Passion, the Participatory Web, and the Potentials of ICT

"The Participatory Web - New Potentials of ICT in Rural Areas"“The Participatory Web – New Potentials of ICT in Rural Areas”I haven’t been able to go to the Web2ForDev meetings so far, but have encountered the typical problems of ICT and knowledge sharing in rural areas around the world. So when Christian Kreutz approached me to contribute to a publication by GTZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Technische Zusammenarbeit (German Technical Cooperation), on how NABUUR offered a new way of connecting people and letting knowledge flow, I got in touch with Raul Caceres, who has done amazing work as a NABUUR volunteer, resulting in a United Nations Volunteer of the Year Award, and an invitation to speak at the Nobel Summit on Public Services. Together, we wrote one of the seven articles in “The Participatory Web – New Potentials of ICT in Rural Areas”.

Plumbing on the web

Social Media Plumbing: Flow chart to sketch how I use different tools and social media sites feeding into one FriendFeed room, and then use that as input for my websiteSocial Media Plumbing:

A post by Robert Scoble made me have another look at rooms in FriendFeed. I set things up over the weekend, and decided to document it, to maybe succeed in explaining what this is all about. Here’s my situation:

  • I post content on various social media sites through various tools
  • I want some of that content to appear on my own website
  • I switch platforms quite often, or start using them in a different way, so keeping it up to date should be easy

So I decided to start a FriendFeed room with content that I want to appear on my site1, and use their feed widget to then display it on my home page. It still took some effort (to get the styling how I wanted it), but it’s done, and here’s how.

“Doing things together online”

Recently, a couple of events allowed me to look again at how groups of people “do things together online”.

I’ve had a chance to meet up a few times in a short period with Aldo de Moor, and that helped us reflect on where things have come since we first drafted the contours of our “social context model”, nearly ten years ago now.

Add a few potential projects in the pipeline that deal with global networks of people who should produce something together. And the opportunity to dive a bit deeper into the NABUUR concept, to see how it is still pretty unique.

Aldo and I quickly concluded that although a lot is happening, and happening fast, there actually has been little progress in what we see as the hardest part of (online) collaboration: supporting work flows. Sure enough, people find ways to use the techno-centric tools that emerge, and services like Basecamp are making inroads into this. But most platforms still have some way to go.

Designing sociality for Nabuur

Nabuur has been pioneering online volunteering since 2001, and is currently redesigning their organisation: how to put "web 2.0" into the DNA of everything that’s happening? And how to engineer that, rather than try and hope it works?


So I spent the day with Nabuur team members, who invited René Jansen to facilitate drilling down to the core of their activities. René is one of the authors of "The Realm of Sociality: Notes on the design of social software", a paper which won the Best Paper Award 2007 at the “International Conference on Information Systems” in Montreal, last December, and (to me, at least) introduces the concept of "sociality" as the centre of the design process.