I am excited to announce the launch of the Community Informatics Lab in the Simmons University School of Library and Information Science. The lab will feature community informatics research and projects led by faculty, students, and affiliates of the lab, as well as become the new home for The Journal of Community Informatics over this year. I look forward to providing further updates both here and on the new Community Informatics Lab website, located here: http://comminformatics.net
Here is a fantastic video, produced by Carson and Jessikha Block, that provides an overview of our Measuring Library Broadband Networks (MLBN) project. It’s a wonderful description of our research, which is funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (award #LG-71-18-0110-18). to learn more about our research, please visit our project website at http://slis.simmons.edu/blogs/mlbn/
Since transitioning from being a community media and technology practitioner in the late 2000s to a community informatics scholar during the past decade, I have sought to both highlight and contribute to the existing community media and informatics scholarship during this time. As part of this work, I am excited to announce that I have new contributions on both topics in two encyclopedias. The first contribution on Community Media was published earlier this year in the The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy edited by Renee Hobbs and Paul Mihailidis.
Here is the abstract:
“Media literacy scholars have identified five essential competencies that support digital and media literacy: these are the abilities to access, analyze, create, reflect, and act (Hobbs, 2011). While these core competencies are often advanced through community media practice, few studies have made explicit connections between media literacy education and the community media sector. Presented here is an overview of the ways in which community media support these essential competencies; attention will be paid to community media’s role in promoting access, participation, diversity, and empowerment as key drivers of media literacy education. This entry highlights youth media as a form of media literacy education within the community media sector. It includes a discussion of the social, cultural, and political contexts that are critical to understanding how community media support fundamental media literacy goals.”
The second contribution on Community Informatics was just published in the 2nd edition of The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology edited by George Ritzer and Chris Rojek. This short entry provides a concise overview of the field including its origins and more recent developments, including across both physical and virtual spaces where community informatics researchers and practitioners have convened over the past 20 years. I am honored to have been invited to contribute on both topics as they have been core to my own research and practice for many years.
The new issue of The Journal of Community Informatics was published this past week. I had the opportunity to co-edit the special issue with David Nemer (University of Kentucky) and Christiana Urbano (Simmons). The issue features selections from the 2016 Community Informatics Research Network Conference in Prato, Italy.
Here’s an excerpt from our introduction to the special issue:
The conference theme was “Engaging with Participation, Activism, and Technologies.” The papers in this issue highlight the conference’s overarching theme, which focused on advancing theory and practice in the development of Participatory Action Research (PAR) with a particular focus on helping to ensure that marginalized groups have a strong voice in their communities in the face of structural and cultural challenges. In doing so, the conference sought to help promote “a stronger focus on more meaningful and equal partnerships with community, civil society, and NGO organisations around the world.”
I’m giving a talk tomorrow here at the Association for Library and Information Science Education conference during the session, titled “Community Engagement and Social Responsibility: Frameworks for Pedagogy and Praxis.” The title of my presentation is “YouthStudio: Promoting Just and Equitable Community Engagement in LIS” (link to PDF).
In the presentation, I introduce the YouthStudio model as a critical pedagogical, participatory design, and ethnographic action research framework to promote more just and equitable community engagement projects in library and information science (LIS). The presentation begins by describing the origin story of the YouthStudio model, which dates back to 2013 when Martin Wolske and I first presented our Community Informatics Studio (link to presentation) at the 2013 ALISE conference and later published the framework in a paper for JELIS with Beth Kumar.
I am grateful to Martin for introducing me to studio-based learning in LIS and for allowing me to collaborate with him over these years to develop a critical theoretical and participatory pedagogical model to advance more equitable and just learning spaces in LIS community engagement projects.