Craving networks, like ice cream

May 11, 2005 Comments Off on Craving networks, like ice cream

Cairo, Egypt

It’s always invigorating be reminded how much humans crave networks. Spending three days in Cairo at the annual Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) meeting, I saw this craving in spades.


The GK concept really has grown up since it was first called out in Toronto eight years ago (and so have I … a bit). From where I was sitting at the time, the first GK conference felt like a nervous chat with the high school principal. Lot’s of power posturing, pompousnes and anxiety about what might happen next. In contrast, the last few days felt more like a family reunion, connecting and reconnecting to people with whom I share a great deal. This is a sign of a good network, and of an idea that has become (and is still becoming) a community.

There has been shift in who’s at the table. On both the donor and NGO side, it seems like those who care a lot are the ones who have stuck around, the real infopreneurs. At the same time, more business folks have stepped in – big companies like Microsoft, Alcatel and Cisco with corporate social responsibility work to do, but also small folks like NatureSoft in India. With a one or two grumpy exceptions, everyone I met really wanted to be in Cairo for this event, mostly because it brought them together with other people who also really wanted to be there. People crave networks.

One positive result of this: the whole principal’s office thing has faded into the background, replaced by the din of passionate conversation and real engagement. On a panel, my colleague Rich was asked: do organizations like IDRC need to change to be relevant? Sure they do! They need to become more conversational, engaged and network-like. More human really. Somehow, the GK idea seems to be helping with this kind of transformation.

Reflecting on all of this, I am really glad that has decided to partner up with GKP on our World Summit event. It’s the kind of platform we need to help us start our work of catalyzing and convening telecentre leaders from around the world.

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