IKNOW Rural Development

(Inquiring Knowledge Networks On the Web)


Knowledge -
Resources For Development

Traditionally, rural communities have focused development efforts on local resources - land, labor, or capital. In the 21st Century, the successful mix of resources will include the ability of rural people to use knowledge and technology to create competitive advantage. Rural people will exchange information about local, nearby, regional, national and global markets. Communities that generate and control the distribution of knowledge will have an economic advantage over those who do not. Therefore, the organization of a knowledge network will become one of the key elements of building knowledge as a resource.

Measuring Knowledge

To help people define and understand the organization of knowledge networks, "Communityware", a new generation of interactive, Internet-based tools are being developed. Communityware helps members of a community visualize potential collaboration partners. It can be used to answer questions about a community’s knowledge network, such as, "Who knows what?" and equally important "Who knows who knows what?" within the community.

Joining the Knowledge Network

The IKNOW (Inquiring Knowledge Networks On The Web) Rural Development online communityware tool documents the knowledge network of rural development practitioners in Illinois. This online questionnaire, when completed by a member of the network captures four types of data: (1) a communication network of community members — who knows who in a community; (2) a knowledge network based on community members providing an inventory of their skills and expertise— who knows what in a community; (3) a knowledge network of members based on the links between their web sites and common external web sites; and (4) a knowledge network based on similarity in content (vocabulary) among members' web sites. The data from these networks are automatically captured and are expressed graphically to demonstrate how (through which contacts) community members are linked to each other and to external sources. Members of the IKNOW Rural Development can search the database for individuals with specific knowledge or skills, and for individuals who they are in contact with and who know others with particular knowledge and skills — who knows who knows what.

How to Access IKNOW Rural Development

To login to IKNOW Rural Development, go to the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development web site at http://www.ag.uiuc.edu/~lced/. Once at the site, enter under the Community Development Initiative and find the IKNOW Rural Development link.

If you are a first time user of the IKNOW, then set up a new account, otherwise login and enter your password. The first time you visit the site, it is important to enter the information under the Personal Info column on the left frame. After completing each section, don’t forget to Submit to the database.

Edit Contact Information: Enter your name, email, address, and home Internet address. The URL for your website is important because the program will compare the content of your web site to that of others in the network.

Change your Password: You may change your password at any time.

Edit Contacts: This section measures your interaction with other members in the community. For each person listed, enter a score that reflects your contact with that person. Show Scale defines each number at the top of the table, and the corresponding level of interaction.



Level of Interaction


Never interact with that member


Interact less than once a month


Communicate about once a month


About once a week


Communicate twice a week


Communicate every day


Communicate several times a day


Edit Current Program Areas: Identify the rural development program topics with which you are currently involved. If there is a topic that is not included on the list, select Add and insert the new topic.

Edit Future Program Areas: To better understand the direction where rural development practitioners will focus within the next five years, you are asked to list future research and practice interests.

Edit Journals you Read: Identify which rural development journals you read on a regular basis. If one is not listed, select Add and include it on the list.

Edit Journals You Publish In: Identify the Journals where you have submitted articles for publishing. Be sure to Add to the list if a journal is not listed.

Edit Skills: Identify the skills you have that would contribute to the knowledge and skill base of the network. Check as many categories as appropriate and Add to the list if a skill or technique is not listed.

Edit Professional Organizations: Identify the professional organizations to which you belong. Check all that apply and Add to the list if an organization is not listed.

Edit University/Organization: Identify your university or organization . Add to the list if your organization or university is not listed.

Edit Long Term Goals: Describe your vision or long-term goals for rural development in Illinois. This is an open-ended question, yet the software will compare your response (key words) to those of others in the community.

How does the analysis work?

Under the Analysis Column of the left frame you can explore the knowledge network based on any of the input categories. For example, you can examine a graphical display of a network based on: Members of the network (Contacts), Current Program Areas, Future Program Areas, Journals you Read, Journals you Publish In, Skills, Long Term Goals, Internal Web Links, External Web Links, or Web Site Similarity. It is possible to display a network of selected members, such as, those who belong to a certain organization, or have reported a specific skill.

Network Metrics: The network can be evaluated according to the strengths of the links. The links between members of the network represent similarities between two or more community members. The link can show the strength between members according to how often they communicate, or similarities with program areas, journals they read, identified skills or their shared vision. The network can also identify cliques, which are groups within the community (network) that have more in common within the group than they do with the other members of the total community.

Visit Often!

The success of this knowledge network depends on community members returning to the web site to update their information and check on other developments. As new people are added to the network, it is important to update your contact information. At first you may wish to revisit the site on a monthly basis and then once the network has stabilized revisit the site about two to three times a year.

For More Information:

Julie Fesenmaier (fesenmai@uiuc.edu) Laboratory for Community and Economic Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217/244-0120.

IKNOW Rural Development copyrighted 1997 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Noshir Contractor, Barbara O'Keefe, and Patricia Jones.

U of I logo Community & Economic Development
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Laboratory for Community and Economic Development

222 Bevier Hall
905 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801

email: LCED@mail.aces.uiuc.edu