2006, pp 77-98

Community Informatics for Community Development: the “Hope or Hype” Issue Revisited

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Abstract

Community development can be defined broadly as strategies to build local capacity and improve the quality of life in geographic communities. Community informatics is a promising approach for taking advantage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to further goals of community development. It is important, however, that proponents of this approach recognise that it is based on the assumption that technology in itself can lead to positive social development. This optimistic view of technology’s role in community improvement is subject to various critiques, which can be grouped into three categories: methodological, philosophical and ideological. Reflecting on the implications of these critiques, I propose several recommendations that could serve as an ethical foundation for community informatics. In order to retain the “hope” that ICTs can help lead to greater social, political and economic equity, it is necessary to not succumb to the seductive “hype” that surrounds these technological developments.