September 2009

Upcoming Events

AGCommons at Africa GIS Conference 2009 in Kampala

AGCommons, the program led by the ICT-KM Program to provide location-specific (geospatial) information to smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of improving productivity and livelihoods, will be present at the Africa GIS Conference 2009 in Kampala, Uganda (25-30 October), to inform participants about its development as an Africa-based service bureau and its Quick Win Projects.

In conjunction with the Conference, AGCommons will organize WhereCampAfrica-Kampala to be held on 30 October. After the success of WhereCamp Africa-Nairobi, this will be the second gathering of its kind to take place in Africa and the first one in Kampala.

WhereCamp, a free 'unconference' for geogeographers, mobile location experts and social cartographers and all kinds of folks interested in place, is an opportunity for participants to present ideas, questions, projects, politics, and technical issues that people have - and contribute to and get feedback from other participants. More information at and

ICT-KM Homepage

Collaborate, Create, Communicate...

The winds of change... they’re blowing everywhere these days. No sooner have we adapted and adopted in our bid to remain current than something else pops up. There’s a new technology, a paradigm shift, a change in leadership styles … Some of us struggle with change. It can be cozy staying in our comfort zones, continuing to do whatever it is that we do best. But change is an inevitable part of growth. Just look to the CGIAR change process for evidence of this. I am just back from CIAT, Colombia, where I attended the Annual IT Managers Meeting and a planning meeting for the Shared Services in the new CGIAR Consortium. Exciting times! Will bring more news on that soon!

Here at the ICT-KM Program, we’ve been experiencing a number of changes ourselves during the past few months. For a start, there was our external review – a slightly nerve-racking endeavor that examined us from every angle. Although we passed with flying colors, there is still room for improvement. We continue to make adjustments as we ready ourselves for the Program’s next phase.

Our website is also undergoing change to better serve our growing audience. We look forward to welcoming you on board later this month.

A number of our articles in this issue also highlight CGIAR scientists who have embraced change by adopting social media tools to carry out their work and communicate with their colleagues more efficiently and effectively. That’s encouraging, and they are to be lauded for their efforts.

Although the next issue of ICT-KM News will look different, we will strive to continue bringing you articles that inform, update and entertain. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Enrica Porcari
Chief Information Officer

Main News

Nemo Profeta in Patria... Results of Our External Review

Finally, I’m happy to share with you the results of the ICT-KM Program’s recent external review. Although I was a little nervous about the actual review process, not to mention the review report itself, I feel my team and I have all benefited from having outsiders look at our work. We have been forced to take a long hard look at ourselves; what went right, what went wrong, and where we hope to go from here.
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We wanted a bicycle, so we have to get pedaling

"Volevi la bicicletta, ora pedala!" This Italian saying, translated as "You wanted a bicycle, so get pedaling", can describe situations where we have a goal to meet or decision to make that can only be realized if we get on with taking the required action.
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Social media for science: an interview with Tom Vandenbosch

During the recent World Congress of Agroforestry (WCA2009) in Nairobi, Kenya, the Congress reporting team plunged headlong into social media in a bid to maximize the event’s communications, which was achieved via the Congress blog, the @icraf Twitter account, pictures on Flickr and bookmarks on
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ICT Infopoint - Providing CGIAR staff with ICT training materials, guides, application links and useful tips

If you are looking for good ICT practice guides, or want to find out more about low-bandwidth collaboration tools, or see what CGIAR-wide applications are available to you, then ICT Infopoint is the place for you. ICT Infopoint provides CGIAR staff located at headquarters and in regional offices with a convenient one-stop location on CGX2.0, where they can find timely and up-to-date ICT information and links. If you need to speak to someone about your ICT problems, ICT Infopoint can also help by providing you with the contact information of all CGIAR Center Helpdesks. ICT Infopoint is open 24/7, so please drop by anytime!
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Our Website Revamp: More than Just a Facelift

Although we like to look fresh and current, this isn’t the driving force behind the present revamp of the ICT-KM Program’s website. Our focus continues to be on providing our audience with an easy-to navigate, content-rich site. You won’t find any unnecessary bells and whistles on the soon-to-be-launched site, but you will be able to locate content with ease, take advantage of our interactive features, and follow what we do.
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Francesca Pelloni - Returning with a Passion

Life is a balancing act. Finding an equilibrium that works for you, your family and your friends is often difficult to achieve. And no one knows this better than AGCommons Project Officer Francesca Pelloni. After a five-year hiatus of sorts from the hectic world of IT project management, she is back with a well-grounded enthusiasm for her career and a strong sense of purpose that will surely benefit the Project.
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The Face behind Our Popular Social Media Series

Six months ago, when Meena Arivananthan posted the first installment of her Social Media Series on our blog, no one could have envisaged the impact and popularity of her articles. This versatile woman has a passion for both writing and knowledge sharing, attributes that are evident in her posts. Indeed, those initial pieces, written in Meena’s informative, reader-friendly style, guaranteed that visitors to our blog would keep coming back for more.
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We've come a long way – an interview with Shwu Jiau Teoh

Way back in the early 1980s, there was no email in CGIAR. When scientists wanted to collaborate with each other, they did so using the technology available at that time: phone, fax, telex and cable. Some of these communication methods were often slow and unreliable, and always expensive – factors that had a direct bearing on critical research efforts. Then in 1985, with the advent of email across the CGIAR System, things began looking up. Almost overnight, day-to-day communications became much faster and cheaper. However, long-distance collaborative efforts could still be slow and, at times, confusing.
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