Monday, 23 March 2009

Andrius Kulikauskas, COMMUNIA, and Open Knowledge

My friend Andrius Kulikauskas Director of Minciu Sodas is staying here in preparation for
5th Communia Workshop: Accessing, Using, Reusing Public sector Content and Data (London 26-27/03/09).

The COMMUNIA Thematic Network aims at becoming a European point of reference for theoretical analysis and strategic policy discussion of existing and emerging issues concerning the public domain in the digital environment - as well as related topics, including, but not limited to, alternative forms of licensing for creative material; open access to scientific publications and research results; management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works).

Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus framework, the 3-years long project expects to provide policy guidelines that will help each stakeholder involved - public and private, from the local to the European and global level.

Andrius and others from Minciu Sodas will also be at the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009 on Saturday 28th March. OKCon is back for its fourth installment bringing together individuals and groups from across the open knowledge spectrum for a day of discussions workshops. This year the event will feature dedicated sessions on open knowledge and development and on the semantic web and open data. Plus there's the usual substantial allocation of 'Open Space' -- sessions, workshops and discussions proposed either via the CFP or on the day.

The work of Minciu Sodas is described and continuously updated at the
Minciu Sodas Worknets Wiki

Saturday, 21 March 2009

WES - World Entrepreneur Society

Yesterday I attended World Entrepreneur Society 2009 Summit
which I heard about thanks to an email from Steve Moore who I met at 2gether08.
My first contact of the day, before I had even taken my coat off, was Trine Moore. We found an instant shared interest regarding issues around "Be the change" and Attachab Eco-village. My last one was with a group of Kaospilots (the 21st century alternative to being MBA students). The day was full of opportunities to meet new people with interests overlapping my own. I expect some of their names will turn up here (or on the gradually developing Dadamac website) as we explore shared concerns and possible collaborations.

There is already lots of information leading up to the World Entrepreneur Society 2009 Summit and as David Wilcox - social media journalist - was covering the event I am expecting him to be putting up good coverage of what actually went on.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Pattern Language and Civil Empowerment

On Tuesday I was at a workshop on Pattern Language and Civil Empowerment at the London Knowledge Lab.

The email below from the organiser gives useful links
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yishay Mor <>
Date: 2009/3/19
Subject: [Planet-CivicEmp] post-hoc background
To: planet-civicemp <>

Should I have emailed this before the workshop? Maybe. Would you have looked at it?
Anyway, some background on the Planet / Learning patterns approach to collaborative reflection via patterns:

My recent presentation keynote at e-learning patterns, Tuebingen, 2009 ( )


How to write a case story:

From stories to patterns:
Yishay Mor, Researcher, London Knowledge Lab

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

CDE eLearning personalisation seminar

Where next with eLearning? A seminar on personalisation

Last week I attended an interesting seminar at London University's Centre for Distance Education. Further details are in the email below
Dear colleague,

Following last week’s personalisation seminar conducted by Philip Butler and James Ballard from ULCC, the powerpoint slides are now available to view or download here:

Other related sited sites you may find useful:

- Framework Information: (including links to demo sites)

- Portfolio Evaluation:

If you have any questions regarding the session, or the CDE please let me know.


Tom Inkelaar, Planning and Development Officer

Centre for Distance Education, University of London,

Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DN.

T: 0207 862 8404

The Centre for Distance Education is part of the University of London External System

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Credit-crunch musings

These musings were posted elsewhere - I wrote them in response to discussion about the credit crunch
I want to raise the issue of paid-work (the day job) versus work-for-a-purpose (often, but not always, for no pay).

Many of the people who I most respect consider that their day-job is a necessity but their "purposeful work for no pay" is far more important and valuable (to themselves and to others). I suggest that we might help the newly time-rich to find their own purposeful work through involvement in online communities of purpose.

I was once in a small group discussion where people were talking animatedly about their work. All seemed in agreement until one person commented about his boss not allowing him to follow through on a particular area of interest. Suddenly some previous odd comments he had made fell into place. Unlike others he was talking about work he was paid to do. He wasn't talking about the work that was his passion, the purposeful work that he did in his own time. He didn't have purposeful work of his own. He thought everyone was talking about day-jobs!

I think we should take a lead from the Open Source community (or at least, my understanding of it) i .e some people write code in their own time, others get hired by organisations (like the OU wanting new Moodle applications perhaps). The code that is written all becomes available to everyone. If it is good then it is valued. Money has nothing to do with it. Code is not “better” because someone was paid to write it. No-one feels ashamed that they contirbuted their code in their own time instead of as part of their paid work. Or at least that is how I understand it to be.

The newly time-rich can be like a pool of people on secondment available to work alongside people who are already doing purposeful work for no pay. I am not talking about 20th century volunteering. I am talking about the opportunity for first hand experience of work patterns that are emerging in 21st century: more flexibility; a blurring of boundaries between working from home and working at work; an emphasis on collaborative work; the creation of teams that form temporarily to achieve a given purpose. I know I could find purposeful, interesting and challenging work for people if I didn't have to find money to pay them. I can't be alone in that.

Maybe such involvement will only be a stop-gap for the newly-time-rich during a brief career break. Maybe it will be a new experience for them which will help them develop better skills for 21st century online collaboration. Maybe they will take their experience of emergent 21st century work patterns back into long established organisations and their structures for the
benefit of all. Maybe some people will decide against going back to full-time employment and will choose to develop a sustainable lifestyle that includes doing their work paid and unpaid – a bit like my undersatnding of Open Source development.

The newly time-rich are a national resource. Let's get our act together to make use of them before their skills get rusty, their work habits slide, their self respect plummets and a huge opportunity for skill use and development is wasted.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Go to College, Get a Job, Borrow From the Driver/Tea Girl

I'm sharing this great posting from Ugabytes as it gives a wonderful picture of African small businesses (with some interesting lessons for credit-crunch UK perhaps).

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sandra Nassali
Date: 2009/3/12
Subject: Fwd: Go to College, Get a Job, Borrow From the Driver/Tea Girl ...
To: ugabytes

Hello people,

Some things take a long time to change. Take the (dis)advantages of higher education, for example. In the 1970s, to be highly educated in Uganda was a risky business. The military government of the day was deeply suspicious of educated people, who were deemed dangerous. Many of those who did not flee the country were killed.

Today, higher education is required for most jobs. That is why, so many people are going to university to earn a degree that will open the doors of employment. But again, this kind of education has its disadvantages. It tends to condemn a person to total dependence on salaried employment, making them vulnerable to sudden destitution should they lose their jobs.

Strangely enough, at the end of the day, when you trace the adult lives of people at most workplaces, it is the drivers, messengers and cleaners who do better as far as individual financial security is concerned. After working for five years, a tea girl will have invested more than the secretary along with whom she was recruited. The driver will be more financially solid than the mid-rank graduate officer.

The tea girl, you see, doesn't just earn a salary. She also supplies mandazis to the secretaries at break time. She arrives at work much earlier than them, to make sure her merchandise is distributed to various agents such as junior tea girls in nearby offices and a few street side vendors.

When the secretaries arrive, she greets them politely and asks what they would like for their break. Since she extends credit, many of her bosses are in her debt. They pay up as soon as they get their salaries, because it would be beneath their dignity to default on a tea girl's money.
Meanwhile, her younger sister, whom she brought over from the village two years ago, is manning their stall in the market, where they sell second-hand clothes. From among these, the elder sister regularly selects the "first class" pieces and sells them at higher prices to the secretaries, who do not want to be seen in the downtown market stalls bargaining for used garments.

Because of spending so much time with educated people, the tea girl has decided that the child, whose birth forced her out of school six years ago, will have the best education she can provide. She puts the child in a good school and pushes her to work for good grades. She will even make sacrifices to pay for private coaching.

As for our driver, he is doing equally well. Extremely humble and obliging before the executives, he is regarded as indispensable. After working there for 10 years, he knows the secrets of the top men in the organization. They therefore tend to let him get away with small sins like those that fuel bills that seem on the high side for the mileage covered.

Unbeknown to his bosses, he is running two or three taxicabs as well as a small shop near his
home. He has a line of one-room rental houses and any tenant who is late with the monthly payment is evicted ruthlessly.

His drivers and wives, who double as shop assistants, bow lower before him than he does before his bosses at work. His children, who are subjected to very strict discipline, will be sent to the
best schools if they are academically promising. Otherwise, they are absorbed into the
family business at an early age. He rules over his small empire with an iron hand.

The tea girl and the driver get salaries that are much lower than those of the secretary and the middle officer. However, because they live close to the ground, as it were, they spend much less and so are able to save and invest.

The young graduate, on the other hand, cannot imagine running a soda-and-cake network in the office. So, he has no income apart from his official salary. Yet he goes to expensive clubs and wears trendy clothes. So, come the end of the month, he has no money left!

Whereas the driver no longer touches his salary, relying instead on his diverse incomes to run
his home. The graduate cannot invest in the places he frequents and the circles he moves in; he cannot build a five-star hotel. But the driver can open kiosks and bars in his slum.

One day, both these people will have to leave their employment. No prizes for guessing who is better prepared for life after retirement. The privatization and downsizing of the public service gave us many sad cases of senior officers who tried to start businesses with their retirement
packages. At their age, it was too late to learn new tricks, and most got cleaned out within a week, ending up as frustrated alcoholics. The stronger ones converted their family cars into cabs, and can be seen touting for teenage passengers outside discotheques. They live in
unfinished houses and are always quarrelling with their growing children, who cannot cope with the fall in their standard of living.

As the driver's and tea girl's offspring join the business sector with ease, the former officer's sons and daughters sit around idly talking about Western film stars and singers. Such are the dangers of an elitist education.


Sandra Nassali
Community Facilitator
UgaBYTES Initiative ( (
Plot 2218 Ggaba Road,
2nd Floor Kangave House
P.O. Box 6081 K'la

Monday, 9 March 2009

[nafsiafrikasaana] Kenya -Lithuania Bridge

More news from my friend Ken Owino. Copied here for the techie aspect (because they are using a videobridge) and the people aspect (a Kenya - Lithuania collaboration) - and also because anything that Ken does is worth knowing about.


Dear Friends,

I would like to bring to your attention a video bridge event organised by the NGO “Cultureartfact” in Lithuania and “NAFSI Africa Acrobats” in Kenya.

The video conference and concert “Afrik@LT2009” will be on the 21st March 2009, 3pm at Early Childhood Development Centre “Little rock” in Kibera,( Lemule Road Olympic Estate, Kibera P.O.Box 21319, 00505) all the details about this international event you can find on the website:

This video conference and a concert which will be transmitted live on the web: and will help deaf children and the children with hearing disabilities from both countries (Lithuania and Kenya) make friends and explore the other culture far from their own world.

Using sign language, the children will exchange their questions and knowledge about the two countries Kenya and Lithuania , exchange their culture program.

Kenyan participants will have a possibility to watch a unique percussion show performed by Lithuanian deaf children group; in exchange “Kivuli” Centre Acrobats will show their acrobatics and percussion show.

To specify this event we are using the Kibera deaf school “Little rock” slogan “Help turn a scar into a star”. and will be raising the awareness of the famine in Kenya to help children from the school like “Little rock” in Kibera and others to improve their living and schooling standards.

This will be a fund raising event in Lithuania ; already confirmed that this event in Lithuania will have a Red Cross representative.

I hope you can Log on to on 21st March to share with us this important event.

Thank you for your attention.


Ken Owino

Nafsi Africa Acrobats