Community Informatics

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1. John Postill:

"‘community informatics’ = approach in which researchers study a ‘local community’ and assess its specific technological needs. Researchers of this persuasion regard local communities as ‘the bedrock of human development’ (Gurstein 2004). To withstand the onslaught of capitalism and become empowered, they suggest, local communities must take control of the very networked technologies that threaten their survival (Gurstein et al 2003)." (

2. CIRN Commons:

"Community Informatics lies at the intersection between multi-leveled two cross-roads: bringing together people concerned with electronically enabling communities: local, virtual and communities of practice; and structuring collaborations between researchers and practitioners, including industry, in these three domains. Of particular importance is the development of productive relationships with communities that engage their talents and interests in a way that does not involve technological determinism or colonialism by stealth. However, not all communities share the same interests, have the same skills, or are interested in the same outcomes, particularly in solving the disputed territory that is called the Digital Divide. A good overview of community informatics issues can be found at the Wikipediaentry to which many people have contributed over the years.

Gurstein speaks of 'effective use' of technologies in and for communities in Community Informatics, but this metaphor still requires clarification. What is meant by effective? What is meant by use? These are not just rhetorical questions but issues which cut to the core of how and what sense people with different interests make of the opportunities and constraints that are offered by different devices and network affordances, depending on different relationships structured by power, language norms, control of resources and technical capacities (including design) in particular situations. In everyday practice and in theoretical work, those who work with Community Informatics aspire to have a high level of awareness of such issues in order to bring about positive social change, as best determined by a community." (


Suggested by Michael Gurstein:

A few of my favorites:

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More Information

  1. Community Informatics Research Network ; CIRN Commons
  2. What is community informatics?: very extensive FAQ by Michael Gurstein.
  3. the Journal of Community Informatics
  4. other research approach on community and networks: Networked Individualism
  5. Gurstein, M. (2004) ‘Editorial: Welcome to the Journal of Community Informatics’, Journal of Community Informatics 1(1)
  6. Loader, B.D. and L. Keeble (2004) Challenging the Digital Divide? A Literature Review of Community Informatics Initiatives. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation/YPS.
  7. community informatics researchers elist: to subscribe send an email to <[email protected]> with the message: subscribe ciresearchers