( Check out the new short cut of the Dreamfish Tech Dance video)

I want to share with you the kickoff of our online community technology project and the upcoming improvements you will experience.

Why do this project now?

Now is the time because great people have stepped up and open source software is available to support the project. In addition, we create impact by using this project as a training ground for African young professionals. Here are the needs that we’re addressing:

1. Do more of what we do well
Our core competency is helping people to develop themselves and develop their enterprises through practice in relationship. A few examples of Dreamfish at work – facilitating a One Laptop Per Child Kenya Summit; a web developer in Ohio collaborating with a startup entrepreneur in Ghana; an LGBT activist working with an artist on digital storytelling, a leadership consultant in Taiwan facilitating strategic planning for a grassroots nonprofit benefiting homeless children in Kenya, a transgender youth creating their life with professional skills and income, an executive coach in US to support a young woman CEO to build a tool empowering rural farmers in Africa.  Given the small resources invested in Dreamfish, these are great results AND with better tools for connection, we can do much more. Imagine millions of people having the same opportunities.

2. Mobilizing our diversity
Diversity is both our strength and our challenge. How do we hold space for engaging the richness of our diversity for our members’ benefit? How do we enable individuals to customize their participation for their unique goals and interests?
To give you an idea of our diversity in action, my estimate is that about 40% of our community are youth and live on less than $4 a day, 20% live on more than $100 a day, about 40% are over 40 yr. We are of many faiths, and cultural norms. Our new technology will allow people to follow the topics that are most of interest and filter out what they don’t need.

3. Shifting from “give me work” to “we are doing it!”
With the new technology design, our goal is to shift from passive transactions to pro-active relationship-building as the foundation for work in Dreamfish. Behind this is a larger agenda of societal change to help people shift from institutionally-learned apathy to empowerment. it is critical that we support individuals to pro-actively create support systems for their own development, rather than wait or resign. The way our tech is setup now, people in the Dreamfish network tend to wait for something to happen rather than initiate interaction. The tech is getting in the way – it is hard for anyone to know how to start, how to interact and how to achieve goals. This is changing. We are designing our new tech to facilitate people connecting around “What are you working on?” as the starting point for interaction.

Harison Wamani, 2011 Dreamfish Intern, learning to use the command line as he works on the Community Tech Project

Currently, it is not easy to connect with Dreamfish members in a rural village or without a computer. In our new tech plan, you will be able to select whether you use your phone, sms, or sit at your computer to interact with Dreamfish people. You will also be able to more easily initiate local face-to-face events.

4. Easier Knowledge sharing
Finding information that you want and sharing has been hard in our current platform. We are making the act of sharing to be front and center. We also are making a friendly section to explain what Dreamfish is and how to get started.

What are we working on?

Our team includes Grant Bowman and me as project co-leads, 2011 Dreamfish Interns and Mentors. The project has three sub-teams – Community Leadership, Back-end Development, and Front-end Design.  We welcome volunteers to get involved. Here’s what we are working on…

Community Leadership is working on the Community HelpDesk, community digital art and performance, social media communication, improving online documentation, online admin, and the campaign to fund the project.

Backend Development is working on developing software functionality, server administration, wifi network and maintaining hardware for the project. The team has now got a server up, prepared hardware for development, installed and configured software for prototyping. Team members work alongside Grant and include Harison Wamani and Peter Masuman.

Front-end Design and Development is working on user experience/ interaction design, product management, graphic design, CSS and HTML. We have been interviewing Dreamfish members on how Dreamfish tech can help them, researching the problems with current tools, prototyping solutions and testing different open source social software.

Our mentors include Bernard Owuor, Jamila Abass for development, Bridget Mcgraw for design, Jonas Kolben for networking and Polly Bodegener for communication. Thanks to Nancy White and Peter Kaminski, Dreamfish Advisors, for helping on strategy.

All of this will take time and is due to the committed efforts of contributors to the project. As we get farther along, we’ll ask you to try what we’re building and give feedback. I would like to invite you to get involved in any way that you like with your expertise, funds and cheers :-)

What can you do?

  • Fund the project – Every bit counts. We have 12 days left in our campaign to raise $5,500, which pays for simple living and tools for the team in Nairobi during the project. In exchange, we can give you things like B&B accomodation or an iPad. 
  • Volunteer – Senior professionals, developers, designers, testers, fundraisers and community managers – please, you are welcome to join in. Contact Grant, me or jump in…

Thank you, Dreamfishers, for your pioneering spirit, your patience and all your efforts to build Dreamfish.


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2 Responses to Community Tech Project Update

  1. george pope says:

    Till I’m a friend of Grants writing from Ghana. Your Community Tech sounds not only what the doctor ordered and a dream come true. How to make all this happen here? Lots of work and skill.Of the latter I’m a little shy but will do what I can.