7.3. Promoting the Community

The UNKSOC.ORG Platform is viewed as a key element in the establishment of a community that shares interest, experience and learning in Knowledge Societies policy-making. Such community is expected to bring together Knowledge Societies policy-making agents and staff, researchers, experts, educators, and, as well, citizens.

The main purpose of this community is the development and sharing of knowledge about Knowledge Societies policy, thus enabling the different members to learn from each other so the Knowledge Societies paradigm can expand. Such purpose leads to a community whose boundaries are hard to define in the sense that it is the enthusiasm and commitment to the cause of Knowledge Societies that constitute the criteria for inclusion and for deciding to participate.

A community with such characteristics resembles a community of practice (Wenger, 1998)(McDermott, 1999). Although some of the characteristics of an archetypal community of practice might be missing, especially due to the heterogeneity of potential members, to view the UNKSOC.ORG community as a community of practice provides some insights regarding its establishment and evolution. The UNKSOC.ORG community can be considered to be in the Coalesce stage of development (Wenger, 1998): its Potential has already been realized but it isn’t yet Active.

The UNKSOC.ORG Platform covers two important elements on the establishment and development of the UNKSOC.ORG community: providing a repository of relevant information and supporting on-line interactions among community members. A third element is constituted by face-to-face interactions among community members. This element is addressed through the participation in workshops, conferences and other types of events where community members can present and debate chief emerging issues in the area. Both academic and practice-oriented conferences are relevant to address the face-to-face interaction dimensions of a community. The ICEGOV conference – a conference that aims at bridging theory and practice in the area of e-Governance – is an example of a conference that fits well the face-to-face interaction needs of the UNKSOC.ORG community.

An Expert Group Meeting (EGM) was carried out on 29 February 2016 in Montevideo, Uruguay immediately prior to the ICEGOV 2016 conference. At this EGM, several ideas have been suggested aimed at promoting the development of the UNKSOC.ORG community and the associated development of the UNKSOC.ORG platform.

Some ideas on the constitution of such community include – the numbers represent references to specific comments in the final report of the EGM (Estevez & Janowski, 2016):

  • Develop a kind of epistemic community, a transnational network of knowledge-based experts who help decision-makers define the problems they face, identify various policy solutions and assess policy outcomes (48).
  • Involve communities like the Digital Agenda for Latin America and Caribbean (eLAC) in knowledge-sharing and progress tracking (50).
  • Get inspiration in other open and participatory such as the Open Government Partnership (30).
  • Develop a network of project managers for overseeing implementation of knowledge societies policy-making projects (51).
  • The community can also be political, e.g. the National League of Cities, or based on professional networks e.g. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) networks (49).

Other ideas focus on the strategies that can be followed and initiatives that can be launched to promote the Knowledge Societies Policy Handbook and to foster the community around the Handbook, referring again to (Estevez & Janowski, 2016):

  • Promote the existence of a pool of experts that act as mentors/advisors during policy-making processes (27).
  • The community, supported by the platform, could be a kind of market place for research projects. Governments should create calls and search for collaboration of research units and individual researchers. Based on the unused research capacity, governments need to align the demand and supply of research (53).
  • Promote professional workforce development; for example “training people together” by socializing different part of the Handbook with different groups (54).
  • Conduct focus/expert groups in regions to regularly update the Handbook (56).
  • Promote events in different regions (58).
  • Disseminate key ideas through academic programs and think tanks (59).
  • Define incentives for governments to participate (60).