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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  February 1996, Week 2

COMMUNET February 1996, Week 2

Subject:

Re: 1996: New Coalition, New Market, New Approach?

From:

[log in to unmask] (Brent Wall)

Date:

Fri, 2 Feb 1996 10:40:36 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

Great post.  Some comments for what they're worth.


>Last month a proposal was discussed on this list: Should a new
>organization, the International Association for Community Networking be
>established?
>
>The Center for Civic Networking had been asked at one point to weigh in. We
>said we would after we took a look at the issue and what we'd been hearing,
>both online and offline. We are all at a cross-over point. We believe with
>many others that 1996 is a pivotal year. The issue of "sustainability" as
>often posed to developers of community networks, means generating new
>revenues -- making money.

Sustainability may be, unfortunately, *the* issue of this and ensuing years.
Though I prefer to define community networks as public infrastructure and
thus, like roads, something to be built and maintained by government, this I
am afraid is a pipe dream.  A group that would reduce the costs of doing
business and the like should make sustainability more achievable.

>We believe a marketplace may be emerging for community-based information
>products and services. We don't say marketplace to mean "strictly
>commercial". We mean commercial and non-commercial, government and
>non-government. We mean an international PUBLIC marketplace: an arena of
>economic activity built around community-based information products and
>services.

This is a large tent.  Many camel noses could fit, though there are many
here locally who would rather jump off the Brooklyn Bridge than comingle the
terms commercial and community network.  I suspect that this issue will
cause considerable tension.  Some just feel that commercial interests don't
give a hoot about community networking at heart; only their profit line
concerns them.  To answer this, I often argue that just as it is good
business to have a diversified work force, so it is good business for a
local ISP to create and support community networking resources and
information.   Don't think they are necessarily antithetical.

>We believe the time is ripe to create a formal coalition. However, we
>believe it is too early to establish a new organization. While a new one
>could be forced into existance with enough money and resources we don't
>recommend that approach. We recommend establishing a formal -- and
>international -- coalition first, that is funded widely and through modest
>contributions, and then establishing a new organization from this coaltion,
>if it is needed.

Agree.  Coalitions are more loosely coupled than organizations.  Such
diversity probably entails a coalition as there will be many groups
(potentially) with very divergent agendas and needs. 

>What would be the purpose of such a coaltion? We recommend such a coalition
>"seek to further, support and promote, an international public marketplace
>for community-based information products and services created locally, by
>small and unique organizations and businesses."

Not sure need to only support locally created products, unless by this one
means that all products are created at some place.  May want ot support any
kind of product that supports community networking.  Likewise, there may be
some larger organizations whose products or services are worthy of support
(e.g., NCSA).  Further, is the goal to support public market places or
community networking.  In this formulation, the former becomes one means to
achieve the latter.  How do we link the purpose statement to other
dimensions such as technical assistance, research, etc. functions? In this
formulation, where, if any where, should the issues of competition in
telecommunications, universal access/service, etc. fall?  Are they best left
for others?


>We suggest such a coalition be formed among groups in Canada, the United
>States and in Europe.

I suggest we broaden this to include the developing world.  There is a
tremendous lag of community networking services in these countries.  An
international coalition could make a huge difference in some developing
countries.  I am forwarding this and related posts to the RCP (Red
Cientifica Peruana) to get their views.  You will see, for instance, if you
go to their homepage they are using free ware products developed here in the
states.



Brent Wall
Leon County
Courthouse
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Ph:  904.488.9962   Fax:  904.488.1670  E-mail:  [log in to unmask]

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