Thursday, January 31, 2008

What can development organizations do with Web2.0 tools?

Some time ago, I compiled some examples of what you can do with web2.0 tools for communication within a development project. In this case, a large project in several countries. I'd like to share my ideas about the different ways of engaging with the wide range of web2.0 tools. After all, web2.0 are designed for participation, and what is more core business for development organizations?

I tried to separate four different options:

  1. You can use available web2.0 tools (free or at low cost)
  2. You can integrating web2.0 tools in another website
  3. You can design a new website using web2.0 principles and technologies
  4. You can leveraging popular web2.0 sites where crowds of people are interacting

I can provide some examples of each of these options, though there are probably lots of other examples:

1. Using available web2.0 tools

Why not make use of all these wonderful tools out there? ICCO is very innovative in trying to foster an open information sharing system, use a 'Learning Alliance wiki ' (a pbwiki) as the main basis, with other thematic wikis attached to it. In the wiki there are links to Dgroups, as a discussion forum, Blogger weblogs and google calendars for event planning. And I'd almost forget the feeds from the social bookmarking site delicious. Maarten Boers explains more in this blogpost. You can see a presentation by Peter Ballantyne here.

Another example is the Knowledgecafe wiki by CARE.

2. Integrate web2.0 tools into an existing website

The web2fordevelopment conference last year in Rome had to experiment with web2.0 tools of course. In their website, they integrated flickr photo sets, Youtube videos, and a link to the weblog and wiki. Nowadays, most webservices allow you to embed content from another site.

A special technology which is helpful in integrating web2.0 tools in another site is RSS feeds. By using a Feed to JavaScript like feedostyle you can have information or news published on one web sites- displayed on another site. So when the information or news changes, your web site will be automatically changed too. A good example can be found on the site of EUFORIC, a European network. They display various feeds on their site using feedburner.

3. Design a completely new website using web2.0 principles and technologies

Ofcourse you can also design a completely customized site for your own purpose, and use web2.0 principles like working in beta. Examples I can think of are the CIARIS website on social inclusion. There is a screencast of the design fase.

Helpalot is an example of building a site using social networking site ideas. Helpalot is specifically focused on charities. VSO build a bloggers interface expecially for their volunteer stories. The World Bank has set up a site called Isimulate for performing economic simulations.

4. Leverage popular web2.0 sites where large numbers of people are interacting

Examples of popular web2.0 sites are Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and many others. You might also leverage the crowd of people hanging out there by going there yourself. An example of this is the World Bank channel on Youtube. Even though the World Bank has enough video capacity on their own site, they added a channel on youtube to reach out to a different audience.


Unknown said...

Thanks, Joitske, for organising this information in one place. Very useful!

bev trayner said...

Joitske, I like the way of categorising for different ways to organise Web2.0 tools. Thanks!

Christian said...

Thanks Joitske for this nice ideas. I would add the "information power" that development organizations can use feeds to get better information of what is written in all different fields of development. And universal standards such as RSS make it possible that in the ear future maybe some organizations will share their knowledge directly.

Joitske said...

@ Christian, good idea, though I took it as part of embedding tools in an existing website, but you are right that RSS is the key to travelling information, I will add it!

Unknown said...

You might also want to check out some efforts by the World Bank to use Web 2.0 technologies iSimulate @ World Bank

Joitske said...

Thanks Gauresh, I didn't know that site. I will add it too!

Stephan said...

Thanks for this great categorization. We are trying to get our organization to adopt more web2 tools and most of what is written is way to advanced for them, so this is a nice starting point.

guglio1001 said...

Thanks Joitske for the post. Personally, I believe that the third option you identify is the one where the greatest, potentially "disruptive" potential for innovation lies. A recent report from the Aspen institute ( has also more ideas in terms of using web 2.0 tools in order to shift donor mindsets from one-off "feel good" donations to long term "social investments". Chris has written an excellent overview of other potential applications ( of web 2.0 in a development context. Also, if you go to delicious' tag "development 2.0", you can find a collection of examples and articles on this topic.

Joitske said...

@guglio thanks for the pointers. I wasn't thinking of number 3 as the high potential one, rather number 2! Number 3 still needs an awful lot of investment, and has an 'owner'. Number 2 is very empowering.