Matthews P (2016) Social media, community development and social capital. Community Development Journal, 51 (3), pp. 419-435. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsv040
Initial growth in Internet use in the 1990s resulted in many digital pioneers viewing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a means to radically empower people through new global connections and extensive social capital. This has extended into an interest in exploring how ICTs can contribute to international development, and particularly in the field of ICT for development (ICT4D). Evidence from the minority and majority worlds has tempered some of this initial enthusiasm and visions of technological determinism. This article is structured around a piece of coproduced writing to reflect on a project in a deprived neighbourhood in Edinburgh, Scotland, to empower a community through new technology and digital art. The approach involved social history in the form of an archive of images of the neighbourhood, a blog and Facebook page, and a range of physical outputs including social history walking guides and a digital totem pole. The article sets the coproduced paper in the broader literature on ICTs in community development to draw out lessons on the challenges and also the strengths of using novel methods to engage communities. While ICTs cannot develop extensive social capital within deprived neighbourhoods, it was clear that they can offer low-cost ways for institutional social capital to be developed improving partnership working.
Community Development Journal: Volume 51, Issue 3