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Monday, November 13, 2006

Communicating Development on the ‘New’ Web: Euforic Workshop

On 9 November 2006, Euforic organised a workshop for information and communication people working in development organizations. The event was held in Brussels and was hosted by CIDSE.

The next generation web …

According to one observer, there’s a “revolution under way right now, one that is likely to fundamentally transform the way we use the Web in the coming years… The result is the equivalent of a massive software upgrade for the entire Web, what some commentators have taken to calling Web 2.0. Essentially, the Web is shifting from an international library of interlinked pages to an information ecosystem, where data circulate like nutrients in a rain forest.” Information in this ecosystem is “analyzed, repackaged, digested, and passed on down to the next link in the chain. It flows.”

Or, according to Stephen Downes, the web is “shifting from being a medium in which information was transmitted and consumed, into being a platform, in which content is created, shared, remixed, repurposed, and passed along. And what people were doing with the Web was not merely reading books, listening to the radio or watching TV, but having a conversation, with a vocabulary consisting not just of words but of images, video, multimedia and whatever they could get their hands on.”

Web 2 in development …

Individuals and organizations in the development sector are beginning to explore and experiment with Web 2.0 approaches. Blogs and Wiki’s are starting to be used more widely, there are some applications of social bookmarking, and RSS feeds are becoming more and more common. The potential to enhance information access, sharing, dissemination and collaboration geared to development purposes is immense.

To effectively grasp these potentials, organizations and individuals working with any kind of development information, data or content need to understand Web 2.0 principles, know how specific applications can be used to deliver products and services, and be able to integrate them into already existing systems of content generation, sharing and dissemination.

The workshop …

On Thursday 9 November, Euforic introduced the ideas and notions associated with this ‘new’ web, illustrating how they are being – and could be – used by development organizations. Intended for communication and information officers of development networks and groups in Brussels, the session required no technical expertise, simply an interest in communicating development activities across the web and some familiarity with the Internet.

The session was informal and participatory. After an introduction to the subject, including illustrations and demonstrations, participants explored some popular web2 applications for themselves, assessing and discussing their potential usefulness.

Participants left the session with a general awareness of the main ideas underlying the coming ‘new’ web and an understanding of how some specific tools are being used in development. They were also able to put some applications to immediate use in their own organizations – such as RSS feeds, social bookmarking, or blogs.

Euforic experiences with ‘web 2.0’ tools such as blogger, del.icio,us, dgroups, zvents, feedburner, swicki, and others was the practical basis for the course which gave also insights into ways that other organizations in development are using these tools in creative and effective ways.

To have more information on the course, or to know about future 'web 2.0' workshops, visit Euforic's information, knowledge, communication dossier or send an email to Pier Andrea Pirani at info@euforic.org.

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