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This post is the first in a series that together form a basic guide to communications for telecentre networks.

The guide is simple: It starts with a quick overview: what a network is, why we choose work through networks, and the role of communications. It then proposes “the eavesdropping model” — a new way of approaching communications for networks and distributed teams. This is followed by an explanation of the basic building blocks for successful communications: a strong online presence, dedicated facilitators, regular updates, a member directory, an information kit, and global connections. It ends by suggesting ways to incorporate communications into other network activities and services.

Start reading the guide...

The guide will be updated based on your feedback and suggestions, so feel free to post your comments to any section. You can use, share, or build on this guide as you please — as long as you let others do the same. It's distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

If you want to read this all in one shot, you can download the guide in English or Spanish. This is a snapshot as of December 2008, so it will get out of date quickly.

References & Resources
Few of the ideas in this guide are my own, some have come to me from the support team and partners. Yet others from a literature review I conducted in May 2006. Primary sources — along with a few good resources — are below.

Ashman, D., et al. (2005). Supporting Civil Society Networks in International Development Programs (First Edition). Washington, DC: AED Center for Civil Society and Governance.

Bellanet (site to be launched in January 2009)

Ceballos, F. (2008 October 12). A few reasons to work as a network. blog post. Available at

Creech, H., & Willard, T. (2001). Strategic Intentions: Managing Knowledge Networks for Sustainable Development. Winnipeg, Manitoba: International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Creech, H., & Ramji, A. (2004). Knowledge Networks: Guidelines for Assessment. Winnipeg, Manitoba: International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Krebs, V., & Holley, J. (2002). Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving. Available at under Local Communities > Building Local Economic Networks. See also

Plastrik, P., & Taylor, M. (2004). Network Power for Philanthropy and Nonprofits. Boston, Massachusetts: Barr Foundation.

Surman, M. (2007 March). Using Networks to Strengthen Telecentres. In Making the Connection: Scaling Telecentres for Development. Barbara Fillip & Dennis Foote (eds.). Washington, DC: Information Technology Applications Center (ITAC) of the Academy for Education Development.

Waring, B., Cwik, Y., & Burzynski, R. HIV/AIDS Networking Guide (Second Edition). Toronto: International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO).

Network Communications Guide
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Next: a community of purpose sustained by communication

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Comment by AHMED SUDAN on February 4, 2009 at 4:24am
thanks christine it is really great work
Comment by Marco Figueiredo on January 23, 2009 at 5:03am
Here is the link to a draft version of the yet not published article "Empowering Rural Citizen Journalism via Web 2.0 Technologies":
Comment by Christine Prefontaine on January 23, 2009 at 3:30am
Thanks, Marco. Please send me anything you think I can add to this. Portuguese documents are fine. I fully agree on the video part and would love to incorporate any tips you have on how to get that done.
Comment by Marco Figueiredo on January 23, 2009 at 1:43am
One suggestion, add video blogging to your communication toolbox. We trained our telecenter volunteers in the use of video cameras and video editing software, and they are now creating videoblogs and practicing citizen journalism more so that they do in posting articles and comments in our portal. Our research found out that in communities of high rates of illiteracy, video blogging is the tool to engage people in communicating through the Internet. We wrote an article about this research. I will post a link to it soon.
Comment by Marco Figueiredo on January 23, 2009 at 1:38am
By the way, we at the Gems of the Earth Rural Community Telecenter Network have adopted some of the techniques depicted in your article for quite some time in our collaborative portal at, however, we miss in many other suggestions that you make that could add to our capabilities in result in more participation by telecenter volunteers and those they support in their communities. Having the process well documented as you did provides us with the proper tool to bring awareness to our network's constituency and a step by step guide for improving our online social network.
Comment by Marco Figueiredo on January 23, 2009 at 1:34am
Great work Christine. I first saw the article on Telecentre Magazine, which directed me to this blog entry. I downloaded the Dec 2008 snapshot and read it all. We need to translate this document to portuguese.

I see a clear departure from the closed information scenario that I've seen in the telecenter movement for years into a more open and inclusive process incorporated by and now clearly documented in your article. The telecenter movement in Brazil could learn a lot from this initiative as they are mostly still in the dark ages of Internet communications, trying to centralize control through information security. I will forward the Spanish version to folks in Brazil in an attempt to raise interest.
Comment by Meddie Mayanja on January 8, 2009 at 4:03am
This month, we shall start work on the telecentre network cookbook. This piece can be consolidated into one of the chapters of the cookbook.
Comment by Meddie Mayanja on January 8, 2009 at 4:01am
Christine, thanks for tremendous work on this. Its a great help for telecentre networks around the world.

One component to add: ... how to work with the public media often offline. This is a very important perspective that is missing at the moment. Networks need to connect with local media to make certain that their work is understood in the countries/regions they are based first.

This can take the form of maintaining contacts of ICT journalists, prompting mass media to take interest in telecentre issues and even taking a more pro-active step - writing articles for publication or broadcast. Radios, TVs and newspapers are often looking for good stories. If a network provides a good one it sure will be on air and gradually, the network will find itself space to share its stories with the general public and policy makers.
Comment by Christine Prefontaine on December 24, 2008 at 2:08pm
The guide is now available in Spanish. Download it.

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