We note with sadness the death of Michael Gurstein at the age of 73.
Michael Gurstein was an inspirational and visionary Canadian, the ‘father’ of Community Informatics, and a friend of the 20/20 Trust and other community organisations all over the world who share the Community Informatics goal of Effective use of the Internet to benefit everyone.
For 17 years Michael guided Community Informatics, establishing it as an academically recognised area of applied research, analysis and practice about enabling and empowering communities through the use of information and communications technology. Throughout, he kept focus on applying the research to using technology to better the daily lives of everyone including (and especially) the disadvantaged.
Community Informatics Achievements
- Gurstein’s ‘Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies’ (Idea Group, 2000) was the first major publication in the community informatics field, and introduced “community informatics” into wider usage as the research and praxis discipline underpinning the social appropriation of ICT. Another major contribution was Gurstein’s introduction of “effective use” as a critical analytical framework for assessing technology implementation superseding commonly accepted frameworks such as the “digital divide”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gurstein#Community_informatics)
- In 2004 he and others started the Community Informatics Research Network https://cirn.wikispaces.com/and was Editor in Chief of its Journal of Community Informatics http://ci-journal.net. Also starting in 2004, an international Community Informatics conference is held in most years in Prato, Italy. (Barbara Craig, Victoria University & 20/20’s researcher has often participated, occasionally with other 20/20 speakers.)
- In 2006 he established the Center for Community Informatics Research Development and Training in Vancouver.
- In 2007 he published ‘What is Community Informatics (and why does it matter)?’ downloadable free from http://eprints.rclis.org/10919/1/WHAT_IS_COMMUNITY_INFORMATICS_reading.pdf
- In 2013 he was the first signatory of the Community Informatics Declaration: An Internet for the Common Good – Engagement, Empowerment, and Justice for All readable (and signable) at http://cirn.wikispaces.com/An+Internet+for+the+Common+Good+-+Engagement%2C+Empowerment%2C+and+Justice+for+All
- Until 2016, he published a blog at https://gurstein.wordpress.com/
Visit to New Zealand
In 2006, the 20/20 Trust, with help from InternetNZ, brought Michael to Wellington as an honoured guest and speaker at the 20/20 Trust’s 10th anniversary celebrations, hosted by Luamanuvao Laban, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.
During his visit Michael advised the Government on the New Zealand Digital Strategy, spoke at the Victoria University of Wellington and spent time with Trustees. He also accompanied 20/20 researcher Barbara Craig to Gisborne and the East Coast, as he wanted to visit some Maori ‘First Nations’ communities and Computers in Homes families.
There are now 1,870,000 references to Community Informatics on Google. The application of Community Informatics to benefit people everywhere is his best memorial.
We celebrate his life and his achievements, and offer our condolences to his family and friends.