Thursday, November 30, 2006

Technology: the power of web2.0 for African Civil Society

Kabissa has written about the power of the social web or African Civil Society. "The social web, also called Web 2.0 by trendsetters, represents a new era of the Internet in which people no longer go on the web expecting to merely access information provided by others. Everyone can now comment on what they read, change it, rate it, and put up information of their own - all using new user-friendly web interfaces. As a result, many now approach the Internet as a place to make and develop relationships with friends, network professionally and socially, and to create an image for themselves."

They mention some of the revolutionary promises like sharing information freely under the creative commons license, the easiness of sharing text, photos, video and audio materials via the web, communicating in real time through Voice over IP and teleconference-like tools, and the combination of mobile phone and the web (like I could blog by SMS from Ghana).

But maybe I like the pitfalls even better: (copied and shortened from their site):
  1. What to do when you’re away from the Internet? People that spend alot of time online begin to take it for granted - this was already the case before Web 2.0, but now new Web 2.0 services are encouraging you to do more online than ever. What do you do when you’re not near your Yahoo mailbox, your blog, your flickr account?
  2. Choose online services carefully. There are now a great many online communities, news portals, support forums, instant messaging providers, and advocacy sites that are serving every conceivable interest and perceived business need.
  3. A "stale" blog makes you look incompetent. Setting up a blog is quick and easy to do - but keeping it going takes perserverence, nurturing and planning. Many make the mistake of creating a blog, adding an optimistic launch post and then abandoning it forever.
  4. The web is forever. This may be hard to imagine, but thanks to sites like Google and the Wayback Machine, anything you add to blog websites or post to an e-mail mailing list might be retrievable even years later.
  5. Bad information is worse than no information. With a read-write web, any nutcase can set up a beautiful, legitimate-looking blog website and start posting falsehoods to the world.

I'd probably like to add that you still have to find people to whom it is useful to communicate and with whom you want to collaborate. You can easily waste your time writing a blog that nobody reads. And then I'd say the potential of the web is mostly in finding people who have dealt with likeminded problems as you, found innovative solutions, or finding people who are willing to think with you. So it needs a whole new skillset not to drown.

And with all this collaboration over the web- fighting over scarce resources will not diminuish. But maybe we can become smarter in using the resources? Yesterday I read about the Free studying through the internet (in Dutch) which is becoming a world wide trend. So people who are curious and want to learn (and are connected) can now really start self-learning. This is a huge shift.


hoong said...

Free studying ...

Well, it is free, but I wish there are more thoughts on making 'FREE materials' useful and beneficial.

We see lots of people putting in their efforts to create blogs, write wonderful posts, I think it would have been even better if one take the same amount of time writing the blog, in organizing a learning workshop for example. Take a topic, get a group of people, brain-storm and then write the article.

But of course I might be in dreamland to have such thoughts.

hoong said...

People who are providing 'free learning materials' seems to think that if I throw things out in the cyberspace, people would come and learn.

Yes. Some would. BUt plenty would not. Instead of just throwing it out like a bucket of water, but constructive, have plans, understand learners behaviours ...

Beth Kanter said...

Great minds think a like. I caught this article too and got a chuckle over the barriers. It is a well written article. How come you're coming into SL with COPs?

Joitske said...

On the free things.. I know there is much more needed to get everyone to learn. But I remember such differences in pre-internet time that I would buy 3 professional books during my holidays to continue studying and my (Malian, Ethiopian) colleagues could NOT. So in that regard for the eager and curious the access may be bemore equal.
And Beth, yeah, there's a CoP even in second life... it's really tempting!