Connecting Canadians
520 pages, 6 x 9
12 figures
Release Date:01 Jun 2012

Connecting Canadians

Investigations in Community Informatics

Athabasca University Press

In the 1990s, the federal government began to promote a new visionof Canada as a knowledge-based economy. Fundamental to participation insuch an economy is technology—specifically, information andcommunications technologies, which serve to link individuals to thedigital network on which activities of production and consumption haveincreasingly come to depend. At least for a time, emphasis wasaccordingly placed on achieving a “connected Canada,” onein which all citizens, including those living in rural and remotecommunities, would have access to the Internet. The result was a flurryof government-funded initiatives and programs designed to bringbroadband to unserved, or underserved, areas and to impart neededcomputer skills.

The outcome of a major research initiative, ConnectingCanadians examines the role of community informatics, orcommunity-based ICT initiatives, in this process of transition. TheCommunity Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking(CRACIN) set out to study how civil society groups—in locationsranging from Vancouver to Labrador and from remote Northern communitiesto Toronto and Montréal—sought to enable local communities todevelop on their own terms within the broader context of federal andprovincial policies and programs. Drawing on diverse theoreticalperspectives, from sociology to library and information sciences towomen’s studies, the essays not only document specific localinitiatives but analyze the overall trajectory of thegovernment’s vision of a digitally inclusive Canada. The lessonslearned in the course of this comprehensive research offer valuableguidance to community groups, NGOs, and others in the private sector,but they are also of critical importance to those who presently shapepublic policy.
Andrew Clement is a professor in the Faculty ofInformation at the University of Toronto, with a status appointment inthe Department of Computer Science. Michael Gursteinis the director of the Center for Community Informatics Research,Training, and Development in Vancouver. GrahamLongford has been a research fellow and coinvestigator forCRACIN and the Community Wireless Infrastructure Research Project.Marita Moll is a lecturer at Carleton University and aresearch associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.Leslie Regan Shade is an associate professor in theDepartment of Communication Studies at Concordia University.

List of Illustrations


1 Connecting Canadians? Community Informatics Perspectives onCommunity Networking Initiatives / Graham Longford, Andrew Clement,Michael Gurstein, Leslie Regan Shade

Part I Context

2 Toward a Conceptual Framework for a Community Informatics  /Michael Gurstein

3 Keeping in Touch: A Snapshot of Canadian Community Networks andTheir Users — Report on the CRACIN Survey of Community NetworkUsers / Marita Moll, Melissa Fritz

4 Canadian and US Broadband Policies: A Comparative Analysis /Heather E. Hudson

Part II Conceptual Frameworks

5 Information Technology as Political Catalyst: From TechnologicalInnovation to the Promotion of Social Change / SergeProulx

6 “The Researcher Is a Girl”: Tales of Bringing FeministLabour Perspectives into Community Informatics Practice and Evaluation/ Katrina Peddle, Alison Powell, Leslie Regan Shade

7 What Are Community Networks an Example Of? A Response I /Christian Sandvig

Part III Community Innovation I: Participation andInclusion

8 Systems Development in a Community-Based Organization: Lessonsfrom the St. Christopher House Community Learning Network / SusanMacDonald, Andrew Clement

9 Vancouver Community Network as a Site of Digital and SocialInclusion / Diane Dechief

Part IV Community Innovation II: WirelessNetworking

10 Community and Municipal Wi-Fi Initiatives in Canada: Evolutionsin Community Participation I / Alison Powell, Leslie ReganShade

11 Wi-Fi Publics: Defining Community and Technology atMontréal’s Île Sans Fil / Alison Powell

12 Wireless Broadband from Individual Backhaul to Community Service:Co-operative Provision and Related Models of Local Signal Access /Matthew Wong

Part V Rural and Remote Broadband

13 “We Were on the Outside Looking In”:— A First Nations Online Social Environment in Northern Ontario /Brandi L. Bell, Philipp Budka, Adam Fiser

14 A Historical Account of the Kuh-ke-nah Network: BroadbandDeployment in a Remote Canadian Aboriginal Telecommunications Context /Adam Fiser, Andrew Clement

15 Atlantic Canadian Community Informatics: The Case of the WVDA andSmartLabrador / Katrina Peddle

16 Reverse English: Strategies of the Keewatin Career DevelopmentCorporation in Discourse Surrounding the Knowledge-Based Economy andSociety / Frank Winter

Part VI Libraries and Community Networks

17 Community Networks and Local Libraries: Strengthening Ties withCommunities / Nadia Caidi, Susan MacDonald, Elise Chien

18 The Library Ideal and the Community Network: Prospects for NewTechnologies in the Public Library I / Marco Adria

Part VII Public Policy

19 Community Networking Experiences with Government Funding ProgramsService Delivery Model or Sustainable Social Innovation? / SusanMacDonald, Graham Longford, Andrew Clement

20 Communautique: Action and Advocacy for Universal Digital Access /Nicolas Lecomte, Serge Proulx

21 There and Back to the Future Again: Community Networks andTelecom Policy Reform in Canada, 1995–2010 / Graham Longford,Marita Moll, Leslie Regan Shade

Appendix A: Community Partners and Case Study Sites/ Graham Longford

Appendix B: A Brief History of the Community AccessProgram: From Community Economic Development to Social Cohesion toDigital Divide / Marita Moll

Appendix C: The Federal Connecting CanadiansInitiative, 1995–2007: A Brief Overview / Graham Longford,Marita Moll


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