09 July 2008

Network Globally, Focus Locally - success in the age of Internet networking

The uniquely successful use of social networking by a candidate* in the upcoming American Presidential race is discussed in an online International Herald Tribune article. The article notes that by borrowing from principles that drive Facebook the highly successful social networking site (indeed they even “borrowed” one of Facebook’s founders to manage the site), this candidate’s website growth strategy is driven by the principle: keep it real and keep it local.

This is a true challenge in the facilitation of any large online community. While novelty and the excitement of newness can quickly galvanize a new community online, it remains a challenge to keep a large, geographically and culturally disperse community dynamic and working together productively in the medium-term. The e-Agriculture community, while still young and growing, recognized this challenge from the beginning and has been striving to keep it real and local, buy targeting solutions to key issues identified by the community itself, and by fostering locally-relevant events on subjects such as public private partnerships.

This political candidate’s site discussed on IHT.com also shows the power of reaching beyond the typical younger, Internet savvy crowd that flocks to social networking sites by advocating “off line” actions and more traditional modes of communication such as house parties and telephone banks. Here I think there is another parallel with the e-Agriculture community, as it focuses on three levels of action: the online Community of Experts global platform www.e-agriculture.org; face-to-face events, including GK3, and the upcoming eIndia2008 and IAALD World Congress; and in-country interventions.

The e-Agriculture community developed for everyone trying to improve sustainable rural development through the use of ICT. Join the community, voice your concerns and opinions, and use the online platform to sound out issues important to your local community as we did with the public private partnerships forum. Success is there waiting for us!

* While many of you have probably guessed who this candidate is, I have intentionally left out a name so as not to distract from the ICT issues at hand, and leave the debate on national politics to other blogs ;-)

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