Store and share for the future

Brent Theophille

‘There are excellent resources for keeping up to date on trade and policy initiatives around the world.’ Brent Theophille, research assistant at the Caribbean Regional Agricultural Policy Network

Web sites

I regularly look at the BBC news, particularly their environment, technology and health pages. And I go to for interesting articles, especially those that deal with socio-economic issues related to agriculture. These are useful in my work as a research assistant where I process and synthesise relevant material to be shared within the organisation and elsewhere. I also ‘like’ and post links to useful articles on my Facebook page, which I use as a kind of repository for information I might want to refer to later. I find it a helpful way to save web pages, similar to saving them as bookmarks.

I also receive e-mail newsletters from the Global Policy Forum and Trade Negotiations Insights, both of which provide links to the full-length articles on their websites. These are excellent resources for keeping up to date on trade and policy initiatives around the world. Many of their articles are related to agriculture, food and nutrition security and other areas that are interesting for my work.

Our organisation, CaRAPN, also has a Facebook page where I share some of the articles and my work with partners and the public.
BBC news:
Global Policy Forum:
Trade Negotiations Insights:
CaRAPN Facebook page

Web tools
I use Skype often for my work. Earlier this year, we were actively engaged in developing strategic plans with Ministries of Agriculture and partners in four different Caribbean countries. We used Skype and Elluminate to communicate through individual calls and for participating in virtual conferences. Elluminate’s conference-calling facilities were especially useful, and its Blackboard Collaborate feature helped in making notes and sharing ideas.

I also use Gmail’s video and chat features to talk with colleagues and friends, and use Google Groups to network, send e-mails, have virtual discussions, and plan activities.

I find the ReminderFox add-on for the Mozilla Firefox web browser very easy to use as a calendar, and it is helpful for reminding me of all the things I have to do in a day. The fact that I spend most of my day in front of a computer, and usually with the web browser open, means I don’t have to worry about always having to keep the notepad with my to-do list or little reminders scribbled on post-it notes.

Social networking
We have been developing the CaRAPN Facebook page, adding photographs and links to relevant web pages which our colleagues and partners might be interested in. We also use it to promote the documents we have uploaded to Scribd, which serves as an online storage space for articles and publications. We plan to upload newsletters on a more regular basis, along with policy briefs, articles and the Agriculture Agenda, which is a weekly diary of events related to agricultural development in the region.

I use LinkedIn to stay in touch with other professionals in the Caribbean and agricultural information community.

Also, there is ResearchGate where you can view the research work that colleagues around the world are involved in. They have a virtual ‘distinguished lectures’ series where you can listen in to talks given by prominent researchers. It’s pretty cool.
CaRAPN on Scribd:

I am very interested in photography, and take a lot of photos with my digital camera. We then use these in our publications and other work activities.
Work without my laptop would be problematic. I like to keep old work files and resource material close at hand because I can still get ideas from them. I often save good research articles or reference books on subjects as broad as econometrics or statistics, and I usually find new uses for them sooner or later. It is necessary, therefore, for me to keep a back-up of all my files on an external hard-drive, but I like to have it on my laptop too for easier access.

Both the external drive (360 GB) and my laptop are always with me when I travel. I use an automatic backup system to copy the files regularly from my laptop to the external drive. I also use Scribd to save articles on the web, which I can access anywhere from the internet, and sometimes I even e-mail documents to myself as a backup.

I am looking forward to a tablet device that would be more functional for my work: one that can link to and update work files automatically and which would allow me to access saved files either through a local wireless network or via the internet. It should also have a pen-like stylus so I can scribble handwritten notes in meetings and have a permanent digital record. Another useful feature would be an improved sorting and file management system that would keep track of all the documents and automatically categorise them for future use. Sifting through all those folders to find the right file that I saved several years ago can be a huge task at times.


Brent Theophille is a research assistant at the Caribbean Regional Agricultural Policy Network (CaRAPN) 

29 November 2011

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