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.


New publication – Community Digital Storytelling for Collective Intelligence: towards a Storytelling Cycle of Trust

S. Copeland and A. de Moor (2017). Community Digital Storytelling for Collective Intelligence: towards a Storytelling Cycle of Trust. AI & Society, (download preprint or read article online).


Digital storytelling has become a popular method for curating community, organisational, and individual narratives. Since its beginnings over 20 years ago, projects have sprung up across the globe, where authentic voice is found in the narration of lived experiences. Contributing to a Collective Intelligence for the Common Good, the authors of this paper ask how shared stories can bring impetus to community groups to help identify what they seek to change, and how digital storytelling can be effectively implemented in community partnership projects to enable authentic voices to be carried to other stakeholders in society. The Community Digital Storytelling (CDST) method is introduced as a means for addressing community-of-place issues. There are five stages to this method: preparation, story telling, story digitisation, digital story sense-making, and digital story sharing. Additionally, a Storytelling Cycle of Trust framework is proposed. We identify four trust dimensions as being imperative foundations in implementing community digital media interventions for the common good: legitimacy, authenticity, synergy, and commons. This framework is concerned with increasing the impact that everyday stories can have on society; it is an engine driving prolonged storytelling. From this perspective, we consider the ability to scale up the scope and benefit of stories in civic contexts. To illustrate this framework, we use experiences from the CDST workshop in northern Britain and compare this with a social innovation project in the southern Netherlands.


Nieuwe publicatie: Een Stadse Boeren Community Moet Je Samen Opkweken

Onlangs verschenen: A. de Moor (2015). Een Stadse Boeren Community Moet Je Samen Opkweken. In M. Bol, T. Cornet (eds.),Stadse Boeren voor Leefbaarheid: De Kracht van Groene Lijm, De Conceptenbouwers, Den Bosch. ISBN 978-90-823832-0-1


Stadslandbouw is helemaal in. Stadse boeren hebben een sterk gevoel bij een globale beweging te horen. Deze ‘sense of community’ is een belangrijke noodzakelijke voorwaarde om iets te kunnen bereiken. Maar hoe vertaal je die abstracte idealen in concrete actie? Niet individueel, maar met gelijkgestemden? En niet een continent verderop, maar hier in de buurt? Hoe krijg je al die groene kikkers in een gezamenlijke kruiwagen? En hoe krijg je die kruiwagen vervolgens waar hij nodig is?


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).



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.


Growing the Tilburg urban farming community map using Kumu

Introduction: The Tilburg Urban Farming Community

The Tilburg Urban Farmers Community is part of the Urban Farmers for a Liveable Brabant project. The project aims to strengthen and expand the urban farming communities in the cities of Tilburg, Den Bosch and Oss in the southern Dutch province of North Brabant. More precisely, its objective is to “create a larger impact of urban farming on the economy and society in a bottom-up way”. One of its sub-projects, driven by CommunitySense, is to literally map the Tilburg Urban Farming Community.

150316_rootsWhat does it mean to map a community? Traditionally, projects are often evaluated by the concrete deliverables they produce. However, when stimulating the growth and impact of a community or social network, this is too limited a measure. Just as important, if not more important, are the relations and interactions which emerge “below the surface” among the community members themselves and between them and their stakeholders. To stick to farming metaphors: in bamboo and other grasses it is not so much their shoots (”the products”), but especially the densely branched root system (”the relations and interactions”) which matter for future growth and impact.

The tool: Kumu

How to visualize this “community root system”? To this purpose, we use the new online tool Kumu. Its motto stresses why this is such a suitable tool for our purpose:

Harness the power of relationships. Kumu gives you the tools to track, visualize, and leverage relationships to overcome your toughest obstacles.

The essence of Kumu is that you make a map consisting of elements (e.g. activities like “projects” and their “results”) and connections (relations and interactions like “informedness” or “involvement”) between the elements. On the map, you can define different perspectives, in which Kumu only shows those elements and connections which interest you at that moment. To define perspectives, you can apply specific decorations and apply various kinds of foci and filters.

In this way, the whole being larger than the sum of its part can be shown (the total map), while it is also always possible to just display the particular part of the map most relevant to a particular stakeholder in the most effective way (a perspective). For example, an organization may be especially interested in its direct links with the activities in which it is involved in the community. Kumu therefore allows for only a partial map to be shown by applying a specific focus or filter to the total map.

Mapping the Community

Our set of core elements and connections, as well as their visualizations in Kumu, keeps evolving, driven by the developing applications of the community map.

Community Elements

Elements can be visualized by their own colors, icons and sizes. At the moment, we distinguish the following types of elements:

Roles that participants can play
Activities (dynamic process outcomes, e.g. “Organizing a Lunch”)
Results (static product outcomes, like “Exhibition Stand”, “Report”. NB activities are outcomes as well, but being processes, activities can generate other processes and results and are a direct source of community growth)
Tools that can be used to support activities:
Online Tools (e.g. Urban Farmers for Liveable Brabant-app, participant websites)
Physical Meetings (e.g. bilateral meetings, network meetings and lunches, workshops)

Community Connections

The essence of communities is not so much formed by these elements on their own, but by the kind,  quality, and number of connections that emerge between them. In increasing degree of involvement, we distinguish the following basic kinds of connections:

  • Informedness (”Geïnformeerdheid”): being informed about activities of the community, but not being part of it.
  • Membership (”Lidmaatschap””): being an explicit member of the community in the sense of having made a commitment to particpate
  • Involvement (”Betrokkenheid”): actual participation in the activities of the community
  • Producing (”Heeft Resultaat”): visible/measurable results produced

In Kumu, connections can be visualized by the combination of type, color, and width of their lines. For example, we represent Informedness by a thin blue line, whereas Producing is shown as a thick red line, indicating its much higher community-building contribution.

The community map

The community map consists of the total set of elements and connections representing the community. A snapshot of this map looks like this:

For the latest “(a)live” version of the community map click here.

So many perspectives…

One of the most powerful features of Kumu is its ability to create and share advanced perspectives on the map. One feature is that the tool allows you to focus on particular elements. A useful property of focus-perspectives is that they can be shared as a link, so that by clicking it, one can always see the latest live version of these perspectives. Some examples:

Another type of perspective consists of filtering out particular elements and connections. For example, it could be useful to community managers to get a bird’s eye view just of which organizations are participating in what activities. This means going to the filter-menu and selecting only the checkboxes for the Organisation (”organisatie”) and Activity (”activiteit”)-elements and the Involvement (”Betrokkenheid”)-connection:

150316_filter perspective

Filter-views cannot be shared as links (yet), so they need to be manually configured every time one wants to see this perspective. (Part of) the resulting perspective is the following:

150316_filter perspective2

One can now easily see that several organization act as natural “bridges” between two main community activities, making them likely candidates to involve in organizing a joint event between those activities, for example.

So many applications…

This short introduction is not supposed to be exhaustive, but to inspire and get readers to think about finding other creative and effective ways to use community visualization tools. There are many other interesting Kumu features and ways to use them. For example, there is a whole array of “metrics”. The Degree-metric, for instance, gives an indication of which participants are likely to be local hubs and connectors within the community. Like filters, metrics also cannot yet be shared as links. Instead, they can be accessed by clicking the metrics-symbol at the bottom of the map: 150316_metrics

A community map is never finished and needs to be updated regularly. However, community mapping is not just about collecting the data and creating the map. Just as important, a community needs to think how to read and use it. Additional perspectives and uses will be developed as the community mapping requirements become clearer and new Kumu functionalities become available. Spin-off experiments have already emerged, like an initial map of the community network of Science Hub Brabant and a map-in-progress of the urban farmers network in the city of Den Bosch.

All of this has inspired me to think hard about how to turn such experiments into a real “participatory community mapping methodology”. Plenty of inspiration for future research & development…

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

Just published: A. de Moor (2014), Expanding the Academic Research Community – Building Bridges into Society with the Internet. In T. Denison, M. Sarrica, and L. Stillman (eds.), Theories, Practices, and Examples for Community and Social Informatics, Monash University Publishing, Melbourne. ISBN 978-1-921867-62-0.

bridging the gap


Academic research is under threat from issues like lack of resources, fraud, and societal isolation. Such issues weaken the academic research process, from the framing of research questions to the evaluation of impact. After (re)defining this process, we examine how the academic research community could be expanded using the Internet. We examine two existing science-society collaborations that focus on data collection and analysis and then proceed with a scenario that covers expanding research stages like research question framing, dissemination, and impact assessment.

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.