Using ICT to support public and private community memories: case studies and lessons learned

Mulholland, P.; Gaved, Mark; Collins, T.; Zdrahal, Z. and Heath, T. (2006). Using ICT to support public and private community memories: case studies and lessons learned. In: Proceedings: 3rd Prato International Community Informatics Conference (CIRN 2006): Constructing and Sharing Memory, 9-11 Oct 2006, Monash Centre, Prato, Italy.


Information communication technologies (ICTs) enable the development of memories across a variety of communities. We identify a spectrum of deployment from private through to open public spaces. As we move along this spectrum key variables change including mechanisms of trust and accountability and the definition of ownership, authorship and readership. Some challenges however, remain constant such as designing for sustainability and the need to align research and community goals.

Private spaces can be created to enhance existing interactions, develop bonding capital and build shared memory. Such spaces allow a defined membership the opportunity to explore new ideas away from the public gaze, using language which may not be intelligible to outsiders. ICTs may be used to bridge internal and external audiences, repurposing content for a wider public. The original content may require alternative presentation, organisation or navigation methods to support its effective use by an external audience.

Increasingly, community memories are being developed using social software within the public sphere, however this raises issues of authority, reputation management, and conflict resolution. Unexpected innovation may occur, and issues of sustainability must be addressed. In our analysis we will draw on three ICT initiatives in which we have participated: Bletchley Park Guides’ Forum, Bletchley Park Text and Milton Keynes Open Guide.

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