Berlin, 1989

CIRN 2012 Community Informatics Conference: 'Ideals meet Reality'

Monash Centre, Prato Italy 7-9 November 2012

[there will also be a special workshop day on 6 November and details] will be posted]

For the sake of continuity and history, the greyed out text below is information about the event which was, it is fair to say, engaging and fascinating for many of the participants, particularly because the strong interaction between people who work in memory and archives and those in more 'traditional' areas of community informatics.

CIRN 2012 Conference Proceedings

Conference Proceedings are now online.

CIRN 2012 Commons Resources

Several resources were produced by the community members present at the conference (also ) for those not present:

  • The CIRN 2012 conference tweets.
  • The mindmaprecorded by Aldo de Moor (in full view of those present, talking about getting feedback :-) gives some idea of the discussion that went on in the final unconference session. Among many other topics, the issues of 'affect' and 'voices' came up as relevant to a conference theme for 2013, as well as continuing practice workshops. Stay tuned.
    • Unconference notes mindmap in pdf and rtf formats.
  • One of the real contributions coming from those involved in community archiving and memory work is the degree to which they have articulated a language and typology of activity which can be productively used by people involved in community informatics. Anne Gililand of UCLA is making a typology document available in the public interest with the proviso that 'just as long as anyone who uses it gives appropriate attribution as listed on the cover page.'

Final conference program.

Registrations are now OPEN

This year, choose from two additional 1/2 day pre-conference workshops, as well as the full conference. Prices have not changed from last year and range from $400AUD to $570AUD for students/developing country and regular delegates plus $30AUD for each workshop. All the conference days are full catered and the great banquet is an additional reasonable cost. All an exchange of ideas and great social event, you won't find a nice place :).

To register, follow the link.

The Call for Papers is now OPEN only for late, very late submissions.

Please read the information below and make your submission (abstracts only) via the conference registration site. If you have registered on this site before, you will be able to use your login or recover a password. If you are new, start up a new account. Please don't be disappointed by missing the deadline, as outlined below. The number of presentation places available is limited.

No submissions are accepted by email.

Conference sub-themes

At the 2011 Conference, a special workshop session highlighted a number of issues which keep coming up in Community Informatics (and at all conferences, hear about the same challenges), and it was felt that these should be the basis of the sub-themes for the 2012 conference.

For all the ideals and theories which each of us bring to practice, there is always the grand reality check--sometimes the 'wall' is permeable, at other times, it remains a barrier. The issue is sometimes, technical, sometimes, social-technical, and all things between. Whatever the case, each situation is different and requires a high level of skill to navigate and sometimes, the strength and persistence to achieve a breakthrough.

We want to hear these stories and reflections in order to improve the theories and practices that we work with. We are interested in papers and presentations as they are carried out in what are known as community informatics or development informatics, but of course, there are people working in areas such a social and medical informatics, as well as education, for whom these problems (and solutions) are equally relevant.

Sub-theme 1: Bricolage in Community Informatics: planning v improvisation

With bricolage, a person takes what is at hand and ‘makes it up’ as situations emerge, much like a jazz musician, or in some cases, a witch doctor. bricolage can in fact be a highly skilled activity, a kind of anti-formalized method which occurs in conjunction with other bricoleurs who have similar characteristics at improvisation and playing ‘community riffs’?

Story telling is also am important characteristic of traditional healing or music, so how do we tell stories, whether in formal reports or digitally mediated narratives? are we working with intuition, instinct, or something else? are we ‘scientists’? philosopher-kings? magicians? technocrats? or something else?

To what degree then are some of us engaged in an ‘anti-discipline’ against the formal strictures of what is the written or contractual score? Is it possible to impart the skills that we have, or is every project or initiative a highly personal ‘riff’? do we pretend to have discipline and skills?

Sub-theme 2: Reconciling differences between clashing communities

Much community (informatics) research has focused on how to build single communities. Issues like the lifecycle of the community, its governance, tool support and facilitation all have received a great deal of attention over the years. However, ever more, communities meet, mingle, and overlap. Healthy communities have enough of an identity for their members to experience common ground, yet at the same time they can "breathe", in the sense that there many ties and constructive interactions with relevant communities around them. However, in practice, many communities do not interact, but clash. How to avoid such clashes? How to deal with the differences in community cultures?
What are early-warning signs for a collision course? If conflict has broken out after all, how to best resolve it?

Sub-theme 3: The dark side of community informatics

Communities are often seen as warm, fuzzy get-togethers, which support their members in many of their individual and social needs, and provide a sense of belonging. However, communities are not necessarily good. Many communities are oppressive, forcing their people into a mould, with sometimes terrible sanctions if they do not conform. Communities can be myopic, leading to group-think, reinforcing pathological behaviours rather than educating their members about other perspectives. What are the dark sides of communities? What processes are needed to inoculate communities against such disruptive behaviours? How to balance a healthy sense of identity with a much needed sense of the relativity of the community's outlook and social norms?

Of course, we will also welcome papers dealing with other issues in community, development and social informatics, subject to space availability.



barbara(3).jpgPlease note that due to family bereavement, Claire Lobet's keynote will not take place. We hope to see her again next year. In her place, Barbara Craig of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and 2020 trust will speak about recent community-based research and activity. Details will be forthcoming.

1. Claire Lobet Maris, FUNDP (University of Namur)

Passionnée par l'enseignement, clare.jpgLobet-Maris aime à faire comprendre aux étudiants que l'informatique comme toute autre technologie est avant tout un projet de Société. C'est ce projet qu'elle analyse et déconstruit avec ses étudiants au fil des différents cours qu'elle donne en Faculté d'Informatique et en Faculté de Droit.Ses recherches en Sociologie vise à comprendre comment différents groupes sociaux s'approprient ces technologies pour leur donner sens et transformer leurs pratiques. Ses terrains privilégiés sont le monde des organisations et en particulier celui des administrations publiques mais aussi celui de certains groupes sociaux comme les jeunes ou les personnes âgées. Sa recherche est avant tout qualitative et un peu éclectique au plan théorique , refusant les approches trop dogmatiques.

Claire Lobet-Maris is a sociologist and specialised in organisations analysis. Her research domains mainly concern the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in organisations, especially the coordination role of ICT into organisations and between organisations. At the present time, Claire Lobet-Maris is co-director of the CITA (//Cellule Interfacultaire de Technology Assessment//), a research team specialized in the social and economic assessment of information and Communication Technologies. She has published widely in the field and particularly on the subject of her doctoral thesis : the organisational shaping of ICT development and use. Moreover, she is member of the editorial board of Technologies de l'Information et Société, an international quarterly published by Dunod, Paris, France.
Home page.

2. Tim Whiteduck, Director of Technology, First Nations Education Council - Conseil en Education des Premières Nations

Democratic Ideals Meet Reality: Developing Locally Owned and Managed Broadband Networks and ICT Services in Rural and Remote First Nations in Quebec and Canada

Tim Whiteduck will discuss his work with an organization representing and serving 22 First Nations communities in Quebec, The First Nations Education Council. FNEC aims to achieve full jurisdiction over education while “respecting our unique cultural identities and common beliefs, and promoting our languages, values and traditions.” A core element of this vision is to use technology effectively to support the autonomy and democratic development of First Nations communities. Tim and his team have been working with the First Nations, developing strategic partnerships to design and install community broadband infrastructure, deliver online and IT training programs, and support the delivery and engagement of broadband-enabled community services including education, health and many others.

Tim will also discuss two ongoing collaborative research and outreach projects he / FNEC partners with: the First Mile:, ongoing since 2010, and VideoCom: Since 2006, the VideoCom project has conducted numerous studies of broadband networks, community ICT use and service delivery, including one recently completed in Quebec. Partners include Keewaytinook Okimankanak: in Ontario, Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk in the Atlantic Region:, and the University of New Brunswick: Similar to FNEC, the partners in Ontario and Atlantic support First Nations in their regions to develop and use broadband networks and online services.

Tim is a member of the Kitigan Zibi First Nation, an Algonquin community located in the Gatineau region of southwestern Quebec.

PhD colloquium

This is a valuable part of the conference, and we encourage PhD students to write a short paper and present their research. Presentations are not limited to the conference theme, but should fit into the broad fields of community, development, or social informatics.

Paper Titles (subject to change), as of June 24 2102

Better Learning Opportunities through Public Access Computing
Beyond Interoperability: Data and Information Management in the Australian Community Sector
Cognitive maps of political virtual communities in RUNET
Collaborative networks and improvisational creativity: when ideals meet reality
Community Informatics in Participatory E-Planning
Community Knowledge: What role for Wikipedia
Cybernomadism, liquid activism and the media ecology of resistance
Daffodil terrorism: The dangers of homogenised storytelling
Digital Impact Assessment: a new way to identify communications change impacts on community access to services
Digital Inclusion in Brazil
Digital Platforms for Minority Voices
Dreamcatcher, a First Nations Community Development Platform
Empowering Students with Mental and Physical Limitations through Social Media: Facilitating "Sheltered Conversations"
Inbound and Outbound information flows: perspectives from Community Multimedia Centres in Mozambique.
Introduction to Networked Systems: A 12 Year Journey from Deficit- to Asset-based Service Learning and Engaged Scholarship
Literature review on Digital Inclusion and Digital Divide
Managing Citizen Access for Better E-Governance in Indian Context: An Architectural Approach
Managing Information Technology in Education: Planning or Improvisation?
Mapping community re-narrations to a web protocol
Open Educational Resources: the Way to Go or “Mission Impossible” in (German) Higher Education?
Preliminary findings of an ethnographical study aimed at understanding community informatics with older people
Public deliberation for policy development using the community-informatics paradigm
Reflective Practice in Digital Story-telling (DST): two case studies from Sri Lanka
Science, when does society count?
Social media and municipal groups of Civil Protection
South Africa: Thinking DakNet for asynchronous connectivity in Limpopo Province
Teaching Community Informatics in LIS Programs in North America
The Battle of Stanhope 1818. - A mix of planning, improvisation & adventure!
The end of virtual communities
The Koorie Archival System: Reconciling the official record with community knowledge
The new public commons already exists: Isn’t it about time governments started using it?
The urban knitting movement in a social post-earthquake environment
Using community-based communication strategy in resolving communal clashes in Nigeria
Virtual vs Real? Reviewing pending issues on virtual communities and their effects on user identity

Pre-conference Workshops

Information Management Framework Toolkit –1/2 day workshop, 9-12.30pm 6 November 2012

This 1/2-day workshop will introduce participants to the Information Management Framework (IMF) Toolkit. The IMF toolkit has been specifically designed for small Non Government Organisations (NGOs) to effectively mange their information. This toolkit and associated resources is one of few resources of this type in the world for small NGOs (Up to 50 staff). The workshop will be lead by Andrew Clark and others. Participants will be limited to 15 people and there will be a modest charge to cover costs. A Certificate will be issued. For more information, refer to the the workshop page

Information and Memory Infrastructure Development: Supporting Resilient Communities and Community-based Scholarship Through Community-centric Recordkeeping and Archival Research, Education and Practice, 2 -5.30pm 6 November 2012

Facilitators: Anne Gilliland and Michael Wartenbe, UCLA, Sue McKemmish, Monash University Australia, Kelly Besser, UCLA Library

The rapidly developing Community Archives movement, with its focus on community-centric information and memory infrastructure, has important areas of overlap with Community Informatics. New approaches to archival research, education and practice that support community-based scholarship provide an alternative lens for looking at Community Informatics research, education and practice. Community Informatics researchers will gain new insights into the characteristics, motivations and interests of diverse, often underrepresented communities that are particularly relevant to community-centric approaches to information management. Consideration of these characteristics, motivations and interests may also yield useful approaches for Community Informatics.

Note: there will be a coffee break in each independent session. You can make your own arrangements for lunch in Prato, but tables will also be booked for those who wish at a local bar for an inexpensive lunch. Each workshop is 35eu. Numbers of participants will be limited by the size of the room available--at this time, about 20 people.
For more information, refer to the the workshop page

Dates and Processes

In order to enhance the quality of papers in all streams, Program Chairs will take an active role in guiding papers through the review process and deadlines will be adhered to.

The following kinds of papers are sought:
  1. Full papers for blind peer review (up to 6000 words).
  2. Works in progress and more speculative pieces (reviewed and selected, but not peer reviewed)
  3. Non refereed papers, including practitioner reports (up to 6000 words).
  4. PhD papers which provide an outline of current or proposed PhD research (between 2-3000 words, including references)
  5. Proposals for workshops or panel discussions
  6. Proposals for posters

Conference papers for all categories MUST use the conference format,

Relevant Dates:

  • Call for papers & proposals. Expressions of interest conference website.Abstracts/papers can only be submitted through the conference database which will be made available. Submit the abstract in the online form, not as an attachment. Abstracts up to 550 words.
Current-April 15
  • Acceptance/modification/ rejection notices
As soon as possible thereafter
  • Full papers and abstracts for all streams due
1 July 2012
  • Referee reports to participants by
15 August 2012
  • Final version of papers, based on peer review and program committee decisions due
15 September 2012
  • Conference proceedings CD
Available at the conference
  • Registrations
Available from 1 July


The Conference cost will be approximately €350 for early-bird registrations and includes 3 days of great food. and a moderately priced conference banquet will also be held (Workshops on 6 November will be separately billed). Registration concessions will be available for students and people from developing countries. Hotel and other accommodations are reasonably priced. We are very aware of the effects of the global financial crisis, but there is a limit on how much we can subsidize people. And we have to pay bills. Why is the conference priced in AUD? Despite globalization, bureaucracies work in their mysterious ways. Your credit card will bill you in your local currency. If you are arranging for a bank transfer, please make sure it is in AUD.


Conference Committee

  • Peter Day, University of Brighton, UK (co-chair)
  • Aldo de Moor, CommunitySense, Netherlands ( co-chair)
  • Tom Denison, Monash University, Australia (co-chair)
  • Leopoldina Fortunati, University of Udine, Italy (co-chair)
  • Sarai Lastra, Turabo Univ., Puerto Rico (co-chair)
  • Larry Stillman, Monash University, Australia (co-chair)
  • Patricia Arnold, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • Fiorella de Cindio, University of Milan, Italy
  • Mike Arnold, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Ann Bishop, Univ. of Illinois, USA
  • Gunilla Bradley, Royal Institute of Tech., Sweden
  • Wallace Chigona, Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Barbara Craig, Victoria Univ. of Wellington, NZ
  • Vesna Dolnicar, University of Lubljana, Slovenia
  • Alison Elliot, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Manuela Farinosi, University of Udine, Italy
  • Ricardo Gomez, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Marlien Herselman, Meraka Institute, CSIR, South Africa
  • Sarai Lastra, Turabo Univ., Puerto Rico
  • Mike Martin, University of Newcastle, UK
  • TJ McDonald, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • William McIver, Jr, National Research Council Canada
  • Mauro Sarrica, La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  • Douglas Schuler, The Public Sphere Project, The Evergreen State College, USA
  • Nicola Strizzolo, Univ. of Udine, Italy
  • Eduardo Villanueva Mansilla, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
  • Steve Thompson, Teesside University, UK
  • Will Tibben, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Janet Toland, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
  • Emiliano Trere,Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México
  • Gilson Schwartz, Univ. São Paulo, Brazil
  • Jacques Steyn, Monash Univ., South Africa
  • Andy Williamson, Hansard Society, UK
  • Martin Wolske, University of Illinois, USA

Conference Administration

  • Larry Stillman, Monash University, Australia
  • Amalia Sabiescu, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland
  • Nemanja Memarovic, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland

Conference Sponsors



What is Community Informatics?

Community Informatics is the theory and practice of empowering communities with information and communication technologies. There is a widespread expectation that Community Informatics will cultivate civic intelligence, enhance democracy, develop social capital, build communities, spur economies and empower individuals and groups, and result in many different forms of positive social change. Community Informatics, in bringing together communities and technologies, works across at least three dimensions, though there may be others which are relevant.

  • The Context and Values held by different stakeholders in Community Informatics
  • The Processes and Methodologies which are brought to bear in Community Informatics enterprises
  • The Systems (both technical and social) which influence Community Informatics and those which Community Informatics influences

Accommodation and Travel

Please see the Monash Centre for general information. Additional travel and tourism information will be made available as the conference nears. The Centre is just off the main piazza of a small Tuscan town. It is close to Italian transport hubs including Pisa and Florence airports. The location of the Monash Centre is described on the Monash website. The nearest airports are Pisa and Florence airports, and you can get to Prato by train from Rome in about 2 ½ hours. Please note that we are not in a position to recommend particular airlines or airports, or to provide train schedules. See for train information.

There are many reasonably priced hotels, and many people stay at the Flora or Giardino Hotels. Some semi-serviced apartments may be available at Residence Manassei or Residence Accademia. Refer to the Monash Website for accommodation information The centre of Prato is quite small. Students can stay at the Calamai Riverside Apartments. Refer to this information.

For other information, contact Larry Stillman at prato2012 AT fastmail dot fm

All travel & participation decisions are made at your own risk and the organizers accept no responsibility. The program is also subject to change.