About this site

Larry Stillman

Larry Stillman

This site contains information about Larry Stillman’s work. I am a Research Fellow at the Centre for Community Networking Research, Monash University. I seek to understand how community and non-profit organisations work with information, knowledge, and technology. My PhD was a deep study of these issues in community-based organisations. I do work in Australia and increasingly in South Africa in the Development Informatics area.


Since the early 90s I have worked in and with community-based organisations in various information, community development, and research roles, including a number of technology innovations. With the advent of the internet, I saw great opportunities for change — and also great challenges to how we do our work.

I began to become interested in how we know what we are doing with technology, is ‘right’, ‘wrong’, or somewhere in between. I’m particularly interested in how we know what is valuable to both communities and people (usually government) who support such initiatives– their information and knoweldge.

Different discourse frames and power relations mean that very different world views are frequently on stage (and all the shades therein). I’ve also become active with various networks of practitioners and researchers locally and internationally. A lot of my time has been engaged in organising conferences and workshops because much of what we do and understand doesn’t make for easy writing or documentation. It’s also an obvious truth that nothing works as well as people getting together and–networking! We are engaged in not just simple research, but applied action and research.

I’ll add content as time permits.

You might like to look at the piece on ‘community informatics’ (the academic term that is bandied around these days) that I started off in Wikipedia, and add to it. An increasingly important, cooperative space for community informatics discussions and contributions is cirn.wikispaces.com.

I’ve also got a few political and social justice obsessions which I also blog or and / or put on Facebook.  So look for me there.

In my senecditude, I am returning to my real academic love, Assyriology, and the Akkadian language, the greatest language of antiquity.  Unfortunately, except for references in the Bible and a few elsewhere, Mesopotamian civilization was lost under the sands of Iraq and Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and then Arabic and Persian took over.    I am teaching a wonderful informal group once a week. It’s the best thing I’ve done academically in a long time. It may become a credit course at some point in the future, but the bureaucracy involved is a real disincentive. The internet has of course, revolutioned such allegedly obscure academic fields, with a huge number of resources online.

Contact: larryjhs_ AT _ fastmail.fm, and remove all the bits that should be removed to make this work.

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The Informationalisation of the Australian Community Sector

Rebecca French and Larry Stillman

Based on research in Australia, this article offers explanatory concepts about how welfare workers deal with contradictions between the rationalising ‘informationalisation’ of welfare system governance and the demands of people-centred welfare practice, or ‘technologies of care’. While the situation in Australia with respect to the relationship between government, funders and welfare workers may not be mirrored in other places, the concepts are relevant for the development of local research, insights and practice. Suggestions are also made for further action to bridge the gap between information systems design and welfare practice through the adoption of a dialogic and representational system for more effective interoperable design that reflects the needs of the major parties involved, including funders, designers and particularly welfare workers.

Keywords: Social-technical systems, data doubles, electronic children, bricolage, informationalisation, governmentality, electronic welfare work.

Social Policy & Society (2014)  doi:10.1017/S1474746414000098

Article, SPS 2014

Participatory Action Research & Inclusive Information and Knowledge Management for Empowerment

A ‘Note’ from ICTD ‘13 Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Information and Communications Technologies and Development: Notes – Volume 2 Pages 163-166
ACM New York, NY, USA ©2013 “Participatory Action Research & Inclusive Information and  Knowledge Management for Empowerment”

This Note discusses current and prospective research into understandings of Participatory Action Research (PAR) and its relationship to the development of inclusive and pluralistic forms of Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) in ICT4D/ICTD contexts through the Oxfam Australia-Monash University Partnership. It is intended that an innovative demonstration project to trial new ways of implementing  PAR & pluralistic  IKM will be  then be  undertaken with international development NGOs with an aim to more widespread adoption of these techniques.

Ictd-Cape Town 2013

The Capability Approach and Community Informatics

Larry Stillman, Tom Denison: The Capability Approach and Community Informatics

This pre-publication paper is to appear in The Information Society.  Please be aware it may be still subject to some editing. The citation is not yet available. Only cite from the published version, i.e. this version is only for reference. Stillman-Denison Capability Approach ( right click on this and save or it will load on the page that follows)

Using Interviews Effectively in Community Informatics

This is a  paper from some years ago about techniques for good interviews. It’s basic, but I think there are some basic rules that need to be followed in the collection of interview data. Technology has moved on a bit. You can now use Livescribe for recording and notetaking, but Express Scribe is still a great tool.   But there is nothing like being a very careful observer to all that goes on, both verbally and non-verbally.

Stillman, L. (2007). Using interviews effectively in community informatics. Researching with Communities: Grounded perspectives on engaging communities in research A. Williamson and R. deSouza. Auckland, Muddy Creek: 371-383.PDF

Power, Communities, and Community Informatics: a meta-study

Arnold, M., & Stillman, L. (2013). Power, Communities, and Community Informatics: a meta-study. The Journal of Community Informatics, 12(1), (e-journal).

Be alert, but not alarmed. My name is missing from the body of the article, but not the abstract. It is an error that is being fixed. Just scroll down in the interim. joci 2013-Arnold-Stillman