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Mon, 16-Aug-2004 09:16 GMT


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eRiding Adventures in Southern Africa [Blog: Traveling eRiders]
2004-07-18 12:37:00

Just wanted to drop everyone a line from South Africa. I have been quiet on the list these last few weeks because I am working with the eRider team from Ungana-Afrika on a project in Southern Africa.

We are attempting to visit 4 countries in 4 weeks and meet with a range of NGOs and CBOs working on HIV/AIDS issues to get a sense of their information management and IT needs. We are visiting government officials, national AIDS coordinating bodies, NGO networks, NGO managers, frontline care givers, and clinics.

The project is being lead by EngenderHealth (Bill Lester with NinthBridge) with support from the Ungana-Afrika eRider team, CSIR (Council on Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa)and funded by Open Society Institute - ICT Toolsets program. It is a perfect example of how to make use of the effective eRider network and build bridges with open source developers.

So far - a team consisting of me, Rudi, Tshepo and Thale (eRiders) and Goodwill (Open Source developer) - have conducted focus groups, interviews and NGO technical assessments in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. Tomorrow we are off to Zambia.

This project has required a knowledge of NGOs, IT issues, software development, Southern Africa and the health and HIV/AIDS sector. There is no way I could have been as effective and learned as much implementing this alone. It addition it would not have been nearly as much fun.

We have used several new tools including - focus groups, knowledge mapping exercises and the Tech Surveyor offline specs gathering utility. Each team member has focused on different issues related to development, deployment, sustainability and training.

Back in the US Bill has been putting together an analysis of existing software tools that help clinics and organizations manage patient data. We will be reconciling the requirements we gather in the field with the specs on these tools.

Opportunities for eRiding projects keep popping up all over. Orphan and Vulnerable Children NGO network in Botswana, Testing and Counseling Center Network in Swaziland and a CBO community care network in South Africa. All want to make their work more effective, efficient and make use of IT.

So far an amazing trip and in many ways the only way to implement these kinds of projects - tapping in to existing networks and resources, building local capacity to implement projects such as this in the future and building bridges between organizations and individuals.

@ 2004-07-18 12:37:00
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Search fixed. [Blog: Changelog]
2004-06-09 04:37:00

Result of the search are displayed correctly now.

@ 2004-06-09 04:37:00
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Capacity map is fully installed on the site [Blog: Changelog]
2004-06-02 07:38:00

We installed the capacity map and it's works.

Added Font settings in Stories from the fields.

@ 2004-06-02 07:38:00
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Search problem [Blog: Changelog]
2004-05-20 15:29:00

From Aba Maison: Having trouble with the search facility on the site. did a search that returned 19 results, i could not find a way of getting to the next page of results -- only the first 5 or 6 were displayed.

@ 2004-05-20 15:29:00
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Capacity Map changes [Blog: Changelog]
2004-05-20 15:27:00

I think we are about there on the map. Much nicer now that there is a menu on the right showing where they have updated their entry.

Can you take off the duplicate navigation at the top? Now that it is on the right I think it is too much to also have it on the top.

Can you also add an (other) category in the focus drop down menu on this page? http://erider.cult.bg/network/eriders/profile/index2.php?view=project

On this page http://erider.cult.bg/network/eriders/profile/index2.php?view=contact spell address with two s at the end not one:)

Can we make it so I can add a little explanatory text at the top of all the related profile and capacity map pages?

I think once that is done we can make the change on the public site. Seems well tested.

Once it is on the live site then please take off these pages:


The new capacity map should live here and be called Find an eRider:


Once that is done then next steps seem to be for me to write a note to the registered site users and interider list members encouraging them to update their entry. I plan to tell them that if they do not update their entry in 30 days then we will delete them as users. They can always re register.

Next step I am thinking to take is to create a new list for distribution of the newsletter and site change announcements only. Right now only the interider discussion list gets the newsletter and site updates but there are a ton of site users who are not on the list. I do not want to force them to join the list. To start I will take all the registered users and all the members of the list and subscribe them to this new list. They can then unsubscribe if they do not want site updates or the newsletter.

Could we figure out a way so that when they register on the site an email gets generated that subscribes them to the list? Can we add a link on the main nav to Get Site Updates and have it link to the new list?

@ 2004-05-20 15:27:00
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Gallery fiexed [Blog: Changelog]
2004-04-30 10:16:00

Fixed gallery front-end managment. It's working and users with privileges can add pictures.

@ 2004-04-30 10:16:00
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eRiders visits in Bulgaria and UK [Blog: Traveling eRiders]
2004-04-28 08:16:00

I was privileged to take part in an Open Source and eRiding training in Bulgaria put on by the eRiders at Interspace for the eRiders of the RIP project. Was a great opportunity to test out some of the theory and practice of open source on eRiders with a more advocacy and communications bent rather then a hard core tech focus. By the end the RIP eRiders knew all about PHP/MySQL and could comfortably install a CMS and web log system on a server. We all worked on open source workstations during the week and loaded open source software onto our windows machines for later use.

Happy to share the agenda with folks asit might be something you want to train your eRIders in. As usual we ate and drank together every night and had a great visit to a large Roma community in Plovdiv - the second largest city in Bulgaria.

Now I am in London with LASA who is helping to pioneer the circuit rider movement in the UK. Colin arranged for me to give a talk on Monday about the history of circuit riding and the international movement. Was well attended by over 30 folks. The UK government has shown great interest in the circuit riding model and hopefully good things on the funding side will be coming down for the UK riders in the next 6 months.

LASA is also working on training materials for training new circuit riders. Shared with them all the work being down by others and they are looking forward to working with others on the development of materials. They loved all the work Ungana Afrika has done so far.

LASA is also working with NTEN and a few others (me included) to arrange a circuit rider conference in London on September 14th and 15th. While mostly UK focused Colin and I are dicussing making about 25 slots available for eRiders from outside the UK to come to the conference out of about 150 attendees total. We would hope to do 2 eRider days before the UK conference and then participate in their sessions where appropriate. I am actively fundraising for this and so is Colin with the UK foreign office.

If folks have any access to funders, conferences funds or government funds to come to the UK please let us know and we can help. Looks like costs would be around 1000 USD total for the 4-5 days (flight, hotel, food, visa).

Last few bits we discussed about sharing the LASA evaluation model they have used to actively evaluate their eRider project and they are going to approach CISCO about some of the things we discussed in Philadelphia about using CISCO networking academies to give eRiders some training. More on that to come.

Hope everyone is well. Share what you are up to these days!:)

@ 2004-04-28 08:16:00
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Bug fixes [Blog: Changelog]
2004-04-21 08:56:00

Fixed some bugs with text formating on the news page.

Minor changes in stories from the field.

Remove link to Chat section from the menu.

Added preface text in News and Stories from the field pages.

@ 2004-04-21 08:56:00
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New fixes [Blog: Changelog]
2004-04-21 08:18:00

You can now get a new password sent to your e-mail if you lose your password for eRiders.net Visit Lost password? link.

Thanks to Amanda at LINC we have added a small graphic to fill up the white space to the right of all the pages on eRiders.net. No more ugly white space.

We are now working on the capacity map and the picture gallery. Sorry for the slow pace BUT thanks for all the reminders!

@ 2004-04-21 08:18:00
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eRiding Principles [Blog: eRider Community]
2004-04-06 12:05:00

Hi folks -

Hope everyone is rested up from our long week in Philadelphia. For those of you who were unable to attend you were sorely missed. Rarely do we get these opportunities to come together as eRiders and folks working outside the US.

We had 3 days of networking and learning at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference, an exciting day learning everything we ever wanted to know about Open Source at Penguin Day and then a day and a half together discussing eRiding, learning more about evaluation techniques and tools for eRiders such as Tech Surveyor Offline. Alot of interesting initiatives and ideas were proposed and several participants will be following up over the next few weeks. Everyone agreed that the ideas and initiatives had to be opened up to the larger group of folks represented on this discussion list. No one of us wanted to move forward without all of you. What follows is a long email but please keep reading if you want to be part of the development of the eRider movement!

In a start on some of the follow up I agreed to take on pushing forward a discussion that actually started much before Philadelphia. This is a discussion of our shared principles as eRiders. Many questions over the last few months have centered on: What is eRiding? Why is it different from mainstream technology consulting? What do our clients get from eRiders that they would not necessarily get from others? How are different eRiding projects alike? A declaration of shared principles could help answer some of these questions.

A great example:

One experienced eRider who worked on early eRiding projects was asked to join a new eRiding project in his country. He knew the folks implementing it well and wanted to be involved. But the more he learned about how the project was to be implemented he felt it was not really eRiding. They were using the name but did not really understand what eRiding was. Rather then be involved in something he did not believe in he left the project. But he did not have a document to point them to or a clear declaration of what eRiding is to use in his arguments with them. He could not go to the management of the project and argue his case. He needed something from the community that he did not get.

The work so far:

In Istanbul several eRiders began to discuss some of the things the eRider community could do to support individual projects. One of the issues that came up was to put together a declaration of principles that define the work we do.

Following on Istanbul I included a 1.5 hour session as part of the Global eRider Days in Philadelphia to open the principles discussion up to a larger group of mostly eRiders but also eRider supporters and other members of the nonprofit technology community. In a facilitated discussion led by Gunner we asked the group of 28 participants 3 main questions:

1) Why do you eRide? (example: personal investment/more then a job)
2) What piece of advice would you give a first time eRider? (example: be patient and realistic)
3) Why are you part of the eRider community? (example: to improve our effectiveness and stop waste of resources)

These questions elicited a lively debate and questions began to emerge. Are some principles ones you personally hold? Are others ones the entire group hold? Do these conflict? Is open content/open source a personal principle you abide by or one all members of the group should? Can an eRiding organization be for profit? Can eRiders work for non profits?

We brainstormed a long list of possible 'principles' for eRiding and everyone left agreeing that they wanted to expand this discussion beyond the group in Philadelphia. To develop a set of shared principles we needed much more input. We needed to test them in different geographies and different cultural settings.

Next steps:

It was agreed that I would lead a group of eRider leaders to push things forward. So far we have outlined several steps that can be taken:

1) Post to the discussion list the background on the eRider principles discussion (this is also available at:
2) Solicit members of the lists ideas and brainstorms about the 3 questions we posed and the way to push the principles discussion forward
3) Encourage eRider managers and leaders to also engage others who are not on the list
4) Create a small principles working group who can take the brainstorm from Philly and from the list and work to group them into main themes. We will also work to determine where there are conflicts and places to encourage more discussion with the larger group.
5) Keep the discussion open for the next few months as we find other opportunities to work together face to face including in September in London at the UK Technology Conference
6) Set a closing date after which the working group will craft the brainstorms and ideas into a declaration with approx 10 - 15 shared principles. At this point the community will vote on which ones they think are central to the eRiding concept and model

So this is Step 1. Step 2 to follow later today. Please do not hesitate to e-mail me or the list if you have any questions on this discussion, principles, want to suggest additional steps or if you want to help facilitate the discussion.

If you wonder what a principle is here is the definition from dictionary.com:
A basic truth, law, or assumption: the principles of democracy.
A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision based on principle rather than expediency.
A fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.
More to come.

@ 2004-04-06 12:05:00
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Font Fix in stories [Blog: Changelog]
2004-04-05 04:25:00

Font is fexed in content area of the Stories from the field. Please don't use paragraph tags in content text.

@ 2004-04-05 04:25:00
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Penguin Day and eRider Workshop [Blog: Traveling eRiders]
2004-04-01 05:31:21

The NTC was a wonderful experience and well worth attending, but I have been blown away by what has come out of the post-NTC events. Sunday was Penguin Day, aimed at bringing together Open Source developers and nonprofit technology implementers, similar to what happened in Croatia at the SummerSource camp last year. Monday and Tuesday were specifically dedicated as a workshop for the eRiders attending the conference. Even though it was the end of a long conference, all the participants were amazingly enthusiastic.

Penguin Day attracted many interesting developers working on a broad range of projects, most of which were focused on or at least relevant to the nonprofit community. What was significant from the discussions through the day was how central eRiders are in the development of effective Open Source software for nonprofit organisations. We are the connection between the developer and the nonprofit community. The developer cannot be expected to know what is needed on the ground in remote places, and relies on us as eRiders to give them this information. Developers and eRiders committed themselves to communicate more with each other, though it was still unclear how to bring these independent communities closer together.

There has been a lack of clarity on what an eRider is, and what we share as individuals and as a community. The eRider workshop was largely focused on what it is that makes an eRider, also looking at some tools and strategies that can help in our work. There were participants from all over the world Ė Poland, Kenya, Slovakia, Georgia, United Kingdom, Ghana, Azerbaijan, United States and South Africa. Most were eRiders, but there were others who support the work of eRiders through their tools or as facilitators of eRiding efforts.

As a group we wrote down a list of things that motivate us to do eRiding. As the reasons were written down, we realised increasingly how much we actually have in common - that there is far more that draws us together than keeps us apart. This sense of community developed through the workshop as we learned about evaluation, sustainability and looked at how other organizations are doing their eRiding. It was encouraging to see the successes of the US-based organizations, and to realise that they all started in the same situation as we are now and still share our passion.

TechSurveyor Offline was demonstrated on Tuesday, a success story that highlighted how much we benefit from collaborating with each other. The developers of the software relied on eRiders to provide them with user requirements and give feedback from actual testing situations. The result is a piece of software that is perfect for the in-the-field work of eRiders around the world.

The tragedy of the event was that not all eRiders could be there. We were all energised by the spirit that we share in eRiding, and I hope that the rest of the community can also take heart in that. It would be wrong for me to talk so positively about the event without saying a big thank-you to those who organized and sponsored it, and also everyone who participated so wholeheartedly. Collin from LASA put it well when he said he came to Philadelphia expecting the NTC to be the main event and left realising that it was in fact the after events that had the greatest value.

@ 2004-04-01 05:31:21
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NTC - Day 1 [Blog: Traveling eRiders]
2004-03-27 12:23:26

The NTC started yesterday morning with a staggering 640 participants registered to attend. Although there is only a small number of international representatives, they are making their presence known at the conference! Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary and current chairman of Grassroots Enterprise opened with an interesting perspective on how technology and specifically the Internet is transforming public affairs and advocacy. The official program continued with three breakout sessions surrounding lunch.

The NTC participants come from three groupings of people Ė nonprofit management and program staff, internal nonprofit technology staff and external technology assistance providers. The breakout sessions that form the basis of the conference are each focused on one of these groupings of people. I attended sessions on evaluating technology projects, using the Internet to find volunteers and how organization mission, strategies and size should drive software selection. There were a total of 26 sessions in the day, all addressing technology issues within nonprofits.

The breakout sessions are very valuable, but the greatest significance of the conference is that it brings so many people together from different places, working on different projects but united in their vision for the nonprofit community. The Internet is a valuable resource with a wealth of information, but much of the value in that information lies dormant until it is discussed with other like-minded people. There are no technology tools that can replace this face-to-face interaction that happens at events like the NTC.

It amazes me how people from such different backgrounds, cultures and languages can be drawn together by a shared vision. It has been a privilege to meet so many people who are all talking about sharing, collaboration and how we can all work together for something greater than ourselves.

@ 2004-03-27 12:23:26
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NTC - Day of Service [Blog: Traveling eRiders]
2004-03-27 12:14:07

Many eRiders are familiar with the annual Roundup events that bring together nonprofit technology assistance providers (Circuit Riders or eRiders) from around the United States and the world to share their experiences and learn from each other. This year the conference has been renamed as the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), and brings together the previously separate ePhilanthropy and Roundup conferences. After the conference will be a Penguin Day workshop bringing together nonprofits and Open Source developers, and an eRider workshop to provide additional training for us folks working around the world. Over the next few days I hope to use this blog to let everyone know whatís going on and hopefully a few lessons that are coming out of the events. But Iíll start with the Day of Service that happened on Thursday, where many NTC participants volunteered their time and energy to provide consulting services to the nonprofit community around Philadelphia.

Itís somehow appropriate that an eRiding (or Circuit Riding or whatever) event started with a Day of Service, since the spirit of service is central to the eRiding idea. I had already been assigned to an organization, together with three other people that I had not met before. We would be working with an environmental education centre, about half an hour out of Philadelphia. They had requested training in Microsoft Office products. I was a little intimidated by what I knew of the organization Ė in Africa I am lucky to find a working network; this group had a server with shared network drives, they were using shared calendars effectively to schedule meetings. I wasnít sure there was so much I could actually teach them.

When I got to the organisation, though, I discovered that a nonprofit in the US is not very different from a nonprofit in South Africa! They were very technically advanced compared to what I am used to, but the staff still filled the same roles. There was the Executive Director who made sure the staff did what they were supposed to be doing, the program staff who had strong knowledge of what was happening in their own part of the organisation and there were volunteers who felt strongly about the mission of the organisation and helped out wherever they could. There was nobody who was passionate about technology, but everybody knew that it helps them in what they do, and were keen to learn as much as they could to make them more effective. I taught them to use PowerPoint, and it was wonderful to work with a group where I didnít first have to explain the concept of a mouse and a double-click!

Iíll finish with a couple of things that I learned from the Day of Service. Firstly, even when you are working with a technologically advanced organization, you can always help them to learn new things. Itís best not to lecture, and rather to facilitate as they learn themselves. Instead of sticking rigidly to a lesson plan, respond to their questions and help them through areas that they struggle with. If you donít know the answer to a question, donít be afraid to use the help function and show them how to find answers when you are not there.
Secondly, it was very rewarding to work with a group of people that I had never met before. Teaching is a bit of an art, and takes time to master. By watching how other people taught, I could see what works and what doesnít far more easily than by analysing my own teaching.

The response to the Day of Service was very positive from most organizations and participants. I heard of at least one group that were so taken by the needs of the organization they worked with that they all agreed to continue working with them after the conference had finished. Congratulations to NTEN for organizing the event.

@ 2004-03-27 12:14:07
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Requested updates [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-26 08:22:00

1) Change tab order for entering the site (IS)
- done.

2) Change photo montage images. Get permission from folks who are in the photos you want to use. (IS)
- Kaladan will work on this.

3) Allow for folks to upload and select their own user icon (IS)
- done.

4) Create a capacity map of individual eRiders, organizations and projects. Allow them to upload a photo/group photo of their project. This is kind of what we are talking about...
But we should be able to display this graphically or at least more appealingly.

Imagine an NGO coming to the site or a funder or another eRider who wants to find an eRider in a specific country or with a specific specialty. Should have space for a short bio or description of project. This is a combination of the existing map and the eRider roster. (IS and TC)
- looking for solution on the matter.

5) Change eRider Roster to - Find an eRider (IS)
- done.

6) Password recovery. Make this more clear. (IS)
- imposible to implement. Passwords are hased in database.

7) Remove folks names on postings for now (IS)
- done.

8) Automatically give new registered users permission for everything except blogs. Still send a notification email of new users. (IS)
- done.

9) Automatically approve postings - news, resources, stories (IS)
- done.

10) Create a new eRider TRAINING resources section...not sure if we can use existing section for these things. Ian has created a whole thing on training for trainers. Rudi is creating one on training new eRiders. (TC to try and use existing structure first)
- done.

11) Begin to direct questions to the discussion list instead of
answering them ourselves (TC and IS)
- we should discuss this with Kaladan.

12) Create a more user friendly posting section like a community posting section that is less slick and unedited to encourage others to post. We should talk about this more. (TC and IS)
- we should discuss this with Kaladan.

@ 2004-03-26 08:22:00
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List of new changes to make [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-11 15:13:00

Below is a list of priority changes to make to eRider.net. They are tagged by who is responsible for making the changes. At least 1 thing is already done.

1) Change tab order for entering the site (IS)

2) Change photo montage images. Get permission from folks who are in the photos you want to use. (IS)

3) Allow for folks to upload and select their own user icon (IS)

4) Create a capacity map of individual eRiders, organizations and projects. Allow them to upload a photo/group photo of their project. This is kind of what we are talking about...
But we should be able to display this graphically or at least more appealingly.

Imagine an NGO coming to the site or a funder or another eRider who wants to find an eRider in a specific country or with a specific specialty. Should have space for a short bio or description of project. This is a combination of the existing map and the eRider roster. (IS and TC)

5) Change eRider Roster to - Find an eRider (IS)

6) Password recovery. Make this more clear. (IS)

7) Remove folks names on postings for now (IS)

8) Automatically give new registered users permission for everything except blogs. Still send a notification email of new users. (IS)

9) Automatically approve postings - news, resources, stories (IS)

10) Create a new eRider TRAINING resources section...not sure if we can use existing section for these things. Ian has created a whole thing on training for trainers. Rudi is creating one on training new eRiders. (TC to try and use existing structure first)

11) Begin to direct questions to the discussion list instead of
answering them ourselves (TC and IS)

12) Create a more user friendly posting section like a community posting section that is less slick and unedited to encourage others to post. We should talk about this more. (TC and IS)

@ 2004-03-11 15:13:00
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Design changes [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-01 08:27:00

Single News pages: Title of the news is bigger.

@ 2004-03-01 08:27:00
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News Posting Fixed [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-01 08:03:00

There was a bug in the news posting. It was fixed.

@ 2004-03-01 08:03:00
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Resource URL fix [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-01 07:28:00

We have killed very nasty bug in the Resource section of the website. The bug was leading to hide the url of the visited resource.

@ 2004-03-01 07:28:00
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bugfixes [Blog: Changelog]
2004-03-01 06:51:00

We have started to fix some of the most nasy bugs in the website. On other side we are working on the useability of the navigation and the content. Today we have fixed some usability problems on the index (news section now has titles, instead date of publication)

@ 2004-03-01 06:51:00
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