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.

New publication: Communities in Context: Towards Taking Control of Their Tools in Common(s)

Just published: A. de Moor (2015). Communities in Context: Towards Taking Control of Their Tools in Common(s). In The Journal of Community Informatics, 11(2).

figure1

Abstract:

In this exploratory paper, we outline some issues of inter-community socio-technical systems governance. Our purpose here is not to solve these issues, but to raise awareness about the complexity of socio-technical governance issues encountered in practice. We aim to expand on the rather abstract definition of community-based Internet governance as proposed in the Internet for the Common Good Declaration, exploring how it plays out in practice in actual collaborating communities.  We introduce a simple conceptual model to frame these issues and illustrate them with a concrete case: the drafting and signing of the declaration. We show some of the shortcomings of and socio-technical fixes for Internet collaboration support in this particular case. We end this paper with a discussion on directions for strengthening the collaboration commons.

 

New publication: Learning 3.0 – Collaborating for Impact in Large Devt Organizations

Just published: Nancy White, Rachel Cardone and Aldo de Moor (2014). Learning 3.0: Collaborating for Impact in Large Development Organizations. In Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 10(3):21-37.

model

Abstract:

This discussion paper builds on the body of research and practice about technology stewardship originally explored in Digital Habitats, and on the findings from an initial probe into the experiences of five development agencies using collaboration platform technologies. The probe was conducted from September 2013 through February 2014. We propose a framework for looking at productive practices in selecting, configuring and supporting use of collaboration technologies in international development organizations by focusing on the opportunities that exist in the boundaries between different parts of a development organization and different kinds of interactions that lead to learning and development impact. We suggest that there is a very useful opportunity to expand this initial probe using collaboration pattern language and a complexity lens to develop a useful repertoire of technology stewarding practices for collaboration in international development with the goal of supporting greater impact of development work.

Expanding the Academic Research Community: Building Bridges into Society with the Internet

Below the slides of the honors lecture I just gave at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The slides can be downloaded here.

The talk is based on a book chapter with the same title that will be published by Monash University Publishing in the fall.  A preprint of this chapter can be downloaded here. Thanks to the students for all your great questions. If there’s any more, feel free to post them here as comments.

Libraries and Collaborative Research Communities

091001_TicerAlready a while ago, but still worth a post: on August 5, I was an invited speaker at  the Ticer Digital Libraries a la Carte 2009 summer school. In 2008, I attended their fascinating keynote summer school lecture by Stephen Abram. It was a privilege to be on the other side this year! Ticer stands for Tilburg Innovation Centre for Electronic Resources, and is a business unit of Tilburg University’s Library and IT Services. Every year, they organize a summer school, which is well attended by librarians, publishers, researchers, lecturers, and IT specialists interested in the latest developments in (digital) libraries.

My module concerned the Libraries and Collaborative Research Communities track. My co-speakers were John Butler (University of Minnesota), Judith Wusteman (University College Dublin), and Gary Olson (University of California, Irvine). We had a very stimulating day – with lots of questions from the audience –  in which we explored this lively and quickly evolving field from many different angles, including topics like virtual communities as catalysts for advancing scholarship, the role of librarians in virtual research environments, and critical success factors for science collaboratories.

My own talk was about how to activate research collaboratories with collaboration patterns. I really enjoyed discussing  this for me quite new field. It was good to see that many academic librarians agree  that a technical information retrieval focus by itself does not suffice anymore and that serious efforts need to made to integrate communities, communication, and collaboration in their library processes and systems. The worlds of digital libraries and community informatics are still far apart, but interesting connections are forming. A topic that surely will grow in scope and impact in the years to come.


BarCamp Berlin 3 revisited

081129_mcs_barcamp_berlin_3On October 18-19, Barcamp Berlin 3 took place. It was organized in the impressive Berlin Representative Office of Deutsche Telekom. Over 800 people attended, a true bee hive of creative tech people from all walks of Internet life.

BarCamps are a special kind of conference, sometimes even called an “unconference”:

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.

BarCamps live and breathe Web 2.0, not only in what they are about, but also by adopting its user-driven style in how they are organized. There is much attention on participatory process, or, rather, on providing an overall infrastructural framework, while making participants responsible for what topics are going to be discussed and in what way.

Traditionally, BarCamps are rather small and informal events. This one was huge, and very well organized, infrastructure-wise.  It was also amazing how they managed to offer all of the considerable facilities for free. The contrast between the large scale/professional setting, with the creative/anarchistic BarCamp culture was interesting. Although some were not so amused by this, I think it’s testimony to the multi-faceted, evolving nature of the BarCamp concept, that it can live in so many different skins. I agree with the claim that “‘You are BarCamp!’ and everybody has to take part in making each edition a success”. My compliments to the organizers for getting this most stimulating, very well organized event off the ground!

An open question is still to what extent, apart from organizing the infrastructure, these  unconferences need organization of content. Personally, I think many sessions could benefit from some form of preparation, although there should be sufficient space for “emergent organization” to keep the inspiration and flow of the moment.

Pitching social enterprises at The Hub

Having finished my portal project, I am in Berlin now. As it’s been a very intense project, I really felt the need to “reset my brain” and decided to have a creative breather in Berlin. It’s a great city to visit for such a purpose, and to get inspiration for new R&D ideas. At the end of the week, I will be attending Barcamp Berlin 3.0, more about that later.

To warm up, I attended a nice event organized by Self Hub Berlin yesterday. Such hubs are increasingly being established in cities all over the world as creative places for social entrepreneurs. I already visited The Hub Rotterdam, and was curious to find out how things are done in their Berlin counterpart.

Yesterday’s event was dubbed “Pitching for Inspiration” and allowed a number of new social entrepreneurs to present their visions and solicit feedback from fellow entrepreneurs and other interested members of the audience. Afterwards, there was space and time for informal discussion. There was quite a variety of themes. To give you an idea, presentations included proposals for an institute for intergenerational learning, an academy for developing and realizing visions, a network of experienced entrepreneurs helping new ones, a theatre of young people performing for primary and high school kids showing them how to better deal with conflicts, an organization  that aims to apply “wisdom of the crowds” by allowing many persons to vote on competing project proposals after a bidding period in which the proposers develop and defend their project ideas using blogs, an initiative to use web mashups to show wheelchair-barrier free locations in first Berlin, then Germany, then the world. There was also a presentation of an already established annual contest in which students can develop communications campaigns for non-profit organizations.

Most proposals were still in quite a premature stage, but it was nice to see the variety and enthusiasm with which they were presented. These hubs are all about developing relations, connecting ideas, and releasing energy, and there was plenty of all that around.

It is interesting to see how these hubs are very much place, i.e. city-based, yet at the same time they are part of a growing worldwide network, a “meta Hub”, as one of the participants called it. They remind me very much of Saskia Sassen’s work on the global and the local being necessarily very much intertwined when trying to understand what globalization really means.  In particular, these hubs seem to be a key example of thinking communities, for which providing a good communications infrastructure and location, as well as resolving a wide range of social, professional, and financial constraints is essential for their success.