A Journey Through Time With Agrilinks
Agrilinks has turned six years old! I forget the conversion to dog years, but it represents a substantial length of time in internet years.
In 2011, I oversaw the launch of Agrilinks. But I have a confession to make: back in 2010, I didn’t want a website like Agrilinks. I had seen multiple examples of websites (or knowledge repositories or collaborative spaces, pick your favorite description) filled with good intentions that sank beneath the waves of the World Wide Web. It was sad to see. Development and content curation takes time, and it is precious cargo to the creators. However, content alone cannot draw folks to a site and make it thrive. A site needs content AND community.
In early 2009, I managed a seminar series for USAID that covered agriculture and food security topics and had oversight of an intranet site (more inherited than created or sought). I wanted more staff within USAID, especially those in the field, to have access to this seminar series. I started with voice-over PowerPoints of the seminars and put them on the intranet site. But, that didn’t satisfy me. The cool kids at Microlinks had webinars, and I wanted those for my audience. So, in March 2010, my seminars became webinars. I put the webinar recordings on the intranet and shared the links with USAID staff.
We occasionally had external partners join us for the seminars. I started having the seminars in publicly accessible locations to give our partners more opportunities to join the conversation. What about outside folks who missed the seminar or wanted to access the presentation afterwards? That was a bit of a challenge since the links to the presentations were on the USAID intranet site. Everyone should have access to information, right? Luckily, the USAID managers of Microlinks kindly let me use some space on their site to house my webinars links so folks external to USAID could have access.
It became obvious that this would not work long-term — a page buried on Microlinks did not serve the growing food security community. Around this time, USAID started the Knowledge-Driven International Development (KDID) site, a knowledge management pilot platform. With the seminars series and audience at its core, Agrilinks began to take form on KDAD. I thought (perhaps hoped) our KDID landing page would serve as our permanent platform. However, our community and content continued to evolve and grow. To better serve this community — to better serve you — we created Agrilinks.org and launched it in April 2011.
Over the years, Agrilinks has gone through many changes in design and function. We have added features and we have taken them away. I would like to say that we have had a smooth and always successful delivery. Trust me, I really would like to say this, but I am sure you know that it would not ring true. We have experimented. We have asked for your feedback. We have gone back to the drawing board. We experimented some more. You continued to support us, continued to help us grow the Agrilinks community by sharing it with others. While I still have doubts about how best to deliver information and knowledge-sharing through Agrilinks (I am a worrier), I take pride in what we have accomplished through Agrilinks. I’m excited to share our latest redesign and improved functionality and look forward to future changes that will improve your site experience.