Thursday, April 19, 2007

Communicating development on the 'new' web

Ten years ago in 1997, a group of organisations got together to establish Euforic as a platform to share information on international cooperation activities involving Europe. We decided to use a new tool called the 'world wide web' that was just getting going. The founding members of the cooperative were the ACP Secretariat, APRODEV, EUROSTEP, CIDSE, CLONG (now CONCORD), and ECDPM.

Our starting point was the need to create information and share facilities and spaces where 'we' would feel comfortable and where our efforts could be made visible and be shared. In the beginning, we spent much effort building up our first web sites. We were joined by other like-minded groups such as CIDOB, CTA, EADI, ICCO, IDS, IPS Europe, ODI, OEFSE, and others.

Nowadays, of course, we all have our own web sites and portals and we increasingly use a growing number of Internet-based tools to communicate and share what we do and forge collaborations. Keeping up with the crowd is, however, still a challenge; as is keeping abreast of technical opportunities that can help us do our jobs more effectively.

At Euforic, therefore, we concentrate on a couple of main activities.

First, with our members and other partners we bring together and re-disseminate information on international cooperation. We offer a kind of news and research alerting and library service on different issues, themes, and countries. This mixes up different sources and perspectives and has a European 'flavour'. We provide content in several languages and are one of a very few initiatives to have completely bilingual French and English services. We don't collect all information together, but we signpost where it will probably be.

In doing this, we use a mix of approaches and tools, including new things like blogs, wikis, newsfeeds, social bookmarks, and dgroups, as well as collective calendars and search tools. These allow us to much more efficiently, and at very low cost, track, present, and share information on different themes and countries. It also allows readers of this Flash, for instance, to sign up to information alerts or publish our news on their own web sites, and, by using similar tools, to automatically and seamlessly get their own information into Euforic and other similar services. Follow the 'rss feeds' link on our web site to see the issues we cover and how to sign up for free.

Second, we work with our members and others to enhance their information, knowledge sharing and communication capacities. Precisely by working together we can share lessons and approaches we learned and collectively build much more intelligent ways to share information and communicate about development. This mainly involves running awareness and training events, in March with CONCORD for example, and working intensively with some organisations on their own approaches and tools. We will focus on some of these issues in more depth at the Euforic Annual Meeting in Brussels on 5 and 6 June.

There is much talk in Europe of issues like coordination, coherence, effectiveness, and partnership; we believe these processes are only possible when the organisations and people involved are well informed and can effectively communicate their views.

We are excited that CONCORD will rejoin Euforic and we look forward to working with the Secretariat and other CONCORD members to build a cooperative Europe-wide communication platform on development issues. We are also keen to find partners and collaborators to improve our collective work.

Peter Ballantyne, Euforic Director

Source: CONCORD Flash - March 2007.

See also Euforic dossier on information, knowledge, communication.