SI 575 Community Information Corps Seminar

Professor Paul Resnick

Winter 2002


Last revised 03/19/02 (PR).

Meets Fridays 12-1:30  in 311 West Hall (bring your lunch!)
email list: si.cic.discuss (I have deliberately not made it a link, so that automated programs won't be able to figure out the full address and send us SPAM. It's Right now, si.cic.discuss includes si.cic.students and selected faculty members. If people on si.cic.students complain about too much mail, we may change who receives si.cic.discuss messages.

This 1-credit seminar course offers reading, reflection, and social networking experiences for students who are engaged in projects or considering careers as public informationists, (i.e., organizing information flows in support of communal and public needs). Many students will enroll concurrently in some kind of project work, either through a Directed Field Experience (DFE), an independent study, or a workshop course.

We will read about and discuss theories of community, civil society, and the role of the non-profit sector, and draw connections with project work (reading and reflection). There will also be frequent opportunities to learn about other students' projects and to meet some of the national leaders of the community information movement (social networking) and possibly to travel to relevant conferences and workshops. At the end of this course, students who are interested in pursuing careers in the community information movement should have enough information and connections to begin a job search in this area.

This seminar also serves as a focal point for the School of Information's Community Information Corps, a loosely organized  interest group of faculty, doctoral and master's students, and outside "friends". Several faculty will be dropping in, and students who do not wish to sign up for credit are welcome to come for those sessions that they find interesting.

You are encouraged to participate for multiple semesters (you can take it for credit up to four times); while we'll keep revisiting similar themes, there will be minimal overlap in the readings and guests. The faculty coordinator will rotate as well, leading to slightly different emphases in different semesters.

Early in each semester, there will be announcements about project opportunities with faculty and Directed Field Experience opportunities. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their project experiences in the class. Academic credit for these projects, however, will not be arranged through this class. DFEs will be administered through Karen Jordan. Workshop courses have their own course numbers. Other projects will be arranged as independent study directly with the supervising faculty member.

This semester, there will be a lot more opportunities for students to shape our activities. Read on to hear more.




After participating in SI 575, you should be able to:

The Big Ideas

Throughout our examination of these ideas, we will keep returning to implications for the roles of information professionals.

We will keep returning to these ideas each semester, but usually with somewhat different readings and guests to guide our exploration.


Readings will be handed out in class, or available on the Web. You will need to read materials before class so that we can have lively discussion (see reaction paper assignments below).

Assignments and Due Dates

This is a 1-credit class. Class meets for an hour and a half each week. You should spend, on average, about two and a half hours each week outside of class, doing the following:

Student Roles

There are a number of ways for you to get involved in the running of the Community Information Corps. Find one or more roles that you're comfortable with and sign up!


This class must be elected pass/fail (satisfactory/unsatisfactory). This is not a class that lends itself to conventional grading.

Office Hours

Tuesdays 3-4PM and Fridays 1:30-2:30PM. It's a good idea to call in advance or send email, as there are a few days when I'll have to miss office hours.
314 West Hall

The CIC Lab

We have room 232D as a base for student and faculty projects. Enjoy the great location while you can: we'll probably have to move to SI North in the fall. There is a phone (615-8258) for incoming calls and outgoing local calls. There is no voice mail.

Who should use the lab? Anyone who self-identifies as a CIC member should use the lab, especially to organize CIC activities or work on a CIC project. See the section below for guidelines about what counts as a CIC project.

There are more people who use the lab at least occasionally than there are computers in the lab, so you may not always get to use the same computer. If you need space to leave things, you should be able to claim a file drawer or a bookshelf. Talk to people who have been using the lab in prior semesters to negotiate such a space. If the lab gets crowded, it may become necessary to give priority to CIC project work over other SI classwork uses of the lab. So far, that hasn't been necessary, and several students have made it their primary work space. 

CIC Projects

A CIC project is one that:

A CIC project may be organized by faculty, with student participation through DFE, independent study, PEP workshop course, hourly pay, or GSRA. Some ongoing faculty-led projects include:

A CIC project need not involve faculty, however. For example, a DFE or internship or even a job or volunteer activity might qualify, if the student can articulate how it meets the criteria above. For projects that are not faculty led, it is up to the students to identify the relevant projects they are involved in, and to bring them to the attention of other students and faculty at appropriate times. Two appropriate times are student status reports in the CIC seminars and the ACT/CIC presence at the ExpoSItion.

Sue Davidsen has identified the following DFE opportunities as of potential interest to CIC students: 

In addition, Kathleen Teodoro of NPower Michigan and Jennifer Bright of NPower Seattle are "interested in having a student review the existing web-hosted tools that handle (1) file sharing and (2) conferencing. We're interested in which tools might be useful tools for nonprofit boards. We might then pursue a relationship with one vendor or decide to host something ourselves." This could potentially be a job or DFE for the right student.

Other students may have ideas for other opportunities, especially with community technology centers. Send email to the si.cic.discuss email list saying what you're looking for.

The CI Fellows Program

The Community Information Fellows Program is a competitive fellowship for graduates of the School of Information who plan to take public interest jobs. It provides money, mentoring, and a network. Apply while you're still a student. For more details see the web page. Note that the terms of the fellowship may be somewhat different this year, and that some of the procedures may change. Please check the site again when it gets closer to the Feb. 15 deadline for applications. (We're also not sure yet whether we'll have funding, but we're hoping.)

Support for Summer Jobs

Last year we were able to supplement summer salaries for public interest jobs and internships. We hope to have money to do that again this year. For info on last year's program, see the web page. Watch for more information on this year's program in the coming months.

Travel and Social Networking

If you find a conference that's worth going to and that you think will help you in assessing or developing job prospects or developing project ideas for future semesters, you can ask me for travel funds. That's right. We have funds to pay for you to travel. You'll have to

Please take advantage of this great opportunity!

About ACT and Its Relationship to CIC

ACT, the Alliance for Community Technology (, conducts a number of catalytic activities at the nexus of academia, community serving organizations and social investors. These activities include environmental scanning, convening discussions and framing emerging issues such as the potential role of open source software and ASPs for non-profit organizations, incubating innovative projects such as digital libraries for Native American Tribal Colleges. developing new knowledge about community technology through research, and training the next generation of public interest and community informationists.

This last activity, grooming the next generation, is where CIC fits in. CIC is the identifier for the suite of ACT activities involving students. For obvious reasons, the CIC name is somewhat more prominent inside SI, while the ACT name is more prominent in external relations with with organizations that may have less direct contact with students. ACT is the overall entity; CIC is a part of ACT.

Session Schedule

This schedule is likely to be juggled significantly after the semester begins. Please consult the online version for the latest.

Date Topic mini-event Guest Session Leaders Readings
Jan 11 Intro to CIC, ACT, and the Seminar; project opportunities        
Jan 18 Public Goods task sign-ups   Katy Kramp
Sadanori Horiguchi
Peter Kollock, The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace, Chapter 9 in Smith, M. and Kollock, P., eds. Communities in Cyberspace
Jan 20 POTLUCK DINNER at Prof. Resnick's house, 5-8PM   You!    
Jan 25 Civil Society photo directory making   Beverly Ku
Beth Blankley
Walzer, M. The Idea of Civil Society
Jan 29 Kellogg e-philanthropy grantees meeting reception; 4:15PM Ehrlicher Room        
Feb 1 Identities Megan Kinney report on Networking for Good conference   Vishant Shah
Junko Sagawa
Minow, Martha. Not only for Myself: Identity, Politics and the Law. Pp. 9-58.
Feb 8          
Feb 15 Community Based Research   Ann Bishop, University of Illinois Vishant Shah
Beverly Ku
Feb 22 Student Networking: The job hunt        
March 1 NO CLASS-- VACATION        
March 8 Geographic Information Systems: how non-professionals are using these tools Alison Aldrich: Broadway Park Cultural Landscape Restoration Asli Gocmen Wayne Buente, Krissa Rumsey  
March 15 No regular class. 3-5PM public session with visiting CIC Mentors and Fellows (details TBA)        
March 22 NPower Michigan: current problems brainstorming session

(Class is on: Professor Resnick out of town)

status report:
Anna Leavitt on ASP pilot
Kathleen Teodoro Katy Kramp
Anna Leavitt
March 29 Social Entrepreneurship   Leslie Crutchfield, Ashoka Michele Sweetser  
April 5 Evaluation: how can we tell if our work is working? status report: Joan Durrance's project on tools for evaluation conference phone call with Amy Borgstrom from TOP Carol Treat Morton,
Marianne Ryan
April 12 Closing session: looking back, planning ahead Carol Treat Morton, All Saints CTC

Lisa Copeland,

TBD Universal Access to Telecommunications Services     Daphne Ogle Cooper, Mark. Universal Service: A Historical Perspective and Policies for the Twenty-First Century
Community Technology Centers and CyberPower   ?Kate Williams?

?Abdul Alkalimat?

Nathan Parham, Lou Weber
Abdul Alkalimat and Kate Williams. Social Capital and Cyberpower in the African American Community: A Case Study of a Community Technology Center in the Dual City.

Other events: