Permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or to approach or communicate with a person or thing, or freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something. (Merriam Webster Free Dictionary Here we specifically mean access to technology, tools, networks, and opportunities.

The capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. (C. Luttrell et al, 2007) This is a sociological definition of the term, and most closely approximates they way we have used it in this class.

Agile Software Development
Refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. The Agile Manifesto introduced the term in 2001. Related terms: scrum (development), lean (software) development. (

Asset Based Community Development
Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.  (

The creation of phony grassroots campaigns designed to persuade the public and public officials. (Gillmor, Mediactive, 18.)

A free open source application used to record and edit audio files. It supports multiple tracks and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Available here. NOTE: If you want to export files as mp3s (which you probably do) you will need the Lame Codec. How to install the codec depends on your operating system. More info on the Audacity wiki.

Blog / Blogging
A blog (a blend of the term “web log”) is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs can be maintained by an individual or a group, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.  A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. (Adapted from

Bonding Social Capital
Social capital which tends to promote cohesion and action within a discrete community.

Bridging Social Capital
Social capital which tends to promote links (and associated exchange of resources, knowledge, opportunities, etc) between discrete communities.

Capacity Building
A conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results. (

Citizen Journalism
The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires. (Gillmor et al,

Civil Society
Civil society refers to the set of institutions, organizations and behavior situated between the state, the business world, and the family. Specifically, this includes voluntary and non-profit organizations of many different kinds, philanthropic institutions, social and political movements, other forms of social participation and engagement and the values and cultural patterns associated with them. (The Center for Civil Society,

Collaborative Space
A physical or virtual space designed and intended for the accomplishment of cooperative or collaborative work or exchange between individuals and teams or groups.

A group of people defined by shared identity, interest, geography, practice, circumstance, and/or necessity.

Community Assets / Asset Mapping
An opportunity-centered mode of diagnostic research into community issues. This research methods seeks to identify the opportunities available to a community and the resources it can bring to bear in taking advantage of those opportunities. “Asset mapping involves understanding the array of capacities and social networks, what some call social capital, on which social change projects can be built. Asset mapping diagnoses what is present.”  (Stoecker, pp.95)

Community Engagement
Community engagement is defined as the process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being. (CDC,

Community Informatics
The application of the study of informatics to (typically) geographic, rather than virtual communities. Practiced as engagement with communities to develop tools and effective use of information in light of current technology. Communities can incorporate any number of people, and are primarily self-identified.

Community Needs / Needs Assessment
A problem-centered mode of diagnostic research into community issues. This research seeks to determine what a community lacks, and needs to be able to solve its problems.  “In needs assessment, the focus is on understanding the difference between a current condition and an ideal condition. Needs assessments diagnose what is missing.” (Stoecker, pp.95)

Community of Inquiry
A group of people that are united by a shared interest, problem or issue. They have a commitment to address the issue, problem or interest through a method akin to scientific investigation. Essential to the method is a laboratory mind that is able to suspend belief and is open to fresh, diverse, ideas and evidence. Communication in the community stresses listening. There is a commitment among the community to act to address the problem/issue. The actions taken to resolve the problem/issue are assessed using communication and reflection about consequences. Generally, empirical evidence is used in the assessment. (Shields, P.

Communities of Practice
As defined by Wenger, the purpose of a community of practice is “to develop members’ capabilities; to build and exchange knowledge.”

Community Media – The phrase “community media” encompasses a range of community-based activities intended to supplement, challenge, or change the operating principles, structures, financing, and cultural forms and practices associated with dominant media.  (Howley, pp. 2.)

Community Media Center / Newsroom
A Collaborative Space or Community Technology Center that has been specially equipped to serve as a newsroom for citizen journalists. A place for exchange and cooperation between professional and citizen journalists, and between journalists of any stripe and the community at large. “Community media centers at their best bring private citizens into public life.”

Crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers. (Howe,

Cultural Imperialism
Cultural imperialism proposes that a society is brought into the modern world system when its dominating stratum is attracted, pressured, forced, and sometimes bribed into shaping its social institutions to correspond to, or even promote, the values and structures of the dominating center of the system. (Schiller, 1976.

The expression, mechanism, and medium of power and power relations in cyberspace. “The totality of cyberpower is the three levels of individual, social and imaginary. Taken together they provide a complex map of the dominant structures and trends of life in cyberspace. Cyberpower provides a map of the forces underlying both online grassroots political activism and digital democracy, as well as their enemies.” (Jordan,

Digital Divide
The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access information and communications technologies (ICTs) and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities. (Pascual

Digital Literacy
“The understanding of and capacity to use new information technologies.” (Knight, pp. 44.

Digital Story
A story that somehow utilizes digital ICTs (information communication technologies). Broad definitions can include things as simple as audio recordings of stories stored online (often listened to through RSS feeds) or weblogs. Some people might define digital stories specifically as stories that include both audio (requiring voice, but optionally including music, sound effects, or other noises as well) and visuals (still images or video).

Echo Chamber
A situation in which an array of ideas are presented and those the reader is most comfortable with are favored and accepted above all the others.  Similar to preaching to the choir.  This concept also highlights why it is important to consider all ideas individually rather than part of a set. (brought up when discussing the Knight Reports – 6/13)

“Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.” (

Evidence-Based Design
Evidence-based design is the use of evidence-based recommendations in the design of spaces. These recommendations are derived from investigation, and are ideally verifiable and applicable to a wide range of situations. The recommendations concern designing for such aspects as well-being and productivity.

Free Speech / Expression
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (

Information Ecology/Ecosystem
Takes in the totality of “the environment for information and communications” in a given community, place, or group. “The question ‘What are a community’s information needs?’ is more than a question about the categories of knowledge that people require. It is best understood as a question about the kind of information ecology that a community ought to become.” (Knight, pp. 2

Information Grounds
“An Information Ground is an environment temporarily created when people come together for a singular purpose but from whose behavior emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information.” From the iSchool at U. Washington Big guns in the field: Karen Fisher and Reijo Savolainen.

Investigative Journalism
“The reporting, through one’s own initiative and work product, of matters of importance to readers, viewers, or listeners. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed.” (Houston, pp. v)

Media Literacy
“The capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a variety of media.”  (Knight, pp. 44.

“Communication and interaction through a medium in a particular setting, where the message and the relation between sender and receiver may be affected. Analyses of mediation focus on how the media influence both message and the relation between sender and receiver.” (Lundby, pp.11-12.)

In a broad sense, “the process through which society is increasingly becoming dependent on the logic of the media”. In a narrower sense, “the transformation of processes into forms or formats that are suitable for media re-presentation”. (Lundby, pp. 11-12.)

Network Theory
The study of concrete, measurable patterns of relationships among entities in a social space. (Adapted from Owen-Smith

Participatory Action Research
A recognized form of experimental research that focuses on the effects of the researcher’s direct actions of practice within a participatory community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the community or an area of concern. (

Public Access Television is made up of three areas: Public, Educational, Government. These are commonly known as PEG.

  • Public Access is the production of videos by the community to be shown to the community. These videos come from individuals as well as community groups.
  • Educational Access programming is centered around the educational community. Programs that notify the community of upcoming events and activities or programs focused on learning.
  • Government Access is similar to Educational Access but instead it is produced by the local government. It provides information on local government meetings, activities, and community programs. (Adapted from

A series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication. The word replaced webcast in common use with the success of the iPod and its role in the rising popularity and innovation of web feeds. A podcast is a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; program-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed with computer software. (Adapted from

Public Access Television
The availability of a television station to the general public. What is available are all things connected to a television station. This includes the studio, the equipment, and the staff. Your local cable television company will make available one channel or more for use by the public. The channel is usually adminstrated by the cable company or a third party designated by the franchising authority. (Adapted from

Public Computing Center
The Public Computing Center (PCC) or Community Technology Center (CTC) is a generic name given to a computer lab open to the public. In addition to home and work, people access computers and the Internet in public settings such as government institutions (e.g. libraries and schools), commercial enterprises (e.g. copy shops and private business schools), and other venues making up the public sphere. We call this public computing: public access to and use of information and communications technology. (Williams & Alkalimat, 2000

Public Sphere
A virtual or imaginary community which does not necessarily exist in any identifiable space. In its ideal form, the public sphere is “made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state”. Through acts of assembly and dialogue, the public sphere generates opinions and attitudes which serve to affirm or challenge–therefore, to guide–the affairs of state. (From Habermas’ definition,

Social Capital
According to Robert Putnam, social capital “refers to connections among individuals– social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them”. James Coleman adds the idea that these connections and networks must facilitate agency or action to be considered as true social capital. There are many other flavors of social capital, but the combination of Putnam’s and Coleman’s conceptions is probably the best sense in which to think of the term for our work in this course, as they consider it primarily in the context of civic life and socioeconomic empowerment.

Social Media
The use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media substantially change communication between organizations, communities, and individuals. (Adapted from

Social Network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations), which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige. Social network can also colloquially refer to social media websites that help individuals track and interact with their personal social networks. (Adapted from

A narrative designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader.

Studio Pedagogy
A mode of education common in the design and architecture fields. Based on master-apprentice model where apprentices learn by doing real work for community within the studio of the master. Emphasizes learning to be a professional as opposed to learning about the profession and its prerequisite knowledge. This course was based on a studio pedagogy model.

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