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Creating Online Communities

An International Guide to Community Networking

This outline proposal is for comment by co-editors and potential contributors. If you would like to join in development, you may subscribe to the mailing list for potential contributors.

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David Wilcox, Partnerships Online

Purpose of the Guide

The Guide will be an online resource to provide inspiration and guidance on how to use the Internet for community benefit, personal development or organisational change - and help others do the same. Content will cover both the start up and management of projects.

The Guide will build on a previous online publication on this site: How you can use IT in the community , and much other excellent material on other sites. It will stand in its own right, and also act as a back-up resource to some other projects under development in the UK:

Course participants and those developing local projects will be invited to contribute content to the Guide to ensure that it is updated and developed in ways which are relevant to user needs. Hopefully other editors and contributors will integrate development of the guide with other projects, so content is refresh. We will, of course, need to agree appropriate terms for use of the material.

Development of the Guide

My initial vision of Guide development - offered here for comment - is as follows.

First, a core framework is developed by collaborating editors in a number of countries where there are community neworking projects - for example, I have contacts in USA and Canada, Australia, UK and some other European countries. Content will then be developed by:

  • Desktop research in each country into what's online already - a first set of commented URLs to fill out the framework.
  • Articles, case studies etc solicited by editors in their own countries using lists, conferencing, and f2f workshops. Practitioners will be recruited from existing lists like communet and conet.
  • Transnational peer-to-peer lists will also be established.
  • From this material we should be able to analyse second order content of key topics, areas of competence, do's and don'ts, glossaries etc. Some will be generic, some country specific. (see for some existing guide material on 'real world' processes of participation and partnership building)

While this may seem a little daunting, I hope that the need to develop course material will assist with structuring, and on-the-ground training and consultancy work will rapidly sift what's useful and what is not.

There is some excellent material around already, and some good sites. I believe the first round of trans-national structuring and signposting will in itself add a lot of value and inspire people to contribute.


The aim of the guide - as I see it - is to show what 'real world' benefits new media can offer. Consequently the starting point should be the problems and aspirations of communities, organisation and individuals - rather than the technology or any one model of community networking. This is reflected in the contents below. (I am indebted to Terry Grunwald's excellent Making the Net Work and other sources which will be acknowledged!) Terry visited the UK in summer 1998 - see her presentations here.

Draft contents

1 Introduction to the Guide

This will explain the approach taken by the guide, and help users reflect on what they are looking for and find a route through the material e.g:

  • Understanding current community concerns and frameworks for thinking about sustainable development
  • Gaining an insight in the basics of the technology
  • Looking for structured learning material
  • Finding project case studies
  • Understanding key policy issues on technology impact
  • Planning a community networking project

2 An overview: why bother, what's involved,what's coming

  • The benefits of community networking: personally, for organisations, communities.
  • Examples of information, advice, trade, collaboration etc
  • Communities of interest and locality
  • Plus a realistic acknowledgement of the barriers to access and use.
  • What Government and local government is planning
  • What industry is planning
  • Forecasts on costs and convenience
  • Major national initiatives
  • Internet issues of security, pornography, privacy etc
  • Have's and have nots
  • Impact of new trading patterns on communities

3 Technology basics

  • How to get connected: typical costs, equipment, ISPs etc
  • Finding information: gateways, searching
  • Communicating and collaborating: email, lists, chat, groupware
  • Achieving visibility: Web publishing.

4 Understanding communities

  • The current context for communities
  • Community profiling
  • Community development, empowerment, sustainable development
  • Countering exclusion from information & communications technology
  • Creating community organisations
  • Thinking about the future of your community in relation to the threats and opportunities posed by information and communications technologies
  • Techniques e.g. stakeholder analysis, SWOT analysis, force field analysis, community profiling

5 Understanding organisations

Issues which are relevant for organisations introducing online working, and for online projects as the develop e.g.

  • Governance and management
  • Strategic planning
  • Business planning
  • Financial planning and control
  • Human resources
  • Managing change
  • Team building
  • Volunteer management

6 Understanding 'real world' processes

The process which online projects may support - and which will be involved in creating those projects, since most will involve colaborations and partnerships. For example:

  • Community participation, community empowerment, partnership working, structures for collaboration and partnership
  • Contrasting process models of working with communities
  • Planning and monitoring work with communities

7 Online processes

  • Participating in and managing online discussion
  • Collaborative working
  • Achieving an online presence
  • Managing multi-authored content

8 Appropriate technology for community networking

  • Public access
  • Servers and software
  • Essential and desirable applications

9 Researching good practice

Before starting a project, how do you systematically review experience elsewhere and establish how to monitor your own performance (important for course work):

  • Measures of performance
  • Procedures for monitoring and reviewing performance
  • Identifying good practice
  • Writing a review report with action points
  • Identifying barriers

10 Designing a project

This section will include:

  • Making a needs assessment on information, communication, collaboration, visibiliy.
  • Checklists for project planning
  • Creating a strategic plan
  • Briefing on use of the community networking game and other simulation devices.

11 Communities Online

  • Examples of local community networking projects and main community networking functions in more detail, e.g.
  • Creating awareness
  • Providing access
  • Training and support
  • Learning and resource centres
  • Electronic democracy
  • Provising and managing conent
  • Providing hardware and software
  • Connecting communities of interest

12 Organisations Online

Terry Grunwald offers an eleven point plan which could be a good starting point:

  • Determine the basics
  • Assess organisational resources
  • Select host/access provider
  • Establish a networking plan
  • Assign roles and responsibilities
  • Establish organisational guidelines
  • Log on and st up networking systems
  • Think email
  • Think online information
  • Post information
  • Train, train, train and brainsorm.

13 Personal and Family Learning Online

To be developed

14 Resource listings

  • UK and international initiatives
  • Local initiatives
  • Organisations that can help
  • Main sites
  • Bibliography

15 How you can contribute

  • As a contibutor of articles or links
  • As a section editor
  • Through a workshop

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partnerships/iguide/index.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 15:20 (external edit)