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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Community Informatics - a future?

Michael Gurstein of NJIT School of Management, a pioneer in the area of Community Informatics and leader if the Community Informatics Research Network made an observation in the CIRE discussion group that both sounded familar and suprised me:
"Its taken GM (General Motors) 20 years to realize that their design people should be talking to their marketing people who should also be talking to their engineering people and based on current performance it doesn't seem that they have learned those lessons even yet. The same I would say in universities where folks who want to talk about ICTs and how people use them don't really fit either in Computer Science or even most Information Science programs and certainly don't fit anywhere in the Social Sciences...

The huge and transformational democratization of Information technology (along with all its implications and opportunities) which took place as a consequence of first the Personal Computer and more recently the Internet doesn't seem to have really found an academic home.

It's familiar because it's a scenario I can see in Portugal. It's suprising because I thought in the States they were further ahead than that.

However, in my usual optimistic way I started dreaming about Portugal leapfrogging some of this development. Portugal has such a unique hybrid mix of experience and knowledge of ICT, communities and development in different phases, including an experience of being in a semi-periphery position in relation both to Lusofone countries and to Europe that this is a place where it could really find a niche. All it would require is a bit of imagination, foresight and people talking to each other!

OK, OK. I know some people put "idealistic" in my Johari window!



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