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CIRN 2012



CIRN 2012 Community Informatics Conference:

'Ideals meet Reality'

Monash Centre, Prato Italy 7-9 November 2012

Coordinated by: Centre of Community Networking Research, Centre of Social Informatics, Monash University                                                                         

Conference Program | Pre-Conference Workshops | Conference Papers

Conference Committee

Peer Reviewers (blind peer review)

Conference Administration


Conference Outcome

The linked diagram by Aldo de Moor gives some idea of the discussion that went on in the final unconference session. In discussion, the issues of 'affect' and 'voices' came up as relevant to a conference theme for 2013, as well as continuing practice workshops. One of the real contributions coming from those involved in community archiving and memory work is the degree to which they have articulated a language and typology of activity which can be productively used by people involved in community informatics. Anne Gililand of UCLA is making a typology document available in the public interest with the proviso that 'just as long as anyone who uses it gives appropriate attribution as listed on the cover page.'

Tweets and Mindmapping Resources

Several resources were produced by the community members present at the conference (also ) for those not present:

Conference Theme

cirn1.jpgAt the 2011 Conference, a special workshop session highlighted a number of issues which keep coming up in Community Informatics (and at all conferences, hear about the same challenges), and it was felt that these should be the basis of the sub-themes for the 2012 conference.

For all the ideals and theories which each of us bring to practice, there is always the grand reality check--sometimes the 'wall' is permeable, at other times, it remains a barrier. The issue is sometimes, technical, sometimes, social-technical, and all things between. Whatever the case, each situation is different and requires a high level of skill to navigate and sometimes, the strength and persistence to achieve a breakthrough.

We want to hear these stories and reflections in order to improve the theories and practices that we work with. We are interested in papers and presentations as they are carried out in what are known as community informatics or development informatics, but of course, there are people working in areas such as social and medical informatics, as well as education, for whom these problems (and solutions) are equally relevant.

Sub-theme 1: Bricolage in Community Informatics: planning v improvisation

With bricolage, a person takes what is at hand and ‘makes it up’ as situations emerge, much like a jazz musician, or in some cases, a witch doctor. bricolage can in fact be a highly skilled activity, a kind of anti-formalized method which occurs in conjunction with other bricoleurs who have similar characteristics at improvisation and playing ‘community riffs’?

Story telling is also an important characteristic of traditional healing or music, so how do we tell stories, whether in formal reports or digitally mediated narratives? are we working with intuition, instinct, or something else? are we ‘scientists’? philosopher-kings? magicians? technocrats? or something else?

To what degree then are some of us engaged in an ‘anti-discipline’ against the formal strictures of what is the written or contractual score? Is it possible to impart the skills that we have, or is every project or initiative a highly personal ‘riff’? do we pretend to have discipline and skills?

Sub-theme 2: Reconciling differences between clashing communities

Much community (informatics) research has focused on how to build single communities. Issues like the lifecycle of the community, its governance, tool support and facilitation all have received a great deal of attention over the years. However, ever more, communities meet, mingle, and overlap. Healthy communities have enough of an identity for their members to experience common ground, yet at the same time they can "breathe", in the sense that there many ties and constructive interactions with relevant communities around them. However, in practice, many communities do not interact, but clash. How to avoid such clashes? How to deal with the differences in community cultures? What are early-warning signs for a collision course? If conflict has broken out after all, how to best resolve it?

Sub-theme 3: The dark side of community informatics

Communities are often seen as warm, fuzzy get-togethers, which support their members in many of their individual and social needs, and provide a sense of belonging. However, communities are not necessarily good. Many communities are oppressive, forcing their people into a mould, with sometimes terrible sanctions if they do not conform. Communities can be myopic, leading to group-think, reinforcing pathological behaviours rather than educating their members about other perspectives. What are the dark sides of communities? What processes are needed to inoculate communities against such disruptive behaviours? How to balance a healthy sense of identity with a much needed sense of the relativity of the community's outlook and social norms?


barbara(3).jpg Barbara Craig   Victoria University of Wellington  New Zealand.  

The journey-- Challenging the one-size fits all approach: responding to community needs and interests

Barbara has been active in community informatics in New Zealand and the Pacific for many years, and has attended most of the CIRN Prato conferences. Barbara has been a Trustee of the 20/20 Trust in New Zealand since 1998 and part of the team that developed Computers in Homes in 2000, a major ICT for social justice initiative in New Zealand.

tim.jpgTim Whiteduck, Director of Technology, First Nations Education Council - Conseil en Education des Premières Nations

Democratic Ideals Meet Reality: Developing Locally Owned and Managed Broadband Networks and ICT Services in Rural and Remote First Nations in Quebec and Canada

Tim Whiteduck will discuss his work with an organization representing and serving 22 First Nations communities in Quebec, The First Nations Education Council. FNEC aims to achieve full jurisdiction over education while “respecting our unique cultural identities and common beliefs, and promoting our languages, values and traditions.” A core element of this vision is to use technology effectively to support the autonomy and democratic development of First Nations communities. Tim and his team have been working with the First Nations, developing strategic partnerships to design and install community broadband infrastructure, deliver online and IT training programs, and support the delivery and engagement of broadband-enabled community services including education, health and many others.

Tim will also discuss two ongoing collaborative research and outreach projects he / FNEC partners with: the First Mile:, ongoing since 2010, and VideoCom: Since 2006, the VideoCom project has conducted numerous studies of broadband networks, community ICT use and service delivery, including one recently completed in Quebec. Partners include Keewaytinook Okimankanak: in Ontario, Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk in the Atlantic Region:, and the University of New Brunswick: Similar to FNEC, the partners in Ontario and Atlantic support First Nations in their regions to develop and use broadband networks and online services.

Tim is a member of the Kitigan Zibi First Nation, an Algonquin community located in the Gatineau region of southwestern Quebec.

Refereeing Statement

Publication Information

CIRN 2012 Community Informatics Conference: 'Ideals meet Reality', Monash Centre Prato Italy 7-9 November 2012

ISBN: [978-0-9874652-0-7]  Format: CD-ROM

Publication Date: 12/2012

Editors: Larry Stillman, Tom Denison, Amalia Sabiescu, Nemanja Memarovic.

Centre for Community Networking Research. Centre for Social Informatics,   Monash University.

Link to CD Label that you can print off.

Conference Sponsors