Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions

Ina Fourie (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Fourie, I. (2004), "Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 289-290.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions … is one of those books one should read with sufficient time to ponder on the wealth of information filling each chapter, and awaiting further exploration by the creative reader. There is just too much to take in during a review reading. It is therefore certainly a book I would read again with more time at hand, and certainly a book I would recommend to any student interested in further research, and especially in research addressing the digital divide. I believe Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions … to be a rich source of stimulation and inspiration for research in fields perhaps not even imagined by the editors.

An expert group of authors contributed to the publication under the able guidance of the editors: Marshall, Taylor and Yu. All three are experts in the field of informatics and have extensive experiences in diverse fields such as distance education, developing countries, regional developing organizations and information technology.

Although the focus is strongly Australian, Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions … is certainly also relevant to readers from other countries, including both developing and developed countries. It includes contributors from Canada, Malaysia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Hong Kong, Argentina and New Zealand.

Community informatics (CI) is an emerging area in many countries touching on research, education and practice to address issues of the increased social, health and economic sustainability problems faced by many countries. The aim of Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions … is to provide leaders, policy developers, researchers, students and community workers with successful strategies and principles of CI to transform regions. The editors state their purpose as follows:

The major objective of this book is to discuss the role of ICTs in regional transformation, and to consider strategies to enable regional communities in developed and developing countries to close the digital divide. The book explores strategies that link economic and social development efforts with emerging opportunities in such areas as electronic commerce, community and civic networks, health informatics, telecentres, distance education, electronic democracy, advocacy, cultural enhancement and others (p. vii).

The book is organized into three sections. Section I deals with perspectives, policy and practice. It explores the general issues of theory and policy and provides a framework within which to discuss CI. Section II deals with CI in rural and remote communities. Case studies in Australia, Malaysia and Zimbabwe are cited. Section III concerns CI for special issues such as the application of CI to particular disadvantaged groups or specific issues in communities (e.g. older people, high‐rise dwellers, health promotion, e‐news and regional tourism). The following includes a few of the chapter topics:
  • digital storytelling;

  • schools and community;

  • the design and implementation of rural community technology initiatives;

  • Gutu World Links Telecenter in Zimbabwe;

  • Web‐based services meeting with the diverse needs of regional and rural Australia;

  • social organization through the Internet;

  • measuring the effectiveness of training to improve electronic information literacy;

  • combating social isolation on an inner city public housing estate, portals for older people;

  • using the Internet in a physical activity health promotion campaign; and

  • e‐news and regional tourism.

Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions … is a well‐bound soft cover publication. It is well edited, and includes extensive lists of sources with each chapter. Unfortunately the index is very basic with no cross‐references.

The book is highly recommended for educators, researchers, politicians, students, in fact, anybody with an interest in transformation and making a difference to people's lives.

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