Idea for project: web2.0 communities for local development

Posted on Monday, 12 May, 2008 by


The following is a project proposal I wrote last summer, but still relevant.

There are new ways for organizing….

Web 2.0 tools such as many-to-many email groups, blogs and wikis facilitate collaboration and sharing between users and offer possibilities to communicate or organize where before this would not have been possible, or too expensive to be worthwhile. This could offer a huge potential for rural development. Communities can be formed for joint learning and information exchange, among peers like farmers or micro entrepreneurs (e.g. support groups, farmer-led extension, farmer field schools). For local development among a broader diversity of stakeholders from a particular area, social networking / portal sites could be created, focused on brokering and partnering for that region.

The rural area is in need of new ways to engage stakeholders for local development…….

Increased mobility, changing urban – rural interdependencies and migration change our relationships to locations, and local development can no longer depend on having the full range of social ‘ties’ (residential, work, historical, linguistic, social, family) to an area. Web2.0 tools, by means of an umbrella portal site for a particular location, which is home to communities, can help us to acquaint ourselves with the area, to network, get to know local actors, to become part of communities, to expose ourselves so others can find us, to subscribe to or publish news, blogposts or any other information that reveal who is who, who does what and what kinds of supplies and demands exist.

But it is not an easy thing to organize

The new internet technologies enable new organizational forms to emerge: Networks, communities of interest, communities of practice. The criteria (their use, leadership, organizational and financial models, let alone legal attributes) of these new forms are not entirely clear. These new organizational forms may evolve where only informal communications existed before or where otherwise a more traditional membership organization could operate. The new forms are however, different from traditional membership organization models, e.g. associations, in many respects, among which leadership, communication, accountability. The traditional organizational models that we avail of at present, do not fit with the new organizational types, and they are impeding the change to “web2.0 state-of-mind”. We need to think about Association2.0.

Present organizational models are not in line with sustainability criteria….

Many communities have a relation with a “parent entity”; either an organization or a company which is providing some of the resources or leadership needed. When inquiring, it seems generally accepted, even assumed, that this is how communities operate. However, our acceptance of the dependency of communities on external entities is not in line with sustainable development thinking and needs to be re-thought.
The question to do Action Research on therefore:

What are autonomous, sustainable organizational models for web2.0 supported communities that contribute to local development?

in a situation with existing rural web2.0 communities:

  • try and expand number and size of these communities,
  • unite them in a network of communities,
  • to create a “home” and portal site for the communities
  • turn the hosting and service providing into a (local) company or otherwise sustainable model.
Posted in: lokale netwerken