Monthly Archives: August 2008

Where’s the strategy in the Digital Strategy 2.0?

I’ve just looked at the Digital Strategy website and I’m wondering if I’ve missed something. After all the online and off talk, and policy deliberations over the last 8-10 months, I can’t seem to find the strategy in DS 2.0 released on 28 August 2008.

Strategy as in….

  • an elaborate and systematic plan of action
  • a player’s strategy, in a game or a business situation, is a complete plan of action for whatever situation might arise (game theory)
  • a broad non-specific statement of an approach to accomplishing desired goals and objectives
  • a planned, deliberate procedure goal-oriented (has an identifiable outcome) achieved with a sequence of steps subject to monitoring and modification.

(For fuller definitions search in Google for “define: strategy”).

The goals are lofty and aspirational – hmm, arguably? But as far as broad or elaborate? I’m not so sure.

The actions and sequence of activities seem, well, sparse. Or even truncated. And there’s a tendency to rely almost entirely on government interventions.

Community and voluntary organisations might be able to apply to a (small) pool of grant funding, but the role they play in communities is not acknowledged otherwise. Unless I missed references to this.

And I can’t see any steps that will enable those on low incomes to access 20 Mbps broadband, though it’s wonderful that we’ll have super fast Next Generation Networks. Unless I missed references to this too.

One of the members of the disbanded Digital Strategy Advisory group, and former Waitakere e-democracy activist, Andy Williamson is forthright on his views about updated strategy. Speaking to him in late June from London, where he works as the Director of the Hansard Society’s e-democracy unit, Andy said:

We’ve failed miserably with the digital strategy. I think the digital strategy 2.0 is an embarrasment to the bureuacracy because it has finally be captured by the Minstry of Economic Development.

When we worked on the first draft, after it came out we had all sorts of people feeding into it and getting listened to. We had a dynamic document that was really a whole of society solution.

What it’s turned into is what’s good for keeping Government happy and everybody else is secondary in it. I think it’s a major step back.

I’m hoping things are not as bleak as Andy suggests. I’m happy for someone to set me straight.

Less than a week to go….

Engage your community organising team hard at workNext Thursday at least 125 people will be gathering to learn and talk about using the web for their not for profit organisation. The Engage Your Community conference is being held at Massey University in Wellington on 4 September.

The organising team (pictured above) met on Thursday for a final wrap up. Despite the last minute loss of Russell Brown as a speaker, the programme is complete and we’re all geared up for the event.

The main point of the day is to get people using some online tools in computer labs. Everything from running surveys to digital storytelling will be covered.

The Wellington e-rider IT service will be having a simple stand: anyone can come along and ask our roving IT professional Lindsay Hunter about networking, software installations, buying new computers or anything else.

I’ve ordered a $225 second-hand Dell computer from CoinNet on it so that we can do a show and tell if necessary. It comes loaded with Windows XP, but I’ll be loading the open source operating system Ubuntu as soon as I can.

I never intended to have a Windows PC in my possession, but the Dell will be invaluable for late night testing of websites on different browsers. That’s if I can work out how to run both Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0 simultaneously – tips welcome.

Registrations for the conference are still open – and possibly still at the early bird rate. Get in touch with Mike Brown, details on the website.

Suggestions for Global Giving UK?

I’ve just received an email from Svetlana who’s helping to set up the UK arm of charity giving website Global Giving. The website concept is simple: visitors “browse ways to help others around the world, pick the ones you are most passionate about, and give to the solution.”

To spread the word about the UK website Svetlana wants to tap into social media. She says:

I am looking into new and more innovating ways to market GlobalGiving. I am exploring different social media channels to increase GlobalGivings’s presence to both donors and charity partners.

In particular, Svetlana’s asking for suggestions of UK experts in social media to help non-profits acheive their goals.

My tips are below, but first, dear reader, I’d like to put Svetlana’s question to you. Make a comment if you can help.

One of the things Svetlana thinks would be helpful is to get people blogging for Global Giving, or featuring the organisation on their blogs. A first step to find bloggers would be to search for releveant blogs in Technorati or using Google Blog Search.

There are a few UK social media experts worth following up on:

There’s lots of links on each of these sites to other people working in a similar field. Plus take a look at the ICT hub supplier directory run by LASA, and you might be able to get a message asking for suggestions on to the UK circuit rider network email list.

And I can’t resist pointing towards Beth Kanter from Boston. Beth has very wide networks in this field, so making a comment on her blog or getting in touch could be useful. Incidentally Beth interviewed Global Giving’s CEO in April (see her post “Meet Donna Callejon, Chief Operating Officer of Global Giving“).

I can’t think of a better way of getting publicity from your cause than directly asking bloggers to write about your organisation or work. You’re off to a good start.

Best wishes to Global Giving UK – may you be inundated with blog posts and support .

Exemplary community led web projects

I missed Jim Mora’s show today, but I wish I hadn’t. Paul Reynold was talking about “three online projects [he] thinks exemplify the best of community lead web projects”.

The projects he raved expounded on were:

  • One Laptop Per Child – Niue
  • Aotearoa People’s Network – free Internet and help in public libraries, plus open source community storytelling software
  • Kiva – micro lending.

The second wave of the People’s Network, which is bringing broadband to rural and provincial libraries, is underway. Fast and free internet is now available in many places, with libraries lined up. It’s proving really beneficial for young people who’ve lacked access before now.

You can read about what Paul said on his blog (“Three community projects with Jim Mora“), or listen to them for a limited time on Radio NZ website (streamed version of the interview and MP3 version).

Dags and dingleberries

Bringing up dags around the dinner table is, if not frowned upon, is really rather crass. Especially if you really start exploring the meaning.

But when dags came up during a conversation with Nancy White, an online facilitation specialist from Seattle, they were a bridge to cross Pacific understanding. And utter hilarity.

It didn’t take much to encourage Nancy to share the North American term for dag. It’s dingleberry she proclaimed. We couldn’t stop laughing.

The rest of our session was very cordial and good humoured. This moment of irreverence established a very friendly rapport and tone, in what had previously been a group of strangers.

In the online world it’s far harder to cultivate this environment. But it’s exactly what Nancy has been working in and around as a trainer, researcher, presenter and learner. She was visiting Wellington to share her experience at the DEANZ conference.

The difference between building community online and in the real world looms very big. Nancy suggests we need to articulate new roles such as technology stewards – less geek more translator – and information filterers and organisers. Chairpersons and secretaries are less relevant online.

She says its particularly important to pay attention how people are invited to join online communities. Not only the language and how a website is designed but who makes the approach, is it specific and will it touch people deeply.

In a forthcoming book Nancy is co-authoring with community of practice guru Etienne Wegner and John D Smith, there’s a chapter on the orientation of online spaces. In Stewarding Technology for Communities she shows how different spaces and tools suit different purposes – if you get the wrong tools your community won’t be supported. This seems obvious, but it’s working out the purpose and knowing what tools that match this that’s the trick. There’s a handy diagram in the book which matches tools to different purposes.
A lot of what Nancy talks about is finding ways to bring to the surface the dynamics of online spaces. As existing roles and processes just don’t apply, new ways of operating have to be reflected on. Making assumptions about what people are able to do at the other end of the Internet can easily mean people are excluded. So lets talk about our assumptions.

We’ll still in the early days of understanding how online community works (if it does), and what skilled facilitation is required, so it’s wonderful that Nancy is very generous sharing her knowledge. Be sure to check her blog and resource site FullCircle Associates, her presentations on SlideShare and the Online Facilitation Yahoo Group, established in 1999.

I’m pleased I learned about Americanese for dags, and all the other stuff. If you’re reading this Nancy, thanks for stopping by.

Engage your community conference, the sequel

The Engage your community mini-conference in Hamilton earlier in the year was a great day. About 140 people showed up to learn about and discuss how blogs, social media and other online tools can help community groups. Read my post about the presentation I made at the conference, “Wikispaces workshop notes”).

Based on the success of the first Engage your community event, other conferences are popping up around the country. And more are planned.

Wellington ICT are hosting a conference on Thursday 4 September, at Massey University, Wellington. The programme is out and registrations are open, see www.eyc.org.nz.

On 28 November Rotorua Community ICT Trust are planning a one day event.

I’m doing a short presentation on “Spreading the word” using online tools at the Wellington conference. Then in November I’ll be running my hands-on workshop about using wikispaces.

Other sequels expected to be coming to a venue near you soon.