While the media is praising spaces like Facebook and YouTube for online social networking,APC is concerned with what Web 2.0 tools can do for people who don’t have good internet access and equipment. In mid-2007, APC joined a partnership of like-minded organisations with which it organised a large conference around this preoccupation. Two months later, APC co-organised a Web 2.0 skills sharing workshop for Ugandan ICT practitioners, and at the same time, started working on several initiatives related to the application of Web 2.0 tools for development work.
Guidelines for using Web 2.0 tools to effectively link research and the policy making processes
In 2010, APC produced a technical guide for using Web 2.0 tools strategically to fortify links between policy-oriented research and policy making processes. The development was supported by Fundación Comunica. The guide was developed for a specific project implemented in Peru, Uruguay and Ecuador but its usage is generic. It is available both in Spanish and English.
The main issues that the guide addresses are:
- How researchers can effectively and strategically use new information and communication technologies (ICTs), specifically Web 2.0 tools, to publish and publicise their research processes and findings so that they can reach policy makers and activists.
- How researchers can use Web 2.0 tools to establish links with policy makers and other stakeholders involved in their issues.
- How researchers can use Web 2.0 tools to encourage discussion and / or debate on issues based on their research findings.
Meeting and learning online
APC is conducting a research into online meeting platforms that would facilitate collaboration while reducing the need for F2F meetings and related travels. The research looks into tools that would cater to the various needs that exist in APC network in terms of languages, operating systems, quality of connectivity, etc. As of October 2010, APC is using the Elluminate Live! online meeting platform for its internal meeting purposes and we are developing a space in SecondLife (D-Island), which ICT for development (ICT4D) practitioners can use to meet, hold capacity building events, etc. Find out more about D-Island project.
In order to increase the impact and cost-effectiveness of the network’s numerous capacity building initiatives, APC has started experimenting with open source online learning management systems. The plan is to eventually build online courses around many training initiatives APC is involved in (community wireless, secure online communication, internet rights, etc).
Planned future initiatives
The APC sees the critical role that social networking is starting to play in civil society participation as a particular challenge. The patterns emerging in the spread of these opportunities are not surprisingly mapping onto the traditional lines of good connectivity, reliable power supplies, high bandwidth connections, good access to computer literacy and high specification hardware.
We can see that apart from making exciting openings for participation, the new social networking tools can also serve to bring attention to the marginalised position of the less well connected. Added to this mix, is the hype common to the rise of any new technology, that so often alienates people who feel challenged by constantly having to engage with ‘new’ and different ways of working.
Our concern is with how people can interact with technology. We see the Web 2.0 technology of social networking as part of the same continuum that has informed our work since the early 1990s – namely how people can be empowered by, and also shape technology.
In the near future, we are planning to develop a project that would include the following activities:
- Converting above mentioned Impact 2.0 – Guidelines into an editable wikibook format.
- Developing a training methodology on ‘Using social networking tools for development’. This would then be used in number of APC training events as well as made available to all development practitioners.
- Developing of a series of ‘Guides to social networking’ building on APC’s previous experience with social networking trainings, as well as the planned African skills-sharing workshop.