Posts Tagged ‘crowd’

Change agents versus change networks

7 October 2009

The first session of this year’s Socialcamp in Berlin kept me busy thinking for the whole weekend. Coming from the challenging experience of reaching sustainable change when working with organisations in Africa, Tobias Eigen from Kabissa was looking at questions of the drivers of change, and how to identify these “Change Agents”.

This let me to remember one of the principles of the power of internet, which is that everybody, from Kinshasa, to Berlin, to Port Moresby, can make a difference, can engage and has the opportunity to be an agent of change. While this was true before the internet as well, and limitations of connectivity still exist, the opportunity to scale this engagement has increased exponentially.

Go change the world. Now.

Go change the world. Now.

Now this obviously doesn’t mean that every idea will change the world, but what I find most interesting and exciting is that by simply doing something such as sending a text message, posting an idea or a comment, taking a picture and sharing it, he can be part of a changing world.

In short, this is citizen engagement. How this can be a key factor for influencing the fight against corruption in the future, I have described on this blog and also here.

The concept that was floated during the discussion is the one of a Change Network, in a way taking the concept that every one can be a change agent and planting this person into a societal context. I think the concept of one person driving change is, on a general level, somewhat of a myth. The person is always embedded in a network that reflects, adapts and catalyses the ideas and concepts of change. This does not limit itself to its immediate group, but also to the community or society surrounding.

And without this networks, the change will not happen.

While preparing this text, Patrick Meier from iRevolution did a great summary on the discussion on crowdsourcing and I would like to quote his words which fit quite well here:

We credit the crowd because no one person lives in a vacuum and comes up with innovative ideas that are completely independent from their interaction with the outside world.

This is also true when you think of how dependent change becomes if it is only focussed on one person, rather than a network. It is a challenge the fight against corruption has experienced much to often when having to rely on political will to change the status quo. Once a government changes, all advancements may stop, just because this change was based on only one person.

The question is whether a Change Network can be institutionalised.

I am split on this with my thoughts, but I believe that there needs to be the liberty to engage and create a culture of engagement and action without having to organise everything (and this coming from a German), and let allow that even from slactivism eventually comes true engagement and activism. I like the idea of a possibility for change at every movement. Providing space for the individual to do something and let the network surrounding it create the change. Not everything will be, or want to be NGOised.

What do you think? Is this concept useful?

Corruption Perceptions Index 2008 going social?

23 September 2008

Today, Transparency International released its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In its visual appearance it is as all indices a simple table. Asking myself how the score relates to each country’s rather complex national reality, and therefore how the CPI, measuring only public sector corruption, could be complemented with additional information, I came up with a couple of ideas related to how the information is presented.

As a first step, improving the visualisation of the data can make it more accessible. So here’s the CPI as a world map. The Tactical Technology Collective has developed a nice guide on how to visualise information for advocacy. But better, make it an interactive google map. And the final step should be to use the crowd to enhance the information that is available in the map contributing real-time information – national news stories, bribing experiences and the like.

Secondly, you can explain the data with a press release. But you can also explain it with a youtube-video. Automatically the video relates to others on similar issues. Additionally viewers can comment on it, add their own videos, and engage into a conversation.

No research stands alone and needs to be seen in context with other data. The World Freedom Atlas, developed by Zachary Johnson at the University of Wisconsin, provides an interactive visualisation tool for world statistics on issues of freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance. Other examples of great presentation of information in world maps can be found developed by Maplecroft and, “as you’ve never seen it before”, on the Worldmapper website. In a future post I’ll share more interactive and social mapping projects.

But in the end, does a table, a statistic, or a number mean much to people? It works well for academics and rankings are great for the media. And it is of course a question of how to measure corruption in the first place (see the Users’ Guide to Measuring Corruption by Global Integrity, or the Mapping of Corruption and Governance Measurement Tools in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Transparency International), by the way to be discussed at the 13th IACC as well.

But on the other hand it has not much to do with what happens on the streets, in hospitals or in public institutions. An index meaningful to people needs to be connected to their lives and realities. More tools that combine facts and personal experience, as well as engage people in a conversation need to be developed. This will allow us to gain a more comprehensive picture of what is it exactly we are dealing with when we want to fight corruption.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.