About this site

Larry Stillman

Larry Stillman

This site contains information about Larry Stillman’s work. I am a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Community and Social Informatics in the Faculty of IT at 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 & Bangladesh in the Development Informatics area.  I am now lead research in a joint project “PROTIC” (which means sign or symbol in Bengali), with Oxfam in Bangladesh. We will be working with poor  remote rural villages  to explore their interactive use of mobile technologies through participatory action research until 2019.  It is an  incredibly exciting initiative.


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 involved with a project to publish all the texts that have ended up (surprisingly) in museums and other collections in Australia and New Zealand. The internet has of course, revolutionized 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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A feature about the PROTIC project

Monash Lens has  a good report on what is happening in the PROTIC project, with a bit of journalistic licence. Of course, what formal academic prefers is those articles in high level publications.  But I am bogged down in reality.

Fresh fish

A photo of a nice fish that was caught by one of the village women posted on Facebook

Article on Particpatory Action Research in Bangladesh

Sarrica, M. Denison, T., Stillman, L. Chakraborty, T., Auvi, P., 2017. “What do others think?” An emic approach to participatory action research in Bangladesh. AI and Society. 10.1007/s00146-017-0765-9

A rather academic article trying to explain crosscultural research and action, participation, and other matters.

AI paper image

AI2017 PROTIC paper

Empowering Community Voices Project: Research studies from South Africa and Bangladesh

This is a report from a few years back now, but it still makes for interesting reading.

The two case studies discussed here—with Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) in South Africa, and Oxfam in Bangladesh—are part of the Empowering Community Voices project, which is supported by the Oxfam–Monash Partnership. The project is concerned with identifying how information and knowledge activities can result in community voices being more effectively presented and heard in an unimpeded and authentic way in international
development initiatives.

Empowering Community VoicesOxfam-Bangla-1-Aug-2014

Interview in the Daily Samakal (in Bengali)

sclipThe Daily eSamakal Epub 3 march 2016

Mobile phone technology to offer real-time support to Bangladeshi women

A News Item from Monash University, 23 March 2016

Mobile phone technology to offer real-time support to Bangladeshi women, Monash University