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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Academic Values and Social Impact-the painful contradiction.

The following is the text of a recent rant on Facebook.

This photo came up on my FB page today. I took it about 3 years ago. It is of village women mapping out their community assets as part of the PROTIC project in Bangladesh which looks at at effect of smartphones and sociotechnical networks on community and particularly village life. These women are faced with the effects of climate change in geologically unstable region.

But the subtext here is that rather than being in the reality of a village in a pretty isolated part of the world, the villagers had to come to us because we were grounded due to a difficult security situation. Now, it’s relatively easy to write about the “research? here- the mapping exercise-in a way that gets journal recognition.

But what about the moral and ethical questions here – should we have expected the women to come to us in Dhaka when we could not go to them. In the village? Were we acting unethically? (The judgement call was not made by us, but the partner NGO).

How does academic valuing as it currently stands account for the effort and frequent cross-cultural complexity put into organising such socially important research in which it is impossible to set up perfect experimental social science situations and I suspect even technical situations? What is worth more and has greater impacts?

Is the impact to value foremost in having women innovate in agriculture and grow better food or vaccinate cows, and writing that up descriptively in Bengali, or displayed in billboards and community education for farmers elsewhere? Or is it spending months writing paragraphs of obscure faddish jargon to please the editorial policies of a journal which even if it accepts the paper, will be years out of date? What about the impact on research students?

If we develop a way of aggregating lots of village data so that they can access it instantly on a phone, but it’s not a leading piece of research and won’t get publication points, do we drop it? Or should also we move into looking at the moral and ethical side of things (data aggregation, access and security and surveillance in a country like Bangladesh). Clearly, the hard and soft ends of research can productively come together.

Another grand question- if we think that all this is too hard for IT research and we should well, just leave it for others, then are we giving up on connecting with the grand challenges that face the planet?


Shared collaborative spaces challenges in inter-organisational collaborative projects

Mozhdeh Dehghani Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University Melbourne, Australia

Tom Denison Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University Melbourne, Australia

Larry Stillman Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University Melbourne, Australia e-mail: larry.stillman@monash.edu


This research in progress is based on a qualitative approach with multiple case studies using Nonaka’s theory of knowledge creation and conceptualisation of a knowledge -creating place, Ba. It addresses the high-level  need  to  make  collaboration  more  effecti ve  between  university  and  industry  by  exploring shared  collaborative  spaces  in  collaborative  research  projects.  It  uses  semi -structured  interviews, participant observation, and document analysis to look at the ways in which researchers and industry representatives with different culture within these partnerships create shared collaborative spaces to share  information  and  knowledge.  The  study  will  propose  a  conceptual  model  explicating  effective shared  collaborative  spaces  in  the  university-industry  collabor ation  (UIC)  context  according  to  the active  actors  (researchers  and  industry  representatives)  perspective.  The  model  will  be  an  original contribution  to  research  in  the  area  of  knowledge  management  in  UICs’.  Finding  effective  shared collaborative spaces may be lead to more effective collaboration between university and industry

Dehghani, Mozhdeh; Denison, T om; and S tillman, Larry, “Shared collaborative spaces challenges in in ter-organisational collaborative projects” (2018). PACIS 2018 P roceedings. 199. https://ai sel.aisnet.org/pacis2018/199

Deghani, Denision, LS Shared collaborative spaces challenges in inter-organisational PACIS 2018

Understanding Health Information System Implementation in an Indonesian Primary Health Centre: A Sociotechnical Perspective

Conference Paper:

The implementation of health information systems (HIS) faces major challenges in developing countries. These challenges are due to the complex nature of the healthcare sector that involves complex interactions between various professional groups, technologies and organisational interest. This paper explores socio-technical challenges during a HIS implementation in a primary health centre (PHC) in Bandung City, Indonesia. An Actor- Network Theory (ANT) informed qualitative case study is applied to explore how a variety of human and non-human actions influences the stability of the HIS implementation network and what factors preserve the durability of the HIS implementation. We found un-finished translation processes; vendor support and external encounters affect the stability of the network. However, organisational factors (management authority and support, staff adaptation, and local policy) can preserve implementation durability regardless of the limitations of the HIS.

Recommended Citation

Hariyanto, Hadi; Denison, Tom; and Stillman, Larry, “Understanding Health Information System Implementation in an Indonesian Primary Health Centre: A Sociotechnical Perspective” (2018). PACIS 2018 Proceedings. 219.

Hadi, Denison, LS Understanding Health Information System Implementation in an Indonesian Primary Health Centre. A Sociotechnical PerspectivePACIS 2018

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