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An Update on Social Media for Social Change from Rome's Web2ForDev Conference

"The key is NOT to think of social networking tools (or Web 2.0) as a completely new set of tools/applications... but as representing significant changes to power structures that characterize the creation and use of content on the internet."

-Anriette Esterhuysen of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Here is a just a sampling of the PulseWire-relevant advice that emerged from the first-ever Web2ForDev conference, held last week in Rome. Our development team is eternally grateful to organizers and participants for their commitment to the fundamental web 2.0 principles of participatory learning and collective intelligence.

The following recommendations were reproduced by Dr. Dan McQuillan, web manager at Amnesty International:


Innovation - the disruptive fruit of participation

The real powerhouse of web 2.0 for dev will be innovation, the disruptive fruit of all architectures of participation. Charlie Leadbeater's book We-think starts with the example of the Barefoot College before going on to show how examples like Wikipedia are the herald of a new era of mass collaborative innovation. His wide global analysis of the new era mashes silicon valley with social innovation - as he says about a peer-to-peer AIDS support network "Low-cost, self-organising networks might be the height of organizational fashion on the US west cost but they are a matter of life-and-death in places like Mbuya Parish, Kampala."

Web2forDev: HowTo

So where do we find guiding values for the development potential of web2.0? If I'd been at the web2fordev conference I'd have plagiarised the Res Publica Report "Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South" and proposed this set:

* Work Within Movements: Working within a movement means that all the talent of the various members can be brought to bear in creating solutions and the lines of communications within the network can be used to quickly disseminate new methods.

* Worship the Power of the Network: Through networks we aggregate our knowledge, amassing insight that is greater than the sum of its parts.

* Bring Technologists and Advocates Together: Innovative solutions emerge when technologists collaborate with advocates, working on a specific campaign problem or network goal.

* Build Innovation Systems: Rather than think of innovations as pieces of hardware or even creative ideas, it is better to think in terms of "innovation systems," combinations of hardware, social structures, and economic models that solve social problems.

* Promote Independence not Dependence: Seek to empower, and explicitly address sustainability.

* Engage with Youth: In almost all societies, young people are most likely to adopt new ICT methods. They are more familiar with ICT because it has been present for most of their lives.

* Cultivate the Fringe: The boldest new ideas often come from far outside the
mainstream."

I would have LOVED to participate in this exciting event, but since I could not wrangle an invite, I'll be pouring through the publications below to glean guidance for our product development team.

I encourage the entire PulseWire community to explore the concepts, tools and possibilities that were discussed in Rome by opening the links shown below. If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to bring your own questions, ideas and suggestions back to the PulseWire team to help us ensure that new and upgraded features will serve your needs.

Web2ForDev's Shared Online Resources:

  • The official conference website: http://www.web2fordev.net/.
  • Live blogging from last week's event and the topics introduced there: http://blog.web2fordev.net/.
  • Audio and video coverage of conference sessions, interviews, presentations and summaries: http://blog.web2fordev.net/about/.
  • Agendas, processes, papers, participant lists and other valuable resources are stored on their wiki: http://wiki.web2fordev.net/index.php/Main_Page.
  • That wiki also offers a "Learn the Basics" resource page for those who are new to Web 2.0: http://wiki.web2fordev.net/index.php/Additional_resources.
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