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by Balthas

Why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry and an ‘appropriate tech maker movement’ – Interview with Roy Mwangi Ombatti at re:publica 2015

May 26, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti builds a 3D printer from waste materials at re:publica 2015

Roy Mwangi Ombatti  started to tinker with 3D-printing in Nairobi, Kenya more than three years ago. He co-founded and led the Nairobi FabLab Robotics Outreach Program, he produces 3D printers from waste materials, became a Stanford Fablearn Fellow 2014 and he developed a successful low-cost solution to a pressing health problem (his project ‘Happy Feet’ aims at providing bespoke shoes for people with foot deformities as a result of the jigger sand flea in Kenya). I talked to him at re:publica 2015 about his future plans, the role of open source and open innovation and why Africa needs a local 3D printing industry.

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Q: Roy, you just had a workhop on “Motors, Circuits, Value Chains – Building a 3D Printer with E-Waste” here at re:publica 15.  Why is it important for Kenya, or for Africa at large to develop such a local 3D printing industry?

Roy: I am passionate about bringing technology to the less fortunate in my country to solve pressing problems.  I feel that local self-made technology is the thing that has most impact. For one, it is most easily adaptable to local circumstance, as shows for instance my approach of using available e-waste to build the printer. Also, such self-help in innovation is a perfect tool to promote real change: If you empower people to build their own tools to solve their own problems, you win. In fact, this might be the only way to have sustainable lasting impact.

 

Q: You are in the last stages of producing a 3D-printer out of locally available electronic waste. When will it be ready?

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by Balthas

How to make money the open-source-way, but keep the commons alive? – Question 7 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

March 16, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Open innovation – often based on open licensing and commons-approaches – is changing the business models of more and more businesses and social institutions. Before the advent of open innovation, innovation was kept within the boundaries of the firm (or research institution). In contrast, “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to markets, as the firms look to advance their technology”, scholar Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term open innovation, has put it. But what opportunities does this imply for institutions in developing countries? What are their learning opportunities?

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Let’s take a look again at the global tech sector as a starting point (for more details, see Seibold 2010a). Here, the most prominent example of free and open source software development and licensing are the operating system Linux, the office suite Open Office and the web browser Firefox. Linux has shown that open-source programs can be very competitive. The reason is obvious: more people know the source code and, accordingly, can correct flaws and make other improvements.

For the private sector in developing countries, such knowledge commons provide a clear opportunity, not only for low-cost access to global state-of-the-art knowledge, technology transfer, and open peer-learning on a massive scale (see Seibold 2009, Seibold 2010a, Seibold 2010b; UNCTAD 2012: 9ff), but also because they have the potential to empower local businesses and communities in developing countries. This creates truly local open innovation by appropriating elements of outside open innovations and transforming them into a product or service that is relevant to local needs.

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by Balthas

Where to find free knowledge for open innovation in development? – Question 6 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

January 11, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production 4Dev (screenshot)In previous blog entries, I talked a lot about commons-based peer production and learning in areas crucial to development cooperation such as Energy, Health, Education etc. A key question then is where to find such “free knowledge” for open innovation and for peer-production in the different sectors of human development?

I have collected an annotated compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production that are of particular interest for sustainable human development. These hubs include energypedia, appropedia, opensourceecology, Howtopedia, knowable, and Fabwiki. The compendium is complemented by links to comprehensive directories.

Please note, that I have included mainly hubs with a focus on “production”, on “peer-driven production” and on “commons-based initiatives” for human development. All those chosen focus on open learning and practical improvement on a community-level; nevertheless, many of them have a global reach.

Many of the platforms have deliberately chosen open models and ‘open source’ licenses that enable “commons-based peer production” as envisioned by Yochai Benkler. Why? Because they feel, that ‘open source’ licensing can best spur open learning, invention, and innovation processes that come with it.

 So here is my compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production for sustainable human development.

>>> Do you know more such hubs? Please let me know.

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by Balthas

Peer-producing knowledge: a game-changer for development cooperation? – Question 5 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

November 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Some critics argue that commons-based peer production and learning only apply in the digital, non-real world (“building websites”, “building online training material”). The concept, they say, is therefore less of interest to international and development cooperation, which focuses on non-digital environments and “hard” topics such as health, energy or agriculture.

Jaime from Bolivia and John from Rwanda are not in the business of building websites. They are in the business of building tube digesters to support local biogas production in rural Bolivia and in rural Rwanda. They live 6,515 miles apart, but they both use the same manual to build the tank. It is one of 822 open online articles packed with practical production know-ledge on the knowledge commons platform energypedia. The platform’s vision is “a world of free knowledge exchange and mutual learning on renewable energies in which everyone has access to sustainable energy sources.”

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by Balthas

What makes learning communities self-governed & fun? – Question 4 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

October 1, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Frank Ilugulilwa - IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright:  Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Ilugulilwa – IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright: Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Tilugulilwa is an IT trainer in Tanzania. He teaches local IT companies how to build services and revenues around so-called “Free and Open Source Software”. Such software can be copied and modified by every company and every individual client. Frank has written a training manual with over 80 other IT trainers and experts throughout Africa (and from elsewhere in the world) in an example of a community-generated learning content. His experience with commons-based peer production started back in 2008 when almost no training materials rooted in an African context were available.

Frank and other African IT and business experts developed over 250 pages of practical, open-licensed, modular training material. This has also resulted in a vibrant community of trainers who have a strong sense of ownership of their subjects and who know and trust each other. They are sharing their knowledge amongst themselves and their trainees, local IT companies across the continent. Again, we see the power of peer-to-peer learning centered around a knowledge commons: the process began as a capacity building program called ict@innovation launched by German development agency GIZ. The project aimed at creating business and learning opportunities with free and open source software in Africa. Now it is a community of more than 1,200 co-learners, co-producers and businesses (UNCTAD 2012: 65f).

This example can serve as a starting point to provide good practice measures on how initiatives can structure learning around peer-production processes.

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by Balthas

How to build learning communities, that work peer-to-peer? – Question 3 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

In the field of online sharing and learning, the “Massive Open Online Course” (“MOOC”) has received a lot of attention. Many are enthusiastic about what elite universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Harvard are piloting. The two schools have offered joint online courses that have attracted well over 100,000 students. Much is also written about the start-up ventures Udacity and Coursera, which managed to enroll over two million students in just one year. These ventures provide a forum to some of the world’s best professors to host their lectures online. The students are then encouraged to participate through online forums that helpbuild a joint learning

Source and copyright: CC WORLDBANK PHOTO COLLECTION goo.gl/g25U8y

Source and copyright: CC WORLDBANK PHOTO COLLECTION goo.gl/g25U8y

community. They typically do not offer academic credit aside from, in some cases, a statement of completion. But they also do not charge tuition. There are estimates that only about ten percent of students who sign up for courses actually follow them until the end 1. And it still remains to be seen whether mass distribution of centralized online lectures will ultimately be incorporated into the formal educational system or whether they are just briefly hyped by universities and venture capitalists searching for new revenue sources and recognition.This article will, therefore, go beyond the MOOC.

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  1. See article by Tamar Lewin (2013, January 1): “Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later”, New York Times
by Balthas

What makes people share knowledge? – Question 2 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 6, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/4058757916/

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/4058757916/

Why do peers help peers to share and co-produce knowledge? Research suggests that there is a whole set of motivations that makes people share their knowledge, a mixture between altruistic and self-serving motives summed up in the following table:

14 Reasons Why Peers Help Peers to Learn: Why Do They Share Their Knowledge? (Table 1)

  1. Because you learn yourself through co-production and tutoring
  2. Because you win recognition and prestige from your peers
  3. Because you might further your own interests through the co-production of knowledge, such as testing new solutions, benchmarking, mastering a technology, etc.
  4. Because you can solve a problem that you can only solve by collaborating with others
  5. Because you might gain power of persuasion within your organisation, network, or peer group
  6. Because you are proud to co-own a tangible “product”
  7. Because you have the freedom to co-create knowledge or goods, which increases autonomy and self-direction, and thereby motivation
  8. Because you build emotional bonds with people and things
  9. Because you feel “meaningful” by supporting the community, giving back through reciprocity (putting values such as fairness, solidarity, and altruism into practice)
  10. Because you know that the result of your commons-based peer activities will be available to others over time, and cannot be monopolized or privatized
  11. Because you feel good being associated with a trendy and innovative community
  12. Because you get continued access to knowledge, news and services
  13. Because you enlarge your personal and professional networks
  14. Because you can freely choose topics according to your interests

Sources for table above: GTZ 2006: 43; Wenger et al. 2011; Preece/Shneiderman 2009; Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. 2011: 125ff; Ghosh et al. 2002: 43-50; own considerations; Pyne 2010 1

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This blog is part of a series of 10 questions that I have extracted of my article “Learning by Sharing  – „How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. The piece has been released in June  as part of the GIZ Online- Series „10 trends in open innovation. How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation“. Check it at http://www.knowledge-commons.de/en/learning-by-sharing/

Further readings on the question? Here.

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

  1. Pyne, Becca; Stephenson, Abi; Cognitive Media (2010) “The surprising truth about what motivates us” (2010, April 1), RSA Animate – Drive, Retrieved June 27, 2013
by Balthas

What is commons-based peer learning? – Question 1 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 2, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

The Internet and with it the rise of social networks have enabled a radically innovative way of producing knowledge-related goods. Software can now be jointly written by thousands of developers as the operating system ‘Linux’ shows. The encyclopedia Wikipedia is updated by roughly 1.7 million contributors worldwide. Law professor Yochai Benkler has coined the term “commons-based peer-production” to describe this development. He has defined some of the characteristics intrinsic to this phenomenon.

Commons-based peer-production is “radically decentralized, collaborative and nonproprietary, based on sharing resources and outputs among widely distributed, loosely connected individuals who cooperate with each other without relying on either marked signals or managerial commands”, he wrote in his 2006 book “The Wealth of Networks” (Benkler 2006:60).

A Wikipedia article is an organic text produced by hundreds of ‘peers’. This free text is not controlled by one formal editor-in-chief, but is, instead, a unifying construct. The document might be conceptualized by a student in Germany, revised by a farmer in Bolivia, and fine-tuned by a professor in South Africa. The article is ruled by a commons-based license. This means that the end product of this co-production is, in turn, available to readers and additional editors through an open license, ensuring that all future versions can be shared, traced back to the author and further improved.

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This blog is part of a series of 10 questions that I have extracted of my article “Learning by Sharing  – „How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. The piece has been released in June  as part of the GIZ Online- Series „10 trends in open innovation. How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation“. Check it at http://www.knowledge-commons.de/en/learning-by-sharing/

Further readings on the question? Here.

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

by Balthas

Let’s talk about “Learning by Sharing”

July 2, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, News on publications, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Today, I invite you to join the conversation on an article, which I just published on the issue of “Learning by sharing – how global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. I posit in this paper, that commons-based peer learning offers a trigger to enhance skills, competencies, connections, capacities, and the agency of people and their organisations on a global scale – from the global peer-to-peer university to a worldwide expert  community of biogas digesters producers. It provides the freedom to learn – by sharing the world’s wealth of knowledge.

What do you think? Do you know additional examples of global -based peer production for human development?  What are your thoughts on how to link sustainable human development to solutions that scale, empower, benefit, and increase ownership? Is peer-to-peer learning a potential game changer?

I cordially invite you to read the article and to join the conversation by posting your comment below the piece.

If you are part of the TLDR-community (Too long didn’t read …): Don’t worry, I will release selected subtopics of “learning by sharing” over the coming weeks here on www.knowledge-commons.de Stay tuned: You can subscribe the rss feeds of new posts or follow me on twitter.

by Balthas

Scientific books gone wild –new methods for co-producing books & science knowledge

May 9, 2014 in Freedom to learn by Balthas

Open Science Logo - Author: G.emmerich , under a cc attribution share-alike license. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Science_Logo_v2.jpg

Open Science Logo – Author: G.emmerich , under a cc attribution share-alike license. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Science_Logo_v2.jpg

Good news from re:publica 2014: Some scientists are moving from the “open access” paradigm (and battle) to the real paradigm shift (and real battle?):They now talk about “Books gone wild – how we write scientific books in an open, collaborative and continuous way”. In other words: they are moving from open access to open knowledge co-production. Two concrete books (and manuals, if you will) that have been built this way in Germany over the past year and that talk about dynamic publication formats and collaborative authoring, include:

  1. Opening Science – The Evolving Guide on How the Internet is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing”, Available at http://book.openingscience.org/  and
  2. CoScience (in German), available at http://handbuch.io/

I see quite a potential for international cooperation and for development cooperation, when we get into the mode of co-producing up-to-date scientific information globally. Why? Because then we have the chance to get scientists and practitioners from developing countries to co-create relevant research instead of just “accessing” it (or not even that …). Therefore, I hope that this example will catch on and that we will see more scientific “books gone wild” in areas relevant to development (such as health, education, energy etc).

Yours, Balthas reporting from re:publica 2014. For more curated news on re:publica 2014 check my twitter timeline from 6. May to 8. May 2014  at https://twitter.com/b_seibold

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

by Balthas

Dirk Messner asks: How Can We Learn to Cooperate in a World of Nine Billion People?

April 10, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

 

The enabling mechanisms of cooperation - copyright: contributing authors Messner, Guarin, Haun 2013

The enabling mechanisms of cooperation – copyright: contributing authors Messner, Guarin, Haun 2013

Last week, I took part in a webinar with Dirk Messner on “the enabling mechanisms of cooperation”. The lecture was part of the massive open online course “Leadership for Global Responsibility” of GIZ.

My takeaway has the form of a hexagon, more precisely the “cooperation hexagon” (see picture).Messner (with co-researchers Guarin and Haun) managed to find a nice form to sum up old wisdom: People do cooperate, if they feel that reciprocity is in place in the six dimensions of trust, communication, reputation, fairness, enforcement and we-identity – also across borders and cultures. Such a conclusion is really pretty close to the outcomes of research on cooperation of FOSS communities (no wonder, Messner cites Benkler, who comes from FOSS research). Unfortunately, I will not be able to add Messner’s work as a citation in my forthcoming article on “learning by sharing”, where I drew a table of factors that make people share knowledge –  which it turns out, is motivated by pretty much the same hexagon. I will do that for the next edition :-)

For now, I recommend to you to read the article on “The Behavioural Dimensions of International Cooperation” (the hexagon is on page 15), to watch Dirks talk and, if you like, to join the (ongoing) online course  on “Leadership for Global Responsibility”. As always, feel free to comment, add or substract :-)

by Balthas

Knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa & the knowledge commons – who „owns“ knowledge? (part I)

December 12, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Here, I want to talk about one of the many interesting themes of the compendium „Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa“, which was just released (see also this blog post): Knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa and the knowledge commons. [Both links above link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]

For the first time, we find here some concrete answers to two key questions, that haunts people interested in the linkage between (open) innovation, commons-approaches and „intellectual property“ (IP): Who „owns“ knowledge in informal economy contexts in Africa?

Let us look at the informal automotive sector in Uganda, as described by Dick Kawooya.

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by Balthas

Knowledge sharing & community-based innovation models in Africa: Which knowledge governance in the future? (part II)

December 12, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Source: source_knowledge_innovation_in_africa_scenarios_future / license: CC attribution share alike non-commercial

Source: source_knowledge_innovation_in_africa_scenarios_future / license: CC attribution share alike non-commercial

In part II of this blog series, I will link the current reality of knowledge sharing in Africa with appropriate knowledge governance systems for the future. For the future, the Open African Innovation Research and Training network has worked on Three Scenarios for the Future of Knowledge & Innovation in Africa.The current reality is described in the compendium „Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa“, which was just released and in my last blog entry on „knowledge sharing in the informal economy in Africa & the knowledge commons“.

This report grapples with the complex and dynamic forces shaping innovation systems over the next two decades. It distills three different but equally plausible future scenarios: one a world of “wireless engagement,” another where “informal is the new normal,” and a third that is “sincerely Africa.” Each scenario raises different issues for control and access to knowledge in Africa.

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by Balthas

Just out: Practical knowledge on “Open African Innovation” and stunning examples of the knowledge commons in Africa

December 11, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, News on publications, Open Source & Africa by Balthas

Openair-books-345Great start of the long-awaited conference of the Open African Innovation Research and Training Network: We just launched two really interesting compendia on “Open African Innovation” packed with practical examples of the knowledge commons in Africa – and with a tool that allows policy advisors to discuss the future of knowledge governance in Africa in three scenarios for 2035. Check the books out online (they are free knowledge of course, sharable under a cc licence) at:

http://www.openair.org.za/capetown2013

Again: congrats to the Open AIR network for pulling all of this together and pulling it off.

For live info on on the conference and the concurrent Global Congress on IP and the public interest, you might also follow #gcongress #openair13 on twitter – and this blog :-)

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

by Balthas

New US bill wants to boost a knowledge commons for (English) college textbooks

November 15, 2013 in Freedom to learn by Balthas

800px-Global_Open_Educational_Resources_Logo.svgLike it: Two US senators today introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act, which directs the Secretary of Education to fund the creation of college textbooks and materials to be made available under open licenses.

I can only fully agree with the assessment by Creative Commons U.S.A. Director Michael Carrol: “This bill seizes the opportunity to make high quality textbooks affordable and reusable by paying once for their production and permitting free copying, updating, and adaptation with the requirement of an open license.” I think that this could mark an important step towards a knowledge commons for (English) textbooks. What do you think? Cheers, Balthas
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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.