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)

Uitnodiging bijeenkomst buurtverhalen in het digitale tijdperk

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Published on: 04/03/2012

Beste …

Zoals je waarschijnlijk weet, ben ik een aantal jaar met studenten bezig met communities die buurtverhalen verzamelen op een website. Een aantal studenten van CMV zijn voor mijn tijd (vanaf 2003) al betrokken geweest bij het Geheugen van Oost als stagiar voor het Amsterdam Museum (voorheen Amsterdam Historisch Museum). Dat heb ik vanaf 2006 verder uitgebouwd door gemixte groepen studenten van o.a. ook de opleidingen MWD en SPH te betrekken in kleinere en grotere onderzoekstrajecten (o.a. een Raak-deel-project). Sinds ruim een jaar ben ik bezig met een promotieonderzoek gekoppeld aan het Geheugen van Oost en het Geheugen van West. In het zoeken naar een definitief theoretisch kader werk ik de bestaande literatuur door over cases waarin buurtverhalen worden gezocht, bewerkt, gedeeld en verzameld op een website. In die literatuur worden een aantal aspecten beschreven die relevant kunnen zijn voor het onderwijs wat jullie verzorgen.Graag zou ik die matches in kaart willen brengen om gericht materiaal aan te kunnen leveren en mogelijk een sparringpartner te zijn voor die onderwijsonderdelen.

De globale opzet van de middag zal bestaan uit:

  1. Een vlootschouw van een aantal buurtverhalenwebsites.
  2. De belangrijkste kenmerken van dit soort websites en communities.
  3. Een korte inventarisatie van de onderzoeken die we vanuit de opleidingen reeds hebben gedaan.
  4. Het verzamelen van ideeën over mogelijke aansluiting bij het onderwijs wat jullie al verzorgen.

De gespreksleider is Judith Metz, programmaleider Youthspot en mijn HvA-begeleider in het kader van het promotieonderzoek.

Beoogde docenten: Pieter van Vliet (CMV), Albert Jan Bloemendaal (CMV), Wilma Kannegieter (ICT in het onderwijs), Gerard van der Laan (MWD), Simona Gaarthuis (MWD), Marty Schone (SPH), Jane Spangler (ICT-docent).

Conference: Theory, Context and the Internet

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Published on: 16/02/2012

In a world of virtual communication and social media, it can be argued that we face challenges regarding the theorization and contextualisation of Internet mediated activity. The desire to generate new knowledge coupled with the hyperbole and ‘upgrade me’ mindset that so often surrounds the Internet means that often new theoretical approaches are introduced as a way to understand current uses and meanings where perhaps they are not necessary. In terms of context, contemporary experiences can sometimes be decoupled from prior experiences, resulting in rhetoric of ‘the new’. The outcome of this can be an emphasis on discontinuity for example as demonstrated in discourses regarding the pre-Web 2.0 era. Web 2.0 is conceptualised as new, contextualised in a simplistic fashion and claims are made regarding the necessity of new theory to understand such a ‘revolutionary new world’. While clearly, societal change and socio-technical change are occurring variously across the planet (although the two may not necessarily be linked) continuity is also present – empirically and theoretically. There is therefore, a need to consider the history of Internet mediated arrangements and, to continue an interrogation of the abilities of extant theory to respond to and facilitate understandings of contemporary situations.

(source : http://iccliverpool.ac.uk/events/)

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