Community artefact ecologies

Period: 2014 - 2017

Anyone engaged in community activities has experienced the opportunities and challenges brought in by the proliferation of digital tools and ­­digitization. A variety of IT tools have slowly seeped from the work context into other forms of organisations we take part in. Additionally, social media and many other mundane tools have become part of the toolkit of communities. Whereas this wide array of digital technologies can support the organizational practices of communities and mediate their activities, many challenges have also emerged. There are practical issues - what tool or platform do we use, and for what - and deeper challenges regarding ownership, hosting, sustainability, robustness, issues of access, economy, technical skills and the ever changing terms of conditions imposed by service providers.

In our research we look at different types of communities: those who form around a shared interest, a practice and/or a place, and how they appropriate digital technologies and how this co-shapes the community in itself. We try to understand how and why communities appropriate given tools, how and when working ecologies of tools are shaped, and how do the appropriated tools and the ecology at large affect the community.

Research questions

General:

· What are the challenges communities face when using digital tools?

· Are the challenges different depending on the type of community, e.g. community of place, practice and/or interest, newly formed self-organized groups or more established communities?

· What is the dynamic interplay between personal technology, shared and community centred technology? (from personal devices, over distributed services to social networks) How do the digital practices associated with their use merge or clash?

· Who should design, maintain and own technologies that are used in open communities and public space?