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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  October 1996, Week 4

COMMUNET October 1996, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Interview with a list

From:

Brent Wall <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 20 Oct 1996 22:24:42 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

Steve, some thoughts on the below:

Steve Cisler wrote:
> 
> Phil Lauro says:
> >The major concentration in this area is on access, actually using
> the net to build communitities is not.

This is troubling.  If I were back home in Philly and walking at night on certain parts of West Market Street, or even here in quiet and 
little Tallahasse and I was taking a stroll in Frenchtown at night, I would worry for my well-being.  Access is a sine qua non of 
connectivity, but how can we marginalize those pathologies of geography that we face everyday?  Is it not unreasonable to propose that 
building communities is as important as access?  I like homework nets in this wise.  Giving kids the opportunity to interact with their 
teachers at night builds communities.  So does our election results that we post here in Leon County, and our on-line property appraiser data 
base, etc.

The concept of the virtual is fine, but we still have to live in geographical settlements, unless we can enter our computers and virtualize 
ourselves.   
> 
> Neil Guy, the Vice President of Vancouver Community Network and author
> of the excellent "Community Networks: Building Real Communities in a
> Virtual Space?" <ww.vcn.bc.ca/people/nkg/ma-thesis/>, comes to this
> conclusion about community networks in British Columbia:
> 
> "...my findings suggest that ther is something of a gap between the
> community-building rhetoric of many supporters of community networks
> and the actual work being undertaken by volunteers with community
> networking organizations.

Agreed, there may be too much of the "surf the net", "email the world" mindset among us.  As Ed Swartz emphasizes in his work, computing on 
the net means less unless it reinvents our--all or our--rich and poor--communities, with geographical relevancy, which is the case by 
definition, for all of us tune in via some physical place, and live in some space.  The Miami Hearld ran an piece today that bemoaned the 
proliferation of "walled and secured "communities"" that are growing like a bad weed in Miami.  The article lamented that these walls exclude 
the possiblity of the construction of community.  Computers for the rich and access for the benefited likewise edify electronic walls around 
our subdivisions and homes.
> 
> "...the promotion of local community was not held to be a major objective
> by my respondents. ...This is in contrast to the views of many theorists
> of community networking...

Would this be the case because--and look out for the flames on this--too many who do local nets are propellor heads?  In my experience, many 
of the Unix types, who are the de facto gurus of most networking, are libertarians who get all excited about free speech, but don't have a 
clue about community development (Saul Alinsky comes to mind as a purgative to this detritus).  These are different skills, abilities, and 
knowledge sets--not to mention value sets:  configuring Cisco routers is not the same as building a virtual network in a housing project.
> 
> "Instead, the major theme emphasized by most of my respondents was that
> community networks hold an important potential to construct and maintain
> publicly-owned and controlled space on increasingly private and
> commercial computer-based communications networks."

I hold that the pubically-owned and controlled space on com networks is a closed case.  Given the ethos of this country and the acts of the 
federal government (e.g., the privatization of the NSFnet), we will not have pubically owned nets any time late or soon--unless Clinton's 
school initiative goes forward, but this only speaks to schools.  In my work, I cannot interest not even one politician to undertake this 
public journey to the Nirvana of public pipes a la the public roads argument/analogy.  It is just not in the cards, me thinks. If the 
respondents to the survey hold that public networks is the "thing", then I'd suggest that they read recent press releases on this subject.


> --9.2 Summary
> 
> Steve Cisler
> Network Outreach
> [log in to unmask]

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