Keeping in Touch
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
This discussion paper summarises the key themes from Keeping In Touch, a collaborative research project involving academics from The Digital Cultures Research Centre, Knowle West Media Centre as community partner, and independent consultant Dr Clodagh Miskelly.
Keeping in Touch consisted of a scoping review of UK based projects, visits to three case studies and a small interview-based study with people who are active in a particular area of Bristol. The project asked:
- What can we learn about people’s everyday use of mobile media and communication technologies that would support the aim of strengthening communities?
- How do people already use mobile media and everyday communication technologies in their daily lives to ‘keep in touch’ with significant community networks?
This report is the first iteration of a series of questions that would support the development of a digital communications strategy for communities of interest or place. Any such strategy needs to work with already existing key nodes in the network of community communication. Projects which build on people's everyday practice are more sustainable than those which introduce completely new technologies or activities.
Respondents did not talk about ‘community strengthening’ but about connecting to people, sharing information and joining in events and activities. Community life was described in terms of activities, encounters, collaborations and meetings.
There is no 'one size fits all' solution but rather weaving technology into community activities in ways which best suit individual communication preferences and group purpose. Technology adoption is prompted by direct personal relevance. Understanding this adoption process enables key people to introduce useful enabling practices that go with the grain of relationship-driven patterns of connectivity. The skills developed around the functions of ‘community management’ in commercial media practice could be usefully adapted to the aims of connecting communities.
This is a discussion paper released as a part of the DCRC project "Keeping in Touch" for the AHRC Connected Communities theme.