Weblogs and Wikis: New Ways to Advocate for Your Development Cause

Wednesday, 26 October, 2005 - 09:14

At the launch of SANGONeT’s portal on World Development Information Day (WDID), 24 October 2005 - speaking from Seattle in the United States, non-profit online specialist, Michael Gilbert (pictured le

At the launch of SANGONeT’s portal on World Development Information Day (WDID), 24 October 2005 - speaking from Seattle in the United States, non-profit online specialist, Michael Gilbert (pictured left) of the Gilbert Center, talked to more than eighty South African delegates located in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town via a digital video conference link, about the practices of Weblogs and Wikis as some of the most exciting new tools to promote leadership and collaboration in development as well as advance alternative views.

According to Mr Gilbert, typically, a Weblog can be characterized as a short online comment, which is essentially orientated towards a brief update. He elaborated further that a Wiki is a group of web pages easily edited by many people and that the term “Wiki” is derived from a Hawaiian word meaning “quick” or “fast”. The Wikipedia is the most famous and extensive example of a Wiki.

While he spoke about Weblogs and Wikis as exceptional tools to develop leadership and collaboration around particular communities of practice. Within the development context, it quickly became clear that these online communication tools provide outstanding opportunities to present an alternative perspective to the mainstream, thereby creating wonderful prospects for development practitioners and activists to express their opinions.

Mr Gilbert will be in South Africa in March 2006 for SANGONeT’s annual ICTs for Civil Society Conference, where he will build upon the topics he addressed in SANGONeT’s 2005 conference, i.e., online fundraising, advocacy and marketing. To keep abreast of cutting edge, Internet developments of direct relevance to NGOs, subscribe to his newsletter, Nonprofit Online News.

Another interesting input was delivered by keynote speaker, Mr Godfrey Mokate, CEO of the National Development Agency. Mr Mokate spoke about the development challenges facing South Africa. In particular he focused on three issues.

Firstly he spoke about the skills and capacity challenges facing the NGO sector and the state and their implications for service delivery. Secondly he spoke about the resource challenges facing the NGO sector regarding the self-sufficiency of the sector and the NDAs role in relation to this. Finally, he addressed the issue of transition politics and new forms of engagement with the state. Mr Mokate, responded to a number of probing questions from NGO delegates based in Durban, Cape town and Johannesburg.

The picture above shows, delegates from Cape Town being addressed by Mr. Mokate, seen beaming onto the big screen from Johannesburg, with David Barnard SANGONeT's Executive Director, by his side. Cape Town delegates were also able  to engage with their peers in Durban through the television screen on the side.

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