Category Archives: communities

Full Circle

One of the themes of my research conversations and meetings is about the “place” the work happens, or where does work happen? When I went to Netsquared to meet likeminded people in the US with the impression that the non-profit and tech sectors combined with philanthropy and funders was so better organised there I was told, in no uncertain terms , that I was mad and things were far better in London..more of this to come in following posts.

Evidently for us much work is done virtually, between real people, and or their avatars, in a place we have called and conceptualised as many things, – cyberspace, online, metaverse, chat rooms etc. But the “place” surely is the meeting place of motivation, need, demand and supply. And who better to talk to me about all of this than Nancy White whom I failed to “meet”in London when she was here talking to the BBC, hosted by colleague Robin Hamman, and to E-mint (her write up is in five posts from here to here.

Really I wanted some tips about designing our trial/pilot for maximum impact and learning and I am sure it was only the beginning of the conversation. But what really struck me is that designing for the second and third waves of adoption is going to be really interesting and pretty complex as we figure out and test the growing capacity of mobile phones to be a link in a chain of communications leading to an email or blog post for areas where fixed line connectivity may never really take off.

Links to check out from Nancy: Bioteaming and the wisdom of virtual team collaborations
Knoweldge Management for Development
The Institute for Development Studies
And a reference point for existing project groups in this area D-Groups


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Filed under communities, design, mentors, pledger, research, Resources, trial

Nata Village Blog

Pledger Curt Hopkins alerted me recently to the Nata Village Blog, and put Jon Rawlinson in touch with us at MW.

Jon and I finally met this week and he told me how his travels in Africa, videoblogging along the way have changed his life.

Stopping off in a remote village in Botswana he chanced across a US peace corps worker who had set up home in Nata Village. With his travelling companian he chucked in his plans for a comfortable night at the lodge to visit the village and stay closer to the ground. The visit and people he met changed a lot and Jon has since set up a blog for the Nata Village project and Melody Jenkins’ many projects educating locals about HIV and setting up a clinic there.

Currently in London, Jon is looking for ways of using his considerable video shooting and editing skills to contribute more. Have immediately snapped him up as a mentor. But what did hearten me was to find that he has scoured this blog and has now been in touch with (see previous post) and it’s CEO Matt Flannery , and will be visiting them in San Francisco mid August to offer his help.

You can read about the two Microsoft Fellow’s findings (see previous blog post) here, or on Matt’s blog.

Without describing our whole conversation – all my old documentary making tendencies came pouring out as we discussed the power of narrative and the kind of storytelling video is good at. He is off too to meet Current TV who if they have any sense, will snap him up. Hmmm, got me thinking. Given they pay $500 per video used maybe I should take it up again to fund Mentoring Worldwide!

Glad our blog is working. Come September, following a real holiday, I hope others will want to start co-blogging here, and we work together to get our trial/ proof of conept up and running for real.

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Filed under Africa, communities, mentees, mentors, microfinance, non profits, pledger

comparing models

One of the many things I said I would do is look at different existing mentoring and mentoring-type organisations. Thanks to M.T.Rainey of Horses’ Mouth and Gideon Lyons of Unltd for sending me these two remarkably different types of examples. is a Netherlands-based charity whose novel idea is to create online villages around specific projects (development-focussed) and ask online volunteers or “neighbours” to help with the needs of the village or project. So what you get is a collaboration between online volunteers to provide the village with its needs. They also have a facilitator role per village.

africa villages and neighbours

Here is the story of Zapotillo in Ecuador. The project is complete so you can see the whole story, see who the volunteers are, and what they did. This is certainly the most original project I have seen so far – and they have about 4,500 volunteers currently helping 73 villages in 24 countries currently needing 169 actions. So perhaps we can help out here to get some practise!

The other project comes from Accenture the global management consultancy. They have started a charity called Accenture Development Partnerships aiming not to make a profit, but to cover its costs. It looks like a group of people from within the company had this idea and decided to make it work after good experiences of working with VSO. It’s part of Accenture’s corporate citizenship agenda and aims to deliver their services to NGOs and projects for a price they can afford.

accenture development charity

Both projects testify to a need and a demand which different organisations and groups of individuals are seeking to address. I’d love to hear what you think about both of these and their projects. There are case studies on both sites.

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cooperative downloading

Sometimes I see stuff at work (BBC) before it gets released and that is very exciting, but occasionally it is breathtaking. I got to a presentation of the researchers at the Technical University of Delft (organised by Tom Loosemore) about their new release of something called Tribler. Tribler adds a level of social networking and cooperative downloading to the peer to peer filesharing experience. You need about ten PHDS to follow the fine print. For those of you who are technically minded you can now download it to try it out. Why am I posting about it here? Well, it’s another example of people working to maxmise the benefits of social groups over the internet. In this start-up phase that is exactly what we are doing – using our networks to get this thing up and running. Getting by with a little help from your friends…

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netsquared to the rescue!

NetSquared is great…Marhsall Kirkpatrick, a pledger, blogs there. He contacted me via Google Talk to see if there was anything he could do to help? Like there are so many things…but to start off he suggested some nifty reputation tracking so I can see if and how people are writing about this site on their blogs. He talked me through quite a complicated (for me) creation of an OPML file of feeds from 22 Search Engines at MonitorThis to import into my RSS reader Newsgator. Coincidentally his favourite too. This is nothing to all you tecchies out there, but a triumph for me thanks to his brilliant guidance , an online mentor if every I found one – cheers mate! (As we say in the UK).

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we are all about cooperation…

Have you seen Howard Rheingold’s latest project? has launched a blog and importantly summaries of key texts in this area. I’m signing up to be part of this! If we are about anything it will be cooperation and how we at Mentoring Worldwide , a new community of people who have pledged to become mentors in the developing world, can share our resources and vision to build this project from scratch. Call me an idealist..fine by me.

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the pledge list is working….

Lovely email from pledger Shivangi Walke in Zurich to let me know she was doing a course in facilitating online communities and offering potentially to help us out when she had completed the course. I asked her which course it was and it turns out to be a Full Circle course ran by Nancy White. Thought the name rang a bell and yes, Nancy is another pledger but based Seattle. Shivangi,meet Nancy – you can see each other too on our Frappr map! The list is working. Come to think of it I might take Shivangi up on her offer…

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Filed under communities