How do we measure and avoid failure?

1. Besides the handful of great projects that some of us are involved in and has seen, we've all seen the failure:

a) regulation/government mandated "white elephant" computer labs and satellite connections that mostly go unused, that big providers have supplied to meet universal service license obligations
b) or those installed by mismanaged universal service funds
c) or those installed as "corporate social investment" schemes, for tax incentives
d) or those installed purely for marketing - a "do good" story for some photos and a presentation or two to score points with a government or regulator
e) or those installed because they are what someone thought is needed
f) Large telco networks with services priced beyond the usablity of the majority of the population covered

2. I'm sure there are many reasons - 

a) No community consultation and buy-in
b) no co-creation
c) lack of skills
d) lack of access / guidance / materials / tangible benefits to community
e) lack of supporting infrastructure
f) lack of corporate incentive
g) ufavorable social environment - eg. unsafe, abused, misused
h) unprofitable (in the case of big telco network / extension thereof)

3. And then there are the potentials solutions:

a) Starting with community education / making the community request / ask for it / earn it 
b) establishing a long term relationship with the community
c) empowering the community to build- and maintain it themselves
d) ensuring utility by guiding the community to on-line solutions to their everyday problems
 - and a shared place where common problems and solutions can be listed
e) future tax incentives to corporates to make it worth as a long term investment

These are just off the top of my head. Coudn't such a declaration reference places to find common problems and solutions, and reference research on failed programmes and the critical parts of successful implementations - based on research that will be taken seriously.

4) Imagine we could create an atmosphere where it is not seen as insulting to ask real questions at a presentation, or where it's not even necessary - where it is common sense what questions should be answered. An environment where no presentation that doesn't answer certain basic quetions, would ever be taken seriously. Perhaps a list of questions that could and should be answered in any presentation - or metrics that should be included, such as:

a) Live data and contact people on the ground - How many people are connected to it right now? 
b) Let's do a video call to certain community members right now, and lets see the network stats.
c) How long have they been connected?
d) How much has been spent on the network?
e) How was the hardware obtained? 
f) Is vendor agnosticism promoted? 
g) Ongoing costs - what does running the operation cost and where does the funding come from?
h) How long before funding runs out / before it is self sustaining?
i) What is the life expectancy of the hardware and technology used? 
j) Does any institution which stands to economically benefit from the network, excercise control over training, initiation or landing page materials? 
k) Is any privileged network metrics available? Ie. if Google or Facebook builds a network, even if they fund it - the data they collect should be in the public domain, because measurable knowledge about our access patterns is a public resource that if not made avaiable neutrally can benefit those with access to it disproportionately and lead to growing inequity. 

Universal set of metrics?

Shouldn't we perhaps aim toward seeing if there is a universal set of metrics or measurable parameters, that if a adhered to, significantly improves the probablity of success or the benefit to the community? Metrics such as cost of access being under a certain percentage of the average lowest income, or eqating to the cost of certain foodstuffs, or the lowest tolerable contention ratio for certain applications, or the number of years required for a community to be able to reap certain types of benefits - and how these may differ form country to country or community type to community type... how many usefully identifiable kinds of communities are there? Rural, urban, rural agricultural, rural migratory, ... 

Even though it may seem obvious what we want to achieve - perhaps it is important to check to see if all items on our wishlists are universally applicable. Ie. 
How do we meaure success or failure? What's is the ultimate goal? More responsible citizens? More communicative neigbourly citizens? Better consumers? Better producers? More independence? More decentralization of the market? More street wise citizenry? Happier taxpayers? More successufl anarchists? A balance between a new global culture without it being at the expense of local traditions? Whichever way, how do we know that everything we are striving towards is unversally applicable to all these purposes?

Is connectivity ultimately purely in aid of a new supplementary global identity for us all? Or is it simply an amplifier and multiplier - of both good and bad things? And who are we to judge what is good and what is bad? What is the smallest component of each, and at what point does it creep into society - and isn't that the point where it is easiest to influence it? And if it is, is someone smarter than us doing just that? 

Think about how those who want to tell us what we should and shouldn't do started out, and who gave them their say and power... and what authority and incentive and purpose do they have doing what they are trying to? 

Anyways, just all some ideas thought out loud that I hope will give someone something to think about. 

Coenraad Loubser

Wireless Internet Services & Hardware (Pty) Ltd.
210 Long Street, Cape Town, 8001, ZA

Office: +27 21 481 1824
Skype: Coenraad_Loubser
Cell: +27 73 772 1223

-- Spending Money is like watering a plant.

On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 4:06 AM, Nicolás Echániz <> wrote:
During my participatin in the WEF meeting that I was invited to, I came
up with this concept that I believe must be a strong point in our
strugle forward in order to differentiate what we are doing from so many
other initiatives to "connect the unconnected":

Facebook's Free Basics and Internet planes, Google's Loon project as
well as many government plans to bring "Internet access" to public
spaces in poor villages and disadvantaged areas are all initiatives to
create an Internet for the Poor. One where the people get a second class
digital citizenship.

On the other hand, we from the community networks movement are
empowering the people to build meaningful infrastructures that create
the local portion of the Internet in a manner that is respectful of
human value and not just motivated by access statistics or profit.

I'd like to make this idea part of our Declaration.

What do the rest of you think?


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