Interfacing Community Informatics with Activism on the Web?

Posted on December 12, 2009

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I’ve been invited to have a discussion with folks here in Vancouver who are involved with using the web in support of various types of social action.  Here are a few comments I’ve made as introduction to the discussion…

I think we should be discussing the interface/divide between what many of you are (I think) involved in which is using ICTs to mobilize communities of interest (like minded people organized, in your case, around areas of personal commitment/activism) and what I’m interested in which is how to extend ICTs to enable/moblize/empower those without such specific personal commitments but who could still benefit enormously on the personal, the community and I believe socially progressive levels through access and use of ICTs.

A lot of those people are in less developed countries, where of course they are a majority, and the process of enabling/empowering them with ICTs is often explicitly “political” (with its inevitable pro’s and con’s)… but even here in Canada it’s hard to see how campaigns for any of the various things which we hold dear can be progressed without engaging/mobilizing folks outside of fairly narrow special interest constituencies.

In an Information Society, which Canada of course is, “digital inclusion” if interpreted not simply as the right to access facebook but more importantly as the right (and opportunity/means) to for example. hold MPs accountable, promote policies around climate change, develop and implement community approaches to sustainable development are very much a part of “movement building”…  and a lot of this involves prior activities towards “community building” whether moving from the virtual community to engage the physical or enabling and amplifying the physical community with the virtual…

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking might be an interesting place to start a conversation…

Mike Gurstein
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