Community development in cyberspace: a case study of a community network
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Malina, A. (2001) Community development in cyberspace: a case study of a community network, no. 409.
This thesis investigates the background, emergence, use and significance of a community based information network, the Craigmillar Community Information Service (CCIS), in Edinburgh, Scotland, to assess its relationship with community development and note also the local network's relationship over time with the community, the city and society. Desk research, i.e. reviews of literature and examination of various documents combined with information gained in the field helped to weave contextual, conceptual and theoretical frameworks to assist in analysis. Data was gathered in the field by means of qualitative interviews with City of Edinburgh (CEC) officials, system developers and CCIS users. Additional data was collected and checks were subsequently made as a result of routine observations of CCIS operating within their base in Craigmillar; and also via virtual observations of on-line structure and content over time. Local media reports and an assessment of regeneration delivery services in Craigmillar, commissioned by CEC also provided insights in the analysis. The main objective was to collect data that would accurately reflect the true nature and significance of the CCIS system. A qualitative methodology was employed in this study. Desk research began in mid 1995, and on-line and real-time observations in 1996. Interviews were carried out in the field during 1997 and early 1998. In the final chapter of this thesis, conclusions emerging from analysis of the data are offered as a means of developing deeper understanding of CCIS and community development in cyberspace. Overall, it is hoped to extend general knowledge of community networks, and broaden understanding of the developing field of social informatics. In light of conclusions drawn, theoretical frameworks are reviewed in the final chapter and potential is outlined for further research into the evolving roles of community-based initiatives situated elsewhere, their socio-technical relations and their significance in different societal settings.