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Garth,
 
 
I'm glad you raised these issues. I have observed that potential users
seem to be somewhat divided on whether a community network was to build
(or strengthen) the local community or provide an onramp to the Internet.
 
In research for my paper on Community Networks, I read some of Ithiel de
Sola Pool's wonderful book _Forecasting the Telephone_ where he
describes the changes around the turn of the century:
 
"From 1900-1915 four developments undermined the autonomy of small towns
and villages: parcel post, rural free delivery, the automobile, and the
telephone. All of these led farmers to bank, buy, and sell in larger
centers of commerce."  p 48  (Ablex Press, 1983)
 
Community Networks will provide our users new centers of discourse, and
I expect that will shift their focus from Ottawa, San Jose, Dillon (MT),
to topics and concerns that are not necessarily relevant to people
living nearby.
 
Steve Cisler
Apple Library