This week's Technology Salon was on information sharing and ways to use social media and peer-generated content in international development. Less of a lecture and more of a roundtable discussion, lots of interesting ideas were floated, from using Peace Corps volunteers as on-the-ground information resources to running contests for ways to use technology in development scenarios.
The most interesting part however was hearing back from veterans in the field on their views of the challenges faced in information sharing among contractors competing for RFPs based on their internal expertise and knowledge, and limiting effects that might have on their participation as well as potentially increased participation by smaller contract organizations looking to get a foot in the door.
I believe the biggest challenge (beyond access and literacy) in social media and development is connecting the entrepreneurs doing exciting work on the ground - generating innovative approaches and best practices that could be scaled or re-applied in other situations - with the large development agencies and contracting organizations. The large players have the capacity to build the sharing sites and to connect people to them, but will inevitably focus on their employees and partners, and not the most valuable sources of information - the NGOs and beneficiaries on the ground.