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Morino Institute From Access to Outcomes: Digital Divide Report and Dialogue
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Creating a Digital Peace Corps

Post:

01

Date:

Nov 26, 2000

From:

John Middleton


Thank you for sending me [the rough draft of] From Access to Outcomes. It helps me put my work on education and health in developing countries (including introducing the first Apple II PCs into Indonesian education) into a coherent strategic framework. I wish I had this twenty years ago.

I think you are right in emphasizing that implementation comes by changing the environment in a highly decentralized context.

Selecting strong social organizations and further developing their capacity to achieve new and better outcomes through the use of technology seems to be the core strategy, with strengthened funding for the right kind of technology initiatives forming an increasingly supportive environment. Improved knowledge sharing among social organizations would help create and maintain the virtuous circle of change.

What may need some more development in the "five ideas" is the way in which the individual initiatives would support the strategy.

How will strategic investment in community organizations be mobilized, applied and monitored? The digital peace corps is a great idea, but having played the role of the individual change agent I am cautious about how much an agent can accomplish without the coherent strategic investment process that the paper so ably describes. How will this linkage be established? Is this a function of the Academy? Where would the responsibility be placed for generating more technology investment of the right kind (i.e. the 70:30 split between organizational development and technology)? This is likely to require a major effort in public education and political lobbying. Would the Academy also do this?

Social movements require social support for sustainability. What can be done to bring the energy and enthusiasm of the communities of the poor to the support of the movement in early stages in order to help social entrepreneurs succeed? Is it enough to conceive of this as a spontaneous community response to an increasing number of effective social entrepreneurs? Diffusion of innovations research suggests, for example, the "strength of weak ties" which enable individuals and groups to learn through association rather than formal agreements.

I can see a community of practice providing this function for social entrepreneurs. But how can we involve their clients as active supporters?

Regards,
John

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