In “Knowledge Production and Use in Community Based Organizations: Examining the Influence of Information Technologies”, Laxmi Ramasubramanian analyzes the uses and impacts of information technologies by community board organizations. This includes looking at the connections between the use of technology, community organizations, and the power of a community. Information technologies include display and presentation technologies, text based communications technologies, and spatial technologies. These tools can be used in a variety of ways, such as using spatial technologies to create maps of a certain area or using text based communication technology to organize and mobilize a group of people. Ramasubramanian lays out three points that the study focused on, which include how information technologies are used in decision-making processes, the role played by these technologies in participatory decision-making, and the capacity of the technology to support organizational leadership (Ramasubramanian 2004).

Information technologies are a powerful tool because they can serve to give all people a voice and allows them to do their own research and come up with their own solutions to problems that matter to them. These technologies are capable of producing a wealth of information that organizations such as CBOs can use to make decisions and influence or challenge those with power. As Ramasubramanian points out, this is important for CBOs because they reflect the interests of city residents who may not have much of a voice in government. Despite the apparent benefits of information technologies, there is some debate over the impact these technologies can have. Those who argue against the reliance on information technology make the point that social problems cannot be solved by technology and point to the possible dangers that reliance on technology can bring.

Information technologies have a profound impact on society, which is why it is helpful to study the nature of this impact. For example, Rheingold makes the point that electronic communications provides people with social network capital, which is the ability to meet others with similar interests, knowledge capital, which allows you to ask networks of people for help and information, and communion, which gives people a sort of emotional support(Ramasubramanian 2004). Since information technologies have the capability to connect different kinds of people, the linkages between society and the implementation of technology need to be understood to evaluate the impacts technology can have.

In studying the use of technologies by CBOs, Ramasubramanian looks at the processes of technology adoption and use, participatory decision-making, and leadership. This involves looking at how CBOs use data and information to make decisions and the role that technologies play in identifying problems, choosing a course of action, how technology facilitates or hinders CBOs in creating community participation, and how technology can empower CBOs to put them in a position of leadership. The cities studied were Boston and Chicago, and the CBOs studied were the Chicago Housing Corporation (CHC) and the Westside Community Development Corporation (WCDC) in Chicago and the South End Community Organization (SECO) and Boston Tenants Council (BTC) in Boston. WCDC and BTC did not make heavy use of information technologies, whereas CHC and SECO did.

The study found that information technologies created certain benefits for CBOs, allowing them to identify and reframe problems, develop programs and policies based on research or better understanding of the situation, and make analysis of problems easier. In particular, it was found that information technologies helped improve efficiency in the CBO by making the gathering of data faster and easier and improving the presentation of the results obtained from research. Technologies also allowed people to communicate better in groups by allowing people to use technology like maps to simplify complex concepts and by allowing CBOs to reach out to a greater number of people. Information technologies also allowed CBOs to negotiate more effectively with community leaders and planners because they can better present their ideas and have the ability to use information about past policies to support or disapprove with a certain policy.

Information technologies do produce some negatives for CBOs, which can make it difficult to implement the technology. It can be expensive to incorporate the technology into the CBO because it requires training staff to understand how to use information technologies to find solutions to problems or choose an appropriate course of action.

Information technologies had a positive effect on participatory planning because they allow people to have access to a great deal of information which allows them to understand how their decisions can affect their community. Information technologies also allowed CBOs to address a particular problem, learn how to deal with the problem by studying data and information, and collaborate with other organizations to attempt to solve the problem.

Information technologies can be very useful for CBOs because it allows the CBO to combine quantitative with qualitative information. CBOs can gather data and evidence by using technology such as GIS, and can then use this data to identify problems or propose solutions to problems. It allows the CBO to frame a problem through the lens of the community because it gives the CBO the ability to have more contact with community residents and also allows community residents to participate more in decision-making.