Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)
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CIPS CONNECTIONS

INTERVIEWS by STEPHEN IBARAKI, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP, FGITCA

Richard Longworth, Disruptive Thinker, Educator, Community Advocate, Website Developer, Writer & Blogger

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Richard Longworth.

Richard LongworthPREVIOUS:
College Professor, Capilano University Vancouver; Programmer & Systems Analyst, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Montreal; Database Designer, Federal Business Development Bank Montreal

RECENT:
Independent Website Developer for community based organizations; Published two self-help books; IT Community Developer working with various local community organizations; IT advisor with Corporate Fleet Systems, Montreal

INTERESTS:
Collaborative Consumption, Collaborative Economy, Co-Intelligence, asset-based-communities, empowerment, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovations, social capital, conscious awareness and mindfulness

EDUCATION:
BSc Concordia University, MEd St. Michael's College

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Taught courses in Statistics & Quantitative Methods, Business Systems Analysis & Design at Capilano University
  • Programmer and Systems Analyst at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, did math modeling on turbine blades for the Stress & Aerodynamics Department
  • United Church of Canada Youth Group Leader for 12 years
  • Thomas M. Dyck trophy for community leadership
  • Innovations of Tomorrow Award, 1996
  • Presenter at Information Technology World Congress, 2002, Learning Knowledge Framework
  • Periodicals, journals & contributing author with Kluwer Publishing Netherlands and Xephon Corporation, London, England
  • Executive team member with iGen Knowledge Solutions, Vancouver; advisor to Corporate Fleet Services, Montreal
  • Author of two books, Spirituality: Turning the Self Inside Out and Reflections on Life Issues published 2011 and 2013
  • Creator of an innovative concept for small towns in Ontario: Community Information Pages for Residents
  • Developed & installed the first ever fully collaborative community website http://www.ucreateit.ca/ and a prototype http://www.carpsite.ca
  • Designed & installed St. Paulís United Church website: http://www.stpauls-dunrobin.ca/
  • Contributor to various portals and blogs on topics of mindfulness & random-acts-of-kindness (Follow me on twitter.com/rlongw, twitter.com/u_createit).

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/cdnitmanagers/

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:45: Richard, can you profile your top successes and lessons learned that would be useful to the audience?
"....The lessons that I have learned throughout my varied career as a Programmer, Systems Analyst, Database Designer, Educator and Youth Leader are numerous, but the most significant is in believing that creative ideas can only be realized through determination, hard work and passion. Being innovative requires engaging in an 'all or nothing' approach....Upon retirement I felt a need to share the secret to my successful positive interactions both in and outside of the classroom and began my encounter with book writing. My first publication, 'Turning the Self Inside Out,' takes the reader on an inner journey to unlock the essence of their being and help them to make personal changes that will enable them to gain a happier, more productive, more meaningful life. This was followed by a second book, 'Reflections on Life Issues.' It is my hope that the lessons learned therein will become positive catalysts for change.....I am enjoying my retirement, but still journeying on to new adventures. I now consult and advise in IT, design and install websites, and recently created the first ever fully collaborative community website. The lesson is that we should continue to develop interests, never stop learning and doing what we believe in, and take the time to discover a way to give back...."

:10:10: What was the journey to your current work?
"....When we moved to Ottawa from Vancouver in 2011, we joined the local church which was much in need of a newer, more comprehensive website. Upon discovering my background and interest in website development, the minister asked me to rework the site design. I designed and installed a new site which met all of her criteria (currently being maintained by the minister and her assistant)....During the development of the church website, we noticed there were a number of informational concerns in the community (notably there was an outdated community website, the information was spread across many sources making it difficult to find current information and even had contradicting information). A number of businesses and associations in the community agreed it was time to rectify the situation and it was decided that a unique collaborative website was necessary...."

:16:16: Richard talks about the value of the community and collaborative website.
"....We can look at it from three perspectives, the residents, the community and it has political and provincial implications as well. For the residents it is a one-stop community information center (in a wiki-based environment), in which users post content directly....This website includes a platform for open discussion, a community notice board, a business directory, a list of all activities and social services, local travel information, community alerts, a forum for ideas and innovations and something coming which is an assets-based inventory....On the community side some of the key features include sustainability, new innovations, decision-making tools, intelligent and co-intelligence planning, a useful information structure, community engagement and linked resources....The effect nationally and provincially? There's no doubt we're creating social capital and there's been revitalization and economic development...."

:22:41: Why should others get involved in this work?
"....This website is a unique design created to enhance and strengthen the interaction of community residents. The expectation is that the residents themselves will be contributors and users of the site. The website that we developed is not created for large communities and large towns, it is for small towns, small hamlets and municipalities. Though currently the site is in the initial stage, expansion will occur in other small towns, small communities and municipalities in the future....Why should people get involved? New relationships and connections are made to service one another within the community itself and I believe this is definitely a new way of utilizing and sharing existing resources to revitalize and build a more comprehensive and cohesive community...."

:28:57: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
"....For the next year I'd like the website to become recognized as the primary source and a focal point for information for the community....Implementation of a French version of the website....A complete user instruction manual....A best practices guide....Work on the community-assets model....."

:30:56: What do you wish to accomplish in the next three years?
"....I would hope as a minimum we would have at least twenty installations (in smaller communities)....To be able to share assets between neighboring communities....Develop templates for use in other communities....Do profiling and data mining....Identify and build community innovations from the Idea Generator page....Be recognized for Community Engagement and become an asset-provider....Receive national acceptance....Commercialize the community sites...."

:34:35: What are the gaps of where you are today and where you want to be and how will you close these gaps?
"....I think at the moment we have a well-designed technology prototype. What is missing is an increase in on-going engagement and additional support from the residents. Recently we have changed our model and focused on known assets in the community and although we are in the throes of version 2, we have found this approach has generated increased interest....Another gap is acquiring technical support for the website. The site is manageable at the moment, but in order to move forward and implement new community sites, an additional resource person is needed. A comprehensive user guide is being prepared to facilitate the understanding and management of the website....The main criterion behind the website was that the user could input directly into a web-page without any intervention by a web-administrator. All content pages have an Add and a View page. The user is not always using the input form, instead sending an email and asking that the input be done for them. The assumption is that over time the user will feel more comfortable with the technology and eventually complete the input process...."

:42:09: What will you do next?
"....Continue to work with our community....The work is definitely going to be based on assets-based inventory. I am not going to put up a page until I know it is needed in the community and not only needed, but based on the assets in the community...."

:46:47: What are your views on five of the upcoming disruptive innovations?
"....As I was researching and looking at collaborative websites I came across a number of terms and all of them are really related to disruptive innovations, things such as crowdsourcing, open innovations, open sources and wiki-based sites. All of this to me is disruptive innovation....Healthcare disruptive innovations have the potential to decrease costs while improving quality and accessibility....In education new research is aimed at changing legacy, factory-models into student-learner centres....Crowdsourcing and open innovation which allows people from different cultural, economic and educational background to collaborate....Collaborative Learning and Educational initiatives provided by Google Apps for participatory studying and learning anytime, anywhere....John Howkins' Creative Economies (that human creativity is the ultimate economic resource) apply open-source information and sharing ideas to boost growth, social and cultural development. I believe our website is an example of this...."

:51:46: What are the top five areas of controversy in the areas that you work and your proposed solutions?
"....Language....Understanding the issues and accepting the proposed solution (a paradigm shift involving a moderate degree of technology causes confusion)....Collaborative communities do in fact oppose the individualistic nature of culture and society....Safety (the solution is open-source which could lead to misuse)....Engagement (how to engage the citizens in the community when there is no urgency to change)...."

:01:00:04: What improvements in policy should happen in the next two years and what would you like to see internationally?
"....The climate was ideal for the implementation of our Collaborative Community site....World cities, even countries are suffering the consequences of a passive recipient state funded service, and 'what can you do for me' mentality....In the final analysis, there is a need to create policies aimed at promoting social inclusion through collaboration, a community development initiative that puts citizens in the drivers' seat. This new initiative genuinely empowers citizens and the abilities and insights of local residents become resources for solving their own problems....The website we developed acts as a platform where local initiatives can be identified, launched, viewed and discussed collaboratively. The aspect of policies and any changes I feel will come from within and I could say from a database point of view going with a new model of 'many to one' (where many will support the one), before the 'one to many' (where one is supporting the many). That is where I think we're headed with this collaborative website..."

:01:04:51: From your extensive writings, seminars, and work, please share three stories (outcomes, inspirational, amazing)
"....A story related to my first book, 'Turning the Self Inside Out'. As is the case with most first published books, I was discouraged with the number of sales. I had visions that thousands would buy the book and I would appear on Oprah one day. During this time I received a phone call from someone in the community who had bought copies of my book to give to her two children. She told me that the book had a tremendous impact on the future decision-making of her two children. She finished her story by saying, 'If you never sold another copy of your book, you have already made a significant difference in this world. Thank you for sharing your wisdom'...."

:01:11:52: If you were conducting this interview, what 3 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....'Can you give us a brief synopsis of your website?'....'How does collaboration take place and has it been successful?'....'How do we get in touch with you?'....[I would welcome any feedback, comments and suggestions. It is a growing and learning time and I would very much value your input. Please send me an email: administrator@ucreateit.ca or phone: 613.470.0137]...."

:01:19:56: Richard, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.