Friday, February 29, 2008

Can web2.0 improve decision-making processes?

This is my first cross-post from my Dutch blog. Deciding whether a topic should go to my Dutch blog or this one has been quite smooth. Generally speaking, it's been easy to start the Dutch blog, building on the experience with this blog. I'm not insecure about topics, and confident that the audience will grow.

The Dutch blogpost 'Can I blog a visum?' might be interest to a wider audience I believe. In short: I invited an Ethiopian friend to come and visit me in the Netherlands. For the second time, her visa request has been declined by the Dutch embassy in Addis Abeba. The reason is that she has no property and no fixed job, (and no children) and therefore they think it is not proven that she will return to Ethiopia after the holidays. The risk is too high. I understand the Dutch embassy, but think they are flawed in their decision-making process. I think property, job papers etc can not reduce the risk of that Ethiopians with a tourist visa stay in the Netherlands. (might be the contrary??) I think it has much more to do with the context of the visa request and the invitation.

So I started wondering whether in this flawed decision-making process, web2.0 tools could be of help to improve decision-making. After all, it would be better if Ethiopians with the right intentions would be allowed to make a trip to our country -another friend who worked for Ethiopian Airlines and had a free ticket had the same problem-.

I see a lot of potential in blogging. For instance if Addisalem had blogged the two year process, with high hopes and huge disappointments, it would be a great testimonial of how a person with good intentions would suffer from the Dutch policy. And blogs are prone to be authentic stories, it is hard to fake two years. But how to get the right audience? Therefore it might be necessary to have a central space where people with similar problems blog. This could give a lot more insights to the decision-makers involved. But are those decision-makers ready to read? This is not obvious, and therefore a change process may be needed to raise the awareness of the decision-makers and raise their appetite to read. Would this be very different from listening to the stories or formal evaluations? I think blogging has the potential to be different because of the low threshold of putting this information out there on the internet. So blogs make a huge, previously hidden world more accessible. But the change has to go hand in hand with an attitude of learning by reading and searching for pertinent information. RSS feeds and tags will be important to that purpose.


Wouter Rijneveld said...

Hi Joitske, very recognizable, same troubles with Nigerian friends of mine. Wonder though if Dutch bureaucratic embassies would very soon be ready to read blogs, though it certainly has the potential. My guess: 3 years to go.

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

I later thought the problem is much more complex, the person I talked to on the phone seemed to believe my story and to be disappointed too. But she can't decide. I heard at times the embassy decisions are revoked by the IND (is it IND?) too.

hoong said...

I am very behind with read blogs etc.

You wrote:
"And blogs are prone to be authentic stories, it is hard to fake two years" I am not too sure it is that easy to understand a human mind. IF a person is really determined to 'do something' you would be amazed to what length a person would go. I would NOT under estimate that power. NOT that I think you friend is one of them.

Embassy the world over is the same. They all look at the applicant with suspicions. Experienced from traveling through countless countries. Let me tell you a personal story about how immigration would do to you: I have an Asian face. On top of that I dressed poor. I do not have a face that looks authority. Quite a few times I was stopped by US immigration officers. Once even to the point of bringing me to the back-office and I was there for more than an hour. Another time when I was traveling from Dublin to Chicago after visiting my sister in Ireland. I was REFUSED to get on board because 'they said' my papers was not in order.

My conclusion is: it has nothing to do with if you have a job, property, writes blog for 2,3 yars. We just happened to born at the wrong country, have wrong DNA, wrong colour ... I don't think a White would ever could understand that.

And then of course there is such thing as 'reversed discriminations' .. I was refused A job in Singapore because I carried a 'white/Dutch passport' and that I am not allowed to take ANY job with lower salary !!

I stop trying to change the world. Just keep pushing until one day SOME miracles happened, and you do not have to lift a finger things would just go your way ...

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Hi Cindy, I had continued to think about the same thing, that actually someone could fake a blog over a two-years period... mmm. But even fiction does something. In Intermediair there is a colomn about a management trainee and I had a discussion with someone whether it is true or not. Even if it isn't it gives a view on life in the office...

I'm less pessimistic. I see there ARE changes continually, not all for the better, but let's try and influence things so that the changes work out for better. My question is indeed whether web2.0 can decrease discrimination because people become smarter at understanding others?

hoong said...

web2.0 allows messages to be put 'out there'. The problem I see is, how many of these messages are 'received'? And most of all, are they received by the people we want them to receive?

Blogs, TV, Internet etc. are all passive and silent ways of communications. It is no different than all the advertisements in paper form we received. What do with do with most of them? To the waste paper container. IF we really want to make things happen, we have to take physical action such as carrying play-card and go to the streets, or pick-up the phone and keep bugging the decision makers.

IF we really want to make the difference, IF we really want to see change, web2.0 is not the way to go.