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CRACIN Workshop #5

Lessons Learned/Looking Forward

CRACIN Workshop #5:

Lessons Learned / Looking Forward


June 20-22, 2007

Concordia University

Montreal, Quebec

Workshop Report

Supported by:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

National Office of Literacy and Learning, Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Industry Canada

Department of Design and Computation Arts & the Centre for Digital Arts, Concordia University

Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (CRACIN)


Agenda At-A-Glance 2

Workshop Participants 3

Workshop Agenda and Minutes 5
Guest Profiles 43

Abstracts 49

Wednesday, June 20

Thursday, June 21

Friday, June 22


Light breakfast


Welcome and Introductions


Light breakfast


Light breakfast


Community Informatics Theory


Community ICTs in Policy Context


Doing Research In Partnership


Refreshment Break


Refreshment Break


Refreshment Break


Rural and Remote Broadband


Community Innovation II: Community Wireless Networking


Looking Back, Going Forward


Lunch Break & Presentation Quebec Community Action in the Digital Era


Lunch Break & Presentation – An Educational Resource for Canadians


Lunch – Kanda Sushi


Government Partner Roundtable


Community Partner Roundtable


Refreshment Break


Refreshment Break


Community Innovation I: Participatory Design, Civic Participation and Social Inclusion


Libraries and Community Networking


CRACIN/Telecommunities Canada Community Networking Survey


Dinner – La Sala Rossa


Dinner – RUMI

Agenda At-A-Glance

Workshop Participants

CRACIN Executive



Andrew Clement

University of Toronto

Mike Gurstein


Leslie Regan Shade

Concordia University

Marita Moll

Telecommunities Canada

Graham Longford

University of Toronto

Diane Dechief

University of Toronto

Collaborators & Academic Leads

Marco Adria

University of Alberta

Nadia Caidi

University of Toronto

Bruce Dienes

Mt. St. Vincent University

Serge Proulx

Université du Québec à Montréal

Community Partners

Steve Chan

Vancouver Community Network

Monique Chartrand


Sheila Downer


Janet Larkman

Janet Larkman & Associates WVDA

Michael Lenczner

Ile Sans Fil

Frédéric Lazure


Ariane Pelletier

Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)

Brian Walmark


Damien Fox

Wireless Nomad

Federal Government Partners

Rob Mastin

National Office of Literacy and Learning, HRSDC

Prabir Neogi

Industry Canada

Winnie Pietrykowski

Industry Canada

Graduate Students

Brandi Bell

Concordia University

Stéphane Couture

Université du Québec à Montréal

Adam Fiser

University of Toronto

Melissa Fritz

University of Toronto

Ruth Grossman

University of Toronto

Rachel Gurstein

University of Toronto

Nicolas Lecomte

Université du Québec à Montréal

Susan Macdonald

University of Toronto

Alison Powell

Concordia University

Katrina Peddle

Concordia University

Frank Winter

University of Toronto

Matt Wong

University of Toronto


Philipp Budka

University of Vienna

Jack Carroll

Pennsylvania State University

Maurita Peterson Holland

University of Michigan

Gordana Kcrevinac


Bill McIver

National Research Council

Catherine Middleton

Ryerson University/CWIRP

Christian Sandvig

University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)

Sharon Strover

University of Texas (Austin)

Workshop Agenda & Minutes

Workshop Objectives

This 5th and final CRACIN workshop provides a forum for the presentation of summative findings from our various case study and thematic research projects as well as to refine plans for their wider dissemination, to reflect upon and celebrate our accomplishments, and to consider ways of supporting the community informatics research agenda in Canada going forward.

Workshop Schedule

Wednesday, June 20

8:30 – 9:00 Welcome and Introductions

Chair: Andrew Clement

9:00 – 10:30 Community Informatics Theory

Chair: Graham Longford

Scribe: Matt Wong

Michael Bieber, Barbara McFall, Ron Rice & Michael Gurstein, Towards Systems Design for Supporting and Enabling Communities

-the background of the paper was the development of a proposal to support a transition by the home economics association to transition individuals from their high school classrooms into members of their communities at large

-the notion of enabling communities

-enable communities and to create enabling communities

-what was interesting for them and us was that we were taking a community perspective and trying to create a community context in the classroom and among the teachers where previously they had only been viewed as individuals (individual students, individual teachers)

-responding to a very real need to create community among the teachers

-the most cost effective intervention was to create communities amongst the children/students and to enable the communities in which the students found themselves (as opposed to trying to save one particular kid)

-the mission was to help communities at risk


-the result of a lot of work between us and the home economics people

-here we are talking about a specific kind of community: an enabling community

-which allows the community to do certain kinds of things


-Robert Alter’s paper (famous in the IS community)

-adapt that framework for systems development for communities and individuals

(SEComm. Systems Design for Support Enabling Communities)

-most of the framing for this material came from MG’s colleagues, Michael Bieber and Ron Rice

(The SEComm Framework)

-the chart that was used for the framework did not display properly

Katrina Peddle, Alison Powell, & Leslie Regan Shade,

Bringing Feminist Perspectives into Community Informatics

-at some point in this project we decided that it would be really good to look at issues on gender in our community informatics projects and case studies

-how community informatics literature was looking at feminist perspectives, if at all

-feminist perspectives can enrich community informatics

-one of the key concerns is labour and how labour plays out

-in terms of looking at WVDA Katrina looked at capacity building that is undefined and invisible; women and leadership; women and labour

(Gender and leadership)

-capacity building and how it happens in the community context: slippery term

-not entirely clear what this term is and in the WVDA it was in the background

-WVDA feels that behind the scenes things weren’t being seen and things like outputs and what people were doing were being questioned

-feminized: nursing, teaching, etc., under-paid, under-valued, and almost invisible

-this type of labour is hard to recognize and quantify

-invisible work is not really recognized and it involves working at multiple levels (community, government, etc.)

-we need to recognize just how much this labour is invisible in community informatics

(Community/Grassroots groups are not inherently inclusive)

-ISF no paid staff, 90-95% are men

-different gender environment

-intended not to be hierarchical but the gender imbalance creates one

-structures of power where we are not expecting to see structures of power

-ISF’s two projects: hotspots and software to manage hotspots

-both tasks require high level of skill

-the organization and planning, meeting people, networking with people, and marketing and communications, interface design was a third task

-the “soft” work was done by the 5% that were female

-these jobs were not considered as valuable

-if a group or organization wants to be non-hierarchical, you need to look at it being inclusive in lots of different ways that might not normally be considered

Serge Proulx, Techno-activism as Catalyst in Promoting Social Change

(Research Questions)

-we are thinking about what in Quebec is the movement “communautaire”

-are techno-activists really changing anything in the social movement?

(Social Appropriation of Technology as an Ideal-type: Five conditions)

-a long time ago, “appropriation” was not very well understood in English terms

-Serge’s own buzzword, but is now better understood in English

-Serge’s theory model is to respond to the question “what is the social appropriation of technology”?

-prerequisite: access to technology

-a perfect appropriation is the realization of these theory criteria

-meaningful integration: you use the word processor in the practice of writing

(the innovative groups we are working with)

-Ile Sans Fil and Koumbit


-participative ethnography, participant observation

-meanings: Alison became a member of the group, interesting questions around that

(Methodology 2)

-we do not want to impose our vocabulary on the observed groups

(Informational capitalism)

-the context of the techno-activist is informational capitalism, not just in the sense of Castells in using a new type of technology in the economic system, but to insist on the idea of a new type of industry that capitalizes on the ownership of the informational code

-informational co-operative project


-distinction between orthodox group (more traditional, groups using the usual ways to make social interaction) and heterodox group (the techno-activists)

-technology as a tool in the service of a socio-politico project (orthodox)

-technology as a culture and a political instrument (heterodox/techno-activist)

(Findings 2)

-politization: inscription by the social agents and not the user

(Further point to discuss)

-what sort of digitized society are we constructing?

-we are in front of a struggle between two ways of structuring the future information society

-dominant view: supported by international governments and industries

-a top down view of the global information society

-the alternative bottom-up model of a network of shared knowledge groups

-an emergence of a third wave of Internet leaders (Noam, 2005)

-military -> hackers -> organized civil society

Ruth Grossman, Our Expectations About Archives: Archival Theory Through a Community

Informatics Lens

-here as an independent researcher, not here as a representative of Archives Ontario or the Ontario government

-area of investigation is the infrastructure of archives and archival institutions

-what keeps archives and archival institutions above the community?

-focus on one piece: archival theory under the community informatics lens

-adjustments to the archival mindset

-more than just building bridges between disciplines

-CI has very little to do with archives and vice versa

-access to information, collective memory, etc., is staggeringly similar to archival issues

-differences are also apparent though: authoritative versus grass roots, bottom up versus top down

-the operation of archives works backwards from its existence to the context of its creation

-“estranged relatives” (archives and community informatics)

-activism and archives: how the archives amasses and collects its contents

-perpetual echo chamber

-will archives be able to effective present and represent the context of its creation

-“reactivation” = meaningful use, and being afforded the opportunity and support the ability for users to reassess records

-readers need to be able to contest, debate, and review content

-traditional archives exist for the explicit preservation of records

-although archives cannot rearrange its holdings to suit its contemporary settings, it can’t ignore the thumbprint of its current users

-archivists are typically cautious and try to avoid confrontation so much that the data is pared down to the point where the archival approach to illuminate records is lost

-archivists are trying to be objective but that is not the point, communities and subjects are not objective

-archives understand fragments and are made up of fragments

-disjuncture between archival methodology and community informatics

-working relationship between the two are dependent on collaborative tools

-it has become counter-productive for archives to expend effort and investment to pull back from the record to freeze the information; archives need to deconstruct and put the information back together

-advocate substituting rich description instead of brief records and silence

Discussant: Bill McIver, National Research Council

-new and different perspectives

-attempt to reframe the papers briefly to present some questions to the authors

(Systems Design…)

-system design is hard and is a very complex problem domain

-iterating on systems requirements and analysis

-what do we focus on in terms of systems design?

-looking at business-like environments not at community needs and developing community systems

-the larger universe of users

-worker-centered architecture model (WCA – Alter)

-in terms of communities, ICTs can help support the vitality and sustainability in communities, if used appropriately

-but software design projects are beset by failure

-communities are often less able to survive failure so refining methodologies are important (the author’s point)

(Feminist Perspectives…)

-sexism in society is reflected in IT domains, if not magnified

-overall we know that women are poorly represented in computer science and engineering

-cultural stereotypes about women being nurturing and men being instrumental, women are expected to be both

-women have higher rates of volunteerism in Canada

-collective processes and heterogeneous groups are better at designing things (not just software)

-what is required for mastery in IT?


-new applications: mash-ups (piecing web technology together to solve new problems), text messaging

-new development processes

-legal challenges, e.g. Microsoft claiming ownership of patents in Linux

-people have a right to scientific advancements, but they often have to do it themselves


-from a public standpoint and a person on the ground standpoint (non-theorist), it’s not obvious to most people that archives aren’t libraries

-we see archives usually as within a library, don’t really realize the difference

-a bridging of these domains: community into archives and archives into communities

Q & A

Janet: disconnect between what Bill was saying and what Katrina addressing

-not about geekdom or getting women involved in IT, but recognizing community work

Bill: more about Alison’s paper

Christian: not just that role of women, for example as capacity builders, but what do community networks really do and is it something that can be masculinized or feminized?

-community systems are deployed where the people who work on this material are familiar (e.g. where white men aged 19-28 work and know)

Katrina: very different from rural communities and urban areas; there aren’t multiple sites of access and so on

Bruce: what is our role? Our role is to assist our culture in a paradigm shift where we aren’t just talking about aggregating more information in the current paradigm. Looking at software development, not just new technologies, but challenging the fundamental assumptions about our economy and legal system. If we retain these paradigms, our understandings cannot function. We are inherently subversive, not in a revolutionary or aggressive sense, but to work towards framing and communicating new paradigms and new ways of engaging. Has to go beyond IT and community informatics.

Ruth: agrees and archives need to recognize this and to work towards the paradigm shift. Both fields have to recognize that archives can be a very rich source for discussion on this topic.

Mike G: we are talking about a significant policy and program environment shift away from top down ICT processes to community based ICT processes. The farther away from North America you get, this becomes more apparent. In the position that was presented by Leslie and Katrina and Alison, what policy decisions need to be made?

Katrina: policy output indicators. Output measured quantitatively was very difficult to recognize.

Marita: address Serge’s paper. Technology as a culture and political tool…sounds like the Connected Canadians agenda. Wonder if the people who are working with these things in communities are able to use it as a cultural and political instrument.

Serge: I agree. It’s a good thing to connect to the Canadian context, but was originally looking at the international context. Some colleagues in France are working on this.

11:00 – 12:30 Rural and Remote Broadband

Chair: Michael Gurstein

Scribe: Susan Macdonald & Marita Moll

Adam Fiser & Andrew Clement, The K-Net broadband deployment model: How a flexible, open, and decentralized community-based network integrates remote and urban sectors of Ontario

Not really any telephones in this area before KNet. An amazing model of seizing the initiative. A telecom provider (through 9 service providers) managed by the community – control the applications – on a coop model – all revenues beyond costs go to improve the network

Brian Walmark – important to remember that K-Net is built on a culture of sharing that exists within the aboriginal community. Also need to remember that K-Net actually pushed policy – didn’t wait for permission to set up a telco or start a community radio station

Brandi Bell, Philipp Budka, Adam Fiser, "We Were On the Outside Looking In": A First Nations Online Social Network in Northern Ontario

Aboriginal peoples and the Internet – summary of situation around the world

In Canada, AB have taken control, in Latin Am. They use NGO or other cyber-brokers.

MyKet –youth driven organization

Home pages community focussed – advertising local events, sports teams, etc.

Users use it mainly to communicate with friends and family

A little like community radio – locally driven and operated. But com. radio is mostly in Aborig. languages (used by another generation) – the young people communicate in Engl (internet)

Preceded social networking/ the original social networking space

Brian Walmark: Will MyKnet survive in the face of Facebook? Access to the internet is still through public access sites in many of these communities and there might be a certain allegiance to it.. There is a lot of anxiety about MyKet in the aboriginal community – it is officially banned from some Cree schools in Northern Ontario – because some of the pages contained “soft porn”, anti-religious discussions, hate, etc. The problem was solved by making sure it was not available during school hours. There are some kids doing wildly creative things that make others nervous (a bit outlaw – no one really knows who they are). All elements of the community are there. There systems are gateways to the community and change.

Katrina Peddle, Atlantic Canadian Community Informatics: The case of the WVDA and SmartLabrador

Comparison of WVDA and Labrador IT systems (Smart Labrador)

Goals (Lab IT) awareness, equal access, skills development, business development

Learning experiences, preserving cultural knowledge

Recognition of community strengths

Experiential education and learning by doing

Participation and empowerment:

Place based identities --- geographic community that binds – narratives of quality of life

Public partnerships

Small and local partnership were the most effective – trust and long standing activity in community makes a big difference in building the partnerships

Limited success of bigger partnerships

Private partnerships

Less about building community and more about cash flow – not very successful

Different goals

Public/private partnerships

More successful if no local monopoly incumbent telco

CED as the staring point for WVDA – some of the breakdown was around different understanding about the importance of the technology for CED. Small communities really embraced CAP and it was very successful. WVDA took it to a different level and the understanding of the tools was not there. A beautiful network (dark fibre) exists – but waiting for the community to take full advantage of it.

For Smart Labrador the connectivity was the starting point.

Frank Winter, Shapeshifter or Pool Shark?: The Role of the Keewatin Career Development Corporation in the Discourse of the Knowledge-Based Economy/Society

Keewatin Career Development Corp (KCDC) ) – north Sask.

History of economic and political development is very close to the surface – is this mostly a Sask. thing?

CNs have to constantly reinvent themselves and get the grants that are available (shapeshifting) – also having to adapt to that capability in the granting org. – have to have lots of hats to keep momentum going

Discussant: Sharon Strover, University of Texas (Austin)

  • debate in U.S. about how to define ‘rural’ [rural impacts on identity and the particular kinds of empowerment characteristics]

  • prioritize job creation; creating access so children can stay in communities

  • focus of the research (on this panel) is often on the administrators and the institutions (as opposed to community members): this needs to be contextualized in our research

  • What does the organizational ethos contribute to the infrastructural development of the organization?

  • Partnerships/collaboration are never the core mission of CBOs

  • Terms like ‘market-failure’ and competition need to be defined carefully and situated in the community setting: e.g. monopoly: is it always bad? What does it mean in this context?

  • Need to hear more about failure: when and why does it occur?

  • Role of individuals/leaders is often downplayed (since it runs counter to the ideals of a community movement)


  • Walmark: cannot divorce culture [not sure what this refers to]

  • How much did technology matter? Larkman: essential tool

  • Are these projects replicable and scalable?

  • Fiser on K-Net:

    • Scalable, yes.

    • Role of culture

    • 3 kinds of ICT users – missed the description of these but one is sort of a renegade, pushing boundaries

    • much of the infrastructure at K-Net was created outside CRTC regulation

  • tension between business and community; community does not have the capacity to maintain ICTs – they become obsolete

  • How to manage the disconnect between the 2 (business & community)

12:30 – 1:30 lunch break & Presentation

Serge Proulx & Stéphane Couture, Quebec Community Action in the Digital Era

A brief presentation on a forthcoming collection of essays exploring the transformation of

Quebec’s community movement in a time of increased use of information and communication technologies. The book features the work of researchers at the Computer

Mediated Communication Lab (LabCMO) at the Université de Quebec à Montréal.

1:30 – 2:45 Government Partner Roundtable

What have been the most beneficial CRACIN 'outputs' for government partners? Why? What aspects of both CRACIN and the government contexts contributed to making them

valuable? What factors presented obstacles? What might have been done differently to

improve this situation?

Chair: Leslie Shade

Prabir Neogi, E-Commerce Branch, Industry Canada

Rob Mastin, National Office of Literacy and Learning, HRSDC

Winnie Pietrykowski, Industry Canada

3:15 – 4:30 Community Innovation I: Participatory Design, Civic

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