Community engagement for research: contextual design in rural CSCW system development
In order to bring about innovation within a community-based context, different stakeholder communities often need to be engaged so that they may appropriately take part in the design process. The 'invisible' work of engagement is frequently overlooked, and yet it plays an important, often pivotal role within many design-based research projects. It revolves around negotiations with a series of stakeholder communities in the design setting and ethnographic understandings of the site and community. Insights and accounts are offered based upon practical experience: existing methodologies and engagement strategies are expanded upon. Our research has shown that understanding and employing community engagement strategies is key to the creation of a network of successfully civilly-engaged stakeholders. Failure to instigate such civil engagement appropriately can endanger the project, as the research 'turns' upon this. We present the approaches taken and critically understand the role of community engagement within the design process, with the purpose of enabling designers and other practitioners to appreciate the role that community engagement plays in systems design and the practical implications this might have for it. This research proceeds from a long-term project in which researchers explored community engagement within the context of design.