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Research: Digital Governance and Adopting Modern Collaboration Techniques & Processes

Over the past several months, if not longer, I have been wondering about a couple things:

1) Coordination and Governance in an Distributed, Networked World. As a Digital Humanitarian Network (DHNetwork) coordinator over the past year, I have often wondered what would be the best coordination model to use for large digitally distributed emergency-responding volunteers. If we could research the various models in use, perhaps we could both apply the most appropriate model to the DHNetwork and influence the traditional humanitarian coordination structure.

2) Modern Collaboration Techniques and Processes. With the recent rise of digital humanitarians, these distributed groups have found (technical) ways to seamlessly collaborate and rapidly build appropriate processes to operate and respond to emergencies. Given that the traditional humanitarian community “takes a lot of heat” for not adopting new technologies/processes as quickly as they are released, what can we do quickly and systematically to adopt new tools and processes. How can the digital humanitarians better prepare their projects so traditional organizations more easily understand how they can adopt them and how can traditional organizations more readily try new tools/process while accepting the related risk.

In that regard, I drafted two one-page research concepts in hopes to attract someone to do some initial work on these topics.  It has been interesting difficult to find anyone willing to take it on. Many have expressed a high degree of interest, but in the end prefer to write reports about how things are changing (e.g. Disaster Relief 2.0 and Humanitarianism in a Networked Age) rather than figuring how how we can make change easier and faster.  The research concepts, open for comment, are online:

  1. Digital Humanitarian Coordination and Governance in an Distributed, Networked World;
  2. Understanding Digital Humanitarian Collaboration Techniques and Processes;

I am happy to report that an new intern - Mary Milner - will join me this summer to work on these two topics.  We expect to be in touch with many different people, but if you would like to be proactive about giving your input, kindly comment below or in the Google Docs linked above.