Sharing is caring, dialogue and learning

Today’s web tools give us ready opportunity to share information in real time. Our researchers’ whereabouts in Uganda, Liberia – and shortly many other African countries – are possible to trace through our new blogs. You can now follow our experts’ ongoing analyses and reflections straight from the field. They are sharing their stories with us as their research unfolds.

First was Andrew Byerley blogging from Uganda, where he has been doing fieldwork for the past month. He is looking at urban planning in Kampala and Jinja and various actors’ competing claims to the ‘right to the city’. In the run-up to last week’s elections in Liberia, Anders Themnér captured the mood in Monrovia on his blog. Anders returned from Liberia only a few days before the polling stations opened.

Visibility and accessibility have been our guiding communications precepts since 2007. As a result, NAI is sharing knowledge on the social web by making our publications available in full online. The time is ripe to add a third guiding precept: transparency.

In addition to the end-products in the form of academic publications and postings on our official website, Facebook page and Twitter account, we want to be better at “showing what we do, while we do it”. To put it bluntly, a publication is the closure of one project and the beginning of a new. So what about all the things that take place in between? Apart from involving a great deal of hard work, a research project also includes stray thoughts and cross-cutting observations that never make it to the printed academic page.

But there is more to it than that. Using social media is not primarily about sending out one-way messages into cyberspace. Social media are web-based tools and services that facilitate collaboration and the sharing of work among users.

Using social media is about sharing, dialogue and learning. It is about connecting with a critical mass of peers in cyberspace, as in “crowd sourcing”. It is about possibilities of tailoring ways of getting selective knowledge on specific subjects.

When NAI plunges into the social web with the ambition of sharing and learning more, it is also inviting all of you to connect.

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