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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Meet TravelerTrish

Earlier today I complained to my friend Emily that I was getting those "early winter blues." Her prescription was to assign me my partner in the next round of the non-profit blog exchange. Now I'm really depressed.

Why? Because for me working with non-profits means - oh just to pounce on today's issue - trying to figure out why all of a sudden at one of our client's offices the database server has decided that all users should be prevented from creating new tables. But for TravelerTrish it seems to include travelling to far off exciting places and having deep and meaningful conversations over elaborate meals where both the discussion and the menu are worth blogging about. What have I done wrong?

Envy aside, Trish is trying to bring an important global perspective to the nptech discussion. On the Worlds' Touch blog, which is only a few postings old, Trish admits struggling for her voice in the technology arena. In a recent post she says that here, unlike in her personal blog,
I feel compelled to make it like so many of the nonprofit tech blogs I read, all informative and impersonal.
But Trish's blogging at its best is informative and personal. In this posting that takes off from Deborah Finn's recent comments on the technical problems of getting close enough to an interviewee to record both voices, Trish reminds us that the parameters of proximity are cultural variables, and that in this and so many other cases, technology assistance across cultural lines is being mediated by meanings we must not be oblivious to. Trish's unique contribution to the nptech discussion is the familiarity a lifetime of travel has given her with walking back and forth across these cultural lines. These cultural issues impinge on what at first glance might appear to be purely technical or organizational problems.

And as she points out in one of her personal blog posts, you don't have to cross borders or oceans to need this sensitivity - even working domestically you are encountering these differences all the time - between people of from different regions, races, religious backgrounds. I think that as Trish gets as comfortable with this new blog as she is with the personal one, we are going to see some valuable discussion on this page!

TravelerTrish is Patricia Perkins, the executive director of World's Touch, an organization that provides technology assistance to non-profits and NGOs in the developing world. Their website explains their work this way:

Worlds Touch is a nonprofit organization partnering with successful charities in developing countries to provide information and communications technology (ICT).

  • We provide information systems for international grassroots organizations working to end poverty.
  • We design and build web sites for community groups.
  • We train and support non-profit management.
  • We bring cultural sensitivity to every project.

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