User Tools

Site Tools



This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

partnerships:articles:charter1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
Line 1: Line 1:
 +Factors for success in community networking
 +by [Debbie Ellen](mailto:​\
 +*Debbie Ellen was researching factors for success in creating and
 +running community networks - so she invited practitioners to add their
 +criteria through email discussions in the UK and US. Here is a summary
 +of their brainstorming which she produced in 1996, and* [some comments
 +she added](charter1l) *in June 1999. The criteria were used by*
 +[Communities Online](http://​ *to develop a* [10
 +point charter](charter1l) *to guide community network
 +Key principles and values
 +-   each community will have different expectations about what this new
 +    media can do
 +-   ​ground work to investigate what the community'​s needs and wants are.
 +-   ​commitment to the principle of social inclusion in the Information
 +    Society
 +-   free public access at a wide range of venues
 +-   ​communication as well as information
 +-   room for dissent / freedom of speech within the law
 +-   ​availability of information in minority languages
 +-   ​spaces for children to participate
 +-   ​independent spaces for entrepreneurs,​ groups and citizens
 +-   ​community involvement in decisions about content from the outset
 +-   ​community ownership of the project (i.e. feeling a sense of
 +    ownership amongst the community)
 +-   ​willingness to evaluate as an ongoing process of improvement /
 +    development
 +-   ​commitment to awareness, access and support
 +-   a financial model to ensure their ongoing viability and
 +    sustainability
 +-   ​complementing electronic interchange with other means of
 +    communication (letters, telephone calls and meetings)
 +What outcomes are we looking for ?
 +-   ​improving local democracy
 +-   ​improving links between schools, parents, companies and other local
 +    communities of interest
 +-   ​improving business and work opportunities
 +-   ​improving public access to local information
 +-   ​improving public feedback to organisations
 +-   ​improving input into local planning and development
 +-   ​strengthening of self help initiatives and local organisations such
 +    as LETS, Credit Unions, Food Co-ops, volunteering,​ homeworking
 +-   ​widening access to information amongst those previously not able to
 +    access it (elderly people, women, disabled people, ethnic
 +    minorities)
 +-   ​improving communication for ethnic groups to build up their cultural
 +    identity
 +-   local services including home learning, shared entertainment,​ net
 +    friends
 +-   ​easier collaborative work
 +-   ​increased understanding and use of online opportunities
 +-   ​community building, increased local pride and participation
 +-   new skills, services, jobs and opportunities arising from the above
 +-   long term aim that the community network becomes part of the fabric
 +    of the community
 +What will it take to implement and sustain ?
 +-   ​preliminary work in the community to establish communication and
 +    information needs
 +-   ​investigation into levels of information awareness
 +-   ​vision,​ co-ordination,​ co-operation and consultation amongst
 +    interested parties
 +-   ​partnership of interests and recognition of practicalities of
 +    partnership
 +-   a viable plan for making the network self sustaining
 +-   ​appropriate (and ongoing) local publicity
 +-   ​building on existing networks within a community
 +-   ​awareness of resources required to get something up and running,
 +    then maintain it (funding, volunteer support energy, credibility,​
 +    partnership)
 +-   ​skilled support to ensure the website(s) are effective and well
 +    maintained
 +-   ​training and education programme to involve those not familiar with
 +    the technology
 +-   ​agreement amongst those involved about scope of the system
 +-   ​agreement to focus on activities that achieve visible results
 +    locally
 +-   ​commitment to involve local people in production and development
 +-   ​finding encouraging,​ inspiring local champions in as many spheres of
 +    activity as possible
 +-   ​clarity and agreement about who owns information and equipment, who
 +    is responsible for maintaining it
 +-   ​recognition of the importance of participant feedback at all levels
 +-   ​commitment to make resources available to evaluate the project
 +    against hoped for outcomes
 +-   ​recognition that networks grow according to their reputation and may
 +    outgrow their original constituency
 +How will you know that you are reaching your goals ?
 +-   by monitoring and evaluating progress
 +### Draft guidelines for a charter
 +These guidelines were developed by [Communities
 +Online](http://​ in 1997
 +**1 Community participation.** Community networks and similar
 +information and communication systems should be designed with the
 +participation of the communities that they aim to serve. This should
 +include offline as well as online methods to ensure awareness and
 +encourage participation by the widest possible cross section of the
 +**2 Social inclusion.** Networks should be designed and managed to
 +ensure that all sections of the community have access, and as far as
 +possible there is '​something for everyone'​.
 +**3 Partnership.** Community networks should be partnerships of public,
 +private and community interests to ensure they reflect this holistic
 +**4 Content and communication.** Network users should be encouraged to
 +contribute as well as receive local content, engage with wider online
 +communities of interest, and use the network to address and resolve
 +local concerns.
 +**5 Freedom of speech.** Networks should include independent discussion
 +forums which guarantee freedom of speech within the law.
 +**6 Training.** Programmes of training and support should be available
 +for individuals and organisations so they can enhance their use of the
 +**7 Evaluation.** Networks should be designed with clearly stated
 +objectives whose achievement is evaluated and publicly reported.
 +**8 Sustainability.** Unless networks are intended to be short-life
 +projects they should be designed for operation beyond the start-up
 +**9 Interoperability.** There may well be more than one network in a
 +community, each developed for different audiences. These networks should
 +be designed so that they can be linked to create an integrated
 +communications platform.
 +**10 Leadership.** Local authorities should play a leading role in
 +promoting these principles, and the mechanisms by which they can be
 +implemented - but should not assume that they are the sole public
 +network or platform managers: that may be the role for a partnership
 +### Comment from Debbie Ellen in June 1999
 +The criteria for success that were developed back in 1996 reveal (if
 +even some of them are followed) what a complex task it is to set up a
 +CN.. and sadly, the majority of projects that I have come across have
 +not taken this apporach. Re-reading the criteria and then the guidelines
 +(see above) that Communities Online came up with I was struck by a key
 +difference between the two documents. The criteria are very much about
 +processes, whereas the guidelines seem to focus on technology - compare
 +the number of technology related words in both documents.
 +It seems to me that to be successful the focus of community network
 +development must be on the communication and information potential ..
 +that the technology enables. I don't know of a community network where
 +development has taken a people/​process approach rather than a technology
 +first approach. At a conference I went to in 1998, talking about
 +eletronic democracy, Irving Rappaport said that it should consist of
 +People + Values + Process + Technology in that order.
 +I also think that too many community networks in Britain have focused on
 +the Information angle (probably why they tend to be called Community
 +Information Networks here).. and neglect the communication aspect..
 +which is the harder one to achieve without putting people, values and
 +process at the forefront.
 +As far as the Treasury (or any other funder) is concerned.. I'd want to
 +see research funding provided to adequately evaluate some of the
 +projects that we have (successes and failures) before adding more to the
 +pot. There is a tendency to look at '​exemplars'​ and to avoid looking at
 +the projects that haven'​t worked.. but we need to learn from both to
 +move forward.
 +[Home](../​index) | [Communities](../​community/​index) |
 +[Networks](../​org/​index) | [Partnerships](../​part/​index) |
 +[Toolkit](http://​​internet/​index) | | [Join
partnerships/articles/charter1.txt ยท Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)