Social Mapping for Communal Sensemaking: The Case of Development Informatics Researchers in South Africa

Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 504)


The community dynamics revolve around shared interests, norms, and identities. The sustainable exchange of resources for development is only possible if the members of the community are connected and the collaboration opportunities and practices are well-understood. This work in progress paper proposes social mapping as an innovative way of making sense of the connections between Development Informatics researchers towards understanding the research landscape and behavioural collaboration patterns. The data set includes the associations, collaborations and publication connections of at least 50 South African researchers. The maps were constructed using the Kumu social mapping tool. The results show that social mapping has the potential for presenting research connections visually in a way that supports sensemaking of the social dynamics within the society by considering the structural and behavioural patterns. The findings are limited by the fact that any attempt at representing the members of a dynamic community is seldom up to date and never complete. That limitation is managed by rigorously specifying the data capturing process and period. Furthermore, sensemaking theory informs that human sensemaking implicitly involves the unmaking of sense to adjust to time-space gaps. The contribution is a description and demonstration of how social mapping technology can be used to display information towards making sense of a research community.


Communal sense-making Social mapping Social dynamics Development informatics 



This work is based on the research supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant No. 98564). We also acknowledge all the South African researchers who responded to our communication.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AfricaJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.CSIR Meraka InstitutePretoriaSouth Africa

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