Conditions and Functions of an Informal

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Conditions and Functions of an Informal
International Knowledge Network



Considerations for ICT Support

4
th

Metaphorum Conference

St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Jan Jacobs

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

3

2

1

4

5

The International Knowledge Network (IKN)

Functions of the network

Functions of communication

Specific conditions of ICT use

IKN experiences and strategies

Overview

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

The International Knowledge Network for Sustainable Development (IKN)


Participants: academics and practitioners from all continents.


All active in some field of sustainable development.


IKN columns:


Research


Education


Application in practice


International exchange and network building


Personal and institutional capacity building.


IKN ideology:


Exchange and cooperation in partnership.


Participatory development, considering from sociocultural conditions and endogenous
resources.


Coordinators: Prof. Werner Siebel and Stefan Wolf (Berlin), and Prof. Osvaldo Romero
(Sancti Spiritus, Cuba)

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

The International Knowledge Network for Sustainable Development (IKN)

IKN projects (examples):


Training of Nicaraguan community representatives in Cuba, to become multipliers of
applicable knowledge of renewable energies.


ARCA
-
Net summer schools and regional conferences (as consortial partner).


Master and doctoral thesis projects.


El Pan Alegre: integrated waste management, bio gas, and nutrition project.


Community development in Mongolia.


Intense bio gas research cooperation.






Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

The International Knowledge Network for Sustainable Development (IKN)

Informality and personal ties:


Easy access and integration of new potential partners


No clear limit of participant group


Projects emerge through IKN and are supported by it, but do not necessarily belong to the IKN


Each project
in the context of

the IKN is individual:


Group of participants and partners


Responsibilities


Formal institutional base


Financing


Formal institutions:


TU Berlin project group under Prof. Siebel, and



other universities and professor positions.


Inter
-
university cooperation agreements


NGO AgEnt e.V.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

IKN Communication

IKN Communication


Resembles personal character and informality.


Mainly along personal ties or within project / meeting groups.


Hardly any communication of the coordinators to all participants / contacts.


Hardly any communication among all participants.


Media


Face
-
to
-
face personal / group meetings.


E
-
Mail to one or many recipients (no mailing tools).


Telephone / VoIP / Instant Messaging.


IKN and AgEnt information flyers.


Internet forum of Berlin group in 2003.


Internet use since 2005
-
> see below.


Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

IKN Network Functions

Conceptual Division between Network and Projects:



The network…


…is mainly informal and consists of personal ties.


…is open to new people and ideas.


…has no clear group of members. People participate in different ways and different and
changing degrees of involvement.



The projects that emerge in the network…


…have a clearer group of participants.


…have more specific goals.


…require personal commitment and responsibility.


…need to acquire their own funding.


…might get legally formalized.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

IKN Network Functions

How does the IKN network make possible and support concrete projects?

Through…


…the brokering of trustful personal connections.


…the mediation of other resources.


…the dissemination of information.


…the provision of identity.


How do the projects help develop the network?


Participants get in contact and develop trustful relations on the occasions of concret
cooperations.


The IKN’s identity and perspectives develop through its experiences in activities.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Functions of Communication

What communication is needed to provide the network functions?


External
-
> open internal
-
> confidential internal communication.


External communication


Attractive and comprehensive presentation of the IKN


Contact info.


Idealy, short presentation of ongoing activity.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Functions of Communication

Open internal communication


Involves members as well as new / potential participants.


Concerns ongoing and potential activities, ideas, experiences, useful information…


More one
-
to
-
all and all
-
to
-
all communication should support and complement, not
replace, communication through personal connections.


Confidential group communication


Need for good knowledge of each other, including cultural backgrounds and institutional
conditions.


Need for frequent reassurance of the others’ motivations, intentions, and
understandings.


Need for detailed discussions and for coping with conflicts.


Collaborative work on documents and data collection.


Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Conditions of ICT use


No money for commercial solutions & limited own programming knowledge


Use publicly available, easy
-
to
-
use technologies.


Some participants have very slow computers and internet connections.


Use technologically simple solutions.


No coordinator or other person with much time for website editing and maintenance.


Shared or distributed responsibility for website and subpages.


No single common language, but many multilingual participants.


Tools should support many languages.


Neutrality regarding the language of the contents.


Sort
-
by
-
language function.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Conditions of ICT use (Cont.)


Openness and gradual limits of IKN communication sphere


Content should be as public as possible, but as confidential as necessary.


Different levels of accessibility / confidentiality


Personal user account


Easy and non
-
bureaucratic creation of user accounts.


All participation and communication is voluntary


ICT must convince participants. No use can be commanded.


IKN has been acting and communicating for years.


New solutions must be non
-
exclusive to existing technologies and practices.


Offer a communication tool kit.

Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

IKN Experiences and Strategies

My analysis and our discussions led to a concept for an integrated Internet Platform for
Information and Communication, in the summer of 2005.

Since then, we have not succeeded in implementing such a platform.


Change in perspective:


Away from a ‘solution’, thought of as a state or integrated platform.


Towards a process of trial and error and


hopefully


overall improvement.


Process of communication improvement characterized by overlapping, recursive activities:


Discussions among the IKN participants: what are information and communication
problems and potentials? What could be solutions?


Individual or small group experimentation with technologies. Implementing technologies
for use in the IKN.


Motivating IKN participants to use new technologies. Developing new information and
communication practices. Making experiences with technologies in practice.


Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Discussing communication problems, needs, and potentials



Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Small group experimentation with technologies. Implementing
technologies for use in IKN.



Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Developing new information and communication practices

Motivating IKN participants to use new technologies.

Making experiences with technologies in practice.


Our new attempt is to use a patchwork of simple and available technologies:


E
-
Mail


Instant

Messaging

and

VoIP

through

Skype,

MSN

Messenger

et

cetera


Yahoo!

Group


Unfinished

Drupal

content

management

system
.


A

simple

static

HTML

website
.


Free

blogs,

e
.
g
.

on

blogger
.
com
.


File

storage

and

exchange

systems,

e
.
g
.

BSCW
.


Simple

content

management

system,

e
.
g
.

Joomla
.





Jan Jacobs

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4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, March 9
-
10, 2007

Thank you for your attention!


http://home.arcor.de/anjamocker/ikn/index_ikn_eng.html