Monday, July 19, 2010

Journal Field Notes: Meeting the co-creation theme from participation theory

I was blogging on our organization's (Computers For Communities) web site about allowing participation and when I say allowing I mean allowing those we give computers to to direct what participation they would like to have happen. Sure we can think about instructions and support and using free software tools to help us offer that support but it comes down what do those in the community getting these Linux computer want to do? We logically can not really think of this answer ourselves and plan for it, I believe. We can listen perhaps.

Then from this argument where do the new owners of these computers create or co-create with us. They provide the tables and chairs for the computer lab. The room where the lab is set up is given to them by the landlord and they choose to have computers in there. In working briefly with these people I did active listening to see how we could interest them in the computers. What could the computers do for them based on what they were saying and how they were expressing themsleves around the lab. The question is still open.

I need to write about this in my field notes for the journal of community informatics. The notes are due soon.

1 comment:

samper.d said...


Some questions and comments.

When you refer to "those we give computers to" are you meaning the organizations we partner with, the end recipients or the volunteers who earn a computer through 24 hours of volunteering?

I think these are three distinct groups and thus would require three distinct investigations or discussions in the field notes.

Thinking about these answers is important, however you are correct we can not do it in a silo. In fact almost all ideas that we have implemented have come from elsewhere and we are just re-packing it. We already have evidence that support many of the approaches we take from the FOSS approach to software to teaching people skills, to building a sense of ownership to using volunteer sweat equity. Some research into those original sources might be good to support our claims.

When you are referring to THEY, who are they? There are many, at least three as above. Be clear which THEY you are referring to. Even in field notes details are critical for jogging our brains.

Understanding how to engage the volunteers so they get something out of the experience is important.

Understanding how the computers might be used is also important.

Also for consideration are some of the assumptions we are working within the bounds of. First we do not provide FREE computers, people will earn them.

Second, Connectivity (to the Internet) is not equal to productivity (creating something like a document). Although we will build capacity for connecting to the Internet it is not required for our goals at this stage for example.

Also, you may want to note the role of parents, their relationship with school aged youth needing computers at home. What value is there in having a computer at home instead of going to the library.

Thought I would contribute.

---Dave Sampson is the Executive director of Computers for Communities.