New publication: Common Agenda Setting through Participatory Collaboration Mapping – a Knowledge Base-Driven Approach

A. de Moor (2018). Common Agenda Setting through Participatory Collaboration Mapping: a Knowledge Base-Driven Approach. In 16th Prato CIRN Conference 24-28 October 2018, Monash Centre, Prato, Italy.

fig7 conversation agenda

Abstract:

Globalizing society faces an ever-expanding web of wicked problems. Community networks are at the heart of building the required collaboration capacity for achieving collective impact. One bottleneck is the process of common agenda setting among such widely diverging stakeholder networks. Participatory collaboration mapping can help build firmer actionable and conceptual common ground between existing projects, programs, and initiatives on which to base the common agenda-setting process in community networks. By jointly creating and aligning collaboration maps, stakeholders can catalyze, augment, and connect existing collective impact initiatives. To be scalable, this requires a knowledge base-driven approach. We introduce the CommunitySensor process model of participatory collaboration mapping for common agenda setting. We then outline the knowledge base architecture supporting this process. We apply the architecture to a case of participatory mapping of agricultural collaborations in Malawi. We illustrate some components of a knowledge base-driven participatory collaboration mapping process for common agenda setting: (1) working with a federation of collaboration ecosystem maps all sharing at least partially the same community network conceptual model; (2) building more actionable common ground through defining relevant conversation agendas; (3) discovering conceptual common ground through semantic community network analysis.

Community(Es)Sense

Last week, I attended the 2019 Communities & Technologies conference in Vienna:

The biennial Communities and Technologies (C&T) conference is the premier international forum for stimulating scholarly debate and disseminating research on the complex connections between communities – in their multiple forms – and information and communication technologies.

It is one of my favorite conferences, and as usual, it was an amazing meeting of minds. See the tweet stream for an impression of the topics discussed. More on the paper I presented in a future post.

After the conference, some of us took a tour of the futuristic new campus of  the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The buildings are phenomenal, however, what really struck me was how the concept of the campus being a community space has been designed into everything, from the overall master plan of the campus area to very specific building details. Instead of constructions creating artificial barriers between people, this campus in everything promotes the meeting and mingling of people and the building of community. There is a lesson or two to be learnt here by us working on community building with ICTs, where we often still let technology get in the way instead of acting as a community catalyst….

At any rate, a great symbol of where the worlds of physical architecture and online community spaces meet is this picture, where the three words I am pointing at neatly summarize what I am working on with CommunitySense. I am eager to further explore how the worlds of “traditional” urban planning & architecture and community informatics can mesh. Surely to be continued…

190608_campus walk

New publication: Participatory Collaboration Mapping in Malawi: Making Mike’s Community Informatics Idea(l)s Work

A. de Moor (2018).  Participatory Collaboration Mapping in Malawi: Making Mike’s Community Informatics Idea(l)s Work, The Journal of Community Informatics, 14(2-3):109-115.

Abstract

In this tribute to Michael Gurstein, we first summarize three of his key concepts: Community Informatics, Effective Use, and Community Innovation. We then apply his ideas to a case on participatory collaboration mapping in Malawi. We end the tribute with a reflection and re-iterating Mike’s call for Community Informatics research and action to keep meeting.

Mapping the social innovation ecosystems around public libraries together: the Czech connection(s)

Public libraries are cornerstones of civil society. They form the “third places” where individual citizens meet and mingle, get informed, learn, as well as form and share opinions. Increasingly, however, public libraries are also seen as the meeting and co-working hubs of the many communities making up the rich fabric of urban society. Thus, public libraries are getting new, societal roles as city labs and social innovation catalysts.

The Tilburg Public Library  is known for its groundbreaking library innovations, such as the recently opened LocHal, which is truly a “world-class urban living room for Tilburg in an iconic former locomotive shed of the Dutch National Railways”. More about that in a future post. Another one of its strategic innovations concerns the KnowledgeCloud, the “network in which persons, communities and organisations meet one another both online and offline to discuss current, societally relevant themes”. It has grown into a national library project, including several other Dutch public libraries as well as the Dutch Royal Library.

From 2013-2015, I was the project leader for developing the initial demonstrator of this KnowledgeCloud. In the project, I used my experience with knowledge sharing for social innovation to help conceptualize the KnowledgeCloud methodology, network, and platform. This rich experience has convinced me even more of the crucial role that public libraries all over the world (should) play in dealing with many of the complex, “wicked” problems playing out at the local and regional levels.

In the meantime – as you know if you have been following my work – the main focus of my fundamental R&D and practical consultancy has become the CommunitySensor methodology for participatory community network/collaboration mapping supported by online network visualization tool Kumu. Helping community networks visualize their common ground is essential in creating more effective collaboration between such a wide variety of stakeholders. Think of European cities sharing social innovation lessons learnt or Malawian farmers and other stakeholders jointly improving their agricultural governance practices.

A Czech connection: the CIDES project

These research and consultancy interests – public libraries, social innovation, and participatory community network mapping – have come together in the Czech Center for Social Innovation in Public Library and Information Services (CIDES) project. This major ESF-funded project – coordinated by the Division of Information and Library Studies of Masaryk University in Brno, the second-largest city of the Czech Republic – aims to strengthen the social innovation capabilities of the Czech public libaries. As the Czech Republic has the highest density public library network in the world (one library for every 1,971 Czech citizens!) , it is an ideal testing ground for developing new public library concepts.

Because of my relevant expertise, I was asked to participate as an external expert in the CIDES project. Since 2017, I have been on several working visits to Brno and Prague. It is a very inspiring project to be involved in, because of its scope and importance, as well as the professionalism and dedication (not to mention the great sense of  Czech humor ;-)) of the library studies team involved.

CIDES focuses on (1) collecting and analyzing practical social innovation lessons learnt by public libraries across the country, (2) refining and extending the most promising of those lessons through a range of incubators and accelerators – and (3) disseminating these lessons nation-wide. Underlying the approach is a solid methodology, of which the CommunitySensor methodology is becoming an integral part.

One way we use CommunitySensor is to chart the local social innovation collaboration ecosystems around participating Czech public libraries. As we are using the same mapping language for all library maps, it also becomes easier to do cross-case analysis, integrate maps, and even see connections at the national level.

More Czech connections: mapping public library social innovation ecosystems together

We have also done several mapping experiments to test and validate the participatory aspects of the methodology. Two of these experiments – one in Prague and one in Brno – nicely demonstrate the gist of the approach:

Mapping the social innovation ecosystem around the Prague Public library

In March 2018, we conducted a mapping experiment with around 35 librarians of the Prague municipal library. In break out groups, the librarians were to come up with local social innovation themes, then select and map existing or proposed initiatives that would fit those themes. We then all together tried to make sense of the emerging bigger picture in the concluding plenary discussion. This process was considered very valuable by participants for building a joint sense of understanding and ownership. It also helped to validate and inform the CIDES methodology for collecting, connecting, and scaling up social innovation lessons learnt with public libraries. This visual impression should convey the spirit of the mapping session:

 

 

 

Mapping the collaboration ecosystem around the #Brno2050 common agenda

Another experiment took place in Brno in October 2018. The city of Brno has invested heavily in an ambitious public agenda setting process to ask local stakeholders what their city should look like in 2050: #Brno2050. By design it has been a very participatory process to come up with the themes that matter to and are co-owned the citizens of Brno:

However, how to make these themes work in practice? How to go from idea(l)s to working, aligned initatives, projects, and programmes with collective impact? How to pool resources that were already there, acknowledging that Brno is a truly smart city in terms of its large social capital formed by its many vibrant communities?

To support this common agenda setting process for the city, we explored if and how we could use our emerging participatory collaboration mapping approach for social innovation in and by public libaries.

To this purpose, we held an initial meeting to do a quickscan of the existing Brno collaboration ecosystem, using the city themes as a starting point. About 30 participants – including many stakeholders representing various Brno social innovation initiatives – gathered at the Brno Jiří Mahen Library. We asked them to make a rough inventory of their own and other initiatives that they knew of. On the fly, we added as many of these initiatives as we could to the draft ecosystem map, so that many of the hidden connections between the initiatives were made visible immediately. We then again had a lively plenary discussion in which the participants commented on the collaboration patterns they saw emerging. It was a very fruitful and spirited exchange of ideas. Participants indeed saw this approach as a way forward to keep building momentum on not just dreaming about the long term city strategy, but also making it actually work in the long run. Representatives of the municipality were enthusiastic and committed to investigate if this approach could become part of their urban planning process.

To conclude this post, a visual summary capturing the involvement of the workshop participants building (on) their common city agenda:

 

 

 

More details about our methodology and the experiments we conducted will be shared in future research papers. This blog at least should give you a sneak preview of the cutting edge work currently being done in the Czech Republic on making public libraries catalyze social innovation.

PechaKucha presentation on “The Power of Communities”

Last week, I gave a presentation at the 12th edition of the PechaKucha Tilburg event.  PechaKucha is a lively presentation format in which anybody can share an idea(l), project or passion close to their heart. The challenge is that this has to take place in 20 slides of 20 seconds each, so you really need to be very focused in telling your story in exactly (and only…) 6 minutes and 40 seconds! As the photos attest, the event taking place in the Tilburg theatre De Nieuwe Vorst was packed and the atmosphere was vibrant.

In my presentation, I talk about the need for new ways to look at and address the multitude of “wicked problems” such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, and migration that humanity has to deal with. I introduce my CommunitySensor methodology for participatory community network mapping and show how it has been applied, together with network visualization tool Kumu to strengthen agricultural collaborations in Malawi, as described in more detail in this post.

Click here to go to the presentation.

181207_PechaKucha