I have just submitted the following abstract to Making Links 2010, a conference aimed at people working at the intersection of social action and ICT. It is being held in Perth in November.
Community WiFi Networks and Participatory Art
This paper considers participatory art forms, used by community cultural development (CCD) practitioners, as conduits to motivate, inform and provide tools to design, build and sustain community WiFi networks (CWN). It explores a methodological approach combining participatory action research (PAR) with actor-network theory (ANT). It illustrates how PAR and ANT might be used together to research creative practitioners working with communities to build CWNs. The methodology has been designed to look closely at how a critical pedagogy approach to developing CWNs could enable community engagement; and whether informal approaches to learning inherent in CCD practice leads to critical consciousness. The paper will elaborate on how the methodology will be applied to the following case study: a partnership between the media arts development organisation CuriousWorks; the Indigenous media production crew Martu Media; and the local Indigenous Martu community. The empirical research site, Newman, is located in the Western Desert in remote Western Australia.