Why Community Informatics?

Michael Gurstein, pioneer in community informatics, presents his thoughts on the future of ICTs and Development (ICT4D) in the Age of Mobiles and Social Software

Michael's bio:

Dr. Michael Gurstein* is Executive Director of the Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training (Vancouver BC and Cape Town, South Africa). He is also Adjunct Professor in the Information School at the University of British Columbia. Formerly, Management Advisor with the United Nations Secretariat in New York, Dr. Gurstein is now the Editor in Chief of the /Journal of Community Informatics/ and Foundation Chair of the Community Informatics Research Network. He has consulted in the area of ICT for Development to the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Nepal, South Africa and Jordon, and to the Ford Foundation, the UNDP and the European Union among others.

Informatics Research, Development and Training (Vancouver BC and Cape Town, South Africa). He is also Adjunct Professor in the Information School at the University of British Columbia. Formerly, Management Advisor with the United Nations Secretariat in New York, Dr. Gurstein is now the Editor in Chief of the /Journal of Community Informatics/ and Foundation Chair of the Community Informatics Research Network. He has consulted in the area of ICT for Development to the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Nepal, South Africa and Jordon, and to the Ford Foundation, the UNDP and the European Union among others.

His edited book, /Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies/ (Idea Group, 2000) provided a focal point for the development of "Community Informatics" as the discipline concerned with enabling communities with Information and Communications Technologies.

Abstract for his talk:

Mobiles and social software -- particularly mobiles are presented as a new paradigm for ICT enabled development. In this presentation I'll review the history and practice of applying ICTs to development in Less Developed Countries and in less developed regions of Developed Countries including the recent almost complete shift in attention towards mobiles and various social software applications such as Facebook. I'll then ask some skeptical questions as to what might be the impacts/effects once the hype has receded and suggest how Development might proceed in the context of widespread but extremely shallow penetration of Information Technology and the role of community based technologies (Community Informatics) in these developments.

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