Networks, or networking?

November 26, 2006 § Leave a comment

Madrid, Spain – November 22, 2006: The Spain trip provided a good chance to look at the best of what formal networks have to offer to the telecentre movement: things like training, support, funding and visibility with policy makers. Networks like the one run by Esplai and CTIC in Asturias offer these things in spades.


The same trip also offered a good reminder of the power of networking. Esplai and jointly supported four international guests join the Madrid gig: two from Chile, one from Canada and one from Sri Lanka. It was a joy to witness the informal networking, idea sharing and friendmaking amongst these folks and the Spanish telecentre leaders. In particular, watching Isura from Sarvodaya (top right) connect with Marc at Esplai (top left) made me feel these interactions were making a difference: Isura had a chance to see how mature telecentre networks are running. This is something that will surely help with his task of setting up the Sri Lanka Telecentre Family project.

As I go into the Africa Telecentre Leaders Forum, this balance between networks (noun) and networking (verb) is very much on my mind. Networks with strong leaders and organizational capacity seem best at delivering concrete service offerings at a national or sub-national level, while the fluidity and light weight of networking activities seems like a better tool for community building, idea transfer, short term projects … and the early stages of getting formal networks started. Over the next week, I expect we will come up with some ideas for Africa that require the creation (or strengthening) of networks, and some that require networking. It will interesting to see how it all unfolds.

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