Community informatics on the rise

October has been a big month in for the emerging international community informatics movement.

At the beginnng of the month Monash University hosted the second Community Informatics Research Network conference and colloquim at its Prato Centre in Tuscany, Italy. Academics, practitioners and policy makers met to consider sustainability and community technology.

There was a New Zealand connection with Victoria University of Wellington being listed amongst the sponsors of the event. Barbara Craig from the university presented on the Connecting Communities pilot projects, and Wellingtonian and former 2020 Trust chairperson Ian Thomson presented on the government’s digital strategy.

The list of presenters is a who’s who of the community informatics movement from around the globe. Of course, it’s a list dominated by academics who are able to access the funds necessary to participate in such an event. A full archive of papers and abstracts is available on the conference website.

The inaugural issue of the Journal of Community Informatics was released to coincide with the colloquim. The Journal will include peer reviewed articles as well as commentaries and reviews. The publication is primarily available online, though hard copies are available on request.

Writing in the introduction Canadian community networker Michael B. Gurstein sets out the purpose of the Journal. He states:

“its mission [is] to present the work of those concerned with enabling communities with ICT, to provide a forum for the creation of a professional and critical discourse on the strategies and impacts of this enterprise; to help create a framework and a legitimation for those who choose this as the focus of their professional efforts; and to act as one hub among many for linking the various networks of those with interests related to community-based technologies”.

The first issue features articles about projects and policies in India, Canada, UK, South Africa, Russia and Latin America. The spread of topics underscores the international editorial board’s efforts at reaching a global audience. From my cursory look at the journal, it looks very valuable.