look & feel of the site - especially re. the links on the front page. Once we agree on the general links, then he'll have the graphic designer make it all look good.

  • color scheme is very gray. Need some LIFE! This is about PEOPLE and knowledge, not suits!
  • "About - maybe move that to the far right so it is easy to find, but not "in the way" (JK: i don't see an "about"? I do think we need a good About, with subpages as there is a lot to explain)
  • Do we expect or hope that blogging will become more important community practice in this ning? In that case, do we want a kind of "main blog" on the front page, where especially relevant blog posts are promoted? I know this works really well in other nings.
  • Resources - higher priority and thus move to the left of the tabs? I'd do resources, then photos, then videos (JK: I find resources very confusing. why not discussions here?, and link to photos and videos (that may be located within the ning or elsewhere) ?)
  • Resources - are they in just as discussions? The navigation and drop down says "add discussion" - I think that will be confusing and may start building discussions on top of resources, etc. With our primary interaction being the list, this seems a bit confusing. Can the resources either be tagged or grouped? Feels like this will become a bit of a mess quickly. Are there no resource modules in Ning?
  • Collaborate - not built out. Not clear the linkage to external wiki, needs text
  • i feel uncomfortable about these categories for discussions... So a participant needs to choose in which of these to post his message or ask his question? Our list now works fine for me so I don't see why we can't have just one big pile here. The threading of the discussions will help to make things manageable and remember there are also the groups for separate discussions. Ordering can be later on by tags (i agree that tags are needed).
  • file management (for docs / pdfs) is difficult in a ning. do we suggest work arounds like an rss feed coming in from a directory or google doc shared directory?

2. Any additional feature we want.

  • Tagging? I felt a gasp of disappointment not to see tagging, tag cloud, etc.
  • on profiles - sort by region, country, language, key knowledge/interest area (build out profile fields some more, tagging, etc)
  • an rss feed in with our delicious tag
  • i support remarks above but also feel we should be "living" in our ning before we do much
  • is it possible to have groups in different languages? if not, should we think about language management? (eg having a new ning linked in a hierarchical way so it acts as a subgroup?)

KM4dev on Twitter

this section needs improvment
@KM4Dev ...named ... and managed by ...
@KMforDEV named KM4Dev is managed by Jaap Pels