GTZ Bulletin on KM

The latest issue of the GTZ AGRISERVICE Bulletin looks at knowledge management. In particular:

1) linking knowledge management to the strategy of the institution (serving targets),
2) developing a culture of knowledge sharing (trust, reward, procedures),
3) involvement and participation of stakeholders (ownership, user logic),
4) capacity development (training, technology, organisational development),
5) contextualisation of information (content, quality, retrieval, communication),
6) monitoring and evaluation (use, impact).

You can download the bulletin here (pdf, 1.88 MB).

eldiscommunity offers groups web2 spaces

The information sharing platform Eldis has started eldiscommunity where groups can create spaces for information sharing and dialogue including discussion forums and blogs.  To make it more accessible for people with poor internet connection the site can also be view in low-band-width mode.

There are already quite a number of groups among which a blog of the Farmers First Revisited conference and one on web2 for development. Looks like you can create your own groups once you become a member and choose to include a blog, a discussion forum, a wiki and a calendar.

Why is my neighborhood in the twitter village not growing?

Many things have been written about twitter, what it does, different ways one can use it, what users get out of it, and if it can serve organizations. Several blog posts (for example here, here, here and here) are pointing out the utility twitter can have for non-profits and, recently, the post Twitter is my Village sparked a lot of discussion around the idea of twitter as a tool that builds community. My personal favorite among these “village” posts is When A Bunch of People Become Community.

I have been using twitter for quite a while now and am getting a lot of valuable information from it. Yet, rather than feeling part of a community, I feel more like a tourist who visits the village. Yes, it’s beautiful and I enjoy my stay, but I am glad to go home at the end of my vacation.

Why is this? For twitter (or any other web 2.0 tools) to forge meaningful connections you have to be able to link to people, who talk about the things you are interested in. Both the education and the social media communities are very present on twitter and while I am very interested in these areas and learn a lot of new things by following their conversations, they are not my core networks and I have trouble inserting myself meaningfully. My main topics, rural development and natural resource management, on the other hand, are almost never mentioned, at least if one can trust the keyword tracker, and terraminds.

But how do you get a critical mass of people from a specific thematic community on twitter? I tried to think of strategies to do this but so far have not been highly successful.

The most obvious strategy is to tell your friends and colleagues that you are on twitter. Well, many of them do not seem too willing to invest in new tools they are not sure they will use. Besides, they already know what I am up to and their networks are also not present on twitter.

An idea I have not tried yet would be to broadcast key news of my program or organization through twitter, so instead of inviting friends and people I interact with daily, I offer my wider network a way to connect and stay involved with a program they value. This may attract some in our network who want to receive their news via text message or IM, instead of email or RSS to try out twitter.

I would really love to have people from the CAPRi network on twitter because I think it will lead to more effective information sharing, and it could help network members to directly link up with one another. Plus it might be the way for us to build our own twitter neighborhood.

What other strategies could work? Is twitter maybe not the best platform given that most of our network are in Africa and Asia?

Another Starter Move: Social Bookmarking

After blogging about Chris Brogan’s 5 starter moves to engage with social media yesterday, I started preparing a session on collaboration tools for our division retreat, and realized that he had not talked about social bookmarking.

Promoting the use of online bookmarking services (such as del.icio.us) is in my opinion another good way to introduce people to social media. It does not require any commitment to engage with others, just as listening, and allows one to get a couple of immediate benefits. First, using an online bookmarking service allows you to easily access the same favorites from multiple computers. Integration with different browsers allows offline access as well. Second, tagging allows for easy organization of the bookmarks and for discovery of others’ favorites in a given topic (another way of listening).

The most important benefit for me, however, was that as soon as I started using social bookmarking with others, I saw a drop in emails – no more “check this out” or “you might find this interesting” emails, which are usually followed by several back and forths commenting on the page that was shared!

How do you collaborate on social bookmarking services within your team for example? You can subscribe to each other’s rss feed, join each others networks or decide on a joint tag for a specific project or initiative. Additionally, you are not only sharing information but the list you create together has an rss feed that can be displayed anywhere on the internet.

The most popular service is del.icio.us, but I personally am using diigo more and more. It allows you to create multiple groups of people (you can only have one network in del.icio.us) and also supports annotations and highlighting of text on the bookmarked page. I don’t even have to give up my network on del.icio.us since diigo allows me to automatically submit all my bookmarks to several other services.

How to start using social media tips

Two days ago Chris Brogan finished a series of 5 posts on tips of how organizations can start to use social media. After starting with a introductory post he talked about Listening, Blogging, Audio and Video, and Social Networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

To me this series presents a great starting point for those curious about what they can and where to start, but it also helps those who are using the tools to convince others in their organizations to follow suit. I will definitely try out the listening tips to see if this helps in showing my colleagues that they can observe without having to commit to anything. Will this convince some that it is worthwhile to engage? Has anyone tried this? What happened?