What is Community Informatics (and Why Does it Matter)?


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ISBN: 978-88-7699-098-4

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pdf file http://docs.docstoc.com/orig/1631098/92d08b3f-3efa-45e8-8b04-7b8c9d70101a.pdf

Type of work: Book




This brief volume is meant as an Introduction to my thinking about Community Informatics (CI) rather than specifically as an Introduction to CI. I make that distinction because at this stage in its early development CI represents a number of different things to different people.

To some, it represents a way of talking or thinking about a particular set of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools that are available for use in and by local communities. For others, CI is a form or methodology of Community Development that happens to use ICTs rather than blackboards as a primary means for facilitating community communications. For others, CI is a way of formulating and integrating the use of ICTs as an instrument for economic and social development into more mainstream Information Systems thinking and research. For still others, CI is the beginnings of a “movement” by means of which ICTs are appropriated by the marginalized to realize a new role for themselves in the Information Society. For myself, CI is a bit of all of these, but at its most basic CI is about a new but necessary way of approaching Information Systems and in fact represents an evolutionary advance on traditional systems by integrating them with the dynamism and adaptability of life as lived in organic communities.

The Question and Answer format suggested by the publisher is an interesting one in that it suggests a degree of informality and iterative thinking which is rather in keeping with CI at least in its current formulation. Also, a format such as this indicates that what is being presented is itself partial and subject to evolution and change along with the contents of what is being discussed.

A number of the specific areas presented are in fact adapted from other of the things that I have written in some case in collaboration with other people. I’ve tried to indicate where this has occurred but my apologies if any of these instances have been overlooked and my gratitude to my colleagues in each case where the development of the thinking was formally shared. Of course, all of the thinking concerning CI has been collaborative and iterative and thus all of this document should be seen as informally the result of the range of collaborations which I’ve been privileged to participate in over the years.

I would like to point particularly to my work with Richard Civille and our collaboration on our work for the Ford Foundation, Tom Horan for the paper we did together for the Davis Minneapolis workshop, Wal Taylor for continuing interactions in various parts of the world, and the multitude of colleagues who have contributed to the Community Informatics Research Network and the CRACIN e-lists.

The errors and omissions are of course, my own.

And of course, my thanks always to my wife Fernande Faulkner without continuing collaborations none of this would likely have ever seen the light of day.