I just spotted Jeff's posting in relation to above and David's contribution.
I do agree with David's point that listserv's could provide a suitable medium
for participatory types of dialogs be it an online conversation or a discussion
of one type or another on this or that subject.
Of course a typical example of this type of exercise (referred to by Jeff) is
putting together a proposal using a collaborative group decision making
approach through online discussion and exchange of ideas be it among African
scientists or any group of people based in any part of the world.
The real issue is not however, whether the Internet and its resources can
support this type of application (of course we do this all the time on
Afrik-IT), but as Jeff puts it .... is assessing (quantifying) the value of
the Internet as a medium for supporting this exercise as against other types of
traditional media/means like fax, smail, teleconferencing, video conferencing
and so on.
> Because it is so easy to quantify and to understand,
> we generally focus on how the Internet, particularly electronic mail,
> permits us to do old things cheaper. We can easily quantify how much
> cheaper it is to send an email rather than a fax, or an email rather
> than a courier. It is generally enough to focus on these cost savings
> to justify limited interventions to assist individuals in obtaining
> access to the Internet.
Yes, apart from the apparently obvious cost cost advantage of the Internet as
compare to other media one can also list a number of quatifiable and
'not-so-quantifiable criteria to use to assess the value of the Internet in
this respect. From the 'top-of my head', one could consider....
1. The time factor... ie the time it takes to put the proposal ( of the final
discussion document together) using the resources of the Internet to initiative
and conduct the discussion (as against using other means)
2. The cost factor.. involve in generating the discussing and keeping it going
(e.g the cost of involvement as per individual.. time cost, transmission
3. The richness of the discussion/dialog session itself ...measured in terms of
a number of factors including...
-- the turn-around/response time to generate and respond to ideas, suggestions
and contributions...' how lively is the dialog' some may say
-- the rate at which ideas are generated or added to or commented on
--- the degree to which participants, respond to points raised as a measure of
connectivity of points... a measure of cohensiveness or lack of
disjointness of the discussion
--- the comradeship generated by the discussion and how this encourage
interaction leading to chances of collaborating on other issues on
4. The quality of the final output of exercise ( a measure of "a job well
5. Other advantages associated with typical group/collaborative decision
making within an online (or 'near online') discussion/dialog environment
I am sure others have other points on how to go about this issue.
Clement Dzidonu Ph.D
Department of Computer Science
National University of Science and Technology
Tel. +263-9 71736, +263-9-71737