Founder & CEO, Sehat First


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A geographic needs based "social development collaboration platform"

Traditional Development organizations all too often work in silo's with the result that there may be several organization working in the same communities with duplicated efforts. Why not create an open collaboration platform which starts with the COMMUNITY & LOCATION ALONG with its needs. Various organizations (international development agencies, local ngo's, academia, private sector) can collaborate on developing and implementing long term sustainable solutions and share progress along with SROI (social return on investment) figures.

  • Feb 17 2012: There already is an open collaboration platform. It's called the Internet, and it's very primitive however. Why not consider how to use the entire media spectrum to create a "sustainable progress engine" that will address economics, sociology and ecology in non-esoteric ways that accomplish "development"? There is a prevailing belief in "civil socirty" and the development community that if it costs money, no one can afford it and if it makes money, it must be somehow bad. Nonsense.

    It takes a lot of thinking to find the few nerves that are not being touched that the entire world will feel (in the long term) if some media technology hits it just right. That's what my body has been standing under trying to figure out for the last, oh, many years give or take. I know this can be done in a way that can start with a limited number of people and a limited number of innovations so that casts of thousands and purses of billions are not necessary. The cost of one Hollywood romantic comedy would probably do it. If it's "free", it equates into "valueless". If it's simply "collaborative" it means "non-competitive" to many folks. IMO, money talks and every effort was developmental worth--even failure shows what NOT to do. No guts no glory.
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    Feb 18 2012: The concept of the platform is really good, but how do we get them to actually use it?
    • Feb 19 2012: Maybe we should attract contributors in steps. We could start with a small and passionate audience, to get it calibrated and also build some initial user base. I think the quality and amount of current active users play a critical role in attracting new audience, so the initial user base should be very carefully selected, before jumping to broader user profiles.

      I'd pick close friends or trusted coworkers for a start, but only if I could trust them to remain engaged and active in the platform, even with the very small user base and the beta status. As it became more stable, you could ask them to invite their trusted peers, and so on. As soon as it becomes good enough for releasing, it could be opened to the greater public.

      On the other hand, I think it would not be a good idea to get a big player (an organization, for example) for the initial phase, unless it shows a pretty good level of commitment. They should only be accepted when your platform is convincing, because their presence could sensibly affect your whole user base (their support should help a lot, but if they become dissatisfied with the platform they could make attracting more users very difficult).

      Your few trusted initial users probably already belong to your intended user base, or know people that do. So it would not be a bad start. If everything fails (if you don't have enough trusted peers), you can still look for some initial users through Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn. In this case you would have to be extra careful about their commitment, but it should still work fine.
  • Feb 17 2012: Thank You Ricardo. I agree that the open source would be the solution of choice for the technology end. The key issue though is to get people to USE it and to form the collaborative networks of institutions that actually fund the various programs and projects.
    • Feb 17 2012: I am not sure of that answer, so maybe I was not clear enough on my prior comment.

      I didn't mean that your solution should be implemented as an open source software, I sort of thought it would eventually be like that. What I actually tried to say is that your platform or process should work in a similar way the open source software development works. They are already used to collaboration, and many OSS project hosts resemble (or are in fact) social networks. You could learn a thing or two from the OSS community, to help you devise a process that might actually work.

      *So I didn't mean it as a choice for the technology end, I actually meant it for the organizational end.*

      You could as well plug it to the main social network platforms like Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn to get extra visibility for the technical, common or professional people. You could even plug it to sourceforge, github, stackexchange or kickstarter (if they offer the appropriate API) to get support from software developers, other specialized communities or funding for individual projects.

      Also, the wikipedia community might have some useful insights, because they are also used to collaboration and sharing.
      • Feb 18 2012: RIcardo, I did misunderstand, but absolutely get it now. Thanks! I've actually set up an appointment to talk to the OS community lead out here to brainstorm on this as well,
  • Feb 16 2012: I think it could be based on *open source software* development. Developers in these kinds of projects are usually distributed geographically, and these projects may have dozens or even hundreds of contributors, working on the same set of files. They usually have a wiki, an issue tracker and a version control system integrated and served in the internet. Their software are mostly free of charge, free to distribute and even free to modify and distribute, as long as you give proper attributions and preferably contribute some code yourself, if at all possible.

    I think you will find it instructive to know how this stuff works (just take a look at wikipedia for a start, then find an OSS project and ask them by mail or by forum). Maybe they could even offer themselves to implement your idea for free?

    After your idea has matured, you could try Kickstarter. You could get some funding this way and bring up a web server with the help from the OSS community.

    I am not experienced enough to give the details myself, so I am only pointing an interesting way to make it happen. These guys are already very experienced on sharing their solutions, so you might find some useful insights.
  • Feb 14 2012: This is a terrific idea Shahida. Having worked in developmental and disaster relief projects this is such a profound truth. The only thing I would say is it should be based on collaboration not competition.
    • Feb 17 2012: Totally Agreed Michael! You've actually hit the core issue. Due to competitive environment created for funds, we are actually undermining the development results in many cases. We need to create a collaboration framework which encourages collaboration amongst agencies and institutions, while maintaining institutional working independence.
      • Feb 17 2012: Of course the problem grows deeper because each competing NGO has their own agenda and their own monetary constituents to please (I'll send you a letter of a starving child). I have seen some very prestigious NGO's actually horde supplies during disaster relief. If there were someone who could effectively bridge this gap it would be wonderful.

        Ricardo has some very practical startup ideas.
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    Feb 14 2012: Tell me how I can help ! I am experienced in grass roots development. Read my bio and get back to me, OK ?