At the Prato 2009 conference, we decided to set up a wiki, dubbed the "CIRN Living Knowledge Base". At this year's conference, we decided to change its name into the "CIRN Commons", as this much better reflects what it is about: a shared, active knowledge resource, used and jointly created by the members of our global community:
There are two major reasons for us to get very serious about this commons:
- Only a small fraction of CI researchers and practitioners can afford to attend the conference in Prato. If we want to practice what we preach about empowerment, we have to do our best to include all our global friends and colleagues in a much more intensive and inclusive way. As Clodagh Miskelly very rightly so put it on Twitter (@miskellaneous): "wd be lovely if you kept those of us who can't afford Prato in your loops...I suppose I'm talking about outreach & networks from the people who can manage to get to the annual bash." The CIRN Commons is one means by which we can help close the "resource divide" in our community.
- We call ourselves community informatics researchers and practitioners. If we, with all of our combined expertise, experience, contacts and resources cannot make this commons come to be, what right then do we have to claim we can help others resolve their CI problems? So, the commons can and should become a vibrant showcase that we can use to convince others that we really know what we are so passionately talking about.
We're all info- and communication-overloaded human beings. Yet another unseen database that we spend too many wasted hours on, we can hear you think? No! This is not about creating huge amounts of dead data. It's supposed to be a _working_ resource, a portal to what all of us are doing and deem important. So, if you are already maintaining info relevant to the community, don't duplicate it, but add links on the commons. If, however, you have something new you would like to share, or would like feedback on: create a page and invite people to it, start a discussion on one of the mailing lists you subscribe to and include a link to that page, etc.
Again, this is not about you having to spend much time building the commons (of course, if you're looking for a new hobby, you're more than welcome to :-)). If all of you literallly add your (little) bit, overall this resource can be bootstrapped and grown into something really useful. Think creatively: what are you doing anyway that with very little effort could be made useful to the community? Some examples:
- Larry Stillman uses the wiki to disseminate information about the Prato conference:
- Sarah Copeland has been doing a literature review for her PhD research, and has used that to create the initial CIRN bibliography. Andrew Clark has collected lots of CI reports, and is adding them to that page. Now, we ask you to add your own publications to this growing, already much visited page:
- At this year's Prato conference, Doug Schuler gave a fascinating Liberating Voices Pattern Language workshop. One group got so inspired that they decided to use the commons to jointly develop this idea into what may become a real project (the BRIDGES:Building Bridges Across Communities Across Time & Space workshop, if you're interested, please join in):
- Many of you are or have students. Students have to do assignments, which normally go to waste after having been graded by their tired teacher. Wouldn't it be much more useful for our field as a whole and exciting for the students themselves to know that their efforts contribute to a common, evolving repository of knowledge?
For example, one idea could be to create our own CommunIPedia, with entries on the most important CI topics, containing definitions, references, discussions etc. Students could get asssignments (for grades) to develop certain subtopics on the commons, or upload parts of their assignments to the relevant topic pages after they have been graded. Patricia Arnold and Helen Hambly Odame have already offered to involve their students in such an effort.
The topic base at the moment is still very rudimentary, but it could be the stub for a CommunIPedia:
Ask not what CIRN can do for you...
After the conference, Steve Thompson and I have tried to clean up the wiki and simplify registration. Here are the steps we kindly ask all of you to follow:
--- Essential steps that take no time at all (and for which you really have no excuse for not doing them :-) )
1. Register for a CIRN Commons Account
Fill out this form (if you already have a Wikispaces account, use your registered e-mail address, so that you can reuse your username+password):
2. Create a personal profile
After registration (normally within a couple of days after you have filled out the form), you will get a notification of your account having been created, plus a link to your personal profile template page. You will be asked to fill out the details, which could be nothing more than adding a link to your home page. Have a look at the rapidly growing set of personal profiles already created:
--- Steps that almost take no time at all (but which really give you that much craved for feeling of instant gratification)
3. It would be really nice if you'd add 1-3 (or more!) key CI publications to the bibliography. Which ones do you think are still lacking? Just use 10 minutes and make those edits:
4. Add your ideas about how to shape the Prato 2011 conference:
--- Steps that take a bit more time (but earn you the eternal gratitude of the CIRN community and a pat on the back or a hug from Larry, depending on your preferences)
5. Become a page steward of a topic or project you care about. Have a look at the vacancies at:
So, there's something in the CIRN Commons for everybody. Your turn!