Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Localization and Local Knowledge(s)

 I may have posted on this topic in the past but my thinking often evolves, so this is unlikely to be a full repeat.

World Localization Day is approaching.  Localization Day is celebrated on June 21.  It is an annual celebration convened by Local Futures, an international NGO led by [[Helena Norberg-Hodge]].  

Localization in the context of international development assistance (an in particular USAID jargon) refers to a set of internal reforms, actions, and behavior changes undertaken by organizations (donors and their implementing partners) to ensure that their work prioritizes local actors.

The two uses of the term "localization" are obviously related, but the meaning is much more restrictive in the international development assistance context and the underlying beliefs and strategies do not always align.

I've hit my head against walls many times in the past trying to argue that conversations/narratives, and associated jargon emerging from the international development industry continues to reflect the needs of the industry more than anything else and do not reflect local needs and realities.  That's why "localization" within the development industry is all about reforming how the development industry itself should behave.  Localization day -- and all it represents, on the other hand, is totally independent of the international development industry and should be celebrated EVERYWHERE. When I buy produce from my farmers' market instead of the grocery store, I am supporting localization in a small but tangible way.

Similar distinctions are probably necessary when talking about local knowledge(s).  Local knowledge in the international development industry is often associated with indigenous knowledge.  That's potentially quite limiting. I suspect there is a lot of local knowledge that is not (or no longer) associated with a specific indigenous population.  Local knowledge can simply be a deep knowledge of the local context, its history, current trends, most of which may have little to do with traditional or indigenous knowledge. 

I don't know yet exactly how to think about local knowledge(s), but I want to avoid using the term assuming that everyone else using it is talking about the same thing. I also think it's related to different ways of knowing, because Western "rational" thinking isn't the only way to KNOW something. 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Knowledge Mapping in International Development - Webinar follow up

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was preparing for two related yet distinct presentations.  I presented the first of the two on May 23rd and I can now share the recording recording.  I don't dare listening to myself talk, so I will just trust that it was good enough and worth sharing.


The feedback and questions were very useful. 

Some people wanted to know more about the specific tools I use or recommend.  Unfortunately, I don't make recommendations about tools.  I can talk about what I use but tool selection requires a thorough understanding of the context and unless I'm engaged in a consulting assignment where I can gather information about the context, I stay away from recommending tools.  Even in the context of a consulting assignment, I would most likely come up with a list of options rather than a recommendation of a single tool. 

Some people would have wanted a practical session where they could engage in the process of developing a map themselves.  I have done that in my teaching and at one point I had a course in Skillshare to learn how to map.  That was just not the objective of this webinar but it does indicate an interest in the topic and the practical application.

I don't think I adequately focused on specific use cases in international development even though that was what the audience was most likely to be interested in. That is something I will try to remedy with future work.

And that brings me to the second session, this time in June, through the Knowledge Management Global Network (KMGN) research group.  My plan there is to present my own learning journey so far around concept mapping and knowledge graphs, and open up a discussion around opportunities for further action learning/action research and deep dives.  

Monday, May 27, 2024

From Local Nodes to Global Networks: Mapping Knowledge Ecosystems


I often come up with unconventional ideas when the tasks on my "to do" list undergo a melding process. Here's an example:

  • Task A: Exploring knowledge graphs and their benefits.
  • Task B: Reading the Agenda Knowledge for Development Goals and individual statements, while considering writing my own.

Combining these tasks led to a new question, both for the knowledge graph topic I am presenting on later in June and for my potential individual statement supporting the Agenda Knowledge for Development goals: Can knowledge graphs be developed to represent local knowledge ecosystems? If so, what would be the benefits?

From there, I began to consider:

  • What could we learn from hundreds of local knowledge ecosystem graphs?
  • How could these local graphs be linked into a global knowledge ecosystem graph?

One potential advantage might be that it would preserve the integrity of the local knowledge ecosystem. This idea is very meta because it's not just about the knowledge itself, but about the structure and interactions within the knowledge ecosystem(s). Is this just a case of wilding a hammer (knowledge graphs) and looking for nails to pound on?

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pause to Appreciate Your Knowledge Ecosystem


Morning Dew on Grape Leaf: Nature's Simple Beauty
Photo Credit: Barbara Fillip

In the early morning, the garden's grape vine shows off tiny dew droplets on its leaves. Each drop clings to the leaf's edge, reflecting the greenery around it. This moment captures the beauty of nature and its role in supporting life. As the sun rises, these droplets will help nourish the plant, contributing to the garden's ecosystem. Let's remember to pause and appreciate the complexity and beauty of the world around us.

In our hurried lives, we should also strive to pause and appreciate the complexity of the knowledge ecosystem that allow us to work collaboratively and achieve so much more as teams and broader entities than we could as individuals. We often take the knowledge ecosystem for granted just as we take our ecosystems' magical functions for granted.