P2P movement making

May 12, 2006 § Leave a comment

Colombo, Sri Lanka – May 8+9, 2006: Peer to peer. Partner to partner. People to people. We’ve built P2P thinking into the DNA telecentre.org program from the very beginning. The idea is simple: if you connect the right set of smart, passionate, creative people to each other, the task of amping up the telecentre movement will take care of itself.

This past week at the GKP meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on how this P2P strategy is unfolding. Some random but interesting data points:

Data point #1: the telecentre times. Ugabytes, D.net and Sarvodaya launched the Telecentre Times at GKP, a print newspaper for the telecentre movement. These three groups met and fell in love with each other at the telecentre leaders forum in Tunis. They met again in March to dream and ask: what next? Two months later, they have a newspaper in hand. While there is tons to improve, getting a print publication with articles from telecentre activists in eight countries out the door so quickly something these groups should be proud of. Even more impressive: friendship and a willingness to jump in head first provided the primary fuel for the
Telecentre Times. The telecentre.org program and team played almost no
role, just paying $1000 for the printing. For me, this is emergence in


Data point #2: Klaus and his corral. During the GKP open space session, ChasquiNet‘s Klaus Stoll convened a circle to talk about telecentre networks. Klaus opened by asking the people: if a global telecentre network were an animal, what would we want that animal to be? He then proceeded to draw a big white elephant on the flip chart (hmmm, was that a pot shot? :-)). The circle then had a chance to speak, with voices coming from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Uganda. The response: trying to pack it all into one animal creates the elephant. You need an ecosystem with many unique, interconnected and interdependent animals. Listening intently Klaus seemed to have an epiphany. He turned the flip chart to a fresh page and drew a corral. It seems that the right P2P conversations can change the images we have in our minds, turning lumbering beasts into intricate collective organisms in the blink of an eye.


Data point #3: speedgeeks as social norm. On the second day of GKP, telecentre.org hosted a South Asia telecentres speedgeek where seven organizations explained their approach to grassroots computing. The content was compelling, for sure. But the process and energy were even more interesting from my side. On the upside of interesting: almost all of these groups had done speedgeeks before. They jumped in with almost no coaching and provided tight, compelling pitches that made lightbulbs pop for the people listening. Reshan Dewapura from ICTA was especially improved, having done his first geek only eight weeks earlier. On the downside: the lack of cognitive dissonance and struggle to keep up with the format lowered the energy quite a bit. The culture of P2P meetings is growing amongst the groups we are working with, which is a good thing. However, it’s clear that we also need to switch things up a little to keep the energy high.


What to conclude? Nothing yet. But P2P thinking is definitely spreading and evolving amongst people across the telecentre movement. It’s fascinating to be a part of it.

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