Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/WIKI issues
The WIKI was been functioning well. We had developed the index of the manual and all team members had been contributing to its evolution. Besides the section on the "issues" we made an index of testimonials where the researchers started uploading the interviews, fist in a written format, then the audiovisual files.
We have decided that we will leave the original full interviews on the web, while we will use the most relevant excepts for the documentary. In this way we are able to publish immediately the initial outputs of our work that could also used by the same persons we interviewed for disseminating their views, just by sharing the addresses of the wiki pages we were assembling. And in some cases they also have been adding on the wiki pages some information that had been missed at the time of the interview.
Through the wiki we also linked the interviews to the manual chapters, so that manual users can now see "the faces" and the "voices" of persons who did apply on the ground the development theories and standards shared in the manuals.
Using the Internet to share the full interviews has been also an effort to increase our transparency to the public. In many cases media professionals use interviews just to give credibility to their stories taking recorded sentences out of context and being unfair to the persons who shared their views. Later on we realized that the italian journalists of RAI used some of our interviews for the news documentary they broadcast changing completely, in the translated voice over, what people really told in the interviews. A manipulation of the ideas of the people just to fit what they want to portray as "the objective news standard".
Not all team members however had been cooperative. Belgian and some other Italian team members resisted this collective authorship approach. They were used to write progress reports about their social researches, which were meant for other experts and not for the public. They avoided to align to the WIKI and tried to pretend that someone else re-writes, for the general public, their academic reports. As a project managers I resisted and insisted that everybody work along the WIKI approach. Some "professional" sociologists were uncomfortable with this transparency, and left the team. But others went along with renewed commitment and enthusiasm.
Using the wiki also allowed us to save a considerable amount of time bridging the gap between team assignments and performance reporting. At the beginning the WIKI page contained the list of tasks to be done; then the same WIKI pages were getting filled with the results of the work done. The hyperlinks amongst the wiki pages remained the same throughout the work in progress and the project outputs were immediately available to all stakeholders who needed to utilize those outputs to proceed with the successive phases of the project.
But we had a problem. The wiki pages are becoming more and more numerous and long and the growing amount of data started generating a "communication overflow". We realized the need of hierarchical management of the WIKI for structuring the priority access patterns to the WIKI content. The amount of data content could remain unlimited; but we needed to "discipline" the access patterns with lear indications to readers where to start and what to read first. The presentation of the work had to be clearly limited and uniformed. So in spite of the “collective authorship” of the WIKI approach, we realized that we still needed some sort of hierarchy. The challenge was to structure such hierarchy as a means for facilitating and integrating the creative job of all authors and not as a means to control them and pretend ideological conformity to predetermined creeds. In creative work there persist the need of a final “authority”; but we searched for an authority that was empowering, not subjugating, the rest of the team. And, finally, empower the readers.
By adopting that empowering hierarchy we were hoping that our product would have been “authoritative” but not ‘pedantic”; with communicant power deprived of rhetorical pomposity. Let’s see if it works. We try this way.
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