Information and knowledge are socially constructed artifacts located—and often literally inscribed-- within particular relations of information and knowledge production. Such relations of information and knowledge production can reflect unequal distributions of power and privilege, whether manifested in gendered activity; the primacy given to formalized expertise or particular language codes; restricted access to information, knowledge and production for those not in positions of institutional control; or the production of particular artifacts (such as ICT systems) that privilege one group over another.
Critical Community Informatics (CI), Development Informatics (DI), and Community Archiving (CA) education, research, and practice seeks to recognize these relations and openly challenge privileged statuses and practices. They recognize that a pluralistic approach to the problem of information and knowledge production and its preservation as different forms of activity and memory is a critical step to moving beyond approaches that result in privilege to those with skills and power in information and knowledge production across time and space in different environments.
Such a critical perspective also works to move beyond an apolitical approach and utilitarian approach to information and knowledge production or the romanticize and colonization of communities (whether ‘urban’, ‘indigenous’, or ‘traditional’ and so on) as unitary, and easy-to-label collectivities. Instead, it sees information and knowledge as inherently contested and political at all societal levels and to see communities as heterogeneous and likewise, political.
Critical scholarship also raises ethical dilemmas as we consider the privilege given to lineal written language in academic work, as the warrant for particular informational or knowledge truth and procedures. We thus question the role of the academy in defining terminology and appropriate technologies of memory, and we recognize the ways such privileging of the academy serves as a form of epistemological colonization that flows on into different forms of institutional and organizational practice. How to move beyond this privilege is a grand challenge, and in fact, can we move beyond it?
The conference proceedings including abstracts and full paper is available here.
To complete the work towards a community informatics publication on ethics, diversity, and inclusion begun over the last two CIRN conferences, attendees are invited to join this year’s workshop to provide feedback on a proposed statement on ethics, diversity, and inclusion. The statement is rooted in the expansive list of ethics and diversity principles and practice standards developed at the 2014 CIRN conference.
At this year’s workshop, we will use the World Café approach to gather participant feedback on the proposed statement, while considering how the statement might be applicable to CI research, teaching, and practice. We seek participation from a plurality of perspectives as the CI community moves toward a response to Randy Stoecker’s 2005 critique of community informatics as an underdeveloped field of practice due to the lack of a codified set of ethics and practice standards.