Flowing together and separately - Dadamac 2014

Dadamac is at another transformative stage. It's time for a review of who we are, where we are, and where we seem to be going. This description is a "beginners guide" and also an overview for people who already know some parts of Dadamac well and want to see where they belong in the bigger picture. It covers how things flow together and where they go separate ways (so it's not short). The sections are:

1 - Dadamac - the name

2 - John and Pamela working together

3 - Other influences and Dadamac Open Knowledge

4 - Dadamacademy

5 - Information, emergence and the Dadamac Community - very 21st century

6 - An ongoing experiment

7 - Dadamac's services to Fantsuam Foundation

8 - Extending Dadamac's services - Dadamac Foundation 2014

9 - Africa or elsewhere

10 - The innovative structure of Dadamac Foundation

11 - Dadamac Foundation Trading and Services

12 - Information mining and organising

13 - Collaboration, communication and project management

14 - GobalNet21 and Africa - changemakers

15 - The First Thursday Group

16 - From emergence to implementation - time for team building

17 - Not just learning - but doing

18 - Information agents and other ways to join us

(I haven't put live links in this explanation yet, but if you want more details try dropping suitable words in the search box. There's a good chance relevant information will pop up. If not try google or contact me. I may come back later and add links, but my priority is to tell the story, and share the overview.)

1 - Dadamac - the name

The name "Dadamac" came about when I was collaborating with John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation (FF). I needed some kind of label for our combined voice that would be separate from FF. Dadamac is short for John Dada and Pamela McLean. Over the years Dadamac has taken on a life of its own beyond the John and Pamela collaborations, but the name still serves to pull things together and relate them to a common source.

2 - John and Pamela working together

John and I know each other well. We have overlapping knowledge of each others cultures, combined with mutual understanding and respect. We've worked together, face-to-face and online, since 2003. Our experiences and experiments working together are at the heart of Dadamac.

John Dada has been directing Fantsuam Foundation (FF) since the mid 1990's. He has deep understanding of integrated community development, and a related personal network in Nigeria and beyond.

Before starting FF John lived in the UK for a few years, so he is a Nigerian who also knows and understands UK culture.

John and I first met through the Internet. I was looking for examples of good practice to inform my work with Peter Adetunji Oyawale's project in Oke-Ogun. Subsequently I got to know Fantsuam Foundation directly through my "working holidays" there presenting Teachers Talking. I also have other connections in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. These have come about through my work online and through "working holiday" experiences in other parts of Nigeria and (once each) in Zambia and Kenya.

My background is mainly in education and training, combined with a quirky interest in digital technologies. I want to know how the Internet alters the roles of teachers and learners, and how it affects our relationships with each other and with information and knowledge creation. That interest is what first drew me to Peter's work in Oke-Ogun. My initial connection with John was because of the innovative ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) work of Fantsuam Foundation.

3 - Other influences and Dadamac Open Knowledge.

Andrius Kulikauskas, founder of Minciu Sodas, has encouraged me in my exploration of ideas. In addition to influencing my thinking he has provided support and contacts. Minciu Sodas made valuable contributions to online sessions when I was presenting Teachers Talking in Nigeria and in Kenya. Andrius also set up a yahoo group for me in Minciu Sodas called LearningFromEachOther, and the Minciu Sodas chat room was the original online home of the First Thursday Group.

Andrius is an extreme advocate of working in the public domain. In that area I'm also strongly influenced by Michel Bauwens, Peer to Peer (P2P) Foundation, and George Por, School of Commoning. Much of what Dadamac does is done in the spirit of open knowledge, so I think of most of my work as belonging under the heading of Dadamac Open Knowledge (Dadamac OK).

Other creative and innovative people in my network (only some of whom would describe themselves as part of Dadamac) have influenced me. They include techies, creative artists, researchers, teachers-and-learners, community development people, engineers, entrepreneurs, and others I can't even try to label. What they all share is originality, vision and the courage to "walk their talk".

4 - Dadamacademy

I describe myself as a learner, and because my idea of being a learner seldom fits other people's idea of what I mean, I call myself a "dadamac learner". To my delight, some other Dadamac people also describe themselves as "dadamac learners" so I made up an inclusive name for Dadamac-related learning/teaching and theoretical work. It's the "Dadamacademy" When I can give more time to my interests in learning and teaching (and less time to the practical work of an information agent and administrator) then Dadamacademy will probably start to emerge. 

5 - Information, emergence and the Dadamac Community - very 21st century

Most of what Dadamac does is about sharing information. It has emerged in an informal, responsive way. Dadamac is a "child of the Internet" and a living example of a collaborative organisation that could not have come into being before the 21st century. In fact "organisation"  is far too formal a description such a fluid "thing" as Dadamac. It's the expression of an informal community, the Dadamac Community, people in my network with miscellaneous overlapping and intertwined interests.

Dadamac has very little to do with physical stuff and things that show up on balance sheets. It is rich in invisible things like experience and personal relationships, it enables collaboration, and is a creator of new knowledge and insights. It's an example of the new ways of doing things that are emerging during the current "Invisible Revolution" (see Despatches from the Invisible Revolution chapter on the Invisible Revolution). I believe Dadadamac has things to offer that are of great value, but we haven't discovered exactly what they are or how to market them. Years ago John and I did set up a company in readiness. It's called Dadamac Limited.

6 - An ongoing experiment

In a way Dadamac is simply an ongoing, experimental, collaborative, online community which is embedded strongly, but not exclusively, in the practical community development work of John Dada at Fantsuam Foundation. Dadamac is under my direction, and so its direction reflects my interests combined with the current energy and interests in the group. Dadamac is involved in information-sharing and distant, cross-cultural, collaboration enabled by the Internet.

As a result of my practical work in Dadamac, and my background in education and ICT, I'm also exploring:

  • Aspects of community development, online and offline.
  • Opportunities for learner-led learning and collaborative learning.
  • The development of "fluid walled" meeting spaces.
  • Relationships between hierarchical and horizontal organisational cultures.
  • Disruptive technologies and the changing world of work.
  • Interwoven aspects of change in the 21st century - especially those related to learning, lifestyles, and livelihoods.

7 - Dadamac's services to Fantsuam Foundation

One of the visible outputs of Dadamac's ongoing experiments is the "online workspace" - dadamac.net.

The content of dadamac.net includes Nikki's blog and other evidence of John's work at Fantsuam, collected up under initiatives and through Frances' blog. This online visibility aids John in various ways, and has helped him to make successful funding bids. The content for Nikki's blogs came from the weekly online Dadamac UK-Nigeria meetings, which have been happening from around 2007.

The dadamac meetings are also valued by John and his team for other reasons, including the opportunity to look beyond the local, to see things from a wider, global perspective, and to draw on the connections and knowledge of the Dadamac community.

8 - Extending Dadamac's services - Dadamac Foundation 2014

With hindsight I now look at the work I've done with John Dada on dadamac.net as "a pilot project and proof of concept" for Dadamac Foundation 2014 and in the future.

Dadamac Foundation already exists as a registered charity, but this year I'm working to extend its work and update its structures. 

My vision is to develop Dadamac Foundation so that, taking John Dada as an example of a "changemaker", Dadamac Foundation will help a whole collection of changemakers to tell their stories. This will have many benefits:

  • The changemakers (and their organisations, and thus the people they serve)  will benefit in the various ways that John and Fantsuam Foundation have been benefitting - but with better resources and support than in the past.
  • Dadamac Foundation will create an online "knowledge commons" of practical, effective, locally embedded community development.
  • New collaborations will become possible.
  • An alternative model of International development will emerge that is embedded in 21st century realities with all its related opportunities and challenges.

9 - Africa or elsewhere

Dadamac Foundation emerged from Peter Oyawale's Committee for African Welfare and Development, so it's reach is geographically limited. Dadamac Foundation will continue to focus on Africa, and initially the emphasis will be on countries in sub-Saharan Africa because that is where most of my contacts are, but I expect we will gradually connect with changemekers elsewhere.

At some future date, if we get the model right for supporting changemakers in Africa, then I'd like to try it elsewhere (probably India or UK next as I have existing contacts there). We'd need to set up new organisations to do that, but we'd already have an existing example to make things easier to launch.

10 - The innovative structure of Dadamac Foundation

Dadamac Foundation will not have a traditional structure of donors, beneficiaries and administrators.

It will have three kinds of contributors, all equally important.

  • Changemakers
    • Contributing their knowledge and experience, to populate the knowledge commons.
  • Information agents
    • Contributing information handling skills, to harvest, structure, present and promote the stories of the changemakers and the wealth of knowledge in the Dadamac Foundation knowledge commons, and to handle administrative tasks.
  • Donors
    • Contributing financial resources to enable the work of Dadamac Foundation

Dadamac Foundation's administrative centre will be officially in the UK, but its true home will be on the Internet. It will approach traditional funders in a traditional way, but it will do far more through social media. It will share evidence of its work in whatever channels are preferred by its information agents and will encourage people to become part of Dadamac Foundation, passing the message on and contributing in whatever way suits them best.

11 - Dadamac Foundation Trading and Services

Dadamac Foundation won't only rely on donors. It will also seek to earn money to support its work, probably through a separate entity set up for the purpose and called "Dadamac Trading," or "Dadamac Foundation Services" or some-such. My guess is that it will provide two main kinds of services, one related to information mining and the other related to project management.

12 - Information mining and organising

The Dadamac Foundation Knowledge Commons will be freely available under some appropriate copyleft license.  However as it grows bigger it may become more and more like a huge, free, "information supermarket" open 24/7 - with "everything you need", but only if you have time to go round finding it.

The Dadamac information agents will know what is available and where to find it. They can earn money for Dadamac Foundation by acting as "personal shoppers" for people who want gems of information collected on their behalf. The information agents can also present collections of information gems in different formats to make them easy to appreciate. All this takes time. It's not something that Dadamac Foundation can do freely. But it is something that Dadamac Foundation information agents can do at a fair commercial rate in order to generate income to help the Foundation in its work of building the knowledge commons.

12 - Collaboration, communication and project management

Dadamac Foundation will showcase the work of individual changemakers. As a result some people may wish to make donations to the individual changemakers in order to support their existing projects or to set up a new one. There are two possible ways to do it.

  1. Completely independently of Dadamac Foundation, sending direct donations to the changemakers. 
  2. Using Dadamac Foundation Services.

Dadamac Foundation will take no responsibility for any donations sent directly to changemakers.

If donors want help in building relationships with changemakers then Dadamac Foundation Services will be the best people to provide it. Help could range from simple services to complex long term project management. Even apparently simple tasks between UK and Africa often take considerable time and effort, and are best done by people who have done it before.between  Dadamac Foundation Services could have the necessary skills and experience to help donors with things like:

  • Setting up communication channels between the donor and the changemaker.
  • Supporting the collaborative process between the donor and the changemaker.
  • Online fundraising.
  • Transferring money.
  • Procuring equipment.
  • Monitoring and evaluation through appropriate feedback and two way communication.
  • Full project management.

14 - GobalNet21 and Africa - changemakers

The GlobalNet21(GN21) and Africa group is intertwined with Dadamac. See Six months of GN21 and Africa group. It's based in London and has face-to-face meetings. From the way it's developing I think it will attract existing changemakers as well as people with a general interest in doing useful things. Some of the changemakers in GN21 may become Dadamac Foundation changemakers. Some of the people with an interest in doing useful things may become part of the information agents team (where there will be a mixture of paid and voluntary roles).

15 - The First Thursday Group

The First Thursday Group could also become part of Dadamac Foundation. It meets online. Like the GN21 and Africa group it attracts a mixture of people including changemakers and people who are interested in what the changemakers are doing.

At present there is very little capacity for harvesting the information that is shared during FIrst Thursday meetings. Also many potential and/or occasional members of the group face practical difficulties in going online, such as lack of a laptop or smart phone, high tariffs, or prohibitive expenses and other problems in accessing the services of a cyber cafe.

Dadamac Foundation could help to overcome these barriers, and increase the value and reach of the First Thursday Group. By supporting and growing the First Thursday Group, Dadamac Foundation would feed the knowledge and experiences of more people on the ground into the Dadamac Foundation knowledge commons. It would also be helping more of the changemakers to benefit by being part of a collaborative community.

16 - From emergence to implementation - time for team building

I've set various things in motion (or I've been arround when they seemed to want to emerge, so I've helped to make them happen). Now there are things in place related to Dadamac that need looking after. They need to be nurtured and enabled to thrive. That means planning and the resources to implement those plans - a mixture of people and money. I need to separate out the various things that are emerging. I need to build teams to get things working for the long term.

17 - Not just learning - but doing.

It's time for me to stop doing everything as a "learning experience" with minimal resources. It's time to take what has been learned and find the resources (human and financial) to implement Dadamac things properly, on a new level.

18 - Information agents and other ways to join us

Dadamac has created a strong foundation to build on and get things working properly. Now is the time to build on it. Maybe you'd like to join in, or know someone else who'd be interested.

Information agents will do everything from spending a few minutes a week on twitter for us to working full time alongside a change agent, you may work with information as words, photos, videos, software - anything digital.  

I'm writing more about information agents elsewhere and later I'll also be explaining how to become a recognised Dadamac changemaker, but you can find out more now by using the contact form.

For donors there is an existing mechanism for online giving to Dadamac Foundation, although the words there don't yet reflect our new emphasis. We're not using it for any other fundraising at present so if you do donate here we'll know its for the 2014 version of Dadamac Foundation.

If you are in London you may also like to come along to a GlobalNet21 and Africa meeting - April details here. If you join the meetup group you'll get future announcements. You are welcome to come to the first meeting as my guest, and decide later if you want to become a full member of GlobalNet21. Register to attend, and when you meet the group explain you were invited here.

Please pass on these ways to join us.

Welcome to the 2014 version of Dadamac.