CIRN Prato Community Informatics Conference 2014

Abstracts + linked PDFs

Abstracts are listed by first author.

Where papers and pdfs of powerpoints have been provided these have been linked under the abstract.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Theory, Practice, Community Archives
Keywords: activism, participatory design, community archives, Indigenous knowledges, partnerships

Supporting autonomy: lessons from the Digital Archives and Marginalized Communities (DAMC) project

Danielle Allard2, Greg Bak1, Shawna Ferris1, Kiera Ladner1

1University of Manitoba, Canada; 2Univeristy of Toronto, Canada;,,

The Digital Archives and Marginalized Communities (DAMC) project is an interdisciplinary research collaboration developing three separate but related digital archives using a participatory design process with stakeholder community groups. Working titles for these archives are: The Missing Women Database (MWD), The Sex Work Database (SWD), and the Post-Apology Residential School Database (PARSD). Focusing on three distinct but intricately related communities, we strive to understand and demonstrate how communities can adopt digital information institutions and systems to be reflective of community derived epistemologies, ontologies, and social justice objectives. Our work is inspired by Indigenous digital archives such as Ara Irititja and Te Ataakura, archives that have demonstrated the benefits of digital technologies in terms of information aggregation, preservation, and community-controlled access. Acknowledging that few communities posses expertise in digital archives, yet all communities can benefit from the ways that digital archives support community awareness and development across space and time, this project draws together community knowledge(s), archival expertise, and social activism to create digital information systems that highlight and interrogate the complex and related topics of colonialism in Canada, violence against indigenous women and girls, and sex work.

Engaging in this multi-disciplinary, community-led participatory project are a constellation of actors, characterized broadly as activists, archivists, community members, and academics. (Though these roles intersect and overlap in a variety of ways). At the heart of our project are fundamental and critical questions about how best to partner and engage within and across political and social locations. This paper therefore considers the pivotal role that fostering and maintaining meaningful and reciprocal relationships between diversely situated stakeholders, as well as the spaces, both physical and digital, in and through which these interactions take place. In the context of the DAMC archives, community control of archival records and representation is sought out, valued and enabled through an ongoing collaborative process that embeds relationships between actors in mutual goals of social activism, recognizing that giving control to the community is not an abdication of archival responsibility (or a loss of archival authority), but the fundamental grounds for building trust.

Archivists must redefine participation. Too often archives welcome community members to "participate" in archival processes in an advisory capacity only. We believe that it is archivists who must participate in communities. Archivists must become activists, embedding ourselves in the communities with which we work, and creating reciprocal relationships that form the bedrock on which to build our archives. This ethical disposition is already at the core of critical feminist and anti-colonialism research and activism. As DAMC demonstrates, there is much that communities, researchers, activists, and archivists can and should do together. Our partnerships are far greater than the sum of their parts: our partnerships are our archives.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Qualitative Research, Community Informatics
Keywords: Informal learning; lifelong learning; Community Informatics; phenomenography; variation theory

Re-engineering Education research to investigate learning in Community Informatics: Using phenomenography and variation theory to understand and account for learning in GraniteNet

Catherine Arden

University of Southern Queensland, Australia;

GraniteNet is a Community Informatics project which began in 2006 as a research and development collaboration between university researchers and members of the rural community of Stanthorpe, a town of approximately 10,500 residents located on the Granite Belt in the Southern Downs region of Queensland, Australia. The vision for this Participatory Action Research project was a sustainable community designed, owned and managed web portal that would promote digital inclusion and support Stanthorpe's development as a 'learning community'. Eight years on, GraniteNet has continued to evolve as a community-based social enterprise operated exclusively by volunteers, providing a range of digital inclusion facilities and services to residents of Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt, including a community technology hub located in the CBD and a community web portal (

Using phenomenography as the primary research approach within an instrumental, single site case study, this research investigates the qualitatively different ways in which the members of GraniteNet's diverse communities of interest and practice understand and experience learning in the context of their involvement in GraniteNet's digital inclusion activities and use of the community web portal. Although learning across various content domains is explored, particular emphasis is given to interrogation of conceptions and experiences of learning related to digital technologies and digital literacies in these environments.

Presenting her account of the study's methodology and findings, the author grapples with the challenges of using phenomenography - a research approach originally developed to investigate learning in formal education - to investigate adults' informal and non-formal learning experiences in a community setting. The benefits and limitations of phenomenography and variation theory as theoretical, conceptual and methodological frameworks for researching learning in Community Informatics are explored, and implications for locating community-based research in wider theoretical and practice frameworks and accounting for community benefit from a lifelong learning perspective discussed.


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Qualitative Research, Practice, Public Policy
Keywords: Government online, Digital inclusion, Public libraries

Digital exclusion in New Zealand

Barbara Craig

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand;

Digital exclusion in New Zealand today: who misses out and why.  What is being done about differential access to online services, to new technologies and skills to digitally participate in community and society.

PhD Paper
Topics: Qualitative Research, Theory, Public Policy
Keywords: Archives, Refugee, Asylum Seeker

Archives and Australian Refugee and Asylum Seeker Policy

Elizabeth Daniels

Monash University and The University of Melbourne, Australia;

This poster will focus on a select part of my PhD thesis. At this stage I am interested in exploring what a participatory archive based around Australian refugee and asylum seeker policy look like and how it could be theoretically framed.

The kind of archive I am envisioning is not just for one group, is not just to provide ‘facts' (although it hopefully will) but to provide an interactive environment to facilitate evidence based knowledge generation by members of the general population and a cathartic and liberating space for members of specific community groups that may have in the past, may currently, or are at risk of facing discrimination in the future. This kind of archive aims to promote discussion, debate and learning. To encourage the building of new intellectual and social relationships between people, organisations, and information. To empower people to tell their story, be heard, and be exposed to differing views. This is not simply presenting information in a catalogue but providing a space for true engagement.

Mediation will be a challenge, but with restrictions on the kind of content to post (e.g. only content already in the public domain from a reputable source), and with technical assistance from my colleagues at Monash University and the University of Melbourne - who have experience with similar types of archival projects, I'm sure this can be overcome.

Works in progress and more speculative pieces
Topics: Theory, Practice, Community Informatics
Keywords: community informatics, non-profit sector, invisible work

Invisible work in the non-profit sector

Tom Denison, Henry Linger, Larry Stillman

Monash University, Australia;

Examines a number of projects to explore the impact of 'invisible work' or 'articulation work' on the management of non-profit organisations.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Qualitative Research, Practice, Community Archives
Keywords: archives and records; communities

Corporate recordkeeping: the evidence based for corporate social transparency and how does this support communities

Jozefina Deserno

Monash University, Belgium;

The purpose of the presentation is to discuss the implications of actions of multinational companies on local and global societies and how recordkeeping can contribute to strengthening the disclosure of information on those actions. The business environment in which multinational companies operate has changed. The unfolding of an economic globalization process which was enhanced by the reduction of trade barriers and the opening up of borders has facilitated business making worldwide and spurred a growing number of companies to internationalize their operations and invest beyond their home country borders. On the other hand existing multinational companies have expanded the scope and span of their operations globally by opening new operations in other countries, and/or by broadening their types of products or services. Consequently the impact of these companies on people around the world has grown as these agents of economic globalization reach into the life of domestic and global societies. Multinational companies are subject to greater public scrutiny by stakeholders and by the communities impacted by their activities. Disclosure of information on the impact of corporate activities on the society, the economy and the environment in which enterprises operate are indispensable elements of corporate social transparency. To respond to these requests multinational companies publish sustainability reports. But critics contend that these reports are created for public relations purposes and lack credibility and quality information (Henriques, 2007 and The Economist, 2008). Records are evidence of corporate activities and decisions, and thus recordkeeping principles and programmes would logically be a critical element in sustainability reporting activities. This presentation examines the relevance of recordkeeping for corporate transparency and communities looking for information on the impact of companies on their society, economy and environment.


Quests, collections, and community knowledge: local perspectives on metadata

Gordon Dunsire

Gordon Dunsire Consultants;

The presentation will journey from the personal view of a librarian on archival practice via a description of recent trends in metadata for global information retrieval to a discussion on the impact on local communities of knowledge. On the way it encounters the killer library assistant interview question, Heaney's model of collections and their metadata, granularity, the Grail of cataloguing, Universal Bibliographic Control, entities and relationships and databases, a sense of place and time, dumbing-up and dumbing-down, and linked data and the Semantic Web. The result is a paradigm shift, from top to bottom, from control to chaos, from global to local. There is no favoured point of view except that of the community, but where in the cloud is the crowd? If there is no centre, where is the edge? How small can big data be? What does it really mean to be forgotten, and who has the right?

Refereed Papers
Topics: Practice, Community Informatics
Keywords: home care; employment; design; immigrants; day labor

CasaCare.Org: A sociotechnical platform for women immigrant workers in the home care industry

Veronica Guajardo, Yaxing Yao, Ivette Bayo Urban, Ricardo Gomez

University of Washington, United States of America;

Abstract: This paper discusses the design experience and results of a community informatics project that explored the opportunities to match women immigrant day laborers affiliated with a local non-profit organization to secure jobs as home care workers. Latino immigrant day laborers in the United States are particularly vulnerable given the fluid nature of day labor, socio-economic challenges of workers, general low education attainment, and limited English proficiency. The home care service industry is a booming field, given the aging population in the United States and the limited family support networks. The opportunity to develop skills, increase job opportunities, and secure fair working wages lead to the creation of the home care training course, and subsequent graduating cohorts of women needing assistance with job placement. A review of existing online platform revealed they did not meet the specific needs of this population. Additionally, technological solutions had to consider the resources including limited IT support, a small staff with high work volumes, and a philosophical viewpoint that workers can have greater self-sufficiency and self-advocacy once trained. Through the iterative design process, interviews and meetings with vested groups, a sociotechnical platform was designed to match trained workers to potential employers in the greater Seattle area. Despite all this, the final prototype was not deployed: competing priorities, technical difficulties, and uncertainty about its actual utility for its intended beneficiaries remain huge obstacles. The process revealed unique challenges and opportunities that were instructive and unforeseen, while also offering lessons that may be more broadly applicable to community informatics initiatives in other contexts.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Practice, Community Informatics
Keywords: Knowledge, Design, Action, Participatory Research, Participatory Design

From learning to designing action: Uncovering obscure processes in participatory community-based research

Ammar Halabi1, Amalia G. Sabiescu2, David Salomão3, Sara Vannini3, David Nemer4

1University of Fribourg, Switzerland; 2School of Art and Design, Coventry University, United Kingdom; 3Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland; 4Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana, USA;

Participatory design and research frameworks in community informatics seek to condense experiences taken from accumulating practice in field work to describe and theorize processes for data generation, analysis, and stakeholder involvement in the design of programmes, activities or technology. This paper focuses on a particular aspect of participatory research and design processes in community-based projects: the transition from an analytical stage, characterised by observation, reflection and knowledge construction, towards designing action. Despite the wealth of conceptual and methodological literature on participatory research and design with communities, we gathered upon noticing that the topic of transitioning from exploration to designing action in community-based participatory research is relatively obscure, and merits more reflection and discussion. The paper offers a view into the processes that underpin this transition, in response to the questions: How is community-generated knowledge infused in design? What are the processes that unfold during this transition, and what roles do various stakeholders play? What are the key enabling factors and what challenges are associated with these processes? Guided by these questions, we shed light on various issues related to this transition by recounting cases taken from field experiences within different community projects in Syria, Brazil and Mozambique. By reflecting on these cases, we highlight how designed actions came into being, the roles of various stakeholders in making design choices, how constructed knowledge informed those actions, and the compromises that had to be balanced.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Mixed Methods, Community Archives
Keywords: Digital memories, community memory, empowerment, online participation

Evolving Empowerment in an Online Community Collecting Memories of Amsterdam East

Mike Kreek

Amsterdam University of Applied Science, Netherlands, The;

In this article we study the evolvement of empowering and dis-empowering aspects of a local memory website, initiated by the Amsterdam Museum and currently active for more than a decade. The results partly fill a gap in the available literature about this field, because the relation between collective empowerment and online behaviour in these communities has been underexposed. Departing from a narrative perspective on memories as resources for empowerment, we show how the online dynamics around these memories exhibit collective processes of identity formation, social learning and networking. However, certain patterns in the online dynamics also uncover that, although the online activity is increasing, the diversity in the content and the number of participants are decreasing. Describing the organizational development of the local memory community, we argue that the growth into a self-organizing community is the cause of increasing activity and decreasing participation. This implies that the online community has become a small, empowered group, which at the same time has developed dis-empowering characteristics, i.e. limitations to include ‘other' locals, neighbourhoods and topics. We illustrate how the current self-organization, unintentionally, fuels the decreasing diversity in content by a natural selection process of a rather homogeneous group of participants. In addition, the conviction of what constitutes a successful online community is discussed for emphasizing individual empowerment and attracting empowered locals instead of vulnerable ones.


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Community Informatics
Keywords: Emergencies, Flooding, Disasters,Behavioural and Social Change, Multimedia Approach, Social Media

Workshop /Plenary proposals
Topics: Community Archives, Community Informatics
Keywords: Activism, Community Autonomy

Activism and Community Autonomy: The Role of Activist Researchers

Sue McKemmish

Monash University;

This workshop will explore the role of activism in the community archiving and CI fields in supporting social movements, particularly those linked to human rights and social justice agendas. Workshop participants will be introduced to the Movement Action Plan (MAP) as an analytical tool to plot the stages in social movements, and the role of activism at different stages. The Workshop will focus on discussion of how activist researchers in the CI and community archiving fields might support community self-determination and autonomy.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Other
Keywords: Decision analysis, education, development projects, technology selection, sustainable impact

Decision Support to Enable Sustainability in Development Projects

Isabel Meyer1, Mario Marais2

1Impact Advantage, Pretoria, South Africa; 2CSIR Meraka Institute, Pretoria, South Africa;

A number of factors complicate the ability to deliver sustainably on development interventions. Multiple role players are involved, the performance of implementation agencies are measured over the short- to medium term and donors do not always take a holistic view of the long-term impact of interventions on beneficiaries.

The development process is often presented in terms of a logic model, that consists of a chain of events from procurement of inputs, through translation of inputs to outputs, outcomes and impacts for the community. Along this chain, a number of implicit and explicit decisions affect the value that is ultimately delivered. These decisions are often uncoordinated, take place across multiple agencies and are guided by objectives that are not always explicitly linked to development outcomes. Throughout this process, scope exists to aid decision makers, through a simplistic set of decision models, to make better decisions. The emphasis is on decisions that support long-term value creation, and that enhance the sustainability of project outcomes. This paper focuses on the implementation of ICT interventions in rural South Africa, and explores the role of decision support for the long-term sustainability in rural education. It outlines the context of decision-making in rural education, the role and nature of technology selection decisions and the value addition of conceptualisation of decision support tools for tablet selection.


PhD Paper
Topics: Methodology, Qualitative Research, Practice
Keywords: Personal archvies, life story, records, grounded theory, Alzheimer's disease

The Storyline Project: Determining a therapeutic use for the personal archive in aged care and dementia.

Joanne Mihelcic

COSI, Monash University, Australia;

The Storyline Project is a is a second generation grounded theory study that explores the co-creation of personalised life books with three people diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's disease. The study used a unique repertoire of interview and record creation techniques to explore the phenomena of representing meaningful memories and personal stories. These personal accounts were crafted into individual vignettes and curated into a life book for each participant. This process exemplifies a collaborative context for the production of new knowledge which makes explicit how meaning and the record is a socially constructed and ongoing process. This paper will discuss findings from this process for creating personal records as both a research tool and product.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Development Informatics
Keywords: Cloud Computing; Cloud Services; Small Medium Enterprises; Technology Adoption; Developing Economy;

Cloud Computing: Emerging Trends for SMEs in Botswana

Resego Morakanyane

University of Bostwana, Botswana;

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) continues to play an important role as business enablers and business drivers in Botswana. Different businesses across different industries rely heavily on the use of ICTs to carry out their day to day activities. Whilst larger enterprises with heavier ICT budgets benefit more on the use of ICTs, the smaller enterprises which do not necessarily have heavy ICT budgets, do not get to fully realize the benefits of ICTs in their businesses. With the current emerging technology trends, the world is now experiencing growth of technologies such as cloud computing and shared services. In this paper, we seek to investigate how these new technologies can enable the smaller enterprises in Botswana to enjoy ICT benefits enjoyed by the larger enterprises. The paper investigates the different forms of cloud computing; if there is awareness of these technologies in Botswana's SMEs as well as how these technologies can be adopted by SMEs to enable and help them drive their day to day activities especially in a developing economy like Botswana. The paper proposes a model that different SMEs can adopt as guideline on how to benefit from these emerging technologies.


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Methodology, Practice, Community Archives
Keywords: Access, Activism, Human Rights Archives, Grassroots Collections, Professional Standards

Professionalizing community archiving: Implementing standards for a grassroots collection

Joy R. Novak

Center for the Study of Political Graphics, United States of America;

The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) houses a collection of over 80,000 political posters and prints documenting diverse social justice movements and human rights issues. The founder first began collecting posters in the early 1980s to create an exhibition to increase awareness to the U.S. interventions in Central America. The collection grew through grassroots efforts, as other community activists began contributing more diverse posters to the collection, and new exhibitions were developed around other human rights struggles. By documenting social justice movements, the collection contains records of largely under-documented topics, issues and communities. CSPG has maintained its original activist, grassroots background in the organization's mission statement: "CSPG demonstrates the power and significance of these artistic expressions of social change through traveling exhibitions, lectures, publications, and workshops. Through our diverse programs, CSPG is reclaiming the power of art to educate and inspire people to action." Such programming efforts, such as educational panels and poster-making workshops, often specifically target communities traditionally underserved by the arts, both in terms of socio-economic region as well as demographics such as LGBTQ youth or families impacted by the prison industrial complex.

In addition to such programming, CSPG has been making efforts to process and catalogue the collection to make it accessible to researchers since its incorporation in 1989. The accessioning, processing and cataloguing procedures evolved largely out of CSPG's grassroots collection development and programming needs. Throughout its history, CSPG has employed several professionally trained archivists who have attempted to integrate archival standards with mixed success. In 2012, CSPG was awarded its first federal grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for a large-scale processing and description project to bring more comprehensive access to the collection. Under the NHPRC grant, CSPG entire collection is now being described at the folder-level to generate a searchable finding aid for the collection which will be available through the Online Archive of California and other national databases. As CSPG had never previously catalogued on the folder-level, the archival staff, including two new full-time Project Archivists, developed new methods following archival standards as much as possible given the complexity of materials and existing organization of the collection. This proposed paper will address the challenges of professionalizing archival methods in a grassroots collection, specifically focusing on the example of this current NHPRC project which attempts to implement archival standards while serving the activist needs of the organization. Such challenges include: balancing the activist language and context of the documents and the more objective language of archival standards; developing appropriate and inclusive description for the many diverse, under-documented communities represented within the collection; and articulating the significance of such professional standards to staff unfamiliar with archival practice. Overall, the goal of implementing such professional standards is to provide more comprehensive access to the collection to a wider audience which ultimately contributes to the organization's grassroots mission.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Qualitative Research, Mixed Methods, Community Informatics
Keywords: active ageing, community informatics, participatory design, participatory action research

Designing through community informatics: lessons from 2 years of participatory engagement with seniors

Cristhian Parra1, Vincenzo D'Andrea1, David Hakken2

1Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science, University of Trento, Italy; 2School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, US;

This paper discusses a two-year long project involving a group of senior citizens and the social center that they frequent which we gradually came to think of as Community Informatics (CI). The initial goal of project was to develop information and communication technologies (ICTs) that foster active ageing through inter-generational social interactions. The breadth of this overall goal, plus the heterogeneity of the target population (i.e., "the elderly"), meant that much initial energy was put into "scoping down" the project, to arrive at research questions and goals that were specific enough. Our reviews of the several relevant literatures, as well as some exploratory work, helped us to focus on socializing within face-to-face contexts, but we still felt a need to ground the project more in reality, to create a more concrete design space in which to work. To get this, we become actively involved with a community of older adults, in order to get first hand experiences of their needs and expectations, which could complement the literature- and design-based knowledge already attained. What started as a general exploration of seniors' expectations of and perceived challenges regarding ICTs evolved into a long-term participatory engagement, in which seniors and researchers formed, sustained, and participated in co-learning, co-designing, and co-researching. Here, we reflect on how we gradually came to see our project as an example of CI, Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Participatory Design (PD). We describe the different activities and methods we used, including i) a continuous laboratory for learning ICT skills, ii) a series of participatory design workshops, and iii) a field study about IT-supported social reminiscence using the system participatorily designed. We conclude with the most important lessons we have learnt from our approach, lessons for both studying CI and designing ICTs, in terms of benefits, pitfalls, challenges and opportunities for the future. Our overall goal is to contribute to the discussion of guidelines and good practices for CI research and design projects.


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Methodology, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Access to information in Africa, Douala, Digital city, Digital mapping, ICT4D

Mapping the digital Douala: lights and shadows of an African City.

Marta Pucciarelli, Sara Vannini, Lorenzo Cantoni

Università della Svizzera italiana, NewMinE Lab, Switzerland;

The topic of access to knowledge and information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Africa has been intensively discussed in discourses related to the digital divide and democratization. In this vein, this paper addresses the relation between two interconnected representations - virtual and physical - of a very specific African urban context, the city of Douala. In this study, the city is interpreted as a macro-community enacted by micro-communities of practices, which are constituted by people who perform the same commercial or public activity, or who live in the same neighborhood. The study focuses, then, on the analysis of the websites of socio-economic activities which have an online presence and that, thus, are reachable in the virtual realm. By promoting their activities, these websites contribute to constitute the image of the digital Douala. The paper, then, portrays not only on the extension of available information (including both the parts of the city which are extensively represented and the parts that are left in the shadow), but also the micro-communities that have a presence online: who they are, where their online presence is produced, and in which areas of the city they are situated. Outcomes provide an energetic and dynamic picture of the city which define a clear digital divide in-between sectors and areas. While the digital Douala confirms to hold economic and commercial images and narratives, it also presents an irregular and unregulated development and a scarce involvement of the public sector into the social well-being of its inhabitants.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Theory, Community Informatics
Keywords: community informatics, infrastructure studies, ethnography, cloud computing, community-based organizations

Toward an Infrastructural Approach to Community Informatics Research

Colin Rhinesmith

University of Oklahoma, United States of America;

In this paper, I introduce an infrastructural approach to community informatics (CI) research. I present findings from an ethnographic study of information infrastructure within a community-based organization in East St. Louis, Illinois, where 100 percent of the school children are eligible for the free and reduced-price meal program. The findings show how networked information systems can fail to meet the needs of community-based organizations that provide state-funded public assistance programs. I argue that the field of infrastructure studies provides key conceptual tools for CI researchers interested in understanding how information and communication technology (ICT) can support the goals of community-based organizations. The purpose is to describe how an infrastructural analysis of community ICT projects can surface the invisible work within community-based organizations and offer a holistic perspective on CI projects. The goal of this paper is to advance community informatics research through the lens of infrastructure studies as a way to address the challenges and offer solutions to the broader social, political, and economic pressures facing community-based organizations in an era of big data.

Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Theory, Community Informatics
Keywords: community informatics, studio based learning, community engagement, interpretive theory, critical theory

Community Informatics Studio: A Conceptual Framework

Colin Rhinesmith1, Martin Wolske2

1University of Oklahoma, United States of America; 2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States of America;,

This paper extends the theoretical framework underlying the Community Informatics (CI) Studio. CI Studio has been described as the use of studio-based learning (SBL) techniques to support enculturation into the field of CI. The SBL approach, closely related to John Dewey's inquiry-based learning, is rooted in the apprenticeship model of learning in which students study with master designers or artists to develop their craft. In this paper, we explain how the CI Studio is understood a pathway for advancing community-defined development goals through participatory design techniques. In particular, we describe the interpretive and critical theoretical foundations of the CI Studio pedagogy as a venue in which: instructors, students, and community partners can collaborate as co-learners and co-creators of knowledge exploring current topics in community informatics; theory and praxis can be brought together in dialog to ground transformative, liberative action and reflection in community spaces; and diverse perspectives can be embraced to promote a culture of epistemological pluralism. We conclude by introducing our CI Studio Principles (1) for those who wish to use and further develop the CI Studio course and pedagogy, and (2) for those working with communities using technology in support of democracy and social inclusion, so that in dialogue they can work with others to define and work to achieve human flourishing.


PhD Paper
Topics: Methodology, Qualitative Research, Community Archives
Keywords: archive interoperability discovery access

Archival Systems Interoperability: documenting the world

Gregory Rolan

Monash University, Australia;

No longer solely the domain of institutional and scholarly researchers of administrative records, the archive has become a heterogeneous mix of institutional, corporate, and community repositories of memory. Similarly, record-seekers have emerged with a wide range of purposes and skills. While the constitution of the archive and its audience have fundamentally changed over recent years, this shift has not been matched by reforms to discovery and access by record-seekers. What is missing from the distributed, heterogeneous archival fabric is interoperability. The kind of online interoperability that is taken for granted by a now web-savvy archival constituency, and entrenched within the societal on-line paradigm.

The inability to easily discover and access archival material from disparate sources, results in cognitive dissonance and alienation experienced by record seekers dependent on successfully finding their records.The purpose of this paper is to describe a PhD research programme that can investigate and propose remediation of these gaps in archival systems interoperability.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Qualitative Research, Community Informatics
Keywords: Informed consent, ICT4D, participatory research, vulnerable populations, ethics, rural communities

Ethics issues and research in vulnerable communities: a case study from the North West province of South Africa

Ronel Smith1, Larry Stillman2

1CSIR, South Africa; 2Monash University;

The social science community expect researchers to adhere to certain generally expected norms and values when investigating individuals or groups in a vulnerable community. However given the inherent risks in studying vulnerable communities, the research bodies involved in enforcing the expected code of conduct can have slightly different perspectives on how to regulate the behaviour of the researcher, posing additional challenges for researchers. In these case studies, researchers used a community-based participatory research design to study the impact of ICT among a group of largely illiterate, low status elderly woman in rural villages in the North West and Limpopo provinces of South Africa. The case study highlights some of the ethical issues faced by the researchers from a professional research institute involved in the project, and the gatekeepers of these communities. This study provides both the novice and experienced ICT4D researchers a deeper understanding into the unique actions that are sometimes required, to address ethical issues such as informed consent, to obtain legitimate entry into a vulnerable community. The paper outlines some of the issues with traditional approaches to ethics and finally offers some practical steps to facilitate the ethical conduct of research in a vulnerable community.


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Qualitative Research, Practice, Community Archives
Keywords: independent culture, community archive, museum

Collecting alternative memories: Centre for documenting independent culture

Tamara Štefanac1, Dunja Kučinac2, Antonija Letinić2

1Universiy of Zadar, Croatia; 2Centre for documenting independent culture;,

On the example of Centre for documenting independent culture this paper seeks to explore community practice regarding valorization, acquisition, processing of collected material and different users' needs in the field of independent culture which is unrecognized category in the official archive service in Croatia. The Centre is operated as one of long-term projects of Croatian NGO Kurziv-Platform for Matters of Culture, Media and Society in cooperation with association Kulturtreger. Members of the Centre belong to the field of independent culture and its' practice of documentation seeks to include broad spectrum of different material and records produced by other actors from independent culture. The Centre collects material and data from the fields of contemporary art including visual arts, performing arts, film, literature and music production, urban culture, new media and technologies as well as interdisciplinary cultural projects. This paper presents work of community collecting records and their dissemination as digitized items accessible both in offline and online spaces. The Centre for documenting independent culture is conceived as a long-term open-ended process of collecting, processing, digitalization and cataloguing of relevant data in the field. It advocates human rights and civil liberties, critical approach and social engagement. The data collected for the Centre is open to the public. First section of paper is presentation of activist initiatives that set up the Centre, its current status and inclusion of community, relationship with official heritage insitutions and different NGOs and ways to ensure sustainability. Practices of collection, valorization and cataloging material are presented, as well as various users' and researchers' needs. Second section of paper presents ongoing archival research project that investigates practices of the Centre from archival perspective. Through perception of community practice emerge theoretical rationale that reassess mainstream practices advocating more inclusive bottom-up approach. It is advocated that this kind of approach offers valuable input on contemporary archival theory and practice. Since institutional boundaries are blurred and Centre could be considered as archival, museum and library project its' practice could indicate points of convergence of these types of institutions. The paper discusses possible investigation methods of this community archive and influence from archive and museum theory and practice in their work.


Poster displays
Topics: Qualitative Research, Practice, Development Informatics
Keywords: development informatics

Improving the quality of life in isolated rural communities in Bangladesh through Mobile Communications, Community Information & Participatory Action Research.

Larry Stillman1, Tapas Chakraborty2

1Monash University, Australia; 2Oxfam in Bangladesh;

This poster outlines a large-scale mobile communications and action research project in Bangladesh 2015-2019.

Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Advisor Oxfam GB:

"Access to information is no abstract debate; it is an essential tool of citizenship. Knowledge expands horizons, allows people to make informed choices, and strengthens their ability to demand their rights. Ensuring access to knowledge and information is integral to enabling poor people to tackle the deep inequalities of power and voice that entrench inequality across the world. At a national level, the ability to absorb, adapt, and generate knowledge and turn it into technology increasingly determines an economy's prospects".

From a practice perspective, how do we bring the community "bottom", the community development "middle" and the policy, management and technical "top" together in an ongoing Participatory Action Research process using ICTs for interactive community information, knowledge, and development?

From a research perspective, what are the learnings and impacts on different bodies of theory, including Action Research and Community and Development Informatics?


Non-refereed paper/practitioner report
Topics: Quantitative Research, Practice, Community Informatics
Keywords: mHealth, HIV, practice, rural Zambia

Feasibility of using mHealth to improve Early Infant Diagnosis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection in rural southern Zambia

Janneke H. van Dijk1,2, William J. Moss3, Bornface Munsanje1, Cathy Sinywimaanzi1, Philip Thuma1, Catherine G. Sutcliffe3

1Macha Research Trust, Macha Hospital, Choma, Zambia; 2Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands; 3Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA;

Background: Early infant HIV diagnosis and treatment is challenging in rural Zambia, as the necessary technology is not available on site and caregivers travel long distances to access care. Previous studies indicate that there is approximately 3 months between sample collection and providing results to caregivers, with the longest delay found for reporting the results to the caregiver. This study was undertaken in Choma District, Zambia to evaluate the feasibility of using mobile phone technology to contact caregivers about the availability outcome of their child's HIV test results and provide reminders of clinic appointments.

Methods: A prospective study was initiated in April 2013. Children younger than 18 months and evaluated at the HIV ART Clinic at Macha Hospital, Choma District are eligible. Caregivers are administered a questionnaire about cell phone use and, if they agree, are contacted by cell phone to return to the clinic to receive test results when available. Preliminary results are reported.

Results: As of February 1, 2014, 191 infants (52% male; median age: 9 weeks) and their mothers (median age: 32 years; 25% have at least some secondary school education) have been enrolled. Only 35% of mothers ever used a cell phone. Of those who have, 91% own a phone and 65% have sent and 85% received a text message. Among phone owners, 69% had a fully functional phone (battery charge and network coverage) when needed in the last week. 35% of phone owners share their phone with others, primarily their spouse who knows their HIV status. All phone users agreed to be contacted by study staff when their child's test results became available. 82% preferred to be called rather than sent a text message. As an alternative, 97% of all mothers agreed to be contacted through their rural health center when test results became available.

Conclusions: Many The majority of caregivers bringing infants for early HIV diagnosis at Macha Hospital do not have access to mobile phones. Contacting caregivers through rural health centers may be more feasible as a strategy to improve early infant diagnosis and treatment.

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Refereed Papers
Topics: Methodology, Quantitative Research, Practice
Keywords: rural Africa, indigenous knowledge, ICT, ethnography, framing

Framing ICT Access in Rural Africa

Gertjan van Stam1,2,3

1SIRDC, Zimbabwe; 2Macha Works, Zambia; 3Tilburg University, Netherlands;

This paper reviews the framing - sets of concepts and perspectives - of the components involved with how one communicates the framings of the words 'ICT access in rural Africa'. It focuses specifically on the indigenous views. These views are derived from 14 years socio-techno ethnographic research on ICT access in rural Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The realities in rural Africa are particular. Local modalities affect long term local adoption and respectful integration of technologies in African rural areas. Lack of pioneering, indigenous African research does affect and hamper mutual understanding, especially between the local community and specialists.

There appears to be a rift between the framing from the Western/urban worldview and those aligned with the indigenous African perspective. ICT access in Rural Africa is not only a matter of the essential availability of functionality through physical ICT infrastructure and equipment. It involves a much wider range of issue, e.g. a relationality, that needs a holistic approach and appreciation of the local understanding of reality.

Framing African realities in a foreign perspective is inappropriate to convey the meaning and value of these realities to Africans themselves. Such re-framing of African realities in Western-cast definitions and philosophies leads to marginalisation of the African perspectives. Local framing of ICT access, sensitive to history, context and culture, are crucial ingredients for respectful and inclusive sensitisation, education, implementation and maintaining ICT access for sustainable progress in rural Africa.


Refereed Papers
Topics: Qualitative Research, Theory, Practice
Keywords: new media, identity, construction of identities, conflict, peace process

The role of new media as a means of building of new (supranational) identity and conciliation on Balcan - the example of ex Yugoslavian space

Lidija Vujačić1, Nicola Strizzolo2

1University of Montenegro; 2Università degli Studi di Udine, Italy;,

From some interviews to young people we observed that they do not have communicative relations and identities related only to a residence territory but deep emotively interactions with other over the borders of their countries.

In addition, the description of some their identities it's over the border and connected to more extended geographically, politically and culturally ideal area (e.g. Europe or Balcan).

In this paper modernist concept of individual and collective identity is accepted. It means that identity is flexible category, dependent on change and innovation, opposed to traditionalistic interpretation that says that identity is fixed and stable, the expression of previously determined social roles and religious and mythical system. Identity is constructed through collective culture, language, law, but also understanding and defining of the reality in a way that includes beliefs, values and symbols which aids individuals in rethinking their actions and behaviors. Just, in that sense we can talk about creating a new identity, such as a regional (Balcan, ex Yu space ), European, global, etc..

In contemporary society borders of construction of possible identities are widening, especially when collective identity is at issue. Constructive nature of identity, along with its transiency is in accordance with demands of modern way of life. Modern age assumes process of innovation, constant changes and adaptations, and even goes as far as to destruction of previous forms of life, values and identities, combined with constant formation of new ones.

Modernist and postmodernist perceptions, by the way, see identity as a theatrically constructed form, through role-playing and creation of image. Identity in that sense depends on a way in which we construct, perceive, and represent ourselves, to ourselves and others, which in a way simplifies it and draws it closer to image (Kelner 2004).

Our hypothesis is that the communication, support, and planning activities over the border through new media can facilitate the building of above territorial identity and the peace processes after conflict periods into the young population belonging to parts that before were enemies.

In our presentation we want describe, through interviews and some cases, how this is happened in the Balcan Area, lay the foundation for broader hypothesis about a European identity and draft some guide line for some critical area, e.g the nowadays sector of Ukraine-Crimea



Demystifying Technology: Community inquiry for social change and transformative action

Martin Wolske

Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, United States of America;

On 2 February 2014, Microsoft published on YouTube their "Super Bowl" commercial called Empowering []. The first sentence of the description is taken from the commercial and states: "Technology has taken us places we've only dreamed, empowering us to make the impossible possible." The commercial concludes: "It [technology] gives hope to the hopeless. It gives voice to the voiceless." Theory and research from a number of fields has raised concerns regarding the dominant technocentric and technological deterministic narrative of which this commercial is but one example. When technologies are understood as agents that act directly on thinking and learning, irrevocably driving our societal structures and cultural values external of the will of humans, social change can only be understood within evolutionary terms, with humans serving as the "reproductive organs of technology" as so eloquently described by Kevin Kelly.

By contrast, a critical socio-technical systems approach begins to expose ways in which technological objects are socially constructed, with cultural, political, and economic values intentionally and unintentionally becoming embedded into the design, production, terms and policies of use, support, and end-of-life of technical systems. Critical awareness of the relationship between the social and the technical opens up selection of technical systems that more closely align with personal and community epistemology and ethics. Further, as we gain a greater awareness of technologies as innovations-in-use as opposed to fixed, one-size-fits-all implementations that are best left to "experts" to develop and modify, we gain agency to adapt technical systems as co-creators to more effectively achieve our personal and community goals.

Drawing on his practice and teaching in community informatics and engagement scholarship, Martin Wolske will explore through theory and praxis how popular education and inquiry-based learning can demystify technology, advancing a critical approach to sociotechnical systems. By helping people deconstruct ways in which the social shapes, and is shaped by, the technical, we are better able to work in community, with community, for community to appropriate technologies so as to affect social change and transformative action.

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Workshop /Plenary proposals
Topics: Community Archives, Community Informatics, Development Informatics
Keywords: Ethics, inclusion, diversity

Framework for a working group to advance a community informatics publication on ethics, diversity, and inclusion.

Martin Wolske1, Anne Gilliland2, Colin Rhinesmith3, Kelvin White3

1University of Illinois, United States of America; 2UCLA, United States of America; 3University of Oklahoma, United States of America;,,,

In 2005 Randy Stoecker critiqued community informatics as underdeveloped as a field of practice due to the lack of a codified set of ethics and practice standards. During a workshop at the CIRN 2013 conference, there was consensus that the work of a cohort from the Pluralizing the Archival Curriculum Group might serve as a model to establish such a set of ethics and practice standards for community informatics. This year's workshop will have the goal of establishing and outlining the framework for a working group to advance a community informatics publication on ethics, diversity, and inclusion.