An experimental methodology to promote and evaluate the use of community networks for civic engagement

Paper published at the 8th IDIA Conference, the International Development Informatics Association.
ICTs for inclusive communities in developing societies.

CitizenSqKm is a project currently based in the Barcelona neighborhood of
Poblenou, which aims to explore and extend the potentials of a community
owned and managed telecommunications network. The project explores how
community networks can increase civic engagement and benefit the citizens of
the European Union more broadly.
In order to privilege the use of the community network, the project is devising a
methodology to engage participants using educational and journalistic
techniques. The project is developing a comprehensive evaluation and applied
methodology of civic engagement using participatory media. Guided by the
philosophy of community networks—principles emerging from the commons of
open, free and a non-commodified network—this paper presents the design and
development of a specific communication ecology and it’s impact on the
After reflecting on the existing literature concerning differing research
methodologies, this paper will then present the considerations and choices we
made in order to design a methodology specific to the context and which
exceeds mere diagnosis, to enable actual social interventions. The
methodology combines conventional digital methods with more recent
participatory and qualitative evaluation methods, such as Ethnographic Action
Research (EAR), and its variation, the Network Action Research (NAR), and the
Most Significant Change (MSC)—methods currently being used to document
the impact of information and communication technologies for transforming
This project—despite being at the beginning stage— has already moved to
identify and correct flaws in its methodology. And despite the fact that the
emerging systematology appears solid, it is still premature to confirm solid
results at this stage

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