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[ox] Wissensnetzwerke fuer Entwicklung

Der folgende IRC Dialog zwischen zwei Leuten aus dem 
entwicklungspolitischen NGO-Bereich enthalt vielleicht
einiges an Hintergrunden und Ideen bezuglich Ubertragung
freier Softwareprinzipien auf Wissensnetzwerke,
das auch hier von Interesse ist.... Bemerkenswert
ist, dass die Entwicklung einer gemeinsamen Wissensbasis
so rache Fortschritte macht und sich etabliert, dass
auch die Weltbank nicht mehr so richtig daran vorbei kann,
obwohl sie ursprunglich ganz andere Modelle entwickelte.
Das wird ja interessant!

courtesy of Robert Pollard

Robert Pollard, ecology2001, schreibt

i am enclosing the lightly edited and reorganized transcript of the
irc session that vikas and i had today - both as a way of sharing some
of the thoughts and plans for the ffd process, and also as a
demonstration of the power of irc as a medium for communication in an
ict-enabled knowledge-networking environment

you may notice that i have tried to organize the conversation on
logical lines - and that as the dialogue is presented, it does not
represent the actual time sequence of what was written

from a practical perspctive, in terms of the economy of time and
effort, vikas and i had met in an irc session for a total of two
hours - although we were not both present at the same time until
about fifteen minutes after we started

neither vikas or i expended any significant energy or resources
to participate in the meeting. i moved from my chair once or twice,
other than that there were no travel costs incurred, my desk and
computer are less than ten feet from my bed - nor was there
any cost for using the meeting room nor any connection charges

it took me just about half an hour to clean up - spell check,
combine broken messages, etc, and resequence the transcript -

i would like to see if we can convene a series of online meetings
- to focus on various aspects of the financing for development
forum - and related processes - perhaps beginning with one that
would focus on hiv-aids in children, as there appears to be a
great opportunity for synergy, and greeat value in implementing
/ participating in a comprehensive gis-based mapping of hiv-aids
related information in the context of drawing attention the need
to finance the treatment and prevention of hiv-aids - especially
among children - as a priority for the financing for development
process, given the massive current and projected human - and
human development costs - of the burgeoning hiv-aids epidemic

as i wrote the above, i also realized that a similar effort
needs to be conducted in relation to the massive epidemic
of child victims of war - which could also hopefully serve to
support linda israel's efforts with mamas' - mothers against
military aggression in sierra leone - where she has been for
the last two weeks or so - see
for more background on the project

in peace


Session Start: Sat Jan 27 09:55:52 2001

[09:55] *** Now talking in #ffd

[09:55] <robert-p> hi

[09:56] <robert-p> you are early

*** Retrieving #ffd info...

[09:56] *** robert-p changes topic to 'update on ffd process'

[10:09] <robert-p> i am popping in and out of here while doing
some other ffd work in the background

[10:14] <robert-p> when you come back, feel free to start writing
on whatever

[10:10] <knownet> sorry, i had a long phonecall- just back from

[10:15] <robert-p> [phonecall] i figured something like that had

[10:15] <robert-p> one of the things about irc is that it doesn't
matter much about being exactly on time, as whoever is waiting
can continue with his or her work - and interruptions - without
any real inconvenience

[10:14] <robert-p> i have just updated the home page for - including a link to knownet initiative

[10:15] <knownet> Thanks, I will just have a look at the webpage
simultaneously. I too was updating a few things on the website.

[10:17] <robert-p> [website] i had an odd experience on knownet
when viewing it through opera - which i am getting to find quite
a useful browser, although it still seems to have a few bugs, and
i haven't figured out how to do everything that i want to with it

[10:18] <knownet> [updated ffd-forum site] thanks for the link to
Knownet. I checked out and it is working fine.

[10:19] <knownet> [opera] I have not used the Opera Browser so
far but I do have heard about it.

[10:21] <robert-p> try it - from - i came across
some interesting background about it - it is designed to run on
many platform, including beos, linux, mac and windows - and epoc
- although that is not a familiar os to me - and seems to be
positioning itself to be a general purpose internet tool,
combining e-mail and browsing, with what seems very compatible
with a relational database underlying structure

[10:22] <knownet> [knownet] The entire KnowNet site is created
from free internet resources so there might be a problem when
viewing from different browsers. The centre for Digital Culture
at Virginia Tech University however backs up my entire site on
their server.

[10:23] <robert-p> [problem] i have previously noticed some
differences between browsers in terms of their interpretation of
codes and their fault-tolerance of coding - in general netscape
seems to be more fault-tolerant in my experience

[10:25] <knownet> [problem] You are right. I too feel Netscape
gives much better viewing of most websites but a lot of people
have switched to internet explorer though from the statistics I
get from my other sites.

[10:25] <robert-p> [opera] opera has a relationship with
earthlink - which might be an interesting line to explore;
earthlink is the second largest isp in the us - after aol - and
they are well-connected with many earth-friendly - and through
mindspring, imaginative - subscribers

[10:28] <knownet> [earthlink] I think I am still quite naive
about ISP issues and providers but I am building up an interest
about it. But a lot of people who subscribe to some of my email
services from US do have the email id with a earthlink suffix.

[10:30] <robert-p> [isp issues] while a lot of people appear to
be indifferent as to what their domain means, there is a growing
trend for people to choose domains that "speak to their
condition" - that say something about who they are. i think this
is especially true among people who think more deeply about what
their internet identity - or identities - mean as a statement
about who they are

[10:31] <robert-p> [identity] for example yesterday, on
intuition, i decided to register the domain
- administrator is urban farmer; owner is whitehaven and whitgift
trust; contact email is composting

[10:33] <knownet> [identity] Are you going to use that domain
name in context of FFD?

[10:38] <robert-p> [identity] yes - indeed part of the strategy
of ffd-forum will be to develop links within an evolving network
of domains - both from among those that i have registered - under
various aliases and organizations - and those of organizations
and people who participate in the ffd forum network

[10:38] <robert-p> [design] more generally, i see the development
of the various domains as part of an operationalizing of
information ecology design principles

[10:27] <robert-p> [the works] incidentally, after looking into
opera a little, the translation form the latin - ie the works -
came to my mind - which is quite a good name for an integrated
software package

[10:28] <robert-p> [free software] i would like to put together -
in conjunction with knownet - information and resources - and
database templates and guides - on dataperfect and firestorm,
both of which are freely available

[10:31] <knownet> [free software] that should be a good idea.
more people could join the ICT-knowledge networks from developing
countries if they could get information and access to these free
resources/ software.

[10:33] <robert-p> [free software] the dataperfect users group is
a very helpful one, and almost all question / problems raised are
answered very promptly - perhaps it might make sense to set up
some lists for user groups of the various software packages /
tools that we recommend and/or provide information on

[10:35] <robert-p> [scripts] there is a lot of free information
available about scripts online, and i think it could be very
helpful to make some connections in that direction, as they are
very powerful tools - for example allowing people to register on
line, with [semi-]automatic export of the information into a
database, and semi-automatic subscription to lists that one has
registered for

[10:39] <knownet> [scripts and ICT volunteers] In my experience,
in developing countries, websites are often under a control of a
single person who usually has a bit of technical background. So I
try to popularise the idea of ICT-Volunteers who could conduct
online/offline training courses for such individuals about these
new developments in software and scripts and how they could use
it for their use. Nevertheless, I am trying to ensure equal focus
on the content part of th

[10:36] <knownet> [data perfect] I will add a mention about
DataPerfect in my website on free resources once I get the hang
of Data perfect for my own searches. I need to find some more
time to keep updated with more of these free software
developments and put the good ones on my website. I generally aim
my website for groups/ volunteers in developing countries.

[10:41] <robert-p> [url database] of the things that i would like
to do with dataperfect is to fine tune the part of my database
that is set up for publications and domains, so that it can house
- in conjunction with a multi-level classification system - data
that can be readily generated as web pages - simply by running a
report - with appropriate parameters - to create update web sites

[10:41] <knownet> [content] Content is the THING for any website.
Software tools could help in creation of first generation
websites but content-training is a difficult yet a crucial part.
Ensuring better and strategic use of this content is a step
forward to it.

[10:42] <robert-p> [content] part of what i am convinced is
important in relation to content is the structure and
organization of material - so that the content can readily become
accessible in its logical / natural places in the web

[10:47] <knownet> [content] you are right about structure and
organisation of content so that it becomes easy to access.
However, at the most of the southern websites have very little
content on them except for organisational details and contact
addresses etc. They need to be trained/ guided/ sensitised to the
fact that simply accessing information from the web is not
important but it is equally significant to ensure that the right
information about your organisation reaches the right people-
including policy makers, local officers, etc

[10:47] <robert-p> [url database] by setting up a url database,
we could offer a framework within which it would be possible to
compile the knowledge base developed by all the participants in a
knowledge network - which would help to address another aspect,
namely a way of gathering a relatively large amount of data in a
decentralized, open-input, method - and then being able to
generate added value by integrating each contribution into a
large body - which could also include some form of review
process, both as to the accuracy and adequacy of the
classification and as to the value of the content

[10:51] <robert-p> [link] - and is also connected in with other
relevant networks, communities, information and resources -
allowing access to them and the value they represent - to
visitors to one's domain

[10:53] <knownet> [decentralised, open-input databases] I totally
agree with you about the need for such a thing but often
organisations do not think at such levels and their
web-strategies (in developing countries) are often more tuned to
their operations as a single identity and therefore creating
synergies with other knowledge banks becomes an unnecessary task
for them unless some other intermediary organisation does it on
its own.

[10:55] <robert-p> [unless] exactly - and at the moment, the most
money - eg world bank - is going to projects that do not have a
data-networking model at the centre of the conceptual framework

[10:57] <knownet> [buying-in the process] I see that the most
difficult task often becomes to bring in new organisations who
are totally unconnected with Knowledge networking processes into
such kinds of networks. At the moment, I feel that some
organisations often become represented in different networks
which implies that the knowledge products do not necessarily get
enriched but just differently packaged and we are not able to get
a spread effect going.

[10:59] <robert-p> [gateway] i was at the gdg briefing on
wednesday; i arrived near the end, but was able to get in a good
question/statement/comment about the world bank / gdg model, and
the need to focus more attention on the development of
community-based domains. i spoke with michael potashnik, carlos
braga (infodev) and monique garrity - un rep for wb - and they
were very receptive to my input, and i am drafting a message to
them proposing their support form as a
demonstration of an alternative, community and domain-based
model, based on information ecology principles and practices - as
well as a way of using the gateway to enable broad-based
participation from developing countries in dialogue and
consultation on the ffd process

[11:00] <knownet> [world bank model] I see the world bank model
in two ways. In some ways it is propagating the fact that
knowledge networking is a resource intensive method- which in
fact it is not if done in the right way. And this needs to be
demonstrated through actual models. But on the other hand, world
bank has managed to create a lot of ICT-knowledge networking
awareness in countries who would not have done it on their own.
So it has two sides to it.

[11:02] <robert-p> [sides] yes. i think the bank is clearly
paying a lot of attention to ict as a critical issue in
development, and agree that they have done a lot - along with
undp, and most of the bodies, programmes and agencies of the un -
to bolster the profile of ict and to highlight it as a technology
that offers great benefits and economies

[11:05] <knownet> [gdg] It is a healthy development what you had
with the gateway team. Somehow, the initial resistance seems to
have slowed down a bit and the GDG team has learned a few lessons
too about how to do things in a more open and participatory
manner. I am sure their being receptive to use the gateway for
ffd-process is a good sign for the work you are doing and to the
communities at large - as these community-based domains will have
to become central to GDG.

[11:06] <robert-p> [shortcomings] the shortcomings of most of
these initiatives are mostly based, in my opinion, on the fact
that the key decision-makers have not had much hands-on
experience of the limitations of inadequate equipment,
connectivity and resources, have followed a natural tendency
towards relatively centralised structures, and have not
incorporated a clear conceptual framework - and supporting
information architecture - within which to organize and make
readily accessible - the substantial bodies of information and
documentation that they house and/or are networked with

[11:10] <knownet> [shortcomings] You are right about the
shortcomings but it is a natural outcome of not being on the
other side of the ICT. i.e not accessing internet from a dial-up
account and on paying exorbitant prices for the same. it is an
altogether different ICT world there and that has not been
focused upon in the major meetings due to inadequate

[11:14] <robert-p> [representation] yes, definitely, and part of
the mission of ffd-forum is to offer a framework within which the
many diverse perspective from those who have been inadequately
represented can be organized and presented in a reasonably
coherent and systematic manner

[11:14] <knownet> [human shortcomings] You are right about the
technical shortcomings but an even more crucial is the lack of
the right threshold of individuals and organisations in
developing countries who understand the utility of ICT-networking
and how they could use it to their advantage. Ironically,
countries like India have been able to export such knowledge
workers to other countries but not able to use them to their

[11:17] <robert-p> [ict-networking] yes, another part of the
mission of ffd-forum is to make a clear and compelling
demonstration of the advantages - by using - in a synergetic
manner - those tools that make those advantages most readily
accessible - to us in our demonstration, and to those who are
exposed to the information

[11:20] <knownet> [ict-networking] conducting demonstrations of
these models and advocating them persistently to
people/organisations/ projects who are influential in shaping the
guiding policies should be one of the key  focus. And this would
involve building a strong stakeholder group to promote this

[11:12] <robert-p> [synergies] btw, i would like to connect you
with margarita pacheco and adrian atkinson at new synergies for
development - - margarita - and possibly
adrian too - will be a un rep in geneva for information habitat;
adrian had been an associate professor (i think) at development
planning unit, ucl. i would like to work with them on irc, and to
develop a partnership initiative with them built around a vision
of realizing the potentials for synergy in a knowledge-based

[11:16] <knownet> [connect] I am sorry, I do not know these
people but I am sure they would be able to use their expertise
and knowledge in this process. btw, I met Ruth yesterday and came
to know in greater detail about the work she is doing and the
networks she is involved with. Funnily we seem to know a few
people in between us.

[11:22] <robert-p> [ruth] i am glad that you met ruth, i am not
surprised that there are people you both know; it would be really
great if you could help ruth use irc as she is a wonderful
person, with lots of great things to say, and with many very
interesting friends and colleagues with whom she has worked; i
think irc would be a great medium both for ruth to share more of
what she is working on, and also to get practical and logistical
support for those projects through synergies that already exist,
or that can easily be developed within the knowledge networks
that we are cultivating

[11:27] <knownet> [ruth] This was more of an introductory meeting
to get some insight of our work. She certainly has quite a good
experience and network though only recently she has entered into
the ICT-fray but she has learned really fast. I would certainly
like to synergise more with the work she is doing and planing to
do in future. Time commitment is however a perpetual limiting
factor at the moment as I am trying to fulfil the present
commitments I have made- most of which on my own- namely to keep
learning new things and advocating them!

[11:23] <knownet> [ffd- forum] How are you planning to activate
the ffd forum? I think it needs to be activated at just the right
time when there is enough momentum  present and then it could be
used to build up upon it.

[11:28] <robert-p> [stakeholder group] the strategy - which i am
about to elaborate on the link to Forum Strategy and Discussion
Groups on the site - is to develop and cultivate - with suitable
use of some of the free or virtually free tools and resources
that are available - a deeply-interlinked network of stakeholder
groups - who will be developing a sense of community that will be
enabled by the tools - and by people and organizations who will
be adopting those tools - through an online ict-networking
curriculum that we can develop together in this process

[11:34] <knownet> [stakeholder group] Your ideas sound
well-founded. Equally important is to find the right forums/
platforms to target the groups/ communities/individuals who are
already wanting to do the same. And also to find ways of
synergising with other Ongoing Efforts. I see a lot of
issue-centric groups namely OCD of Bellanet, Dotforce,
GlobalCN2000 ... who are pursuing their own agenda among a
limited audience with little focus on synergy.

[11:32] <robert-p> [time] - time is illusion, and many of the key
networking tasks involve very little time - once a lesson has
been learned - or taught - the benefits to the participants in a
knowledge exchange process persist - and often the time taken for
a knowledge or learning-teaching teaching-learning experience or
exchange can be very short - with generally no resource
requirements to sustain it

[11:36] <knownet> [time] I do not disagree with you a bit about
what you about time and experiences gained. Knowledge gained has
no time dimensions.

[11:38] <knownet> [wisdom] You really transmit precious gems of
wisdom which are very enlightening for me!

[11:39] <robert-p> [gems] thanks - i find they are released more
easily for me in this medium than in any other form of writing i
have tried

[11:36] <robert-p> [fast] last night i saw oprah winfrey on her
show, she just began using a computer a year ago - her computer
trainer was on the show - and she talked about how she literally
didn't know how to turn a computer on and now manages her
california-based magazine from chicago by e-mail, and online
processes, and has clearly become a convert - oprah reaches a
very significant and large community - especially of thoughtful
women who are spiritually-inclined.

[11:41] <knownet> [fast] You are again right about it. We just
need to break the initial fear of computers among people and
sensitise them to the utility of the technology and then they can
go on their own.

[11:42] <robert-p> [activated] the right time is here. i will
make a presentation, and have hand out / sign up material at the
two upcoming briefings on financing for development in new york;
there is very strong support, which i believe will manifest
itself in some very tangible ways through the spiritual-caucus-un
group - their last session focussed on a half-hour focussed
meditation on financing for development, and some wonderful
images emerged, along with expression of support and
acknowledgment of the importance of the ffd-forum

[11:45] <knownet> [activation] I think you have all planned it up
well. Starting from NY will certain create much more movements
and synergies as well as activation of different networks.

[11:45] <robert-p> [hiv-aids] i also see some possibly very
remarkable development happening in a field that i had not been
looking at at all, namely in the area of hiv-aids and children.
gilda glasinovich, our main un representative, has been asked to
moderate a panel on hiv-aids in children, and had asked me to dig
up some information on the incidence of the epidemic, and cost
and availability of treatment and preventive measures

[11:48] <robert-p> [hiv-aids] i have done some preliminary
reorganization and presentation of maps that i found on the
unaids poster on their web site, that provide very clear and
convincing evidence as to the scale and incidence of the hiv-aids

[11:48] <knownet> [hiv aids] This seems to be an interesting area
but I do not have much expertise on the same. However there  are
quite a few organisations working on this front and linking it up
with ICT too.

[11:53] <robert-p> [hiv-aids] take a look at and to get a sense of the
distribution and scale of the hiv-aids epidemic

[11:56] <robert-p> [hiv-aids] will be even more
powerful when it can be done with the same degree of contrast and
colours as are used in the world map - the colours used for
africa fail to highlight the very much higher rate of incidence
in southern africa - the darkest colours represent infection
rates of 15-35%

[11:54] <knownet> [noted the links] I have noted down the links
and would also post it to some organisations who create a portal
on SD relating issues.

[11:57] <knownet> [thanks] those links should be useful.

[11:50] <knownet> [errands] I will have to leave in another 10-15
minutes as I have to go out and help with some presentations.

[11:52] <robert-p> [leave] ok. this has been a very productive
session - i will clean up the transcript and e-mail it to you,
and to some of the other people involved

[11:52] <knownet> [broad understanding] Over time, I have
developed a much broader understanding of the FFD process and it
will sink in soon in my mind and that is when I try to synergise
it in the work I am doing and information i am disseminating.

[11:55] <knownet> [transcripts] I am archiving all the
transcripts as they contain a lot of useful information and links
and would be very useful for me over time.

[11:58] <robert-p> [rest] enjoy the rest of the day, and think
about giving yourself a few moments - or hours - of relaxation
and/or enjoyment - it is saturday night, live, over there after

[12:00] <knownet> [will be in touch] You are right about it being
Saturday night here but then this is the only time I get to focus
on my Academic assignments which i keep getting at LSE. It is a
tough but a very enjoyable balance. Will be in touch with you and
keep you posted of any further developments. You too have a nice

[12:01] <knownet> [logging off] Goodbye!

[12:01] <robert-p> i will, lots of excitement ahead

[12:02] *** knownet has quit IRC

Session Close: Sat Jan 27 12:04:08 2001

Organisation: projekt

[English translation]
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