First Thursday - aims and practicalities

Hi Vijay

Welcome back. Thanks for your helpful feedback on your First Thursday experience. You raise many good points and I would like to address them all very seriously. I suggest that we take our time to explore them all in more detail, so in this post I will give an overall response and suggest some structure for our discussions.

It seems we are in overall agreement:

  • First Thursday has great potential
  • There are still serious glitches to be overcome
  • We need to clarify the aims
  • We need to tackle the glitches
  • Our emphasis should be about caring to find out what people really want and then finding solutions
  • First Thurdays should listen to problems and play a role in providing advice, help, leads, contacts and seek/arrange funds

Approach to our discussions

i hope you recognise your words and ideas in the list above, and in what I will write below. I am trying to include all that you mentioned, but within a strucutre that will help to guide our future discussions. I have a mental checklist that i use when I look at ICT4D dsicussions, and I will try it out now to see how it fits your post. I call it the "three legged stool" model of ICT for Education/Development. I won't explain it now I'll just use it. It leads me to the following structure in response to your post.

Technololgy and issues of using it

  • Particular problems met when logging on.
  • Access issues, especially in rural areas.

Information content and structure

  • Agenda - topics, talking points.
  • Purpose - knowlege flow, exchange of ideas, enrich, enlighten, problems, solutions,.
  • Dynamics - lively interaction/listless, pleasantries, brainstorm, direction, focus,
  • Meetings - frequency, length, name(s) if not only First Thursday.
  • Geographic focus - general or specific location(s)
  • Subject focus - "micro-issues",maternity care, child-health etc
  • "Anchor" role to direct discussions

People who are trying to communicate

  • Newcomers to First Thursday
  • Other participants - regular, occassional, involved/not-involved in organsational issues
  • Domain experts
  • People who are excluded but would like to be included
  • Representatives of people who are excluded but would like to be included

Aims and objective

At this point I won't even attempt to define aims and objectives. Let us just agree that First Thursday is currently in a state of change and it is a good time to think about them. I will suggest some areas of consideraton that might help us. They include:

  • How does First Thursday fit in with the rest of Dadamac?
  • Where is First Thursday going at present (if anywhere)?
  • Where is it now?
  • Where has it come from?
  • Where should/could it be going?
  • Who should decide?
  • How should it be decided?
  • How can we use First Thursdays to help us reach a decision that suits all participants?
  • How often should we re-visit these aims and objectives and consider redefining them? 

I appreciate the thought you have put into this, and I appreciate the opportunity you are giving me to explore some of these issues.I hope we can continue it for some time, and welcome others to join in.

Some people think before they speak - I can't do that! I am the other kind of person. The person who said  "How do I know what I think til I hear what I say?" was someone after my own heart. I can't easily organise my thoughts in solitude. I need someone to talk to, or write to, so that I find out what I am thinking. Then I can gradually sort out the rubbish from the potentially useful or interesting (and if I am lucky the other person/people involved will help me to do so). So - let us think about First Thursday and help it to fulfil its potential.

I look forward to finding where you will take this discussion next.


Open Letters: 


Hi Pam,

Thanks for the aims and objectives.

I think the first thing to do is to have a First Thursday button or a link put up on, just before the First Thursday in April. This will be an easier way for people to get into the chat room.

Also, it will be good to announce the agenda/discussion topic/s for the First Thursday page (which opens up on clicking the link) on Dadamac. Plus FAQs about access and other problems while logging on.

After the chat, we can put the entire transcript of the chat in this web page for the benefit of those who could not participate and those who might be interested in the topic.

These are the first thoughts. Now the next step is to think of topic that could pull in a lot of people from the Dadamac villages/projects to participate in a big way.

Deciding the topic could take some thinking and discussion. So that is for now. You tell me if you like what I suggested. I will continue the discussion.



Thanks Vijay.

These are really good ideas. Next we need to think about practicalities.

Regarding the idea of a button and generally making all of First Thursday more accessible. I don't know how soon I can implement this, but hope we can do it soon. Andy B is the one to help us get buttons on the website, and other aspects of making it user-friendly. I hope to see him on Thursday. Maybe you, Andy and I should exchange some emails on this so you can explain your ideas fully to him.

Regarding the agenda. I will ask Nikki to put April First Thursday topic on the agenda for our UK-Nigeria meeting on Wednesday.

Regarding what you say about "pull in a lot of people from the Dadamac villages/projects to participate in a big way." I suggest we break our discussion of people and participation into two separate parts.

One is short term. We have an immediate need to make First Thursday a better experience for the people who already attend, so we need to find out things like:

  • Why do they attend?
  • How did they come to be there?
  • What encourages them to come back?
  • What discourages them from coming back?
  • How can we improve the experiance?

One is long term and has to do with;

  • The other people you are concerned to involve
  • The practical steps Dadamac needs to take for greater inclusion
  • How Dadamac can/is working towards that (through First THursday and though other means as well).

I think there are many useful areas for us to explore. I also believe it will be useful for Dadamac to have these discussion visible through our open letters.

As we discuss these issues I believe it will shed light on wider aspects of Dadamac - which will also be useful for reference for other people. In fact it maybe a good idea to go back to our discussions in a few weeks or months time and see if we can pull out some FAQs.

I think it will be a good idea to continue this discusion as a new open letter, rather than another comment here. A new open letter will be  more visible on the website and easier for people to come across.

I look forward to your next open letter blog