At recent International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) meetings
there has been at least one panel dealing with "Community Informatics"
types of issues and I've been asked to propose a panel of this kind for
the upcoming meetings in Charlotte NC, Dec. 12-15.
The topic which has been suggested, (I'm not completely comfortable with
it but it follows the stream,) is "WHAT IS 'COMMUNITY INFORMATICS' and HOW
IS IT EMERGING CROSS-NATIONALLY/CROSS-CULTURALLY?".
I'm looking for volunteers who would be interested and available to
participate. At this point and from this group I'm particularly looking
for Developing Country representation to round out a panel with
exclusively North American and European participation to date. All I
would need at this time would be a short biography and an agreement to
have your name forwarded. I would need the indication of interest almost
immediately (proposals have to be in by May 1 and there is
some paperwork to be done).
(There does not appear to be travel funds available to support
I'm appending an excerpt from the ICIS invitation and from the panel
At ICIS'98 I extended an invitation to each of you to attend ICIS'99 in
Charlotte, NC on December 12-15, 1999. The Charlotte Committee is
working to provide you with an excellent program in a pleasant locale.
But, in order for the program to be the best it can be, you need to
submit your quality research by the deadline, May 3, 1999.
To ensure that your paper will be reviewed fairly and objectively, the
Program Executive Committee has created a Program Committee with a wide
range of expertise and with representation from 25 countries. To review
the names, affiliation and areas of expertise of the 107 Program
Committee members , go to http://www.uncc.edu/icis99/html/prog_comm.html
Information on the hard-working Program Executive Committee members who
formed the Program Committee and are coordinating all aspects of the
program can be found at
General Conference Chair, ICIS'99
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73072
[log in to unmask]
WHAT IS COMMUNITY INFORMATICS
HOW IS IT EMERGING
ICIS '99 PANEL PROPOSAL
There is an emerging need for all sectors of society to find ways to
optimize the opportunities which Information and Communications
Technologies (ICT) present. Research and development work in Information
Systems and Technology has accepted a model of computing where the
individual interacts directly with the computer and, through the computer
and communication systems, with other individuals. Thus the objective of
IT research and development has been to continuously enhance and extend
the capabilities of individuals within the context of the corporations,
organizations, and governments for which they work.
However, ICT also is being used to support communities in their efforts
for social and economic development. Community Informatics (CI) is a
technology strategy or discipline which links economic and social
development efforts at the community level with emerging opportunities in
such areas as electronic commerce, community and civic networks and
telecentres, electronic democracy and on-line participation, self-help and
virtual health communities, advocacy, cultural enhancement and others.
Community Uses of Information Technology
"Community Informatics" is the study of the application of ICT to the
achievement of community and publicly arrived at social, economic,
political or cultural goals.
CI pays attention to the needs and objectives of communities, and looks to
design and implement technologies and applications to enhance the
achievement of those needs and objectives. CI includes not only a concern
for the technology but also for the user and the uses and is as concerned
with community processes, user accessibility and applications development
as it is with systems analysis or hardware and software design. The design
of the social system within which the technology resides and is meant to
be effective, is as important an element for CI as is the technology
system with which it interacts.
Fundamental to community uses of technology is the issue of access.
Clement & Regan (1996) identify what they call an "Access Rainbow" which
includes seven separate levels of access: Governance/Policy,
Literacy/Social Facilitation, Service Providers, Content/Services,
Software Tools, Devices, and Carriage Facilities. Of interest also the
question of how to manage and situate the institution or organization
through which the access is being provided in the community (Gurstein and
Dienes). Further, there is the matter of how to organize the technology
context (institutional, organizational, training, etc.) in order to
optimize the use of the technology and the opportunities which it provides
(Gurstein). Finally, there are issues of how public or community access
opportunities are linked into ongoing non-technical service or other
organizational structures as, for example, how access and use of a public
access sites might be linked into existing public facilities in a local
CI may in certain instances include distinctive software, hardware and
applications design; specialized approaches to automated information
processing and management; the development of community oriented ICT
training, education and organizational design; and management approaches,
among others. Also, insights concerning the way in which communities are
organized, pursue their collective objectives, and manage themselves
internally including how they develop and process information, and stru
ctures of governance are all elements which can and should be taken into
account in the analysis and design of "Community Informatics" approaches
to community oriented ICT applications and development.
Objective: To Review Certain Cross-Cultural and Cross-National "Community
Informatics" Applications and Issues
1. Community Access
"Public" access to ICT is being made available within communities through
a variety of government and not-for-profit supported Community Access
sites, Telecentres, and Civic Networks; and through for-profit cybercafes
and Internet enabled Telephone centres and others. The panel will address
the similarities and differences in how Universal Access to the ICT is
being addressed cross-nationally.
2. Civic/Community Participation On-Line
ICT is being used to enhance processes of civic and civil society
participation through non-partisan electronic democracy projects, through
party sponsored civic forums and through government sponsored public
consultation initiatives. The panel will review the current experience
cross-culturally with these developments.
3. Community Service Delivery On-Line
ICT is being used as a means for providing public services including
information and registration concerning entitlements and certification,
health information and counseling, employment information and small
business support (including mentoring). The panel will discuss the
various approaches which are being pursued in these areas
4. Community E-Commerce
Both commercial and non-commercial efforts are being made to make some of
the opportunities emerging through Electronic Commerce available to
geographic communities (alongside virtual communities) as for example
through E-malls, community web-sites, links between SME's and on-line
commerce and others. The panel will discuss differences which are
emerging in this sector cross-nationally.
Among the areas under consideration within a Community Informatics
context, of broader interest to the IS community are:
1. Public and community access
2. Risks and opportunities of ICT mediated civic participation
3. Broadening the base of access to the opportunities and rewards of
4. Community approaches to resolving "digital divide" issues.
Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
ECBC/NSERC/SSHRC Associate Chair in the Management of Technological Change
Director: Centre for Community and Enterprise Networking (C\CEN)
University College of Cape Breton, POBox 5300, Sydney, NS, CANADA B1P 6L2
Tel. 902-563-1369 (o) 902-562-1055 (h) 902-563-1336 (fax)
[log in to unmask] Http://ccen.uccb.ns.ca ICQ: 7388855