Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Shocked that somebody is actually reading my blog...

It is fascinating, how a message of a participant of last week's KM4Dev workshop, who just congratulated me to the launch of my blog today, is able to force me into hectic and most nervous activity. I just created the launch 4 days ago and Google is already indexing it on the second page when searching my name??? I remember times when search engines needed 6 months for this... Does that mean that I now actually have to WRITE something in my blog every week? I cannot dissapoint the 2 people who suscribed to my blog within these first four days, can I? But what if more people will see it then? Waves of thoughts are breaking over me... What if colleagues will find the blog and read about my professional views? Ooooh.. what if my boss reads it? Or my Human Resources focal point? Or former students from university. What about family and friends? I realize this has serious implications on my public reputation, as well as my professional environment, my career options, my social peers, well, maybe even my love life! Do I really want to do this? Writing and publishing fragments of thoughts visible to anyone in the world? Why would I wnt to do this? What are the benefits - and more important, what are the risks? Launching an own blog just out of a moment's mood might not be the perfect framework to reflect on these questions... hm, on the other hand - maybe this is exactly the right framework...?

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Magister Artium!

After waiting for several months for my professors to review my final thesis in my studies in political science, I finally received my certificate yesterday! This means I can now freely distribute my thesis to everyone who is interested.

The thesis examined the connection between common development theory approaches and ICT for Development (ICT4D), based on the observation that most development projects in this field seemed to be somehow disconnected from theory-based development research. Projects often were developed according to various assumptions which have never been proved before - such as the idea that development countries would be able to 'leapfrogg' various stages of development by transforming form agricultural societies straight to information societies. The character of these considerations where inspired by a rather practical and pragmatic approach, asking rather what actually could work than how this would connect to the research in development theory of the years before. The guiding question of the thesis therefore was if ICT4D was actually done without development theory at all. Where there any connections to developmeng theory approaches of the last 20 years and if, which role does ICT4D play in these different approaches?

The study was conducted in cooperation with InWEnt – Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung (Capacity Building International, Germany) gGmbH and in particular with the support of Balthas Seibold (http://www.webwort.de/). The InWEnt project IT@COOPS (http://www.it-coops.org/) in this regard served as a case study to illustrate how the different development approaches implicitely or explicitely feed into one concrete ICT4D project.

Unfortunatley, the study is only available in German language, which was a concession to the fact that I had to complete the writing solely on weekends during the first months of my new position at UN Volunteers. However, if you like to learn more about the study and its context, feel free to contact me personally.

Download the study

Friday, 22 June 2007

I was sure I will never write a blog

It has been about 13 years ago, that a good friend of mine tried to persuade me to get myself an email account in order to communicate with her in some other part of Europe. It was 1994, I was 20 and I had just started my studies in computer science in multimedia. Even though I signed up for one of the most innovate studies existing in Europe at that time, I had somehow a strong hesitation when it came to new tools which did not immediately reveal their usability to me. So it took my friend about 6 months until I finally approached our university's IT admin to set up my account. Since then roughly about 10,000 emails have left my outbox and today of course I could not live without emails anymore.

But somehow, this inner resistance regarding new fancy-but-senseless tools remained to a certain extent. So all the hype about blogs and Web 2.0 left me extraordinary unimpressed. In fact, I considered most of the blogs I have seen in the early days to be stunningly irrelevant, boring and basically a waste of time. Who the heck should keep track of all the stuff which is written out there and how on earth should one filter the relevant needles in the haystack? I decided to leave this to the professionals, trusting that journalists would provide me with filtered, condensed and up-to-date destillations of blog articles whenever there was actually something important posted in the world out there. As far as I was concerned, I had better things to do.

And well, I still have of course. Intrestingly enough however, today I ended up working in Knowledge Management at the United Nations Volunteers, so I cannot avoid to concern myself with any tools and ideas which support knowlede sharing and exchange. And therefore - after quite a long time in which I tried to ignore that I actually SHOULD concern myself with Web 2.0 tools for professional reasons - the wave finally broke over me... After participating in a 3-days workshop of the Knowledge Management for Development Network in Zeist, Netherlands this week (http://www.km4dev.org/) and especially some lengthy discussions with Christian Kreutz who shared on our train ride back to Germany his experience about setting up his own blog after a similar time of resistance (http://www.crisscrossed.net/), I decided to start my own. Just to see what will develop out of it...