More on the demise of Bellanet (responding to your comments)

I’m using this post to respond to all of the comments received on the last post ‘The sad story of how a light goes out…’ (on the demise of Bellanet). I’d like to thank all of you for taking the time to respond to the post. Some of the commentators are blogging partners, others I’ve met a few times as members of Bellanet staff, and some others are the guardians of Bellanet’s legacy in the South. Great to hear from you all.

If I sum up these comments, the general trend is: it’s very sad but we will keep the Bellanet philosophy alive in our own work. Most commentators showed a real spirit of optimism, talking of ‘seeds’, ‘blooming’ etc.

I really value this optimism – being something of an optimist myself – and can see that this sprit of hope will keep the legacy of Bellanet alive. But is it enough to compensate for the loss of the organization itself? I’m sorry to say that I think not.

Whether we like it or not, organizations are very important in the context of development. Although individual agency and commitment are crucial to bringing about change, I think organisations – because of their greater crtical mass – are in a much stronger position to make a difference. So the spirit of Bellanet would have had a much greater chance of surviving if the organization had survived too.

I’m not knocking the personal commitment of those enthused by the Bellanet philosophy – it’s really great that so many of us feel like that and particularly the commitment being shown by Bellanet’s Southern partners – but I think that the demise of Bellanet remains a very worrying development.

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2 Responses

  1. The demise of Bellanet is a sad thing and a blow to the community of confusiasts trying to figure out how to make this planet a better place through more collaboration and more systematic learning… And it is fair to say that individuals do not have the same role, visibility and weight as organisations.

    At the same time, the demise of Bellanet is an opportunity. It could be seen as a metaphor to the waning of our focus on organisational knowledge management, and the continuous rise of network knowledge management. It is in the networks that we can gather the critical mass and the credibility to effect policies and practices around knowledge management, more so than in organisations.

    To get to that stage organisations and individuals in the networks have to commit themselves to coordinating their actions and offering information products and knowledge-sharing services (from advocacy messages through communities of practices to publications etc.). The initiative of KM4DEV is a right step in that direction. Maybe IKM can also contribute to taking up the role of Bellanet.

    At any rate, the enthusiasm we feel is a good sign that there are volunteers to take Bellanet’s philosophy forward, and it is just time for us to push for KM networks, stronger and more likely to go on by the variety of its members.

    Bellanet showed the way, it is for us to prove we can collaborate and multiply the Bellanet effects together…

  2. […] work, and the the blog begins to look impressive too. Even more relevant are the posts about the end of Bellanet, one of the larger and older references in that corner of knowledge management and a precursor of […]

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