Wiki and the Agora: ‘It’s organising Jim, but not as we know it’

This paper argues that those keen to characterise and harness the empowering potential of Information and Communications Technology [ICT] for development projects have to understand that the very existence of this technology opens up alternative models of cooperation and collaboration. These models themselves necessitate breaking away from ‘traditional’ command-and-control models of management. One alternative is to persuade participants, or potential participants, to coordinate their efforts along the lines exemplified by the open-source software movement and the contributors to Wikipedia: models of coordination that ought not to work, but appear to do so. The paper offers an outline of this argument, and then suggests ways in which NGOs in particular might try to incorporate these insights into their strategies. This is particularly critical for organisations with a reliance on increasingly pressurised funding opportunities, and which also seek to develop and engender participation and determination from within and among specific target groupings.