RTI International has been developing a framework for international development over the past two years, called Learning States. This is a new approach, with significant funding from various multinational corporations (MNC), focused on the base of the world’s economic pyramid (BOP). As MNC’s see their first world markets becoming saturated, but without a strategy to meet the needs of emerging markets, RTI has created this initiative to foster sustainable job and livelihood development.
The Learning States for Growing Economies white paper, co-authored by Hal Richman, gives an overview of the strategy.
Using the lens of learning and innovation,
Learning States is brokering a series of
partnerships to connect (1) the world?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s leading MNCs seeking to grow new markets at the BOP; (2) local business, government, and economic development leaders in emerging market states (EMS); and (3) donor organizations
interested in economic and job growth. These learning partnerships will be guided by a new model for growing markets, jobs, and prosperity. Specifically, the Learning States design process creates a space for innovation by selecting pilot sites where traditional business models will not work. As MNC and local business leaders generate ideas for innovative
products and services, the Learning States team brings in local stakeholder groups, such as educators, policymakers, and government officials, who are committed to identifying new opportunities and creating new value in emerging markets.
Perhaps some of the insights on learning and innovation can also be used here in Atlantic Canada, especially since Hal lives in Nova Scotia.
James Farmer is offering a place for teachers to test out social and pedagogical software technologies:
So, by providing free-for-teachers hosting, installation, support and consultation for weblogs, wikis, CMSs and more, I figure I get to learn an enormous amount (which will certainly help me in my career), help some frustrated teachers out and show the light to others who would have a lot of trouble technically getting there. Well worth a few bucks a month I think.
The software suite also includes synchronous tools and discussion boards; and the CMS is Drupal. Go ahead and try it out.
Carrying on in the tradition of the original CSS Zen Garden, is the new Drupal Theme Garden. Now everyone can view the variations on a theme of Drupal! There are only a few so far, but I’m sure that the garden will grow. Not all themes are available for downloading and use.
Update Oct 2005 – since this node gets more hits than any other one on my site, I thought that I should note that the Theme Garden link is currently dead. If you have technical skills then you can look at the Drupal Theme Developer’s Guide.
Tell me if you know of any others.
Update: Jan 2006 – New Theme Garden Link works now.
Come out on Wednesday, October 13th, before the Moncton Cybersocial and hear Seb Paquet’s presentation on Social Software (blogs & stuff, you know). Seb’s presentation will be at 5:00 PM, followed by the Cybersocial. Both are at the Manhattan Bar & Grill, on Westmorland Street, across from the Moncton Market.
I mentioned a while back my reading of the book Collaborate to Compete, which played a role in an article that I collaboratively wrote for LearnNB. Two recent articles continue the discussion around collaboration. From Dave Pollard:
Collaboration is instinctive and selected-for in evolutionary terms because it succeeds. But we collaborate not because it succeeds, necessarily, but because it’s fun. True collaboration, in hunting, in the arts and music, in sports, in raising children, is a joyous experience, and gives you a feeling that you cannot get from any individual pursuit. That feeling is the remarkable sense of collective accomplishment. We did that.
And then I came across this from Small Business Trends:
In each story you just read, organizations that serve the same kind of consumers created new opportunities for each other.
They didn’t just forge a partnership.
They crafted what I call a "smart partnership".
Together they accomplished more than they could have in "solo" outreach efforts. They attracted and delighted their mutual market of people while spending less
As you can tell, any kind or size of organization can adopt this trend towards joining forces to generate more value and visibility together.
Collaboration is like play – you cannot force it. I know that I like to collaborate with people whom I can have fun with. Perhaps a good way to foster more collaboration in your business is to play more. Just like in kindergarten, being told that someone "plays well with others", may be a critical business skill.
Collaboration, both at a high conceptual level (industry should collaborate) and the human level (let’s work on this together) takes up a piece of almost every business conversation that I have. I think that most people are open to collaboration, but we don’t have all of the tools or the best environment for it in business yet. Just read an RFP from the federal government, and it is set up so that only one company (usually a larger one) can get the contract. Government could become a catalyst by encouraging smaller companies to collaborate on projects, in order to prepare them for larger, global bids. Promoting collaboration on larger projects would be one low-cost way of furthering small business development and creating a more diverse and sustainable economy.
Creative Commons now has licenses available which are designed specifically for Canadian copyright law. You can see mine on the bottom left of every page. When you select a license, Canada is one of the jurisdictions available on the drop-down menu. The Canadian license is available in French & English, and each deed has links to both official languages. The CC license also saves on legal fees 🙂
Robert Paterson said it a while back, and Brian Alger just mentioned it. I’m referring to this statement made by Rob:
I am beginning to think that this may be the great work – to build the alternatives rather than to try and reform the existing system.
I think that this is a wonderful mission statement – To build alternatives rather than to try and reform existing systems. I know that we have systemic problems in politics, academia and health care, to name a few. Instead of trying to tweak these systems, it may be more fruitful to build alternatives that can serve as examples. This does not mean destroying the existing system (as some may argue that managerial capitalist systems can do this all on their own) but creating prototypes for experimentation and learning. It’s kind of like early American democracy that showed many other people how it could work.
Mark Oehlert blogs again on Lessig’s book, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. The book is a success, even with the free download available, as well as the audio chapters that have been completed by various volunteers.
I’ve been thinking a lot about business models and how the Internet has turned many on their heads. Making money on a book by giving away the digital version does not make intuitive sense; which is why I’m re-posting this as well. The rules have changed, but not everywhere. Today, we need to challenge our understanding of conventional business wisdom, especially when developing business plans.
A new business model, called the Social Purchasing Portal (SPP), has been developed in Vancouver. It’s a form of community economic development that leverages good business practices, not charity. The portal allows the participants in the supply chain to make socially responsible decisions in their supplier/purchaser agreements. Here’s an example of the portal in practice:
Pivotal, a major international software company with nearly 200 local employees, has basically only one entry job, a receptionist. They use their significant catering needs to leverage social value by ordering from Cook Studio Caf?É¬ï¿½. The increased business for Cook Studio results in business growth and the need to hire six employees from their youth-at-risk training programs.
According to the Vancouver portal, everyone wins in an SPP:
- Participating ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨?ï¿½Purchasers?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½ use their existing business expenditures to practice corporate social responsibility while still meeting their business purchasing criteria for value, price and quality.
- Participating businesses and social enterprises who participate as ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨?ï¿½Suppliers?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½ of goods and services have access to new and expanding markets, growing their businesses and requiring new employees.
- The SPP initiated business growth creates employment demand, providing opportunities for hard-to-employ persons seeking employment.
I discovered this through Brian Alger’s post, and he includes a number of other links if you want to explore SPP’s further.
Kathleen Gilroy is asking for feedback on the Otter Group’s new business venture – Ping. This service will help to foster blogging communities of practice. Here is the intro to the executive summary:
After ten years of running successful online learning communities and programs, the Otter Group is introducing a new service for developing and managing affinity networks for colleges and universities: Ping Affinity Networks. Ping is a personal network for connecting with your peer group. The network is made up of individual weblogs, a weblog portal and powerful search tools that combine the blog network with proprietary databases. Ping capitalizes on two rapidly growing communications technologies which are ideal for creating personal and peer networks: weblogs and RSS.
Because blogs provide a lasting, personal identity, they make it possible for reputation and trust to develop online. Ping returns the Internet to its original conception: groups of trusted people sharing knowledge. Weblogs and RSS enable the "anyone can publish, everyone can subscribe" promise of the Internet. Trusted blogging networks not only help keep out the riffraff, but also act as trusted filters for the vast influx of information faced every day. Ping?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s personal network puts you back in control of your Internet life.
Ping enables the creation and growth of communities of interest, offering their members ad hoc ways to collaborate. Ping stimulates high levels of participation in online communities by using weblogs to lower the technology barriers of participation to almost zero. With RSS, newsreaders and specialized, proprietary search technologies, Ping makes it very easy for community members to find and track, people, ideas, and information. The Ping Connector, a proprietary search tool, enables searching against both private directories and the blogging network. Ping builds viral marketing and member recruitment into its technology platform, so that community members can promote (and receive credit for) membership simply by maintaining their weblogs.
Ping?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s business model is based on subscriptions from individual bloggers. Ping subscribers pay for their participation in the blog network for a variety of purposes that are both self-serving (reputation building) and altruistic (knowledge sharing). Subscribers join Ping in order to enhance their reputations and build their personal brands; advance their careers, network, and find jobs; increase their Google ratings through linking to one another?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s blogs; share information, photos, and knowledge with their friends and family; document their personal and professional lives; make social and professional connections; and share knowledge, ideas, and information. As the community grows, linking to other blogs has the reciprocal benefit of creating value for your own blog. This underlying reciprocity is expressed in Ping?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s mission statement: the love you take is equal to the love you make.
For my part, it seems to have some potential, especially since I have not found many uses for my memberships in social networks, likes Ryze or LinkedIn. I use my blog a lot more to communicate with colleagues & clients, so I would check out Ping to see if I can meet more interesting people, at a reasonable price of course.
Update: Kathleen further describes the Ping business model today, October 1st.
And a further update, where Steve Bayle discusses the value-add of Ping:
The bottom line
What’s new about Ping is the concept of an affinity group blogging network. Ping provides substantial added value to both alumni and the alumni relations departments of their schools, value adds that are not available from "free" advertiser supported blog hosting companies or even companies selling individual blogging subscriptions.
Considering the many thousands of dollars it costs to be admitted to a college community, we believe the ability to extend that community beyond the campus and the 4-year undergraduate experience is well worth the $50 per year individual subscription fee.