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web 2.0 for development


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Fail Faire at IFAD

innovating&failing

The 29 October I went to the Fail Faire at IFAD.

Roxy organized and promoted the event to help all of us to openly discuss and share professional failures. The objective was, and is, to be able to manage failures and get the best out of them: learning by doing, in a certain way.

I met interesting people like Tim Harford, Aleem Walji, Dave Snowden and Ashley Good, who animated to the event, heard very fascinating stories about failures and errors, and brought with me the following key messages:

  • We need to realize that we do a very complex job. Working for the UN is not as easy and simple as you can think. The level of complexity due to the very different people, the languages, the topics and, most of all, the “politics”, is incredibly high. This should be much clearer to everyone and, in my opinion, would require much more attention, time and efforts than the ones currently dedicated;
  • If you don’t fail you did not try to innovate. It is only changing that you innovate. It is in the change that you take your risks. Think about it if you are proud of not failing in your job;
  • Communication is fundamental for what we do. We should talk and talk and talk. And then talk again in order to be clear and aligned and always ready to move ahead together. Think about your recent past, make the “failures emerge” and then talk about them with someone you trust in order analyse them and focus on the the reasons and try to avoid them in the future. If you talk about the reasons of you failure with someone they will be evident and it is more difficult for you to repeat them in the future.

Last but not least: trust is always a key element in this learning process.

 

The event was very useful mostly because it is fundamental to think and zoom out from what we are currently doing, and develop new and better ideas for the future.


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Evolving the “FAO in emergency” website

Since the publication of the new FAO in emergency website, we tried to understand what people want to know about Emergency and how to show it in the best way.

As a result of this enquiry, we just launched the first big evolution of the site, most of which is visible in the home page:

new stuff of the website

The main changes are:

  1. The all new Project Highlights & Contributions section.
  2. The possibility to find all the content about a Country/Region/Crisis immediately in the Country/Region/Crisis page: check the Lesotho page or the Madagascar locust crisis page, for examples.
  3. The addition of new tools in the homepage:
    • A “Multimedia” box which shows the latest 3 videos/photo-galleries uploaded, and
    • The “Latest Documents” box which shows the latest 5 documents uploaded.


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It is out!

It took long but now it is out! The new FAO in emergencies website has been published and is available at www.fao.org/emergencies/

FAO in emergencies

I think this is a very good step ahead: complete reorganization, much more content, much more usability, social features and a new approach in the content creation with the site ready to host every new content produced in the “field”.

Have a look at all the main changes we made.

More is in preparation and you will see before summer.


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Processes not objectives

Great Aikido class last Monday. We had to do several techniques in a row. Each one was well known like Ikkio, Shiho nage, Irimi nage and Kote gaeshi.

But the big difference was in the fact that we had to do three of them in a row. This helped a lot in trying not to focus too much on the final result, the projection of uke, but more on the flowing of the techniques, on the process itself. We had to “feel” it in depth, in tasting each and every second and step of the process, to better the sensation of the contact itself.

Tamura Sensei explaining irimi nage

I found it extremely positive because too many times we are so focused on the final result that we forget to enjoy the steps to get to it. So doing we loose too much. We loose most of what we are doing every day.

Staying with your uke during the long time necessary to do three techniques in a row gives you the possibility of having a long contact, perceive changes in uke’s attitudes and reactions, feel different kind of strangth at different times. As a final result you can have a better, deeper and longer sensation and gain more experience from what you are doing.

Our Sensei always repeats: “Stay there! Stay in touch with your uke and create a better contact: feel it as much as possible”. Does this work for aikido only or does it apply also to other aspects of our life? I think the second is the right answer.


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Barza meeting in Arusha

barza group photo

At the end of September, I was invited by Farm Radio International (FRI) to Arusha, Tanzania, to join the first “barza” workshop. Barza, a swahili word which means “the place where people in a village meet under a tree to talk and sort out questions concerning the community”, is an online comunity dedicated to community radio broadcasters in Africa.

The meeting was organized by FRI to gather both the users, the community radio broadcasters, and the advisory group of the community one year after the birth of this experiment.

The calendar of the three days was pretty intense:

  • Day 1 was dedicated to introduce people (most of us knew each other but never met before) and describe FRI’s activity in the past, their intention to set up the community and how people got involved in the experiment. I had a chance to introduce my idea, developed in 2003, when I dedicated the thesis of my Master in International Cooperation to the creation of an online Community for community Radio broadcasters. In the afternoon, people identified problems and difficulties in the current community both in terms of technical issues and offline collaboration and promotion.
  • Day 2 was mainly devoted to identify future options for the community to expand in terms of members and of content. The exercise was very interesting: dozens of ideas came on the table and, as usual, Internet seemed to be the Holy Graal, the “thing” that can give you an answer to all your needs, the keyword to solve all the problems, the gateway for accessing everything, everytime, everywhere… It can be true but you have to create the conditions for this to happen, otherwise a failure is just behind the corner.
  • Day 3 was dedicated to the advisory group to put order in the inputs received during the general meeting and start planning for the future. We had a franck and long conversation about our perceptions, what each one of us wants and can offer, what the problems for the future can be.

The main problem to solve now is to decide whether Barza is mainly oriented towards people OR content: barza was born as an online community which means to be devoted to create relationships among people. In addition, we live the social media era of the internet where online relationships are the KEY. BUT content is a crucial element in the life of a radio broadcaster and access to good and new content is considered the key by most of the members of barza. So the dilemma between content and people is still open.

Personally I don’t see a contrast between the two things. In my opinion, barza should be characterized as an online community of community radio broadcasters (a very clear group of people with a clear strong interest in common) and use the interaction among people to share and spread among members innovative content about different topics (mainly scripts about agriculture and nutrition but also health, education, human rights, gender issues, etc.).

Thanks FRI, Kevin, Nelly, Blythe and Bart, for the great occasion they offered me to learn more about these guys and their needs and perception of what an online community can do for them.