KO team particiates in research in community networks (CRACIN) gathering

Brian Walmark (KORI Coordinator - http://research.knet.ca) and Brian Beaton (K-Net Coordinator) participated in the fourth CRACIN (http://cracin.ca) gathering that is being held at the University of Toronto, March 3-5, 2006. The workshop entitled, "Integrating Research for Sustaining Community Networking Initiatives" is being hosted by the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. A video conferencing connection between K-Net and UofT provided the opportunity for the K-Net participation.

Workshop Rationale and Objectives:

The objective of the CRACIN project is systematically to document and assess the benefits of community-based information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in Canada in terms of their contributions to local learning, socio-economic development, and civic participation. With the progress made by its various case study and thematic study teams, CRACIN is well along the way of achieving this goal. However, as our research goes forward, the need to move beyond descriptions of local circumstances and understandings of developments within specific contexts towards more general observations, insights and conclusions drawn from the case studies becomes both possible and necessary. CRACIN is now at the stage of beginning to synthesize and integrate findings across our case studies, including lessons learned.

The central purpose of the 4th CRACIN Workshop is to report on the research of the various CRACIN studies (case studies and thematic studies) within an emerging integrative framework. The Workshop will bring together academic, community and government members, along with graduate student researchers and a handful of invited experts, to present and discuss the results of CRACIN’s on-going research in the context of a series of integrative research themes and questions designed to generate broader findings and conclusions regarding the benefits of community networking.

Workshop Agenda

Friday, March 3

9:00–9:30 Welcome and Introductions (Andrew Clement)

9:30–10:30 Roundtable on Analytical Frameworks for Community Informatics Research (Chair: Michael Gurstein)

In the context of on-rushing globalization and economic rationalization the role of the “local” and of primary ties such as those of family and community are being put increasingly into question. The significance of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) both as generators of and as possible means to respond to these challenges is of increasing interest. Community Informatics (CI) has emerged as both a field of academic research and as the basis for an ICT-enabled practice within this larger context of both interpreting and responding to the dilemmas of effective action and effective use in an Information Society. This Roundtable will explore the issues presented by these challenges and whether and how Community Informatics provides a conceptual framework for these responses and including whether, how and from what sources CI might develop or synthesize theory or theories for deepening interpretation and framing effective use in this domain.


  • Ann Bishop, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bill McIver, Institute for Information Technology, National Research Council


  • Andrew Clement, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto
  • Leslie Regan Shade, Communication Studies, Concordia University

Background paper:

Supplementary materials:

  • McIver, Bill (2003) “Community Informatics for the Information Society,” in Bruce Girard and Sean O’Siochru, eds., Communicating in the Information Society, Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), 33-63. http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/bscw/bscw.cgi/0/1124937
  • O’Neil, Dara (2002) “Assessing community informatics: a review of methodological approaches for evaluating community networks and community technology centers,” Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, Volume 12, Number 1, 76-102.
  • CRACIN Executive (2006) CRACIN Integrative Framework Document, Draft, February 2006.

10:45–11:45 Rural & Remote Broadband (Chair: Michael Gurstein)

A primary framework for understanding the dynamic of Canadian political economy and economic geography is that of the relationships between centre and periphery, north and south, rural and urban. These relationships are often understood as ones of economic advantage, political power, development / under-development and so on. Based on the experiences with the CRACIN “rural” and “remote” case studies, this panel will explore how and whether ICTs in general and broadband in particular impact on these dynamics and whether technology may in fact displace the significance of these dynamics, replacing them for example with parallel statics of an ongoing and deepening ‘digital divide’. The panel will also explore the possible use of an ‘effective use’ approach to enabling those in remote and rural areas taking advantage of a broadband infrastructure.


  • Marco Adria, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta
  • Adam Fiser, Information Studies, University of Toronto “Everyone Together: K-Net as an Enabler of ICT Infrastructure in the Sioux Lookout District”
  • Frank Winter, Information Studies, University of Toronto, "Reverse English: KCDC's Strategy for Rural and Remote Broadband"
  • Katrina Peddle, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Rural Community-owned Infrastructure; the Role of Governance”


  • Brian Beaton, K-Net

Supplementary materials:

11:45–12:45 Gender and Youth Perspectives on Community Networking (Chair: Leslie Regan Shade)

This panel will focus on gender and youth issues. Bell will present preliminary research on information about youth participation in various CRACIN case study sites, and highlight some potential areas for further research. Peddle and Bell will present recent work that applies feminist perspectives on technology studies to the concepts of community and publics with the goal of illuminating the central role of space in this relationship. Shade will provide an overview of how gender has been integrated into Canadian ICT policy and suggest some areas for future research with respect to gender analysis of CRACIN case site studies.


  • Brandi Bell, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Integrative Theme Report on Youth and Community Networking”
  • Katrina Peddle, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Gender and Community Informatics: Rethinking the Feminization of Community”
  • Leslie Regan Shade, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Stirring Up the Pot? Integrating Gender into Policy, Practice and Evaluation”


  • Ann Bishop, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Supplementary materials:

2:15–3:15 Community Learning (Chair: Andrew Clement)

‘Learning’ has been a perennial feature of Knowledge-based Economy / Society discussions for decades. Most usually under the term ‘life long learning,’ it has figured prominently in government policies promoting the widespread adoption of ICTs. But the meanings given to learning vary widely among the various parties involved, most notably community based organizations attempting to draw upon the available funding programs to address the complex, dynamic and situated learning needs of their diverse constituencies. This session explores the linkages (and tensions) between the policy language around ‘community learning’ and the practices in developing community learning networks. It is based most directly on the ongoing CRACIN research in three leading exemplars – Keewatin Career Development Corporation (KCDC), K-Net Services, and St. Christopher House.


  • Adam Fiser, Information Studies, University of Toronto, “Lifelong Learning in the Little North: K-Net as an Enabler of Human Resources Development in the Sioux Lookout District”
  • Susan MacDonald, Project Administrator, CRACIN, “Learning to Ride a Bicycle While Building It: St. Christopher House and its CLN Project”
  • Frank Winter, Information Studies, University of Toronto, “Learning, Lifelong Learning, Community Learning and Community Learning Networks in Canada”


  • Ann Bishop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Rob Mastin, Office of Learning Technologies, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  • Judi Snively, St. Christopher House


Supplementary materials:

3:30–4:30 Breakout Discussions

  • Rural & Remote Broadband (Gurstein)
  • Youth and Gender (Shade)
  • Community Learning (Clement)

4:30–5:00 Breakout Reports & Wrap-up (Chair: Longford)

Saturday, March 4

9:00–10:30 Community Innovation and Emerging Technologies: Open Source Software & Community WiFi (Chairs: Andrew Clement & Serge Proulx)

Open Source Panel:

  • Stéphane Couture, LabCMO / Université du Québec à Montréal “Free Software and Community Groups in Quebec”


  • Randall Terada, Operation Springboard

Community WiFi Panel:

  • Alison Powell, Communication Studies, Concordia University
  • Matt Wong, Information Studies, University of Toronto, “Marking, Locating, and Designing for Public and Private Wireless Internet Spaces”


  • Michael Lenczner, Ile Sans Fil
  • Steve Wilton, Wireless Nomad
  • Prabir Neogi, E-Commerce Branch, Industry Canada
  • Bill McIver, Institute for Information Technology, National Research Council

Background Paper on Open Source Software:

Supplementary materials on Open Source software:

  • Coleman, Biella, “The (copylefted) Source Code for the Ethical Production of Information, http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/bscw/bscw.cgi/0/1124888
  • Luke, Robert, Andrew Clement, Randall Terada, et al (2004) “The promise and perils of a participatory approach to developing an open source community learning network,” Proceedings of the Participatory Design Conference 2004: Artful integration: Interweaving Media, Materials, and Practices, Toronto, 11­19, 2004. http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/bscw/bscw.cgi/0/1124888

Backgrounder on community WiFi:

Supplementary materials on community WiFi:

10:45-12:15 Civic Participation (Chairs: Moll)


  • Diane Dechief, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Recent Immigrants as an “Alternate Civic Core”: Providing Internet Services, Gaining “Canadian Experiences”
  • Ken Werbin, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Where is the 'Community' in 'Community-Networking Initiatives'? Stories from the 'Third-spaces' of 'Connecting Canadians'
  • Alison Powell, Communication Studies, Concordia University, “Wireless Community Networks and Open-Source software development as emerging forms of civic engagement”
  • Nicolas Lecomte, LabCMO / LICEF & Université du Québec à Montréal, “Communautique's e-government consultations: specific issues for civic participation with ICTs?”


  • Bill McIver, National Research Council
  • Ariane Pelletier, Communautique


Supplementary materials:

  • Longford, Graham (2005) “Community Networking and Civic Participation: A Canadian Perspective,” in Geoff Erwin, Wallace Taylor, Andy Bytheway, and Corrie Strumpfer, eds., CIRN 2005: 2nd Annual Conference of the Community Informatics Research Network – Proceedings, Cape Town: CIRN 2005 Conference Committee, 355-376.
  • Kavanaugh, Andrea and Scott Patterson (2002) “The Impact of Community Networks on Social Capital and Community Involvement in Blacksburg,” in Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite, eds., The Internet in Everyday Life, London: Blackwell Publishing, 325-344.
  • Pigg, Kenneth and Laura Duffy Crank (2004). “Building Community Social Capital: The Potential and Promise of Information and Communication Technologies,” The Journal of Community Informatics, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 58-73. http://www.ci-journal.net/viewarticle.php?id=15&layout=abstract

Working Lunch for CRACIN Executive & Government Partners – to discusses possible processes whereby CRACIN research findings/recommendations can feed into federal policy development and program design related to community-based ICT initiatives – Rm 212

2:00-3:15 Roundtable on Sustainability & Policy (Chair: Longford)

The purpose of the roundtable discussion on sustainability is to focus CRACIN members’ attention on the issue of sustainability and to facilitate group dialogue and reflection on the ingredients of sustainable community networking, with a view to identifying the various approaches to sustainability represented across the case studies and to formulating a set of policy recommendations. The roundtable will begin with presentations by community partners in response to the following questions:

  1. What are the key ingredients of your organization’s ability to sustain itself? (For example: funding/revenue; governance; people; skill sets, etc.)
  2. What sustainability challenges does your organization currently face? How can these be overcome?
  3. What role does public policy play in sustaining your organization and its activities? What policy changes would assist your organization in sustaining itself and its activities?


  • Steve Chan (Vancouver Community Network)
  • Brian Beaton (K-Net)
  • Judi Snively (St. Christopher House)
  • Michael Lenczner (Ile Sans Fil)
  • Nicolas Lecomte & Ariane Pelletier (Communautique)
  • Katrina Peddle (Concordia University)

Resources & Background Material:

3:30-4:30 Breakout Discussions

  • Community Innovation (Clement & Proulx)
  • Civic Participation (Longford)
  • Sustainability (Moll)

4:30-5:00 Breakout Reports and Wrap-up (Chair: Leslie Regan Shade)

Sunday, March 5

9:00-10:30 Wrap-up and Next Steps (Chairs: Clement, Gurstein, Moll & Shade)

10:45-12:00 CRACIN Core Research Team Business Meeting