A Guidebook for Managing Telecentre Networks/Looking to the future: Networks that empower

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Looking to the future: Networks that empower[edit]

Manuel Acevedo Ruiz

In the previous chapter we explored the integrated nature of telecentre network management, taking into account the interaction of its various aspects. We also pointed out the significant and aggregated impact of network effects when those management aspects relate productively to one another. However, an important issue remains to be considered: how can we improve ways of working so that we can fully exploit the networking potential of TCNs? This chapter contemplates the road ahead in telecentre network management. And since this is a living document that will change via a wiki, this section will likely change accordingly. After all, the view of a road depends on where you are in it.

The question posed in the first paragraph implies that there are gaps in collaborative methodologies in network environments, and arguably this is often the case. Sometimes an entity that describes itself as a network actually follows traditional, linear practices. Or it has strict, hierarchical strings of power and control. In other words, it calls itself a network, but it does not truly act as one.

Let’s take, as a hypothetical example, a telecentre network that is undertaking a project to extend educational content about the country’s history from local stories and traditions. Through observation it is determined that (i) only a small percentage of the telecentres actually gets involved, (ii) each participating telecentre provides content in whatever format it wants and (iii) there are no means through which to determine the assessment of the membership about specific submissions. The end result is nevertheless a reasonable repository of historical local content.

In spite of having carried out an activity resembling network practices, the project will lack the power of the network to (i) include a wide participation from its telecentres (so that perhaps some of the best stories are missing); (ii) determine a proper way to prepare the content, so that stories and traditions are not presented in comparable formats and make it hard to process the entries; and (iii) include the opinions and judgements of the involved telecentres on the selected content. The final product will be less representative, have less quality, have demanded more work to produce and will have a lower educational value than could have been attained through a proper networked process.

In this concluding chapter we discuss network strategies that can help us get the most out of telecentre networks and examine some of the key challenges ahead in the short and mid term, such as:

  • What strategies can help us to better collaborate (and more productively so) in telecentre networks?
  • What kind of networks can best empower member telecentres, individually as well as collectively? and;
  • What measures and policies could help the telecentre movement to advance towards a stable, firmly-rooted and networked future?’

Finally, let us mention that collaborative networking initiatives are not restricted to the social or development arena. It is increasingly reaching into the business and corporate environments as well. As Tapscott & Williams (2008) observe in the preface to their popular ‘Wikinomics’ book, “Thanks to Web 2.0, companies are beginning to conceive, design, develop and distribute products and services in profoundly new ways” (p. ix), and there are many examples of how companies are embracing this collaborative, networked style of working, from small upstarts to established giants such as IBM or Procter and Gamble.

Formulating a networking strategy for telecentre networks[edit]

Just like any for any type of organization, it is important to formulate the strategy of a telecentre network so it is best suited or prepared to meet the objectives it has set for itself. Formulating a suitable strategy for a particular TCN is therefore indispensable to obtain the best results.

A simple way to consider strategy formulation to optimize telecentre networking begins by considering four key elements, as indicated in Figure 10.1 (Moreno, Mataix & Acavedo, 2007).

a) Architecture refers to the organizational network structure, and will identify its members and their intended relationships (transactions). The architecture should be conducive and coherent with the emergence of a corporate networked culture favouring collaboration and horizontal working relationships.

b) Processes refer to the working procedures or methods to be implemented, or the modifications to existing ones, aimed at favouring networking (and in particular, collaboration). The ways of handling knowledge management and monitoring, evaluation and learning are among such processes.

c) Tools are the instruments or resources needed to implement the strategy according to the selected processes (and within the architecture already in place). Among the essential instruments for a successful networked strategy will certainly be a set of ICTs, but there are others: financial, physical infrastructure and facilities, events, etc.

d) Capacities refer to the ability to carry out selected processes using the tools at our disposal. It includes both human and institutional capacities. Specific individual and collective capacity gaps relative to tools (e.g. ICTs) and processes (e.g. knowledge management) should be identified and measures designed to address them. This can range from training on digital collaborative platforms (i.e. groupware) to training about monitoring methodologies.

Figure 10.1 Key Elements for Networking Strategy

This process requires a review of the aspects of TCN management as examined in Chapters 2 to 8 across these strategy elements, in order to determine with relative precision the elements of strategy that would be required to perform each management aspect satisfactorily. For example, when examining the aspect of participation, we can consider which components of the network’s architecture, processes, capacities and tools need to be in place.

When the review is thus carried out for all management aspects, we will have arrived at the crux of a strategy to maximize networking potential for our TCN. The results could be displayed in a matrix form like that sketched below. At this point it is highly likely we will find that many components of those four network strategy elements will serve for more than one of our network management aspects. For example, tools like content management systems and/or a web 2.0 type of community platform or groupware (like ning) will be applicable for participation, communication, content and services and M&E and learning.

Architecture Processes Capacities Tools
Financial Sustainability
Network Governance
Participation
Communication
Content and services
TCN and ICT Policy
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
International TCN Collaboration

Aggregating and Enabling networks[edit]

Figure 10.2 A Representation of a 2-D Network

In terms of overall orientation of a network towards collaboration, we can broadly speak of two models: aggregating networks and enabling networks. An aggregating network pulls together contributions from their members (e.g. to generate a newsletter) or represents its members (e.g. for advocacy purposes or to defend members’ common interests). The connections in such networks are usually to either nearby (i.e. similar)[1] nodes, or to the center node. In functional terms, their geometry is two-dimensional (2-D) or planar. Performance for aggreagting networks is measured in terms of joint actions undertaken by the network on behalf of the member nodes.

On the other hand, an enabling network seeks to strengthen the capacities of its members to achieve their individual objectives, particularly via collaborative tools and practices within as well as outside the network. The functional geometry of enabling networks is three dimensional (3-D) or spatial, where any node is free to connect with any other node, like the one in figure 10.2[2]. In this case, performance derives from the number of collective activities undertaken by member nodes and supported by the network.

Let’s characterize the two types of networks to better understand how they compare in functional terms (Acevedo, 2009):

Aggregating network (2-D) Enabling network (3-D)
The central or principal node acts as the network coordinator (as in a secretariat or coordinating unit); it largely determines which nodes will carry out particular functions/actions, and will know about these actions in advance. The main node (if there is one) acts as a network dynamizer or animator, providing resources and tools to favor networked activities among other nodes.
Established procedures are very important: network operations are based primarily on a series of norms or protocol that give order and regulate the network’s activities. Network operations proceed in an ad-hoc fashion (given the freedom and ease to establish productive relations among nodes), while adhering to a few basic institutional norms.
Planning for the network is very important, since the central node (the ‘coordinator’ above) should direct resources and efforts towards their implementation. This determines a clear orientation towards input-allocation management. Periodic monitoring is essential to know how the network is functioning, since it is not possible to plan all the possible collaborative activities among nodes. This points to a strong orientation towards results-based management.
The network prioritizes access to information; the central node fosters the availability of the information and provides access systems. The network prioritizes access to knowledge through the communication among nodes, the relationship with external entities and the systematization of information. The main node (if there is one) works on shared criteria for knowledge management, prioritizing the provision of tools/services that facilitate the efficacy of knowledge management.

It can be argued that enabling networks offer more adequate environments in relation to maximizing the collaborative potential of networks. They are focused on strengthening each member in relation to the member’s own objectives, primarily by providing tools/methodologies that favour the open collaboration of the members within the network (and also outside of it). This generates a much greater volume and range of collective, network-powered results than what could be derived from a network planned and directed by a central point. There are limitations to how well a coordinating unit can effectively and efficiently orchestrate the collective capacities of the nodes – and it will get more difficult as those capacities grow.

Moreover, by empowering their members to use networking methods to suit their specific purposes, enabling networks can encourage members’ own initiative and responsive attitudes. In this respect, such a structure takes more advantage of network traits such as relational freedom and flexibility. Conversely, embedding hierarchical practices into networked structures reduces the network’s possibilities.

Figure 10.3 A representation of a 3-D or spatial network

Real development networks exhibit both profiles, activating desired traits as needed. For example, a TCN may follow a more aggregating approach when providing relevant information to its members, carrying out campaigns and acting as an important interlocutor to external governmental entities. However, when promoting projects, looking to expand resource mobilization or strengthening communications capacities, these networks act on their enabling mode.

Box 10.1: Examining examples of aggregaing and enabling networks
Aggregating Networks

Open-source programming networks. Most free/open-source software (FOSS) products are created by networks of skilled, volunteer programmers who use specific platforms and methods for program development (like ‘SourceForge’ in the picture). While the programmers will find support from the coordinators to make their work easier and more efficient, these networks are highly centralized. Essentially all the contributions from volunteers are meant to contribute to a single objective – the final software product. The network does not seek to deliberately strengthen the programmers (they are already rather skilled) nor their collaborative actitivies (collaborative methods are strictly set). Thus, these networks do not function in ad-hoc fashion; adherence to the procedures is mandatory.

Apache project website.png

Confederation of Spanish Development NGOs (CONGDE) (www.congde.org) CONGDE brings together NGOs in Spain that participate in development activities of all types. It is set up as a network, and some of its members are in turn regional networks that represent entities from parts of the country (Catalonia, Andalusia, etc.). Its mission is to coordinate and support the joint work of the member organizations. This is done through campaigns such as the one promoting the Millennium Development Goals, activities to educate the Spanish public about development, and most importantly by acting as interlocutor to the government and in policy-making fora. There are some services provided to members like training, promoting codes of conduct and information bulletins. So, while it exhibits some enabling traits, CONGDE functions more like an enabling-type network.

Enabling Networks

Association for Progressive Communications (APC) (www.apc.org) APC is possibly the best-known civil society organization in the Information Society and ICT for Development area. It is composed of country nodes, such as WOUGNET (Uganda), Colnodo (Colombia), GreenNet (United Kingdom), ArabDev (Egypt) or WomensHub (Philippines), represented in a Council, and it also has a small staff. While APC carries out corporate actions as an organization in its own right (e.g. it was very active in WSIS), it is constantly supporting its members to undertake their own projects (at the national level) as well as collaborative actions among them, in areas such as communications/information policy, access to infrastructure, strategic use of ICT, gender and ICT, etc. So it is mostly an enabling network, though displaying some clear characteristics of a aggregating network as well.


International Year of the Volunteer 2001 (IYV2001) (www.iyv2001.org) The year 2001 was declared as the International Year of Volunteers by the United Nations to promote and visualize their contributions to development. The approach taken to operationalize its related activities was different than for other similar years. Instead of a few large events, it sought to energize the volunteer community worldwide to carry out a multitude of local and national events. For this, the UN Volunteers agency set up a small team in its Bonn offices whose responsibility was to enable and strengthen volunteer organizations worldwide to carry out IYV2001 related activities. An informal network of marked enabling characteristics emerged during a three-year preparation, in which people and institutions not only communicated with UNV’s team, but with many others through the internet’s platform set up for the year. The result was a resounding success, at almost no cost to the UN, and literally mobilizing millions of people worldwide.

If the assumption of favouring collaborative potential proves correct, then it is relevant to explore how to deliberately make the transition from aggregating to enabling network environments for TCNs. This entails focusing on the so-called generative capacities (Moreno et al. 2007), mentioned briefly in Chapter 2 on telecentre network governance. These are new and essential capacities in a knowledge-based, collaborative context (like our telecentre networks). The applicability of generative capacities extends beyond the individual (although they may still be useful) and into the collective realm.

To promote and strengthen generative capacities, we can follow a two-pronged approach. At the member (telecentre) level, these are capacities that focus on (i) learning, (ii) systemic vision, (iii) collective leadership, (iv) collaboration and (v) feedback (i.e. to the organization or the network).

At the institutional (network) level, generative capacities are improved by actions led at management level, and complementary to outcomes sought at the member level, such as:

  • Producing flexibility in the modes of participation (so that ‘weaker’ telecentres or non-telecentre actors can also participate);
  • Training telecentres on collaborative techniques;
  • Promoting participatory monitoring and continuous feedback practices; and
  • Designing projects as ‘networked’ initiatives.

Networks are ideal environments to foster generative capacities, since they favour sharing and collective commitment. In turn, such capacities also help to construct creative and productive networks.

A final remark about network strategy: a primary instance for participation, with a view to effective network management, should be precisely the time of determining its strategy. By the very nature of a network as a highly participatory organizational environment, the process of crafting its strategy should be open and participatory as well. Such a philosophy will not only result in a better strategy, but the process leading to it will already be developed as a practical exercise in common decision making – a very useful skill when working in networks. There are no tried-and-tested rules to set up and handle development networks. Much is learned along the way through trial and error. A truly participatory strategy then, despite some flaws and limitations, will have a stronger sense of collective commitment – including making the necessary corrections on the way.

Network analysis for telecentre networks[edit]

Even the best network management arrangements need to be validated, otherwise they can simply remain attractive institutional exercises with no clear return. The definitive measures for success will undoubtedly come from the results generated, both for the individual telecentres as well as for the overall TCN. However, a potentially useful previous step in assessing the success of a network (and possibly a decisive one in some cases) is to know whether we are indeed constructing and running the kind of network we had in mind. In other words, to respond to the question “What kind of network do we really have?” The answer to this question allows us to compare it with the intended design and clarify the direction we haven taken and are planning to move forward on.

For this we depend on network analysis, a set of methodological approaches, techniques and tools drawn from sociology that allow us to diagnose how a given network is functioning in order to manage it better. It’s similar to an internal organizational analysis often performed in companies, universities or government units, which helps determine whether they are set up as initially intended. This guidebook does not set out to provide a detailed design and instruction manual on performing a network analysis. However, it does encourage interested telecentre managers to consider exploring such type of analysis and describes briefly what may be involved – references are provided for further reading[3].

Network analysis provides us with an understanding of the relationships among the nodes of a network. It examines complex personal or inter-organizational networks to reveal underlying patterns that are easier to recognize and thus to possibly re-shape. It is based on the functional structure of the networks rather than on the attributes of its nodes.

In the case of a TCN, network analysis would focus on the relationships and transactions among the members (primarily the telecentres) rather than in the characteristics of the members (size, thematic orientation, urban/rural, etc.). This type of analysis gives us a relatively objective determination on whether the network as a whole is functioning as expected and whether potential changes have occurred in terms of the relationships among the nodes in order to improve its performance.

There are different methodologies, and some will fit a particular TCN better than others. Anhier and Katz (2005) propose one for developmental (or more precisely, for NGO) networks, which could be applicable for TCNs. It includes five parameters to examine the relations among nodes, described in the following table together with one sample application for network management and for an individual telecentre:

Parameter Network management group Telecentre
Cohesion: characterizes the interconnection of social relations and their tendency to form areas of high relational density (hubs) where there are higher probabilities for links to exist or develop. What action areas of the network are drawing the most participation? Would it be possible for us to get involved in activities where few other telecentres participate?
Equivalence: describes to what extent the members of a network have similar relations with others, which helps to find zones or bands that facilitate the analysis by studying the relationships among those zones. What are the different categories of network members based on their participation in the TCN? Are some of our needs shared and already satisfied by other telecentres?
Prominence: identifies the prominent positioning of nodes in relation to others, which serves to visualize power relations. How is leadership evolving within the network, and is it convenient to stimulate some capable but little active telecentre managers? Are we leading work in an area which is of genuine interest for our community?
Bridge: identifies nodes that connect groups of nodes (or networks) not connected through other links or paths. Identifying nodes with stronger bridging attributes helps to visualize/understand information flows and mobilization processes among groups. Which telecentres are pivotal in identifying project possibilities for others (including outside the TCN)? Do we have links to organizations through other networks or associations that could be valuable for our TCN?
Agency: refers to situations in networks in which an actor observes the possibility of connecting empty spaces or nodes. This helps to characterize the enterprising role of some nodes in the establishment and interconnection of networks. Who are the real innovators in this network? What are the main unexplored aspects of content and services in the network, and where do we perceive demand from our users?

It is important to recognize that a network analysis exercise will only provide a simplified picture of the complexity of social relations that exist in institutionally-rich environment like that of a telecentre network. Also, the analysis can be as simple or as sophisticated as we want, selecting network attributes/parameters that we care about. The important thing, particularly for TCN managers, is to pinpoint trends in behaviour and functional patterns that can be contrasted over time (e.g. over a five year period). The motivation is the same as for establishing network strategies in the first place: to have the most productive and effective possible TCN network.

Telecentre networks as national ICT policy actors[edit]

Telecentre networks are becoming significant actors in the definition and implementation of national policies dealing with ICT and the consolidation of inclusive information societies. This is because their telecentre members are involved in their day-to-day work at the community level, where they can play decisive roles in carrying out such policies and from where they can extract realistic expressions of popular ICT-related needs and demands to feed into the policy-making process. It is in the TCNs’ direct interest too: telecentre networks can be important actors in ICT policy shaping and development, contributing to policies that may be directed at supporting and strengthening them.

Telecentre networks will mainly get involved in such policy processes from the perspective (and for the aim) of digital inclusion. TCNs can play a key role in ensuring that digital inclusion is at the core of any national policies related to ICT or the information society. Moreover, from a developmental point of view they can add to pressure ensuring so that that ICT policies become intertwined with national development policies. Telecentres themselves, particularly in countries that are carrying out large telecentre programs, are the subject of ICT policies in relation to extending ICT access and capacity across a country.

An example of how telecentres have become necessary actors for implementing ICT and information society related policies is the Brazilian ‘Digital Inclusion Program’ (Programa ID Brasil) of the Ministry of Communications (www.mc.gov.br). It aims to deploy telecentres in all 5,500 Brazilian counties, quite an ambitious target. Thousands of city halls around the country received equipment already[4], and they had the responsibility of establishing the telecentres, whose common and stated purpose was to contribute to the digital and social inclusion of their communities through access to ICTs. The focus has been on small cities and villages in the countryside with deficient telecommunication infrastructure and notable barriers to access. The Digital Inclusion portal (www.idbrasil.gov.br) contains data about the progress of the program.

Volunteer programs for TCNs[edit]

Many successful telecentres enjoy the involvement of volunteers, who can carry a variety of supporting tasks for their telecentre:

  • To raise awareness about the telecentre it is important to understand the needs, problems and hopes of the various actors in the community, in order to determine what elements of information and ICTs may be more suitable. Frequent outreach to different groups and profiles of people will serve to make them more aware of the opportunities and practical uses of the technologies they can expect at their telecentre.
  • For information brokering since it is essential to help users find the right information for their needs and thus to get immediate practical benefits from the telecentre. The same could be said in terms of services, such as finding the right type of e-gov application for the specific needs of a user.
  • For basic ICT training, which is needed by many telecentre users, it is crucial to develop the skills for general use of computers, for creating content (e.g. word processing), for viewing images (e.g. digital pictures, scanning), and to use email and the Web. Some potential telecentre users may feel an initial ‘fear’ of computers, thus requiring ICT training to incorporate personalized attention and to be amenable – in order to learn to do things quickly which are fun and make people feel good about their progress.
  • For building capacity, which takes place once the familiarity and basic skills are at hand. Meanwhile, it is important to ensure periodic monitoring of progress in applying the skills learned (and acquiring new ones) for well-defined purposes. Building capacity requires human interaction and understanding, which most effectively develop via direct and continued personal contact and exposure, something typical of volunteer work. Whether for advanced applications (website creation, digital video processing) or for simpler uses (e.g. finding market price information using email), where volunteers can build and expand the capacity of each individual user so s/he can really benefit from accessing and using ICT products and services.

In other words, volunteers can help to achieve the most critical dimension of sustainability for telecentres; that is, social sustainability, by generating awareness, interest and ultimately demand from people in the community surrounding the telecentre. As such, volunteers are able to transform a ‘technology access community center’ into a ‘local development center with access to technology’ (Nath, 2001). The first is ‘instrumental’, essentially granting physical access to the internet and other ICTs, while the latter is ‘transformational’, promoting and supporting developmental processes with resources that include ICTs.

So what about volunteers and TCNs? Such networks are ideally placed to organize and manage TCN-wide volunteer programs[5]. They can be oriented to support individual telecentres as well as to directly support the TCN structure itself (for exmample, help desks, a national telecentre academy, etc.). Such volunteers can be onsite or online. Onsite (physical) volunteers can essentially be locals who are interested in what the telecentres do and who could benefit by collaborating with them (gaining technical experience, connection time at a telecentre, etc.). At the national scale, partnerships can be formed with universities or companies to promote such volunteer programs.

Online volunteers can also play a role. Specialized programs such as the UN’s Online Volunteering Service (www.onlinevolunteering.org) provide the infrastructure and mechanisms so that people around the world can collaborate through the internet with development-oriented organizations. They can help in the provision of content and services (particularly for quality control), designing websites, revising project proposals, adapting content, doing translations, moderating discussion fora, publishing e-bulletins, etc. The aforementioned website contains many examples of actual tasks performed by online volunteers. In fact we could envisage interesting possibilities for cooperation between onsite and online volunteers too.

Telecentres 3.0[edit]

A key book about telecentres was written in 2006: “From the Ground Up: The Evolution of the Telecentre Movement”. It came at a turning point, after WSIS, when telecentres started gaining wider support again, after having been all but discarded by major international development agencies in their digital divide agendas. It appeared at the dawn of the telecentre movement, which in fact it helped to describe [6].

In looking to the future, ‘From the Ground Up’ serves as a lucid reference for all of us. It starts with the following:

“Most early telecentres started with a modest goal: giving people a chance to access and learn about technology. A telephone, a photocopier, a computer, the internet. Yet telecentres have evolved. It’s no longer just about access and skills. Today’s telecentres use computers and the internet to do everything from improving public health to extending education to a wider audience to strengthening local democracy. No matter what they are called—telecentres, community multimedia centres, telecottages, village knowledge centres, community technology centres, telehuts, internet learning centres, community access points, library computer labs and so on—they share a common commitment: to help communities enter the information age and embrace the knowledge economy on their own terms. This is the telecentre movement today.”
Figure 10.4. Cover of ‘From the Ground Up’

The concluding chapter, entitled Telecentre 2.0, identifies “Seven things we still need (to scale up and scale sideways)”:

  • Flexible, responsive and innovative social investment mechanisms to support the establishment of new telecentres at the grassroots level.
  • Well-packaged, easy-to-replicate community services for telecentres such as telemedicine, remote learning, financial remittances and e-government.
  • Simple, proven social enterprise models that telecentres can use to generate community impact and financial revenue.
  • Flexible, on going training and support for hundreds of thousands of grassroots technology activists around the world.
  • Low-cost, easy-to-implement telecentre technology platforms, including affordable and stable internet connections for rural areas.
  • Networks and partnerships that help good ideas travel far and wide —and help the telecentre movement reach a global scale.
  • An enduring commitment to telecentres and other grassroots technology initiatives from all sectors: governments, businesses, development agencies and communities.[7]

We could say that the sixth point about networks and partnerships has advanced significantly, with dozens of national and cross-national telecentre networks around the world[8]. And yet we know they can deliver more than they do today – to take a deeper look at the how is the purpose of this guidebook. The intention has been for the previous chapters to assist in some way to advance on the other six points: how can networks help achieve that vision?

Three years later, in mid 2009, the telecentre movement has grown, with thousands of them springing up in diverse countries around the world. In India, the degree of telecentre growth is coherent with its vast scale: official policies focus on goals such as having as many telecentres that reach each one of its 600,000-plus villages, a tremendously ambitious objective. For successful stable growth (that is, sustainability), whether for large places like India or for other smaller countries or at the global sphere, the key is networking. This includes smart networking that goes beyond simply joining together and adding efforts. Creative networking builds on enterprising attitudes and innovative ideas. Productive networking, through a mix of art and science, transforms limited resources into changes that make a difference to people. Open networking encourages an inclusive approach to collaboration, an approach which ‘adds and never subtracts’.

In looking ahead at the next two to four years (hardly any professional publication these days has a longer shelf-life) let us take a quick look at the Telecentre 2.0 precedent and propose factors for a vibrant Telecentre 3.0 stage (network-based, of course):

  • Investment of public funds for telecentre networks (see the point below about building the ‘public good’ nature of telecentres) and encouragement of public-private initiatives to strengthen them (in terms of technologies, management, communications, etc.).
  • Provision and delivery of content, services and other telecentre products via networked models, which can also move across networks (or countries).
  • Decisive support and stimulus to social enterprise models for establishing and supporting telecentre networks, as well as for extending the range of telecentre offerings and services provided (e.g. a social enterprise offering telemedicine services through the telecentres).
  • Support for network training initiatives tailored to telecentres (including the telecentre.org Academy). Encouragement of educational offerings for and from telecentre practitioners, including e-learning platforms that facilitate independent authorship (by telecentre staff or users), flexible course delivery and administrative tasks.
  • Implement universal-service provisions managed nationwide through telecentre networks that deliver connectivity to telecentres which is free/low cost, dependable, hi-speed and ubiquitous. Mobile telephone infrastructure should be included to this end.
  • Extension of telecentre networks to most countries (and among countries), with adequate telecentre network management methodologies, in ways to present TCN managers with one multi-actor, virtual ‘global telecentre ecosystem’ from where TCN members and partners can join.
  • Integrate telecentres into national policies as (networked) public goods, and promote their role as publicly supported local development centres1. Introduce telecentre networks into wider development networks.

Throughout this guidebook, we have explored ways of encouraging greater networking between telecentres for the benefit of the men, women and children in the communities who will experience positive changes from the resources and support offered by their local telecentres. Its preparation has been a networked project in itself, with lead authors for each chapter that have been supported by others who have reviewed and/or provided some content, and a larger group in a dedicated section of telecentre.org, together with IDRC staff. We’ve all learned and will continue to do so through the debate and contributions to a new wiki book on telecentre networks. The initial version of this guidebook is simply the first contribution to a wiki that has an unending potential to grow. And throughout the process, a valuable asset is created: a type of networked social capital, the kind that stimulates collaboration across boundaries and extends collaborative opportunities limited only by the will and the imagination of those involved.

Useful References and Resources[edit]

Acevedo, M. (2009). Networked Cooperation in the Network Society. International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development, 1(1), pp. 1-21. Retrieved September 15, 2009, from www.igi-global.com/downloads/LockedJournals/IJICTHD1(1).pdf

Anheir, H. Anheir, H., & Katz, H. (2006). Global connectedness: the structure of transnational NGO networks. In F. Holland, H. Anheir, M. Glasius, & M. Kaldor (Eds.), Global Civil Society 2005/2006 (pp. 240-265). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Arquilla, J., & Ronfeldt, D. F. (1999). The emergence of noopolitik: toward an American information strategy. Santa Monica (California): Rand Corp. Kilduff, M., & Tsai, W. (2008). Social Networks and Organizations. London: SAGE Publications. (Reprinted in 2008, first published in 2003).

Moreno, A., Mataix, C., & Acevedo, M. (2007). Estructuras en red: diseño y modelos para el Tercer Sector. Madrid: UNED (Spanish National Distance University), Fundación Luis Vives - Module 8, 2007-2008 Course on Strategic Management and Management Skills for Non-Profits Organizations.

McIver Jr., W. J. (2003). The need for tools to support greater collaboration between transnational NGOs: Implications for transnational civil society networking. State University of New York at Albany. Retrieved July 20 2005 from www.ssrc.org/programs/itic/publications/knowledge_report/memos/mcivermemo.pdf

Myanja, M. (2008). Telecentre Network Strategy 2008-2009. Ottawa: IDRC.

Nath, V. (2000). Knowledge Networking for Sustainable Development. Knownet Initiative, www.knownet.org. Retrieved November 14, 2001 from www.cddc.vt.edu/knownet/articles/exchanges-ict.html

Nooteboom, B (2004). Inter-firm collaboration, learning and networks: and integrated approach. London: Routledge.

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. New York: Penguin Group.

Appendix 10.1 Matrix of inter-dependencies for Telecentre Networks[edit]

Financial Sustainability Network Governance Participation Communication Content and services Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning International TCN collaboration
Financial Sustainability
Network Governance
Participation
Communication
Content and services
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
International TCN collaboration

References[edit]

  1. ‘Nearby’ is not expressed literally, related to physical location, but rather in terms of identity, affinity, etc.
  2. As in: in comparison with 2-D networks where nodes typically interact only with nearby nodes.
  3. Including Anheir & Katz (2005) and (2006), Arquilla & Ronfeldt (1999), Kilduff & Tsai (2008), and Nooteboom (2004).
  4. A typical telecentre kit consists of 10 computers, together with a server, monitoring unit with security video, a wireless router, laser printer, multimedia projector. It also includes the needed furniture, ie. tables, desks and chairs.
  5. In fact, international initiatives like telecentre.org could set up a type of “Telecentre Volunteer Exchange” facility, to allow people from successful telecentres to share their experience with others, given the proliferation of telecentres around the world.
  6. “From the Ground Up” is relatively frugal in terms of text, and it contains many images. In an elegantly produced volume that can easily pass for a coffee-table book, it managed to convey the essential concepts weaved around its stories and pictures. It almost seems to be saying that “the stories themselves tell ‘the story’ ” of the telecentre movement. It is accompanied by an online edition, and even a Flash version (see [http://ebook.telecentre.org/flash ebook.telecentre.org/flash).
  7. ebook.telecentre.org/html/en/telecentre-2-0
  8. Such as those participating in the telecentre.org initiative, such as Ugabytes, ATACH (Chile), the Bangladesh Telecentre Network, and many others.