Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Web2.0 for development - its not about technology!

Robert Bourgoing presented the work done by The Global Fund and its use of Web2.0. The organization is just over 7 years and has committed 15 Billion USD in 140 countries. How did this happen? He said its because of their transparent use of the Web.

However, it is not enough to provide information to users. It is important to have conversation with the users. For this, they have implemented "MyGlobalFund" - a site that encourages discussion and interaction. For example,
  • Blogs give an opportunity for those who are on the ground, using hte funds from the Global Fund, to discuss what they are doing and what are their challenges.
  • Forums allow communication between those interested on the same topic.
The process was slow becaues everyone was a bit apprehensive about giving anyone to say anything about the forum. To get political support, they needed to:
  • Have clear objectives
  • Explain the concepts with visual aids and non-technical language
  • Address fear issues such as: How will we avoid loosing control? What impact will it have on our workload?
  • Draft and distribute guidelines for staff to participate in the discussions
  • Publish a legal disclaimer supporting staff participation
However, the main challenges have been:
  • Getting involvement of staff in participating in the forums and blogs.
  • Promotion of the "empty" Web2.0 platform to get content. 90% of the users are lurkers; 9% are intermittent contributors while often only 1% are regular contributors.
  • Facilitating vs. Moderating. A healthy community will self-moderate but this is not always the case. It is important to have a good balance.
He identified the main issues with Web2.0 as:
  • Explain concepts well: Blogs, tagging, rating, RSS feeds, wikis. Don't underestimate the importance of explaining this to those who don't know.
  • Newer tools such as blogs require a deeper personal involvement
  • Involve good communicators because "Good communication tool does not make a good communicator!"
The other issue of Web2.0 technology in countries which access information using dial-up is the lack of ability to participate regularly. It is important in this case to ensure that information, such as from discussion forums, goes directly to users email box or is available via RSS.

1 comment:

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