From Exploration to Design: Aligning Intentionality in Community Informatics Projects

  • Ammar Halabi
  • Amalia Sabiescu
  • Salomão David
  • Sara Vannini
  • David Nemer
Keywords: designing action, community-based research and design, design thinking, qualitative methods


This article focuses on a particular aspect of research and design processes in community-based projects: the transition from exploratory stages, concerned with knowledge production, to design stages, in which goals for action-taking are formulated and desired directions for change are envisioned. This paper offers a reflection about the methodological processes that underpin this transition, in response to the questions: How are design goals formulated in community informatics interventions that rely on data-intensive exploratory methodologies, and what factors and dynamics shape them? Guided by these questions, we shed light on various issues related to this transition by recounting and analysing cases taken from field experiences within three different community projects in Syria, Brazil and Mozambique. The article proposes that the transition is associated with shifts in intentionality, which are elusive and hard to grasp, particularly in participatory approaches. Three analytical categories are put forward to illuminate the dynamics of intentionality shifts along the continuum of transitioning from exploration to design. Reflections based on the empirical cases are contributed.

Author Biographies

Ammar Halabi
Ammar Halabi is a PhD candidate and research assistant, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland. E-mail:
Amalia Sabiescu
Amalia G. Sabiescu is Senior Research Assistant: School of Art and Design, Coventry University, United Kingdom. E-mail:
Salomão David
Salomão David is a PhD Student at the Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.
Sara Vannini

Sara Vannini is Executive Director of NewMinE Lab and PostDoctoral Researcher, BeCHANGE Research Group
Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. E-mail:

David Nemer
David Nemer is a PhD candidate in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. Email:
How to Cite
Halabi, A., Sabiescu, A., David, S., Vannini, S., & Nemer, D. (2015). From Exploration to Design: Aligning Intentionality in Community Informatics Projects. The Journal of Community Informatics, 11(3). Retrieved from