Dadmac.net an experiment in information sharing

Dadamac.net is an experiment in information sharing, not a traditional website. It is exploring strategies to make grassroots information more visible and easy to access.The information it presents is the result of much behind the scenes work in online community development and mutually beneficial information sharing.

Initiators

Pamela McLean, Nikki Fishman, Andy Broomfield, John Dada.

Write-up by

Pamela McLean

Backstory

Dadamac.net came about because I get information from various sources related to development and ICT4Ed&D (Information and Communication Technology for Education and Development). Some comes from the Internet (websites, policy documents, research reports etc) and some from the projects my African friends are running in their own communities

Over the years the Internet has often presented me with information, assumptions and priorities that seem totally disconnected from the realities that I know firsthand. I have seen resources wasted in top-down projects. I have seen similar inappropriate approaches repeated time and time again. I have often read about ideals of participation and stakeholder involvement where there is little evidence of genuine reaching out to grass roots organisations for any kind of “equal respect” exchange of information.

I imagined that the disconnects that I observed were simply evidence of problems in making connections. I therefore tried to make those connections easier for people, and John Dada encouraged me to act as his eyes, ears and voice on the Internet and at relevant events in London. I found it hard to communicate the value of the information that I could make available to people. I therefore decided it would be better to lay out some of its richness on the Internet instead. Dadamac.net is the result. It is an ongoing experiment.

Information from John Dada and his team at Fantsuam Foundation has provided most of the raw material. Nikki Fishman's regular blogs have transformed scraps of information exchanged during online meetings into coherant ongoing narratives. Her immersion in the project has enabled us to explore in-depth issues of what-relates- to-what and how different bits of information should be "pushed, pulled and parked". Andy Broomfiield has contributed a unique mix of patience, insight and technical wizardy that has enabled us to keep experimenting with different approaches. 

The catalyst

We set up Dadamac,net in 2008 but I didn't write it up as an initiative until August 2012. This was when Andy and I were reorganising some of the structures. We were building on lessons learned through the Fantsuam Foundation information flows, and starting to make more aspects of Dadamac visible.

Timeline 2012

June 2012 - started to write up initiatives in a new way considering where they were intiated, if Dadmac's relationship is as a collaborator or simply raising visibility, and what the related learning issues are.

The ongoing story

Expect to see a wider variety of initiatives becoming visible, and more evidence of what we have learned through them.

Collaborators

All the people in the Dadamac community who are sharing information with us in a variety of ways, thus influencing our thinking of how this space should develop.

Everyone who has shared information with us in the past and helped to populate this space so richly.

Future vision/or li

Better and better informaion sharing and collaboration.

Learning issues

Developing Dadamac,net has been, and continues to be, a rich learning journey on many levels. There are obvious elements such as the information content, and the people contributing or accessing infromation. Nikki, Andy and I are learning how to work together to implement our ideas using Drupal.  There are many more hidden elements we are continuously learning about related to use of technology by the Dadamac community, information flows, technical and personal hurdles to be overcome - socio-tech issues of how people behave online (cultural differences in social behaviour and related confusions, issues of language, preferred channels of communication, and so on) as well as technical basics like equipment, infrastructure, access, training, and costs.

Organisation