New Report on Digital Equity Ecosystems

Benton reportI am excited to announce that our Community Informatics Lab at Simmons University has authored a new report, titled “Growing Healthy Digital Ecosystems During COVID-19 and Beyond,” which was published last week by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

In the report, my co-author, Susan Kennedy and I present findings from a survey of individuals representing a diverse group of organizations across the United States that have self-identified as being part of either a formal, informal, or emerging digital inclusion coalition. The purpose of their study was to better understand the role these coalitions have played in supporting what they are calling “digital equity ecosystems” in their communities during the challenges of the pandemic.

In our Digital Beat blog post announcing the report, Susan and I argued that based on our report, “we believe there are several federal policy recommendations that we can make moving forward. On their transition-team website, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have made it a priority to promote universal broadband. In order to achieve this goal, we argue that the new administration must connect its economic recovery agenda to its work to promote racial equity.”

We conclude the post by sharing the following four steps that the new administration should take to make their economic recovery and racial equity priorities a reality:

  1. Make broadband affordable for low-income communities of color.
  2. Support second chances for economic success through digital literacy programs.
  3. Ensure care workers receive training and support to help promote digital and racial equity.
  4. Make federal funding opportunities available for digital inclusion organizations.

Read the full descriptions of each recommendations in our full blog post on the Benton Institute for Internet & Society’s website.

Digital Equity Ecosystems

Digital Equity EcosystemsRecently, in our Community Informatics Lab at Simmons University we have started a new research project to investigate what we are calling Digital Equity Ecosystems. This project builds on the excellent work of researchers and practitioners in the Digital Equity Lab at The New School, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Detroit Community Technology Project, and others. We define digital equity ecosystems as the following:

Digital Equity Ecosystems are interactions between individuals, populations, communities, and their larger sociotechnical environments that all play a role in shaping the digital inclusion work in local communities to promote more equitable access to technology and social and racial justice.

Our research in this area seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families without household internet access and how digital inclusion coalitions across the nation have responded in turn. The goal of the study is to provide data and evidence to help local, state, and federal policymakers in the U.S. develop more effective digital equity strategies nationwide.

Findings from the study will also be useful for key stakeholders working to promote economic and racial justice in communities struggling with poverty during COVID-19 and after the pandemic ends. This is because, as we know from scholars such as Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Chris Gilliard, Virginia Eubanks, and many others who have noted that, the digital divide is rooted in systemic injustices and structural inequalities in our society. Therefore, we are keenly focused on the social, rather than the technological, solutions to digital inequality. We believe that a social ecological approach using participatory methods rooted in community knowledge and expertise is the pathway forward in this approach.

The publication of the first phase of our research to be published in 2020 is supported by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

CIRN Virtual Webinar Series

CIRN Virtual Webinar SeriesThe annual Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) conference hosted at the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy has been postponed this year due to COVID-19. In its place, we have organized CIRN Virtual Webinar Series which you are invited to attend. The events are being organized by a team from the Digital Equity Group at Monash University (Australia) and the Comunity Informatics Lab at Simmons University (USA).

Registration is free and a zoom link will be provided.  Speakers will be participating from around the globe. Here is the list of online seminars taking place from October 19, 2021 to November 16, 2020:
  • The Informatics of Community Mutual Aid on October 19, 2020 9PM US EST (1AM GMT)
  • ICT4D beyond ICT on October 26, 2020 US 4AM EST (8AM GMT)
  • Indigenous Archives Collective on November 2, 2020 12PM EST (4PM GMT)
  • Globalization, Power, and Community Empowerment in Pandemic Times on Nov 9, 2020  (3PM GMT)
  • Memorialization, Digital Media and the State November 16, 2020 *time tbd
To learn more and to register, please visit: https://sites.google.com/view/community-informatics/events
We look forward to your participation online!

 

Joining the UCLA C2i2 Scholar’s Council

Today, UCLA announced that the Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2), led by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble and Dr. Sarah T. Roberts, received a $2.9M Award to launch the Minderoo Initiative on Technology and Power. As the C2i2 website explains,

“This initiative will critically investigate the social impact of digital technologies on communities and the broader public good. It will create new paradigms for the public to understand the harms of tech platforms, predictive technologies, advertising-driven algorithmic content, and the work of digital laborers.”

I am excited and incredibly humbled to announce that I have been invited to join the Scholars’ Council at the Center with a number of amazing “scholars, artists, activists and leaders who share a commitment to standing up to unjust technologies and systems. As such, they are an integral part of our growing community and represent the breadth and depth of the work we can do together.”

Now, it’s time to get to work.

JoCI Accepting New Submissions

Community Informatics LogoI am excited to announce that after a brief pause and transition in editorial leadership, the Journal of Community Informatics is once again accepting new submissions here: http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/information/authors

The scope and aims of the Journal are located on the website here: http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/about

It is my honor to lead the Journal as the third Editor-In-Chief since the journal was launched by Michael Gurstein with its first issue published in 2004. I want to thank Eduardo Villanueva-Mansilla for his leadership over these past years. I also want to thank Tom Denison who has joined Eduardo as the Journal’s Associate Editors.

I am also excited to announce our esteemed Editorial Board with both new and returning members. We are preparing our next issue to be published in Sept/Oct. 2020, and we look forward to receiving new submissions in the months and years ahead.