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Lesson Six -
Ecommerce and Building Collaborative Capacity

Lesson Goals

The Strategies Behind Understanding Rural Innovation Diffusion

The Strategies for Growing Local and Global Collaborative Capacity

The Strategic Lessons Learned from the History of Community Networking

The Strategies Behind Grantwriting to Win Funding for Community Projects

Understanding Rural Innovation Diffusion

If suddenly we all shared the same vision for the power at our fingertips and understood how collaborative capacity can dramatically empower individuals, communities, and businesses - the world would be a very different place. Understanding how innovations diffuse across communities over time and how shared ideas develop is fundamental to developing strategies based on the accelerating evolution of innovation and ideas which are historically unique to the modern day.

Changing Our Behavior and Walking-the-Walk

The history of community networking shows that broadly sharing a tangible vision has its challenges, but the potential and the need has never been greater. Corporations are now scrambling to develop their internal skills for online collaboration and online learning into intellectual and human capital advantages. Much can be learned by shadowing what the major corporations have learned about what they have yet to learn - and master. For years we've heard many businesses and organizations "talk-the-talk" about the benefits of online communications, but now corporations are finding they'll have to "walk-the-walk" if they are to keep abreast of their competition. Changing human communications behavior is not easy.

Lifestyle Concerns Vs. "Business at the Speed of Thought"

Bill Gates wrote a book titled Business at the Speed of Thought. There is no upper limit to how efficiently business and learning can be conducted with global high-speed access between business partners and, eventually, consumers. At the same time, rural citizens in particular will question the issue of lifestyle. Many abhor a ringing cell phone at their side every moment. Others resent being pressured with having to make instant decisions. Collaborating with others to share information can make for a lighter load for all concerned, as a key strategy for dealing with information overload and the challenges of staying current. There are real issues and tensions here, but finding a workable collaborative balance is possible, if not inevitably necessary.

Building on Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Innovation

Over the past ten years there have been hundreds of community networking projects, most of which no longer exist.  New community projects are regularly appearing, hopefully based on the lessons learned from past projects. Corporate and Ecommerce strategic initiatives to define and grow collaborative capacity are growing, as well. Those which prove to be most successful, whether businesses or communities, will be the big winners over the coming decades as social and economic value is strengthened by effective ongoing sharing of the highest-value knowledge to meet their most urgent needs. Themes of inclusion, loyalty, cooperatives, purposeful community service, supporting global causes, and sharing the wealth are likely to dominate.

The issue of how best to support people using information technology to create value and capacity relates to both community sustainability and growing new business opportunities. As our sense of traditional community bonds decline, particularly in urban areas, the need for a supportive community is likely to re-emerge in the form of virtual communities of shared interest. In rural communities, the opportunity is perhaps greater to use collaborative tools to reinforce community bonds, but this will depend on the vision and behaviors of rural citizens.

Possibly the most important lesson learned is people will only collaborate around a specific purpose or goal. Be prepared to answer their question:  "What's in it for me?" Virtual online communities of interest will become increasingly important for sustaining both traditional communities and Ecommerce communities.

Grantwriting Skills

Whether writing a grant proposal to create a business or to create a community networking project - the key is to be clear as to the specifics of your action plan. There is more money available than there are great well-articulated ideas. In the hands-on activities and readings for this lesson you'll be in a position to learn from the extensive efforts of others. While many had a wonderful vision, far fewer were effective sharing that vision to engage others to create sustainable benefit.

Hands-on Activities

1. Review Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Community Networking Innovations

A Chapter on Lessons Learned from "The Good Neighbor's Guide to Community Networking"
Build on the lessons learned by others.

Read and explore the links at Building Collaborative Capacity

Explore: A Community Networking Applications Web Tour of educational, business, healthcare, and electronic democracy applications
Review the innovations of many early pioneers of community networking.

Review the school and community free collaborative services listed
at http://lone-eagles.com/curric.htm
Consider the growing importance of a shared community vision. Many free collaborative tools and services allow parents, teachers, students, and adminstrators the opportunity for creating their own community network, including free web pages, gradebooks, calendars, and much more.

Take the Electronic Democracy WebTour
Consider the higher purposes for creating a learning community - creating a truly educated democratic society! The highlights are the Virtual Activist Curriculum found on the homepage for http://netaction.org, and the WebActive search engine at http://webactive.com for searching over 2000 websites dedicated to specific causes and purposeful collaboration.

2. Learn About Grantwriting

Read the Grantwriting Tips, and Review Tutorials,
and Funding Sources for Rural Communities


Read one or more of the following grant proposals
to get an idea of tangible community activities as well as the structure of a proposal.

The Idaho Ecommerce Homesteader's Cooperative
A community grant template written in association with this course specifically for use by Idaho communities. You're welcome to use this to create your own community grant proposal.

An earlier version written for Alpine, Texas is at
http://lone-eagles.com/alpine2.htm and another version written for Alaskan Native Villages is at http://lone-eagles.com/northstar.htm

The Community Bootstrap Initiative "Doing for Ourselves- Together" http://lone-eagles.com/articles/boot2.htm
A grant proposal model to consider adapting for your community.

Culture Club – Community content and self-publishing to address the global need for culturally appropriate Internet training visions and resources. Includes a Lone Eagles Apprenticeship Ecommerce program. http://lone-eagles.com/cultureclub.htm
For similar themes to seed your brainstorming see also
http://lone-eagles.com/trainers.htm and http://lone-eagles.com/youth.htm

Youth-Driven Community Internet Awareness Initiatives are described in Chapter Seven http://lone-eagles.com/chap7.htm from the "Good Neighbor’s Guide to Community Networking"

Creating a Community Self-help Internet Empowerment Model
http://lone-eagles.com/taosvisions.htm. A concept paper with many fundable ideas written for the Taos, NM Kellogg MIRA project participants, complete with grant template URLS. For more on the MIRA projects model for community Internet workshops see

Youth-driven Cultural Community-Building
A recent grant written for Alaskan Villages.

Recommended Readings

Read each article once without clicking on the presented web addresses.
Then return to explore those links that interest you.

Innovation Diffusion -
Looking at the Process of Change

Understanding how we adapt to change.

Bringing Ideas Into Being
Ideas are real things. Democracy is an example. Making them live and grow can present challenges.

Chapters 4 " Starting a Community Network;
How to Get and Use the Tools"
From the Good Neighbor's Guide to Community Networking http://lone-eagles.com/cnguide.htm
Steps toward creating a community network and lessons learned from past efforts.

Making the Missing Connections… A Wake-up Call Regarding True Community Internet Empowerment
A realistic view of issues to be considered when considering implementation of Community Internet projects.

Submissions Required for the Ecommerce and Telework Certification

  1. Email your instructor a one-page write-up on the time you spent on this lesson and which specific strategies you're prepared to adopt. Reference the best specific resources you reviewed during this lesson with emphasis on your particular interests.

    Verify that you've completed all activities and readings presented in this lesson.

    Share with your instructor a self-assessment of your skills related to this lesson and which skills you plan on developing further.

    Use the following Subject line in your message "Submission for Lesson Six"
  2. Send your instructor a half-page description of the ideal community project you feel would actually work best for your community.


Optional Skillbuilders

1. Review the lesson on grantwriting at http://lone-eagles.com/asdnl8.htm.

2. Find the book on "Innovation Diffusion" at http://amazon.com or at your local library.