1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Communicating in the Information Society

Abstract of the Chapter - A Community Informatics for the Information Society, by William McIver, Jr.

Community informatics is an emerging, interdisciplinary field concerned with the development, deployment and management of information systems designed with and by communities to solve their own problems. From academic and policy-making perspectives, community informatics is now concerned with developing a coherent theory and methodology drawn from a now significant history of projects and the ever-increasing efforts to use information and communication technologies to solve life-critical community problems.

Community informatics might be considered analogous to the well-established discipline of management information systems (MIS), where the former is tailored to the unique requirements of communities and the critical problems they pose for developers of information systems. These requirements and problems are significantly different from those faced in MIS, thereby warranting a unique disciplinary focus.

The goals of this chapter are to:
  • motivate the need for a community informatics in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS);
  • give an overview of conceptual and methodological issues; and
  • propose the parameters of a community informatics sufficient for addressing development goals established in recent United Nations initiatives, including the Millennium Declaration and the ICT (information and communication technology) Task Force, and, in particular, the forthcoming WSIS.
Many of the concepts and issues discussed here are the results of research and practice in the developed world. Nonetheless, an effort is made in this chapter to link community informatics to the realities of communities in developing countries, as well as disadvantaged com-munities in highly developed countries. Suggestions for new areas of research are also made. A set of related resources is listed in the annex to this chapter.

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