Telecentres - bunch of my general reflections...

The last two weeks were very intensive for me with travels and activities around telecentres. Two weeks ago Steering Committee meet in Timisoara, Romania to talk together with Akhtar (head of Community affairs in Microsoft) about our network and future cooperation with Microsoft. He was very impressed about work that we do in Europe, and huge amount of time and energy that community invest in it on voluntary basis.

Next week in Barcelona there was a Academy: second meeting of global stakeholders, where Laurentiu was invited as a Project Manager of Telecentre-Europe. Lize was a part of Esplai team which organize that gathering. Me using possibility of their presence, was trying to spend as much time as possible with both and have some team building and planning activities.

I was not official participant of Academy meeting but I try to use this time to talk with friends from global community and reflect about future of telecentres. Those ones I try to share also with you.

Telecentre - short term phenomena but what after... ?

First of all I hope that Global Telecentre Academy will be a big success and will motivate many regional and national academies to emerge. There is a big need for integrated activities that will train telecentre managers, operators and there is a plenty issues about it which should be solve. But for such big a complex problem no one have a prepared answers or even ideas how to solve it out. There are some puzzles here and there but it is a far away from final solution.

But the bigger problem and some kind of paradox that I see there is a push to solve problems of "knowledge era" with paradigm of education direct from "industrial era" (classes, curriculum's, structure, certification, standardization, multiplication) rather than put a lots of energy and afford to organize good environment for discovery and implementation new ones. The most fundamental changes it's always the hardest to notice. New paradigms: open everything, school of everything and Peer2Peer education, Communities of Practice, discussions that really matters, Creative Commons, Coworking, Web 2.0, wiki and collaborative thinking, etc. We must really consider them in our work to be relevant to local communities, which is the biggest challenge for long term telecentres sustainability.

We work in the sector that change itself dramaticly fast. We must plan 3-5 years ahead in our development programs, but according to Moor law in every 1,5 year speed of computers is getting doubled and prices all the time go down. This totally change a whole context of public access and everything else that we work with. Technology is creating a plenty of opportunities but the same time is making harder conditions for telecentres to operate.

Soaring mobile/cell phones technology can change totally ICT4D sector ...

Our big partners (IDRC, Microsoft UP) that right now support telecentres seems to know about it and intense their activities and resources in that field.

Old anegdote of Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer Stanislaw Lem about "general theory of everything" say that this theory have 2 main rules:
"1. First rule: you know everything about everything after everything.
2. Second rule: everything is possible.

Future is always unknown and uncertain until it became past, and everything is possible but of course not everything make sense. Telecentres could evolve and still be very relevant to local communities. We can change our self and we will need to do it. This change we should have in our DNA. The hardest is to implement change when you are on the top, everything works just fine and you enjoy success - but in the matter of fact, this is the most right moment to start to do it.

I really like the sentence which I hear on the GK3 in Malaysia, that "computer technology is not about computers and it is not about technology... computer technology it's about PEOPLE!".

Telecentre-Europe is about people who care and like of each other.

I really enjoy this what we do here, energy and time that we invest in us. I love to watch how people spend their time to help and share knowledge with colleagues abroad, show what they are working on, publish stuff and comments on ning, send invitations for events and try to sustain friendships. In the end of the day, this is only one thing that is really matter :-) and which will helps us to be better and relevant to others!

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Comment by Christine Prefontaine on September 30, 2008 at 20:34
Hi Pawel, thanks for this great roundup. Did any of the folks who attended the steering committee meeting blog about it? We're writing a story about it for the newsletter and I'd love to be able to link to some blogs.

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