Posted 7 June, 2012 by Susannah Vila

Introducing TechScape

At the engine room we are working hard to understand when and how technology actually helps advocates make change happen. The first thing you discover when you start asking this question seriously is that context is everything. No digital tool or strategy makes consistent sense in any consistent way, and what flops here might morph into something unforeseen and dramatically powerful just a little bit over there.

For an organization aiming to help change-makers make better use of tech, this means a lot of leg work, trial and error, and unanswered questions. The use and success of tech across contexts is something we need to understand better to do our work well. And it’s not just us, either. Everybody in the field–from donors to thinkers to wonks to trainers to techies–needs to understand these dynamics better, and most of us are beginning to be keenly aware of that need.

TechScape is the first systematic and methodologically rigorous attempt to answer these questions on a global scale.

Undertaken in partnership with key experts and institutions and over a two-year time span, TechScape is an international survey to measure how civil society uses, adopts and anticipates technology in their work, and how those needs and use patterns vary across geography, issue areas, capacity and networks.

It’s been in the works for a while, so we’re excited to have finally posted TechScape along with our other projects. For those of you who want more detail into the effort – What will we measure? What will we do with it? – here are some answers.

What will we measure?

TechScape is built to better understand the way civil society relates to technology.

  • How do organizations use technology?  

what works    –    are tools integrated    –    what does it cost

  • How do organizations adopt technology?

what motivates and inhibits    –    who is leading    –    what does it cost

  • How do organizations anticipate technology?  

hype     –    intimidation    –    what do they think it will cost

These variables are then couched with another three dimensions, to understand how technology use varies and trends across contexts and issue areas.


What will you do with it?

What will you do with it?

We will release all data (anonymized) as a public good in interoperable formats, so the ball is back in your court. Hack away.


What next?

We aim to run the survey in at least two discrete networks before the close of 2012. The first is about to be deployed in West Africa and Egypt. This will provide us with enough data and field input to make necessary adjustments to the instrument, procedures and data structure.  It will allow for the following benchmarks to be met by the turn of the year:

  • produce a digitally secure database and integrated survey software solution,
  • finalize partnership agreements with academic experts and organizational stakeholders in the field,
  • begin identifying and hiring field researchers, and
  • validate a workplan to begin rolling out the global survey in 2013.

From there it’s a straight shot towards the first representative global data set on the use digital tools in advocacy.

Want to get your hands dirty with the methodology?
Want to be a conversation partner as we learn from the project to iterate and scale?
Want to support the project?
Want help measuring the way your stakeholders or grantees use tech?

Give us a shout.

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More information, including documentation, is available at the project webpage.

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