Workshop Call for Participation

3rd International Workshop on
(Virtual) Community Informatics:
Electronic Support for Communities -
Local, Virtual and Communities of Practice


held in conjunction with the 12th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2003), Budapest, Hungary

Tuesday May 20, 2003

 Workshop Home Page:


We cordially invite you to participate in the (Virtual) Community Informatics Workshop, held the first day of the WWW2003 Conference. Researchers, students and practitioners interested in the areas of community informatics, virtual communities and communities of practice are welcome to submit either a position statement or a full paper for presentation. People are also welcome to attend without a position paper.

However, due to WWW2003 registration thresholds, we encourage everyone to register by March 31st to ensure the workshop will proceed.


(Virtual) Community Informatics

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Workshop Theme: Technological Aspects of and Frameworks for Electronic Community Support

(Virtual) Community Informatics involves many facets of supporting communities, including the technical, educational, societal and policy aspects. VCI research and activities address all of these. At the WWW2003 workshop, we will focus on the technical aspects of and frameworks for electronic community support. How can we best direct and construct Web and other technologies to support the activities that take place within communities? While our focus is on engineering technological support, we welcome participants interested in all aspects of communities in an electronic environment.

Community Informatics, Virtual Communities and Communities of Practice

Community Informatics is the design and application of information and communications technologies to enable community processes and the achievement of community objectives, such as overcoming "digital divides", "wiring (and ensuring connectivity for) the farthest reaches of a far-flung nation", creating on-line "communities of interest" and "communities of practice", and others. Even more important, Community Informatics involves working to find ways of making the enormous opportunities of Internet connectivity of real value to various communities --- local and virtual, in achieving their economic, social and cultural objectives. Community Informatics traditionally has been applied to "geo-physical" or "local" communities, which address the needs and interests of particular (local) geographical areas.

Virtual communities on the other hand have no geographical limits. Virtual communities serve a diversity of groups, including people with common interests; groups fostered by particular organizations, industries or marketplaces; those who face similar life circumstances (such as a medical problem); as well as those who simply wish to socialize, play games or participate in fantasy experiences together on-line. Virtual communities, by definition, depend on technology, but often are only using limited tool sets to support specific types of interaction.

Communities of Practice are groups which form among peers for sharing knowledge and information about the tasks they perform or other aspects of their professional activities and interests.

Currently there is little formal interaction between the Community Informatics, Virtual Communities and Communities of Practice research communities or practitioners (and little evident informal contact either). We believe that all three could benefit from the concepts, techniques, practices and suites of tools, being developed separately for each.

Typically practitioners working to support local communities, virtual communities and communities of practice are working with only limited theories. Often they are not taking full advantage of rapidly developing technology opportunities, and have little systematic contact with or feedback into on-going organizational or technology design, or emerging business models.

Without systematization there is the need to continuously reinvent concepts and approaches. It is difficult to propagate and disseminate findings and lessons learned. Neither research nor practice is able to achieve economies of scale. Overall they have little opportunity to make input into or to influence technology design.

In the Community Informatics area, as in others, academics can introduce intellectual rigor and provide support to research, design and testing. Practitioners, communities and industry can link with researchers to collaborate on technology design and testing; develop strategies; and provide assessment and feedback.  

(Virtual) Community Informatics

(Virtual) Community Informatics lies at these dual cross-roads: bringing together people concerned with Local, Virtual and Communities of Practice; and structuring collaborations between researchers and practitioners, including industry, in these three domains. (Virtual) Community Informatics promotes the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience found at this cross-roads, including among those with backgrounds in Sociology, Social Services, Planning, Computer Sciences, Information and Library Sciences, (Management) Information Systems, among others.


Workshop Program (Preliminary)

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The specific focus of this workshop will be on a discussion of the technology aspects of, and frameworks for electronic community support.

This is a preliminary program. We are still scheduling additional presentations.


09:00 - 09:15

Welcome and Workshop Overview: Michael Gurstein

09:15 - 10:45

  • Keynote Address: Jenny Preece, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Discussant:
    - Michael Gurstein, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Discussion

10:45 - 11:15

Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00

An Introduction to Building a Web Based Community Platform
- Hideaki Takeda National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo

Discussant: Jenny Preece, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

12:00 - 12:30


12:30 - 14:00

Lunch (Let's eat together)

14:00 - 15:30

Paper Presentations and Discussion

Using Personal Knowledge Publishing to Facilitate Sharing Across Communities
- Esma Aimeur, Gilles Brassard, Sebastien Paquet, U. of Montreal

Technical Applications of Professional Community Knowledge Networks
- Anne Marie DiNardo


Virtual Community Informatics - Action Items

- Short overview of Virtual Community Informatics activities

- Actions for the future: Supporting the community of (Virtual) Community Informatics practitioners and researchers

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30

Structured Brainstorming Activity: Developing a framework for communty support


Conclusions and Future Collaboration


Dinner (Let's eat together)

Who Should Attend

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Those with an interest in virtual communities, local communities or communities of practice. We welcome both researchers and community practitioners. We especially welcome students interested in these areas.


Submitting Position Papers and Full Papers

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Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop, with or without submitting a paper. However, we strongly encourage people to submit a 1-2 page position paper. We also invite people to submit a 6-12 page full paper. Full papers will be reviewed and a selected number of authors invited to make longer presentations. Feedback from the refereeing process will be returned to authors so they may improve their papers.

We shall distribute a proceedings containing both position papers and full papers.


People are also welcome to attend without a position paper.

Please send papers to Professor Michael Gurstein (gurstein @


Probable Publication

We are currently anticipating coordinating a special journal issue and/or a book on (Virtual) Community Informatics, and full papers submitted for this Workshop will be reviewed for possible inclusion.



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Registration will be through the main WWW 2003 registration site.


Workshop Organizer

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Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
(Visiting) Professor, School of Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology

gurstein @

Michael Gurstein currently is a visiting Full Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he is establishing a program in Community Informatics. He has worked and conducted research in the area of Community Informatics for a number of years, publishing journal articles and books on the Internet and community access issues.


Related Events

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Stay Informed on (Virtual) Community Informatics!

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If you are interested in (Virtual) Community Informatics, and would like to be notified of future events and on-going research, please send an email message to Michael Gurstein and Michael Bieber.


Workshop Sponsors

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Faculty of Informatics and Communication

Faculty of
Information Technologies

National Science Foundation

We gratefully acknowledge support for research in VCI from the the U. S. National Science Foundation under grant IIS-0135531, Michael Bieber and Michael Gurstein, Principal Investigators.

If you would be interested in co-sponsoring this or other workshops, please contact Michael Gurstein!

last major update: May 14, 2003

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