New Knowledge Networks in communities

New Knowledge Networks in communities – the role of ‘hyperlocal’ media operations in facilitating everyday digital participation.

This project intends to examine, through a case study, the complex online/offline interactions that give strength to the relationships between hyperlocal practitioners and their communities. In doing so it will seek to test an approach to ethnography that may uncover the everyday nature of doing and engaging with hyperlocal. The project will engage with the tensions in the debate around the role of technology as a tool for participation in the process of doing journalism. Although there is much work in this field (summarised in Borger et al. 2012) this is often from a technological determinist viewpoint. Borger et al. argue that scholars tend to display a “strong faith in the democratic potential of digital technologies” (Borger et al. 2012: 125). The context and framework for this study then are ideas of alternative and idealised public spheres.

(Harte, ‘Case for Support’)


Harte, D. (2014) ‘New Knowledge Networks in Communities: Final Report’ Working Papers of the Communities and Culture Network+ Vol.4 Oct. 2014

Key Participants

David Harte (Birmingham City University): Harte is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication and is currently co-investigator on a major Connected Communities project: ‘Media, Community and the Creative Citizen’. He leads the strand researching the value of community journalism. He has a background in influencing, developing and writing policy for the creative and cultural sector at a regional and city level and of developing and delivering knowledge transfer projects for the creative industries. He has worked with policymakers at a regional and national level, most recently in partnership with Ofcom supplying context on the UK’s network of hyperlocal websites for the 2012 Market Communucations Report and an upcoming report on Internet Citizens (late 2013). He has led a range of knowledge transfer projects supporting innovation in the creative industries. He has published on the role of ‘clustering’ in creative economies, student use of social media and the scope and scale of hyperlocal publishing in the UK. He leads the MA Social Media at Birmingham City University.

Podnosh Ltd.: Podnosh is run and owned by Nick Booth, a former BBC political reporter and television and radio documentary maker. Podnosh gives advice on social media strategy to community groups and to public sector organisations. In 2012 Nick Booth accepted a Prime Minster’s Big Society award on behalf of the Social Media Surgery movement he founded. Nick sits on the independent DCLG (Dept. for Communities and Local Government) Local Public Data Panel and on the Smart City Commission in Birmingham. Podnosh has developed the social media surgery format as a knowledge transfer mechanism for people who want to learn how to use the web to communicate, campaign or collaborate.

 B31 Voices: B31 Voices was set up in 2010 and is largely run by local residents Sas and Marty Taylor. There is no formal entity behind the blog. It draws on contributions from a wide range of other residents ( and began by focusing on a single housing estate (the Hollymoor estate of Northfield in South Birmingham). The blog covers issues, events, people, groups, news, local history, creative arts and other points of interest on the Hollymoor Estate and the wider surrounding area of Northfield, Longbridge, and the rest of the B31 postcode area of Birmingham. Rubery, Rednal and other surrounding areas are included. The area, specifically around Longbridge, is undergoing a multimillion pound redevelopment program, aimed at improving the area and providing employment.