This is the abstract of a paper I wrote with Eelke Wielenga about web2.0. I will be presenting this paper at ESEE in Italy in September. (the European Seminar on Extension Education)
Web2.0 in the Green Knowledge System
Old community norms in new environments?
Josien Kapma, Eelke Wielinga
The world is changing and new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are powerful contributors to this change. People acquire knowledge in radically different ways compared to before. This is also true for farmers and other stakeholders in the green domain. “Web2.0” is the name of a new generation of ICT applications that go beyond providing access to information, users feed the system with their own experience and knowledge. As a result of users finding and tracking like-minded people, patterns emerge that in time evolve to networks of peers, or even communities.
In The Netherlands, several of such patterns can be distinguished. Online communities from backgrounds as diverse as magazines, extension, clubs, groups of emigrants, or trade are forming.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Quality and Nature initiated an interactive web portal for the rural sector. Via this portal named GUUS (a Dutch boys’ name; picked for simplicity and neutrality) users offer each other links, weblogs, professional profiles. The first author of this paper is community manager of GUUS. In this article she likes to share her first experiences.
In this contribution we investigate differences between classical ways of knowledge transfer and web 2.0 communication in the “Green Knowledge System”. Society is moving from an industrial model with vertical hierarchical structures to a networked society with increasingly horizontal organizational structures. The opening up, through ICTs, of information, communication, participation and collaboration leads to changes that are both incremental and entirely novel or transformational.
You can find the ESEE kapmawielinga 4 here
One excerpt from the full paper, in the section on what opportunities web2.0 presents to agriculture we state:
- There is a general potential for development: if society as a whole is more open it means knowledge is more universally accessible, it means larger freedom for more people. The new interactive ways give farmers, who are often bound to their farms, options to connect to other farmers.
Agriculture, and many of today’s issues have become so complex that diverse stakeholders and sometimes competing claims are at stake. The interactive Internet might be the ultimate Multi-Stakeholder Platform (Roling, 1998). Interaction through Internet might help to listen and connect, to expose stakeholders to others, and thus to support multi-stakeholder issues.
- After a period in which we mainly celebrated the fact that Internet enables us to work separated of location and distance, now a period has started in which content is geotagged to a location. In Google Maps, we can already do Google searches on the basis of location. Shortly, unprecedented amounts of data will become available linked to GIS, Geographical Information Systems, and presented on maps in ways meaningful to us. While devices for Internet become more mobile, the content itself is increasingly tied to the land around us, to the extent that it will be significant for the area, the landscape, the people who live there.
- The new tools for easier collaboration bring fine-tuning business-to-business between successors in the production chain -before mainly the privilege of large companies who could invest in it- more within the reach of SME’s. Finding and collaborating with neighbors and regional partners was never so easy. Niche products could be marketed to a larger public with web 1.0 already, with web 2.0 they can be pooled and grouped a lot easier as well. Selling less of more, region bound web malls also for food, subscription agriculture, regional branding and regional sourcing might emerge.
- For research and policy making, the possibilities are huge but still difficult to comprehend. Automated searches, filters and subscriptions by make it easy to ‘listen in’ and track exactly those conversations you need to know about. The way data becomes available and can be combined makes it possible to see patterns that could not be seen before. An example is how Google predicted flu better than hospitals could (Ginsberg, 2009).
An important consideration is that, in both urban and rural, developing and developed settings, web 2.0 is not merely the next step in technology, but has the potential to completely transform the interaction and organization of professional practice. (Kapma, 2007) full paper