Glocality: Thinking about Community Informatics and the Local in the Global and the Global in the Local. Special Issue of the Journal of Community Informatics

Posted on September 3, 2012

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One of the peculiarities of conceptualizations in the age and context of the Internet is the continuing desire to retain the traditional categories of the pre-Internet age.  We talk of rural development and urban environments, of the “local” as feature of spatial connection and the “global” as the field in which large processes and interconnections take place.

And yet, the dominant even predominant feature of the Internet is that where it has become embedded into the on-going realities of the daily lives of users these polarities and to a very great extent even the gradations that link these polarities tend to disappear. Thus for example the “wired cottages” in the countryside where ever less eccentric professionals (and others) and their families are able to live lives enriched both by the sophistication and information richness of “urban” life while yet having the advantages of space, clean air and DYI opportunities in food and shelter which only the physical environment of “rural” areas afford. Equally, the opportunities for embeddedness in family, clan, language, and cultures which are traditionally seen as characteristic of rural environments are now equally available if in these instances, technologically mediated, in environments of acute population density.

Even more evident are the opportunities to be completely immersed in one’s local environment with the related intensity of interaction, depth of commitment and detailed levels of quite specific particularized geography-based knowledge; while at the same time being fully engaged in areas of global significance with equal intensity and density of interaction and knowledge but in this instance with collaborators and partners who are dispersed globally and with a vast diversity of cultural, linguistic and other particularistic characteristics. And these connections are happening quite synchronically with little or no evident discord or dissonance between them and including the inter-penetration of the global linkages with the local to the mutual benefit of both.

This phenomenon has even sparked it’s own terminology with discussions (as in several of the articles in this special issue around the “glocal” (as a neologism covering the local in the global and the global in the local) and glocalism, glocalization and so on. The apparent disappearance of these dominant dualities of social analysis is to a degree unique to our age and follows directly as an impact and a product of the Internet where it is possible to be present (at least in a “digitalized” form) in the local, global and in virtual space all at the same time.

In this context I see Community Informatics as an important harbinger of this depolarized future since the intent with CI is not to reinforce the rural or to privilege the local or to find fissures and archaisms in the urban or ways of anchoring the global. Rather the intent with CI is to recognize the continuity of connections, of culture, of trust, of shared norms of common goals even amid the discontinuities and flux of daily (urban) life; while using the magical tools of the modern age to empower and self-manage the transformation of even the most isolated and closed off of social contexts.

Thus CI is by its very nature “glocal” on the one hand providing even in the most “rural” and remote settings continuous and powerful connections to the global and the opportunity to be present in the global at will and on a multitude of dimensions depending on the interests and values of the individual.  On the other hand CI represents the continuity of “community” interconnections as the foundation of social being even in the most fragmented and anomic of urban environments and moreover with the technology platform providing the means to enable and sustain these connections over time and through space.

A special issue of JoCI which presents research and practice in this area of bridging thus is highly welcome as a way of reinforcing and illuminating this aspect of CI not only as a basis for local empowerment and localization of services and service delivery but also as a conceptual and practical substrate for ordering and making intelligible many of the cacophonous changes which otherwise appear both random and threatening.

Editorials

  Horelli, Schuler Linking the Local with the Global within Community…
  Gurstein Glocality: Thinking about Community Informatics and the…

Articles

  De Cindio, Schuler Beyond Community Networks: From Local to Global, from…
  Sadoway From Associations To Info-Sociations: Civic Associations…
  Wallin, Horelli Playing With The Glocal Through Participatory e-Planning
  Toland From Rural Women’s Groups to the World:
  Adria, Brown Ambiguity and Uncertainty in the “Last Mile”: Using…
  Hosman, Fife The Potential And Limits Of Mobile Phone Usage For…

Reviews

  Halder Book Review – Development Communication: Reframing the…

Points of View

  Jones Exploring several dimensions of local, global and glocal…    

 

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