What’s next?

November 27, 2005 § Leave a comment

Certainly, the world summit was a milestone. The idea that is telecentre.org is now out there in the world. More people understand it. And, I think, more people feel like they are a part of it.

The thing with milestones is they quickly fade off into history, leaving you with the question: what’s next? Mixing both the big and small, there are some obvious ‘what’s next?’ priorities for telecentre.org:

  • Keep investing in networks. We need to ensure that the networks we’re already partnering with — Uganda, Sri Lanka, M2007 India, South Africa, Mozambique, Chile, Somos, TAP, PacTOC, CTCNet — have the support and resources they need to thrive. At the summit, we met people who are running or starting networks in Spain, the Phillipines, Indonesia and West Africa. We need to follow up with these folks, quickly. And, also, there is a need to do some conscious outreach to places we haven’t made contacts yet — Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
  • Figure out what we mean by social entrepreneurship, and do something about it. A lot of us have been mixing the words social with entrepreneurship, enterprise and innovation for a while now. We’ve started work on these fronts by asking NESST to help with business planning for some of the networks we support. But we need to dig deeper. Most likely, this means finding three or four projects this year that SHOW what we mean by social entrepreneurship / enterprise / innovation within a grassroots telecentre context (yes, mixing these terms muddles … but we need to live in the muddle for now). It also means bringing more partners to the table who understand this space.
  • Get serious about evolving and sharing telecentre content. Peer production of content is one of the biggest nuts we need to crack. How does curriculum invented / adapted / innovated by a person in one telecentre can shared effectively with 10,000 others? How do you coordinate and integrate improvements to content from hundreds of different people? How do we make content and curriculum better –but also faster and cheaper? We need to start investing in projects (Mission 2007?) and finding partners (people who have done this in software?) that help us jump deeply into these questions.
  • Develop easier ways to partner. The partnerships we’ve developed so far have involved a lot of effort, which is totally okay. But we also need ways in for people who are ready to jump out of their chairs and say: I’ve got something to offer right now! Significant effort this year should go into creating partnership opportunities with a lower barrier to entry (e.g. simple content sharing between web sites).
  • Stick to our facilitation guns, and scale it slowly. So far, insisting on participatory meetings has met with rave reviews from our partners (overall participant rating at WSIS workshops = 8.8 out of 10). It’s my belief that meetings like this are central to building the trust and relationships necessary to create successful networks. Unfortunately, we’ve got a very small pool of people available to work as facilitator. We need to make some conscious investments in growing this pool. This could include training our partners as facilitators, documenting the way we run meetings so others can copy us, showing what our workshops look like through video (Jarra, you rock!).
  • Make what we do on the web better, and better, and better. Face to face networking events only matter if we can take the community online afterwards. We made some first steps in doing this with our WSIS blogging sessions and our beta site. Over the coming year, we need to get way better at this. Some priorities: getting reference desk team in place; making Drupal WAY more usable; making it easy and fast to create new site instances; doing more online community coaching; building transparent, real time online communication into what ALL of us at telecentre.org do everyday.

This is just a brain dump. Of course, it draws on the brains and hearts of everyone I talked to at the summit, hopefully capturing the general energy and direction. But it’s just a start. Over the coming months, we’ll be developing telecentre.org’s Business Plan 2.0. This will give a chance to refine these ideas further by tapping into the collective intelligence of our partners.

Rome, Italy

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