Welcome back. Thanks for your helpful feedback on your First Thursday experience. You raise many good points and I would like to address them all very seriously. I suggest that we take our time to explore them all in more detail, so in this post I will give an overall response and suggest some structure for our discussions.
It seems we are in overall agreement:
- First Thursday has great potential
- There are still serious glitches to be overcome
- We need to clarify the aims
- We need to tackle the glitches
- Our emphasis should be about caring to find out what people really want and then finding solutions
- First Thurdays should listen to problems and play a role in providing advice, help, leads, contacts and seek/arrange funds
Approach to our discussions
i hope you recognise your words and ideas in the list above, and in what I will write below. I am trying to include all that you mentioned, but within a strucutre that will help to guide our future discussions. I have a mental checklist that i use when I look at ICT4D dsicussions, and I will try it out now to see how it fits your post. I call it the "three legged stool" model of ICT for Education/Development. I won't explain it now I'll just use it. It leads me to the following structure in response to your post.
Technololgy and issues of using it
- Particular problems met when logging on.
- Access issues, especially in rural areas.
Information content and structure
- Agenda - topics, talking points.
- Purpose - knowlege flow, exchange of ideas, enrich, enlighten, problems, solutions,.
- Dynamics - lively interaction/listless, pleasantries, brainstorm, direction, focus,
- Meetings - frequency, length, name(s) if not only First Thursday.
- Geographic focus - general or specific location(s)
- Subject focus - "micro-issues",maternity care, child-health etc
- "Anchor" role to direct discussions
People who are trying to communicate
- Newcomers to First Thursday
- Other participants - regular, occassional, involved/not-involved in organsational issues
- Domain experts
- People who are excluded but would like to be included
- Representatives of people who are excluded but would like to be included
Aims and objective
At this point I won't even attempt to define aims and objectives. Let us just agree that First Thursday is currently in a state of change and it is a good time to think about them. I will suggest some areas of consideraton that might help us. They include:
- How does First Thursday fit in with the rest of Dadamac?
- Where is First Thursday going at present (if anywhere)?
- Where is it now?
- Where has it come from?
- Where should/could it be going?
- Who should decide?
- How should it be decided?
- How can we use First Thursdays to help us reach a decision that suits all participants?
- How often should we re-visit these aims and objectives and consider redefining them?
I appreciate the thought you have put into this, and I appreciate the opportunity you are giving me to explore some of these issues.I hope we can continue it for some time, and welcome others to join in.
Some people think before they speak - I can't do that! I am the other kind of person. The person who said "How do I know what I think til I hear what I say?" was someone after my own heart. I can't easily organise my thoughts in solitude. I need someone to talk to, or write to, so that I find out what I am thinking. Then I can gradually sort out the rubbish from the potentially useful or interesting (and if I am lucky the other person/people involved will help me to do so). So - let us think about First Thursday and help it to fulfil its potential.
I look forward to finding where you will take this discussion next.