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Advisor To Minister for Development Co-Operation ( Ministry of Foreign Affairs Brussels )
AfricaAdapt Home page
AfricaAdapt Home page
Innovative Farmer Advisory Services using ICTs - FranÃ§ois Stepman, FARA / Programme / Atelier de Montpellier / SÃ©minaires / sim2g / Home -
Innovative Farmer Advisory Services using ICTs - FranÃ§ois Stepman, FARA / Program / Montpellier Workshop / Workshops / sim2g / Home -
Knowledge Sharing in the CGIAR - Tools and Methods for Sharing Knowledge: The CGIAR's Wiki Approach
"When you talk about information and communications, their reaction is often, 'No, we are already facing too much communication.
Don't invite us to join another network as we'll have an additional information flow.' So we have to be very hygienic.
The first task, adds Stepman, is to help researchers identify their information needs and organize how that information comes to them.
One example is that scientists can, like any other Internet user, streamline incoming information flow with the help of news feeds. (The generic name, RSS, refers to a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content.) Many websites now offer this feature, which notifies subscribers when web pages - blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and so on - are updated or content otherwise changes.
"This is a big revelation to many of our agricultural scientists," says Stepman.
Internet users can also design their own iGoogle page, which allows newsfeeds, Gmail (Google e-mail) messages, and other selected information to be organized in a single location for a rapid overview.
"Because the majority of these scientists are complaining of overkill," says Stepman, "their reaction is, 'Oh, so this will make the information inflow much more digestible for me'.
Similarly, Google Alerts can help busy scientists stay abreast of developments in their discipline.
With this service, the user is alerted via an e-mail message of top-ranked news stories, blog posts, or other fresh website items that match a set of search terms chosen by the user.
Most of this information will probably not be of any use to the scientist, admits Stepman.
"But for every weekly e-mail alert you get from Google, there may be three or four very interesting links, what I call 'quick wins'."
Much can also be done on the knowledge outflow side where, at least in the case of African agricultural science, the problem is not one of too much information to cope with, according to Stepman, but rather too low a profile on the World Wide Web.
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Towers Watson & Co.
London College of Fashion