Lezing Festival Museum Perron Oost

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Published on: 13/11/2014

Op 05-09-2014 heb ik bij de opening van het Festival Museum Perron Oost een lezing voorgedragen getiteld: Een duik in de stroom tussen kleine en grote verhalen . Het denkproces en het zelfonderzoek wat daarin is beschreven startte door mijn deelname aan het Symposium Online Herinneringen Vangen op 11 oktober 2013. Een van de onderwerpen die Paul Knevel aansneed (zie hier het verslag), was de koppeling tussen kleine persoonlijke ervaringen zoals die op het Geheugen van Oost staan en grotere thema’s zoals een historicus die onderzoekt. De lezing bij het Perron Oost was op zijn beurt weer input voor het thema van de Dag van de Online Geheugens die dit jaar samenvalt met het 10-jarig jubileum van het Geheugen van West op 21 november 2014.

Psychogeographies of Amsterdam East

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Published on: 20/02/2014


Geheugen van Oost (Memory of East) is a website designed for the exhibition Oost Amsterdamse buurt (East Amsterdam Neighboorhood) in the Amsterdam Historical Museum, held from October 10, 2003 till February 29, 2004. It is a project initiated by the Amsterdam Historical Museum, Buurt Online, Xina Text & Support and volunteers. However, due to its popularity among the residents, the website still exists beyond the exhibition. It now functions as a site where everyday memories and stories by local residents are told. It is a website on which city dwellers discover, create, share and enhance their own community narratives. The memory of Amsterdam East contains personal stories and photographs (“ Over de site”). Next to the collection of stories for future generations, the website also has a social goal. Memories of East aims to stimulate social integration and social participation of various groups in this area (“ Partners”). With the information that people uploaded on the website, this research attempts to map psychogeographies of neighborhood memories. In what follows we introduce the theoretical framework, explain the research questions, describe the digital methods, show the analyses – psychogeographies – and discuss them on the background of the mentioned theoretical notions.


This paper was a coproduction with five others during the “Data Sprint” of the Winterschool in Digital Methods hosted by the University of Amsterdam:

  • Otjens, A., Kuyper, A., Khiri, I., Kreek, M. de, Keijser, T. de, & Goilo, J. C. (2014). Psychogeographies of Amsterdam East. In 2014 Digital Methods Winter School – Results Data Sprint Project. Amsterdam: Digital Methods Initiative – University of Amsterdam. Retrieved from https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/Winter2014Project9

Abstract accepted for Digital Methods Winterschool UvA

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Published on: 09/01/2014

Empowerment from a Narrative Perspective: Learning from Local Memory Websites

The exploration of the narrative nature of local memory websites in relation to empowerment theory produces new insights in the nested levels of analysis of both. Empowerment’s value orientation calls for a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses and, as such, requires specific language that accommodates the conviction that resources are locally available, instead of scarce. Consequently, empowerment theory describes resources as being present in processes and outcomes on interdependent psychological, organizational and communal levels. The application of the empowerment framework’s components to the theoretical outcomes and processes of local memory websites illuminates the connecting roles local narratives play as resources in empowerment. First of all, personal stories, community narratives and dominant cultural narratives influence and support each other across levels. Secondly, narratives spread local knowledge which leads to shared values and common believes for collectives on various levels. And thirdly, the sharing of narratives happens through social networks that manifest themselves on different levels, which, as such, facilitate sharing other resources. Based on these perspectives, we offer a simplified model for empowerment with a focus on the interdependencies between levels of networks. Against this background, we discuss relevant analytical perspectives as a departure point for the empirical exploration of unstudied relations between empowerment and local memory websites.

For a short presentation at the Winterschool Digital Methods UvA. I am also participating and very curious about what I am going to learn.

Abstract submitted for conference Narrative Matters 2014

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Published on: 18/11/2013

Online local memories lubricating the emergence of community empowerment

The analysis of the cultural dynamics in the online communication on two local memory websites offers insights into the social benefits they can offer. Active local memory websites are claimed to be empowering on individual, group and community levels, because they offer settings where locals participate in the creation, sharing and improvement of their community narratives and personal stories. The current academic literature presents the accessible and online nature of local memory websites as a key driving force of their empowerment capabilities, especially on the group and community levels. On the community level, the empowerment is predominantly described in terms of community memory, cultural citizenship and community capacity. Firstly, in the construction of community memory, residents present their own view on local knowledge online and, by doing so, they influence how their surroundings’ past and present should be represented. Secondly, as a practice of cultural citizenship, people use these online environments to creatively express their experiences and opinions within the present local culture. This way meanings in life are negotiated and cultural value is judged by ordinary people. Thirdly, with respect to community capacity, community members share memories and experiences in new online social networks, through which they create their own discourse in favor of social power that can influence the community’s future. In order to arrive at insights into patterns with respect to these processes en outcomes of community empowerment, we conducted an exploratory content and network analysis on the data of two active local memory websites (over 20.000 contributions). The results will be presented as well as their translation into a thorough narrative analysis of selected clusters of data using microstoria analysis to further explicate local ways of knowing.


Feeling at home at CIRN Prato 2013

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Published on: 07/11/2013

Last week, I attended the Prato conference of the Community Informatics Research Network 2013. Being in the confluence of Community Archives and Community Informatics, made me feel a little like coming home, which I’ll try to explain below.

One important reason is that the presentations were very inspiring and covering a broad range of issues from various continents. During the 1st day keynote, it quickly became clear that community archives can be a “statement of existence” (Andrew Flinn) and as such sometimes even “undergird social action” (Anne Gilliland). Some other highlights for me were: Steve Thompson‘s flying mayor in Second Life, the Communication for Development presented by Rose Onwanma in the context of “Child Witchcraft” abuse, Rasika Dayarathna’s information system to improve happiness, the “unconscious need to share emotions” mentioned by Manuela Farinosi and the Information Continuum applied by Larry Stillman. Actually, all the presentations I attended were very interesting and they all had to do with social use of ICT and applicable research methodologies; the stuff that makes me happy. I wrote an abstract for another conference based on the inspiration I got.

The comments concerning my presentation, and my reflections on them later, also made me feel connected in Prato. In my presentation I told the audience about comparing 80 “local memory websites” (Kreek & Zoonen, 2013a). On these websites, neighborhood residents collect personal memories – mostly in text and pictures – about the locality they live in. Some of the cases are more than 10 years old and still going, although most of them live a static life. The ones with active online participation are claimed – but often also initiated – to, more or less explicitly, empower individuals, groups and the community as a whole. That’s where the next phase of my research will focus on: how do the online social dynamics relate to empowerment? Being at the conference made me realize that the local memory websites could be considered to be at the nexus of Community Archives and Community Informatics.

If I consider the explanation by Michael Gurstein of what Community Informatics is concerned with, I (now) see an obvious connection with the empowerment discourse about the local memory websites:

CI is concerned with these processes of communities adapting and transforming, networking and binding, responding to and becoming the authors in the unending and increasingly rapid flow of information within and among communities and between communities and the larger society. CI addresses this process of adaptation and transformation through a systematic concern with the “how” — the infrastructure, the devices, the connectivity of enabling and empowering; the “how to” — the training, the community and organizational development; the “necessary conditions” — the funding, regulatory environment, the policy frameworks; and finally and perhaps most importantly the “why” — the goals and objectives of enabling and empowering communities. (Gurstein, 2004, p. 2)

Looking at two definitions of Community Archives that Andrew Flinn (2010) explains, I also understand why these local memory websites could be considered to belong under the Community Archives umbrella:

By collecting, preserving and making accessible documents, photographs, oral histories and many other materials which document the histories of particular groups and localities, community archives and heritage initiatives make an invaluable contribution to the preservation of a more inclusive and diverse local and national heritage. (…) Community archives and heritage initiatives come in many different forms (large or small, semi- professional or entirely voluntary, long-established or very recent, in partnership with heritage professionals or entirely independent) and seek to document the history of all manner of local, occupational, ethnic, faith and other diverse communities (Community Archives and Heritage Group as cited by Flinn, 2010, p. 41).

Obviously, the draft framework Anne Gilliland (2012) has produced on voice, identity and activism within the context of Community Archives, is also right on this nexus. Our article on the social benefits of interventions with local memory websites attempts to achieve something similar, but then a little more towards the Community Informatics side (Kreek & Zoonen, 2013b).

To summarize: I will be in Prato again in 2014!


Flinn, A. (2010). Independent Community Archives and Community-Generated Content: “Writing, Saving and Sharing our Histories.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(1), 39–51.

Gilliland, A. J. (2012). Voice , Identity , Activism ( VIA ): A Community-centric Framework for Approaching Archives and Recordkeeping. Los Angeles: Center for Information as Evidence, University of California Los Angeles.

Gurstein, M. (2004). Editorial: Welcome to the Journal of Community InformaticsThe Journal of Community Informatics, (2004) Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp. 2-4.

Kreek, M. de, & Zoonen, L. van. (2013a). Mapping an emerging field: local memory websites. In L. Stillman, A. Sabiescu, & N. Memarovic (Eds.), Nexus, Confluence, and Difference: Community Archives meets Community Informatics – Prato CIRN Conference Oct 28-30 2013. Prato Italy: Monash Uiversity.

Kreek, M. de, & Zoonen, L. van. (2013b). New Directions in Research on Local Memory Websites. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice, 22(2), 113–130.



Abstract submitted for European Conference on Social Work Research 2014

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Published on: 06/11/2013

Participative learning in a PhD-project – do I practice what I preach?

It is by far nontrivial to make the necessary steps to fully adopt participative research strategies. Window dressing or false believes should be uncovered in order to learn to truly practice what is preached. This paper presentation is inspired by a remark of a renowned lecturer who was convinced for years that he was teaching participatory research strategies. He was shaken after one of his students’ participatory research projects confronted him with the fact he was not. Instead, he was, implicitly and unknowingly, still preaching more positvism than he would like. Research strategy books like “Engaged Scholarship” (Van de Ven, 2007), “Empowerment Evaluation” (Fetterman, 2005) and “The Real Social Science” (Flyvbjerg, 2012) urge the social work researcher to act in cocreative, participative and, even, activist processes in order to really make a difference. Consequently, in a social work PhD-project one attempts to balance between the supervisors’ scientific requirements, the practitioners’ expectations, the policy makers’ interests, and last but not least, the inclusion of the people in the community. It is tempting to think one succeeds or that one is on the right track, but it is important, as the example above shows, to be prepared to scrutinize these assumptions. This presentation will critically apply some of the principles from the mentioned literature to an ongoing PhD-project which is conducted within what is called a local memory website and its community in the east of Amsterdam. This self-organizing community has been collecting memories about experiences in that city district for the last 10 years, which has led to 2600 online memories and more than 20.000 comments on them. The research focuses on empowerment processes on group and community level, especially connected to the online social and cultural dynamics. The involved scholar is both volunteer within the community as an active resident, as well as ‘the community’s reseacher’. Participative learning with the audience of the presetation is aimed for, by reflecting on the various lines of activities that have been undertaken during the research period as attempts to realize inclusive, participatory research.

Abstract paper presentation CIRN Prato 2013

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Published on: 30/10/2013

Mapping an emerging field: local memory websites

The last decade has shown a growth in the number and extent of local memory websites. These platforms for online collecting of local memories by neighborhood residents are readily claimed in most literature to be a driving force of empowerment processes at individual, group and community level. Yet, the focus on institutional interventions in present research leaves aside questions about the wider presence of these websites, their online affordances and the way they are organized. Moreover, institutional contexts contain a number of issues which often result in the absence of online participation whereas the presence of this very aspect is in fact crucial to substantiate the claims with respect to empowerment, especially at group and community levels. Starting from these issues, we develop six dimensions and five propositions in order analyze a comprehensive number of such sites, examining in particular their organizational and online participatory features. On the basis of a cross-sectional design including 80 cases from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and various other countries, we show that despite the variation in these underlying features, three types of websites can be distinguished. We label these types as “residents’ initiative”, “institutions’ initiative” and “associations’ initiative”. In addition, comparing the propositions with the results leads us to the conclusion that, independent of type, online participation depends mainly on characteristics that translate into autonomy and authenticity, as two sides of the same coin. Furthermore, online participation is considered to be high in 13 cases. On the one hand this proves that online data is present for further analysis in terms of empowerment, but on the other hand this moderate number contrasts with the claims in the existing literature.

[Please email me if you want to read the paper; it will be online at the Prato CIRN site soon/]

Online buurtgeheugens als brede empowering niches

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Published on: 03/10/2013

`Als iedereen aan zichzelf denk wordt niemand vergeten` (Henk en Ingrid)

Het Geheugen van Oost: een 10 jaar oude website met 2500 persoonlijke verhalen die zich afspelen in de buurten van Amsterdam Oost, met meer dan 17.000 reacties.  Vele betrokken buurtbewoners – daar ben ik er 1 van – vragen zich af of het bestaan daarvan ergens goed voor is meer dan het eigen plezier en de exposure die het hen oplevert. Professionals stellen dezelfde vraag vanuit een ander perspectief: waar is het faciliteren van dit soort communities goed voor? En de wetenschap heeft nog nooit goed gekeken naar de online sociale en culturele dynamiek rondom deze herinneringen. Vanuit empowerment bekeken spelen deze vragen zich vooral af op groeps- en gemeenschapsniveau. En dat is begrijpelijk, want teveel focus op enkel individueel empowerment voedt eerder het indvidualisme dan de individuele autonomie. Oftewel, daarmee leren mensen op te komen voor hun eigen belang, maar vergeten daarbij een link te leggen naar het gemeenschappelijke belang. Reden genoeg hier enthousiast in te duiken, maar waar loop ik als onderzoeker nu het warmst voor?

`De toekomst begint bij het verleden´ (Geheugen van Oost)

Elk verhaal over het verleden herbergt een wens in zich richting de toekomst. Op het Geheugen van Oost verzamelen mensen herinneringen over het verleden, waarmee ze ten eerste – niet beïnvloed door allerlei instellingen – zelf vorm geven aan hoe hun buurt gerepresenteerd wordt richting de toekomst. Doordat het, ten weede, online gebeurt vinden er digitale ontmoetingen plaats waarbij ´veilig´ meningen worden gedeeld over wat een goed leven is of was in de buurt. De affectieve kant hiervan zorgt ervoor dat er over en weer herkenning maar ook ruimte voor verschil ontstaat. Ten derde wordt er tegelijkertijd in meer of meerdere mate collectieve betekenis gegeven aan bepaalde ervaringen. Dit heeft zo zijn eigen invloed doordat mensen dit ook om zich heen vertellen, maar biedt ook een voedingsbodem voor collectieve actie, mocht dit nodig zijn.

Wil je meer lezen over de aangesneden onderwerpen, check deze link: http://www.storyhood.nl/category/activities/publications

(Bovenstaande is achtergrondinformatie voor `Onderzoek in the picture´ bij CMV op 16 oktober 2013, Mike de Kreek)

The future of local memory websites as empowering niches in Amsterdam

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Published on: 31/07/2013

I presented a paper with the above title during the Sociable Smart City, a workshop with nine papers and wise people, at the 9th International Conference on Intelligent Environments 2013 in Athens. Here is the abstract of my paper:

In this article, we explain how we envision the further interconnection of existing  initiatives of online local memory collecting into a new social infrastructure, that is beneficial to the whole of Amsterdam. Three  examples of local memory websites show how large districts in the East, South and West are represented thoroughly by local residents, in spite of differences in organizational characteristics. The concept of empowerment, as a multilevel construct, lends itself to frame these examples as  important building blocks of  socially sustainable districts and neighborhoods.  Local knowledge, experiences and people become connected across Amsterdam when local memory websites become interconnected, by introducing city-wide compelling themes. Discussing this social infrastructure in relation to the concept of smart cities, leads us to a plea for more research focus on sociably smart cities.

The full paper can be found here as a part of volume 17 of the series on Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments at IOS press and here is my presentation.

Very interesting topics were discussed during the workshoppresentations and during the wonderful diners (oh, the pastry wrapped feta cheese with honey and sesame!). In general, I enjoyed being confronted with the following questions/ topics:

  • At the end of the Sociable Smart City workshop three groups attempted to define its definition. Our group attempted to do that by adding two words to the definition from Eleni Christopoulou et al.’s definition: “A sociable smart city is one rich in infrastructure, which combines and exploits both people and artificial intelligence, empowering and engaging people in activities where urban social interactions thrive aiming to advance the quality of life and culture [of everybody]” (Christopoulou, E. & Ringas, D. (2013) Towards a Sociable Smart City, pp 675). Furthermore, we emphasized that future applications/infrastructure should “facilitate affective communication to fuel the formation of reflexivity, a concept that is related to respect, self-knowledge, acceptation, empathy, etc.”.
  • The phrase affective communication or similar had already crossed my ‘PhD-path’ about a year and a half ago, when I was reading Jean Burgers articles, in some of which she quotes Jim McGuigan: “The concept of a cultural public sphere refers to the articulation of politics, public and personal, as a contested terrain through affective – aesthetic and emotional – modes of communication.” A few months later I read two of Anna Poletti’s articles in which she cites Berlant: “This affective response to the process of making and watching digital stories ‘provides a complex of consolation, confirmation, discipline, and discussion about how to live”. Anyway, I never really got into unraveling this concept of affectivity, until Dimitris Charitos (thank you!) gave me the proceedings of the Hybrid City conference that was held the end of May 2013 also in Athens. In that proceedings I found two articles specifically on affect and, surprisingly they were both of Dutchmen, both present in my networks: Feelings in the air: Notes on Political Formation in Hybrid Space – Eric Kluitenberg and The Smart City You love to Hate: Exploring the Role of Affect in Hybrid Urbanism – Michiel de Lange. I will be studying that for applicability in my research of local memory websites.
  • We more and more generate data that can be fed back in aggregated forms to their origins or other users in real time (see for example this article and this article). In the case of car traffic, this can be very useful in order to avoid traffic jams, but in other cases it also involves ethical issues. But, the human easily following the herd, it might also make the popular places on a night on the town even more popular. Should it be like that? Anyway, heaps of applications are and will be developed sending aggregated information back to society synchronously or asynchronously and we will have to discover the ethical sides for each of them.
  • Connected to the last question is the idea that the nerve system of our body gets extended by all the networks or other data-sources (see this article and this article). We get a lot more information about our environment nowadays that we received just with using our senses in our surroundings before. I am not sure whether this something completely new, but surely our networks and information flow have changed through fundamental changes in space (I can be in different places at the same time) and time (people can contact my Facebook profile any time). What are these changes and what happens ‘on the other side’ where others can get a lot of information about me?


The little port of Naoussa on Paros where I did three days of wonderful windsurfing at the http://gounaridis-watersports.gr/en/ of http://surfingbeach.gr/.

New directions in research on local memory websites

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Published on: 08/07/2013

A new publication in Journal of Social Intervention from me (Mike de Kreek) and Liesbet van Zoonen. You can read the abstract below and the full article here.

Recent studies apply highly variable terminology in explaining the benefits of interventions using local memory websites. Our literature review systematizes this terminology into three, clearer levels of analysis that fit neatly into the empowerment framework: concepts on the micro level for individual benefits, on the meso level for group gains and on the macro level for community strengthening processes. On the macro level we distinguish three concepts: community memory, cultural citizenship and community capacity. With respect to all levels, the claims in the present literature tend to be based on offline data and seldom include an analysis of online participation. This one-sidedness is due to an emphasis on institutional interventions that often unintentionally prevent online participation. Nevertheless, the literature presents the accessible and online nature of local memory websites as a key driving force of empowerment, especially on the meso and macro levels. To enrich the body of knowledge, we propose research on the actual composition of the field of local memory websites and on more autonomous initiatives.

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