David Wilcox is Rethinking Toolkits
In Designing for Civil Society: Involving resources ... hopefully Not Another Toolkit, David Wilcox asks some good questions for those of us who work in the NGO/NPO world and are always running around like chickens with our heads cut off when talking about "capacity building," "training," and madly assembling yet another "toolkit."
With the crazy around Web 2.0, I can't tell you how many Web 2.0 trainings, toolkits and resouce gathering activities have been happening. It is mind boggling. And a lot of repetition. Ironically, with some of these tools, we could be working smarter. From David, commenting on a new initiative of Involve:
"...I do hope that this doesn't end up as just another toolkit ... a publication and pdf that isn't updated, can't be copied into re-usable bits, or easily referred to except as a whole. There are already scores - probably hundreds - of such publications around, and indeed Involve listed quite a few in their earlier publication People and Participation. All good stuff - but it seems to me that the new audit offers an opportunity to drag the management of engagement resources into the digital age, particularly since Involve says it will be advising Government on what to do in future. My immediate thoughts:
- Is the idea of "gathering the information in one place" any longer appropriate? It is of course useful to have a place offering resources and signposting others through links. But don't we need a host of places on the net cross-linking to each other, with authors taking responsibility for updating on their sites? Think networked resources, not old-style library.
- Would it be possible to negotiate with key resource providers the terms on which they are prepared to make materials available, under a Creative Commons licence? For example, a non-commercial share-alike licence would enable people to build on other people's work and put the results back into the pot.
- Could the resources be chunked up as far as possible, so that items can be tagged with keywords for easier searching?
- Overall, wouldn't it make more sense to think about developing a community of practice of researchers and practitioners prepared to share their resources, and ensure these grow dynamically?
From some other friend's experiments, we probably need to get better at the aggregation part. Tag clouds are useful in some ways. Aggregated feeds is another bit of it. The collective conversations and annotations around resources are harder to capture. Search is a piece of it. Will some smart person please raise this flag and help us think about practices and solutions?