What is a TechCamp ? you may be asking .. A Techcamp is a forum where technologists come together with representatives/SME's [subject matter experts] from Non Government organizations from around the world to participate in 2 days of interactive sessions, participatory workshops on how technology can be an enabler , catalyze social change and more specifically help these NGO's to do their job better through expanding their reach.
The Program is part of a global effort called civil society 2.0 launched by Hillary Clinton and is guided by the US state department . After similar programs in Honduras , Kiev among other cities it was finally the time for Mumbai to host such event for the whole of south asia with attendance from Maldives , Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan and so on . it was fascinating to see such diversity among the participants united in their efforts to advance the discourse on technology for social action.
The trainers come from various organizations/ Foundations behind technology for social change like Frontlinesms , Ushahidi , OpenStreetMap and so on .
Speed Geeking :
The day started with an awesome session of Speed Geeking where over 100 participants spent 5 minutes at every table hosted by a Tech Trainer and they rotate. in a period of 60 minutes the participants get to learn about 12 different technologies by spending 5 minutes in each table getting a taste of each . As a speaker with a table I get to meet a different group every 5 min and have to share /pitch the impact of Ushahidi. This exercise can be quite exhausting considering the fact that the environment will be highly chaotic , lots of sound thus important to keep the energy levels up. It was the first time I did this so was different but fun !!
Deep Dive Sessions :
This session was followed a 90 minute deep dive session of each of the technology and I had the opportunity to showcase Ushahidi and talk about it impact as a platform for social change in election monitoring , disaster risk and environmental mapping.The After noon sessions included facilitation of workshops around Problems that can be solved with Ushahidi . Its been an awesome experience interacting with so many participants , sharing and listening to stories from all over South Asia on social change through technology . Trying to find opportunities to where Ushahidi Could make maximum impact through understanding various needs on the ground was the highlight of the day .
Brainstorming Sessions :
The second day included brainstorming sessions with interested participants about the problems that they think could be solved with the Ushahidi platform , the session involved gaining a better understanding of the workings of the non profit orgs in their field of action , there was a lot of listening to be done here to understand context , impact and the ground level reality under which they operate. I had the honor of facilitating this discussion with Mikel Maron of the Ground Truth initiative . This exercise generated so much learning that would be hard to describe here , it did have a profound impact on my belief on the impact of technology on social action and sustainable development .
The two days went pretty fast , personally for me the biggest takeaway was the learning that was generated by the meeting of so many awesome people from so many countries doing great work , I should add that when such meeting of minds do happen there is a release of an energy that manifests in sustainable action , this energy and learning when harnessed and exploited with coherence results in development of community/nation/world which is the ultimate goal of technology.