Michael Gurstein

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Michael Gurstein
Born (1944-10-02) October 2, 1944 (age 74)
DiedOctober 8, 2017
EducationPh.D. Sociology, University of Cambridge
OccupationAcademic, researcher, policy adviser, civil society
Years active1972-2017
Spouse(s)Fernande Faulkner

Michael Gurstein (1944 - 2017) was a Canadian best known for his work in the development and definition of community informatics as the area of research and practice concerned with enabling and empowering communities through the use of information and communications technology. He was a native of Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up in Melfort, Saskatchewan and did his first degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Philosophy and Politics.

Gurstein held a PhD in Social Science from Cambridge University.

Early working life[edit]

Gurstein worked as a senior civil servant for the Province of British Columbia (1972-4) and for the Province of Saskatchewan (Department of Northern Saskatchewan) 1974-5. He then established and ran a management consulting firm, Socioscope, undertaking research linking organizations to information technology. While working as a management adviser at the United Nations in New York (1992-5) he was offered a post as Associate Chair in the Management of Technological Change at the University College of Cape Breton. While on Cape Breton Island, he founded the Centre for Community and Enterprise Networking (C/CEN) as a community based research laboratory (what has now come to be known as a living lab) exploring possible applications of information and communications technologies to support social change in what was then one of Canada's most economically disadvantaged regions. C/CEN, established in 1996, was a pioneer in among other areas online conference management (and did the first online conference with simultaneous translation using IRC and court translators to provide text translation in French simultaneous to the direct meeting being transcribed in English). The Centre also undertook the first NetCorps placement (in Angola) as well as providing online support to the local Cape Breton music industry.[1]

Community informatics[edit]

Gurstein's book Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies (Idea Group, 2000) and the conceptual framing for community informatics grew out of his experiences in Cape Breton. The book was the first major publication in the community informatics field, and introduced the term "community informatics" into wider usage as referring to the research and praxis discipline underpinning the social appropriation of ICT. Within the area of community informatics a major contribution has been Gurstein's introduction of the notion of "effective use" as a critical analytical framework for assessing technology implementation superseding approaches based on the more commonly accepted frameworks such as that of the "digital divide".

A co-edited book, Connecting Canadians: Investigations in Community Informatics,[2] was published in 2012, based on the work of the major community informatics research project — Community Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (CRACIN),[3] of which Gurstein was a co-principal investigator.

Later activities - academic and civil society[edit]

Gurstein was the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Community Informatics,[4] was Foundation Chair of the Community Informatics Research Network[5] and moderates the Community Informatics[6] and Community Informatics Researchers[7][8] an Adjunct Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies[9] in Vancouver Canada, and was formerly Research Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey, and Research Professor at the University of Quebec (Outaouais). He was also a member of the High Level Panel of Advisers of the UN's Global Alliance for ICT and Development.[10] He also served on the Board of the Global Telecentre Alliance, Telecommunities Canada, the Pacific Community Networking Association and the Vancouver Community Net.

In more recent years he had become active as a commentator, speaker and essayist/blogger articulating a community informatics (grassroots ICT user) perspective in the areas of open government data and Internet governance. Until 2016 Gurstein wrote a community informatics blog.


Gurstein died on October 8, 2017. Cause of death: prostate cancer.[11]

Principal publications[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact". CBMusic.com. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  2. ^ Press, AU. "Connecting Canadians: Investigations in Community Informatics". Athabasca University Press. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  3. ^ "Community Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (CRACIN)". utoronto.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Journal of Community Informatics". ci-journal.net. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Home page of". www.ciresearch.net. December 26, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  6. ^ "Mailing lists service". November 15, 2001. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  7. ^ "Mailing lists service". November 15, 2001. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  8. ^ "Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training". communityinformatics.net. Archived from the original on 20 October 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  9. ^ "iSchool@UBC - SLAIS, the iSchool @ UBC". Home. July 1, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  10. ^ "High Level Panel of Advisers of the UN's Global Alliance for ICT and Development". Archived from the original on 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  11. ^ "MICHAEL GURSTEIN". Obit. The Globe and Mail. October 14, 2017.

External links[edit]