"For want of a nail" - Why a stronger Dadamac is urgently needed

In "One Network One World" Vinay Gupta explains complex ideas in simple terms, so I'm using his video to explain where Dadamac fits and why we need to magnify and accelerate its work.

Vinay explains the urgency of taking action to raise local standards of living in the slums and rural areas of Africa. He also points to the role of information sharing in making this happen.

I'm reminded of the rhyme:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of the message the battle was lost.
For want of the battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Vinay paints a compelling picture of the battle we need to fight against poverty and inequality. Dadamac isn't claiming to be more than a nail in the shoe, but the battle we need to fight is far too important to allow that nail to be missing.

The challenge

For the first 30 minutes or so of "One Network One World" Vinay tackles, in his unique way, the familiar problems of our finite planet, such as increased population, inequality, rising demand from an increasing middle class, poverty and exploitation of the poor.

He offers clear and simple ways of looking at complex problems. He touches on the "Six Ways to Die" - and how to avoid them (individually, regionally, and world wide). He takes the example of the hexayurt to show how ideas that are shared openly can spread. He helps us to see a variety of massive problems as "all the same problem" and shows where we, as individuals, fit in the pattern of things.

Vinay lays out some stark realities about our over-use of resources - and the choices we need to make while there is still time. Are we going put our effort into working for a fairer world or into trying to maintain an unfair one?  That is the choice we have to make.

Discussing the options

If we choose the option of a fairer world, how can we do it, and can we do it in time? By "in time" Vinay means before too many conflicts break out over the unfair distribution of resources and massively different standards of living. At various points Vinay touches on how the information-sharing power of smart phones is spreading knowledge of inequalities amongst impoverished people who, rightly, will want to take action to change things. He describes an approach of information sharing via smart phones to help raise standards of living in a peaceful way. It's an approach that Dadamac could support and accelerate. I'll explain more of what Vinay covers before relating it to Dadamac.

An integrated, information sharing approach.

After around 33 minutes Vinay talks about the importance of doing new things all at the same time (not tinkering with separate parts). He names the stages of bootstrapping from the resources of the old, prototyping the new, showing that the new way does work and then pulling the population over one at a time. He then goes into issues and examples relating to open-source software and politics. I see the work of Dadamac (past, present and future) as fitting into this pattern of prototyping, testing, showcasing what works, and sharing it (or "pulling the population over one at a time").

At around 40 minutes Vinay mentions systems that are more information-rich, and more equitable than our present systems. In the remaining 8 minutes he touches on why, as smart phones and tablets become more available, we have to focus on providing information about best practice to people in impoverished rural areas and slums. 

Rural Africa in a global collaborative community.

The key message relevant to Dadamac comes in minutes 43 to 46. It covers how people in villages become part of a global collaborative community, the key role of the Internet, and the need to access information such as appropriate technology.

Dadamac is already a collaborative community with connections across the globe and an emphasis on disadvantaged communities in Africa. We began with connections between London and some rural areas in Nigeria. Now people in other countries in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, are part of the Dadamac community and people on other continents are also included. We set up our first collaborative community, across four continents, in 2004.

Matching solutions and problems - The need for dialogue and Dadamac,

Vinay outlines an approach where bright, local changemakers come online in rural areas via affordable smart phones and tablets. He points to Appropedia (which can be thought of as a huge "information cupboard" of solutions to the local problems of "Six Ways to Die). Then in the final minutes he talks about the need to get the right connections between problems and solutions, the need for dialogue with people in India and in Africa to find out from the people on the ground "What is it that you people need to know?"

Dadamac exists to enable exactly that kind of dialogue. The basis of all our work is effective two way communication and collaboration that can reach across barriers of cultural difference, language, literacy, and lack of technology. We use a combination of the Internet and whatever else is needed - especially local networks and knowledge.

Contact me if you want to:

Set up a new dialogue

Be involved in an existing discussion

Help Dadamac in any aspect of its work. (We need volunteers and resources to magnify and accelerate what we are doing. Minimum involvement is to do your own thing in raising our visibility on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. If you can give a few hours or more a week please contact me. If you want to give money to help me pay for the website and get additional help you can donate online.)


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