Once upon a time…

This is my personal overview of the creation of this website (behind the formal pages and from my point of view at the moment – others will have a different perspective – Would you like to give yours?). My point of view may also change within a few months!… As many say, history can be told from many perspectives, depending on the person telling it and also the tendencies of the times (the later the broader perspective and understanding; sometimes when ideas are too fresh it is too soon to tell the story…)

The first time I heard about Joomla was when I had to start to learn how to work with it. It took me a while to become confident and a few pages lost on the process. GC kindly helped me to upload them again and explained a bit more how to work on them. This was not very easy as we are based in two distinct continents. After several approaches, from writing long (and boring) explanatory emails to GC to working closely with an IT person (AT) from the same department for a brief period of time in Addis, we finally reached a good balance where another IT person (AS) is working with me 2 days a week to help me with the time consuming and sometimes a bit complicated stuff to regularly upload or correct in the website. GC is in the meantime doing a great job working on the background, layout, and structure and training part of the website (things that can be more easily coordinated at a distance). Lately IT joined us to help with editing and revision, as the site is getting bigger and bigger and more difficult to coordinate and keep an uniform layout.

The content to populate the website started to be collected soon after the layout of the website was drafted. It has not been easy. Many of the collaborators were so busy with so many equally important commitments that often had to be chased by our insistent phone calls and regular emails (many of you remember these for sure). I also used any opportunity of a meeting (or even a colleague as an intermediary when they happened to go somewhere and meet our key collaborators). I dragged many of you to informal meeting at odds times: before breakfast, at breakfast, during lunch or dinner or even after dinner. By the beach side in Mombasa or during evening cocktails in Lunteren, a tea break in Rome or a long road drive in Ethiopia. During airplane trips or while waiting at the airport in Washington DC. In the train to Maccarese or the bus to Machupichu.

A great challenge we have been facing since the very beginning is the unreliable and often slow internet speed we have most of the time in Addis. The extreme difficulty to use skype as a cheap communication tool, the time taken to search for references, the time taken (and sometimes impossibility due to low speed) to upload files into the web pages… These difficulties have required a lot of patience, flexibility and creativity but sometimes just a lot of frustration!

As we started to know better what we wanted and what it was needed, we started to made some small decisions and wait for people to comment. This was much faster and efficient than asking for opinions and wait for weeks until most had given their feedback.

One great improvement we got just a few months ago, was the fast, efficient and beautiful design of the website banner with the help of PT in Rome. It looks really attractive and helped us believe that, yes we can…

We started with a demo structure for the cassava and banana crops that was presented in Lunteren, Holland in 2007 and later adjusted and discussed in Lima, Peru a few months later. Ironically, now most of the seed crops are already uploaded and mostly finished but the cassava and banana (the clonal crops) are still pretty much like they were left at the time (about 18 months ago). The structure and layout evolved and now it is time to pick up the banana and cassava pieces, update them and adjust them to the new layout. This has been difficult to start for me. Somehow it is often easier (and more exciting) to shape new things from scratch than picking ‘old’ things and suit them to a new shape or size… But we only have about 6 months left until the end of the project and everything must be finished by then. So, no matter how difficult it is to pick up the pieces and blend them, we must do it…

MAJ

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