At the IKM Table (2): individual agency vs. organisational remit, accountability and impact pathways for the future of IKM-Emergent

(This was originally posted on KM for me… and you?)

Day 2 of the final IKM workshop dedicated to ‘practice-based change’. As much as on day 1, there is a lot on the menu of this second day:

  • Individual agency vs. organisational remit;
  • Accountability;
  • Impact and change pathways;
  • A possible extension of the programme: IKM-2
Day 2 - the conversation and cross-thumping of ideas continues
Day 2 – the conversation and cross-thumping of ideas continues

On individual agency and organisational remit:

We are made of a complex set of imbricated identities and cultures that manifest themselves around us in relation with the other actors that we are engaging with. These complex layers of our personality may clash with the organisational remit that is sometimes our imposed ‘ball park’. Recognising complexity at this junction, and the degree of influence of individual agents is an important step forward to promote more meaningful and effective development.

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Lost in translation (Part 2)

The recent colloquium on Traducture & Translation: Creating intercultural dialogue in International Development held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, London, United Kingdom from 27 – 29 May 2011,  resembled an African gathering where elders share their wisdom and insights with curious young people around a fire place.  Here Charles Dhewa shares his second impressions of the colloquium.

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Linked data experiment

Linked data – the machine readable web, as the inventor of the Web Tim Berners Lee explains here is the next layer of the web. He developed a five star rating to describe information which is fully compliant with the semantic web and allows it to become part of the growing web of linked data. In the recent discussion paper IKMemergent explained why this was relevant for the international development community.

As a result of participation in the IKMemergent Workshop in Oxford, UK, in November 2010, IFPRI has taken the Global Hunger Index (GHI) as an example and published it as a linked data RDF files and documented the experience. We worked with Practical participation to develop the initial files and seek guidance on the options and approaches for publishing linked data. This is the first stage of the project to make the data available and then monitor its use and look at ways to promote and integrate it with more datasets.

Groups have already used the original data of the GHI to produce new mappings of the data, see the examples from Tableau and Chartsbin. By publishing the linked data we hope others will integrate the information with other visualizations and disseminate the results of the report.

Linked data has already been used by the international community to bring together different datasets, for example comparing Aid from the UK and USA.

The process of initially setting up a process to publish linked data sets is involved, but obviously with a recurring dataset such as the Global hunger Index it is easy to update.

Although the datasets prove challenging to convert, information on many of the organisations outputs is already available in Linked data form. The hundred or so wikipedia pages featuring links and descriptions of IFPRI output are already part of the web of linked data through Dbpedia. A sample of metadata describing IFPRI presentations, collections and twitter accounts can be seen through Sindice.

Get the data

At present the GHI 2010 data is made available in two different forms and is available in raw RDF/XML and N3 files.


|Chris Addison|Head of Web Communication IFPRI

Development knowledge ecology: another visit to the KM kitchen?

We’ve been talking recently with colleagues about the development knowledge ecology – with an implicit understanding that we all know what it means – but we’ve never really tried to define it so I’m going to have a go here.  Or in any event to outline some key influences, key ingredients. In fact, given that we are in the process of developing it as one of IKM’s core arguments, it’s probably time to get cooking…. Continue reading

Share your story! Participate in the Knowledge Management Impact Challenge to help identify the measures that matter for Knowledge Management

Measuring the impact of knowledge management is a hot topic in international development circles and many of us are trying to find ways to effectively measure and demonstrate the results of our investments in knowledge and learning to understand how these investments help us achieve our development objectives faster, more effectively, more efficiently, and/or with greater impact. We all know that there are no simple answers or one-size-fits-all approaches but there is increasing consensus that we need to work together to address these challenges by asking ourselves difficult questions and exploring the context of emerging solutions. Continue reading

Slow Knowledge at the AgKnowledge Africa ShareFair and McK-snacks

Mike Powell often describes IKM emergent as promoting slow knowledge, analogous to the Italian Slow Food movement, an approach to Knowledge centred on reflective, deliberative enquiry; marinating and melding multiple ingredients; and to be consumed respectfully, appreciative of the rich diversity of ingredients. In much of my own work, within and outside IKM emergent, I engage with the Knowledge equivalent of Fast Food: new technology mediated communication and knowledge sharing, blood-pressure raising snacks of Tweets, Blogs or Blips, where the consumption only encourages more consumption.

Anthony Mugo proposing a topic at the Open Space

So I leapt at the chance something more nourishing, spending the first day of the AgKnowledge Africa event with other members of IKMemergent and KKM4Dev organising and facilitating learning sessions on face to face knowledge sharing.

A word on AgKnowledge, extracted from Peter Ballantynes introductory press release: the ‘AgKnowledge Africa’ Share Fair brings together 300 innovators and supporters to examine and exchange promising tools and approaches that help spread and apply Africa’s agricultural and rural development knowledge across the continent and the world. Together, the participants are a truly multi-stakeholder group, including farmers, extension workers, rural development agents, advocacy and development NGOs, international agencies, national and international research institutes, womens’ networks, academics, development projects, governments, private companies and the media.

Discussion and learning will be focused around 4 themes: Agriculture and water; Agriculture and climate change; Land; and Livestock. Cross-theme discussions will look into the opportunities of reporting, indigenous knowledge, value chains, mobile phones, geospatial information and data, telecentres, and other emerging issues. A learning day provides opportunities for participants to get up to speed on some latest tools and approaches’.

For the Local Content stream in IKMemergent, the Fair is the next stage in our continuing project aimed at better understanding, supporting and promoting the importance of local knowledge processes, the role of knowledge in development at local level, and the value and nature of locally produced content. We have been sharing and documenting examples of how communities and intermediary NGOs create, capture and share local content on this blog and will be reporting from the fair here and using other social media tools. If you yearn for a quick snack, look for the tag #sfaddis on Twitter.

Day 0 of the Fair was a Learning and Training day, the majority of which was given over to digital tools. But the organisers – including IKM emergent, since the programme is sponsoring 30 participants at the Fair – recognised the importance of providing space to discuss and exchange ideas on more traditional knowledge sharing approaches, in many ways more common and appropriate for the community level development activities on which the Local Content stream focuses.  The facilitators were a mix of people who have been working with the Local Content project and vintage KM4Devers. We used Open Space as a way to allow the participant groups to choose from a menu of standard KS tools and suggest their own, which brought to the surface a rich mix of options: story telling, after action review, peer assist, fish bowl, testimonials, energisers, icebreakers (the KStoolkit is a good aggregate resource for these kind of techniques).

Slow knowledge

For me, once we had facilitated the open space, it was an opportunity to sink into a more reflective space, a story telling session wonderfully facilitated by Roselinie Murota of SAFIRE (who’s been involved in several strands of IKM emergent). It was quintessential slow knowledge and, even without a fire and the smell of cooking, as part of the open space dynamic, more and more people were attracted to the group on the grass, telling stories about stories, arguing and learning, nodding  and laughing. In the rest of the ILRI campus people were wrestling with Google, blinking at video-editors, sitting at computers learning how to use technology to be social. Here is Rose summarising what she took away from the sessions.

And yet…. this is a blog, that was a blip: new media continues to sweep across the world. The challenge I take away from the story telling is to find ways to use the new technologies to tell stories, engage with slow knowledge. Tim Davies’ work storing and analysing the patterns of Tweets and Blogs from the Internet Governance is an interesting signpost. This very, formally too long a blog post, might be another. Try an experiment: follow #sfaddis on twitter, or on Delicious, and see if or how you can sense-make from the cascade of McK-snacks.

Tracking African AgKnowledge and Local Content

Kapiti ranch is an ILRI research station near Machakos, Kenya. In July 2010 a planning group met to prepare for the IKM working group 2 activities this year, which centre on knowledge and local content on African Agriculture. Escapng from detailed conversations about agendas and processes to make sure we kept raising our eyes to the horizon we met the  giraffes that run wild on the ranch, mingling with the cattle. Continue reading

Emerging Digital Generations

Digital Native – a contested term

Since 2001 the term Digital Natives has been used to describe a generation of young people who have grown up with digital technology as an integral part of their lives. Marc Prensky coined the term:

Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work.  

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Around the MandE table: a cooking lesson?

Much has happened since Simon and I started working on this paper about the monitoring and evaluation of knowledge management (M&E of KM, see original post here) and the cooking lesson continues, for us anyway and hopefully for you too, as in this case there are not too many cooks!

At the M&E cooking class, there's never too many cooks (Photo credits: vår resa)

On the KM4DEV mailing list, there has been a useful exchange on this topic of M&E of KM and this has triggered more reflections on our side to approach this paper. By the way, special thanks for Sarah Cummings, Roxane Samii and Patrick Lambe for getting this discussion going!

Simon just introduced in a blogpost one of our suggested theoretical models to address the different paradigms (what I profanely refer to as ‘world views’) on knowledge management, offering a spectrum from positivist to constructionist and from cognitivist to social learning).

In this post I’d like to share a refined version of the framework that we would like to offer to your scrutiny. This framework will eventually include a series of questions helping to crack the nuts for the M&E recipe, but for now let’s focus on the recipe itself. Continue reading

Monitoring knowledge (management): an impossible task?

It isn’t an impossible task to monitor/evaluate (M&E) intangibles, knowledge or knowledge management (KM), but it requires a series of tough choices in a maze of possibles. This is what Simon Hearn and myself are discovering, trying to summarise, synthesise and build upon the two M&E of KM papers commissioned earlier, as well as the reflective evaluation papers by Chris Mowles.

We are still at the stage of struggling very much with how to set the ballpark for our study. So this is a good opportunity to briefly share a blogpost I wrote recently about this very topic, and to share some preliminary thoughts. If we get to engage your views it would certainly help us to get going. Continue reading