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Jan Jacobs. Conditions and Functions of an Informal International Knowledge Network Considerations for ICT Support. 4 th Metaphorum Conference St. Gallen, March 9-10, 2007. Overview. The International Knowledge Network (IKN). 1. 2. Functions of the network. 3.

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Jan Jacobs

Conditions and Functions of an Informal International Knowledge NetworkConsiderations for ICT Support

4th Metaphorum Conference

St. Gallen, March 9-10, 2007


Overview l.jpg
Overview

The International Knowledge Network (IKN)

1

2

Functions of the network

3

Functions of communication

Specific conditions of ICT use

4

IKN experiences and strategies

5

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


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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)

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


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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.

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


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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.

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


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IKN Communication Development (IKN)

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.

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


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IKN Network Functions Development (IKN)

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.

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


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IKN Network Functions Development (IKN)

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.

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


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Functions of Communication Development (IKN)

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.

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


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Functions of Communication Development (IKN)

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.

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


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Conditions of ICT use Development (IKN)

  • 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.

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


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Conditions of ICT use (Cont.) Development (IKN)

  • 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.

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


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IKN Experiences and Strategies Development (IKN)

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.

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


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Discussing communication problems, needs, and potentials Development (IKN)

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


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

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


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Developing new information and communication practices technologies for use in IKN.

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.

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


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Thank you for your attention! technologies for use in IKN.

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

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


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