Ties That Bind: Converging Communities - A Travel Log

Ties That Bind: Converging Communitites was a conference held at Apple Computer, Inc. in Cupertino, CA, May 2-5, 1995. The purpose of the conference was to share problems and solutions surrounding the creation and maintaince of community networks. This text is a travel log of my experiences there.

Wednesday, May 3

motif
motif
Apple Computer
Apple Computer
Cisler
Cisler
Apple Art
Apple Art
Lefaivre
Lefaivre

Opening Remarks

Steve Cisler , a Senior Scientist of Apple Computer, Inc., and the primary organizer of the conference first bade the attendees welcome and likend the creation of the conference to community networkings where everything was grown from the ground up where the people decide what to speak about and what to present.

Rick LaFaivre , Vice President, Advanced Technology Group, Apple Computer, Inc briefly presented some of his ideas about the development of a nataional information infrastructure. First, he point out that he likes the term "information cloud" as opposed to "information superhighway" becuase a cloud connotes a changing more dynamic entity rather than the static concept of a highway. He als pointed outlined two forces of change in the development of a national infrastrucure: top down and bottom up. We, the attendees are the bottom up and government is top down. Overall he thinks the developments in our infrastructure are a very positive thing, but he does have just a few reservations, and he tried to make the audience imaging the sorts of debates that went on when the book was first developed. LaFaivre went on to contrast the new technologe with the old with its ability for individuals to disseminate lots of information just as publishers and broadcasters have done in the past. He thinks the really exciting aspects of the "information cloud" are the grass roots activities happening at this conference.

Community Networks: An Introduction

Civille
Civille
Davitian
Davitian
Finn
Finn
Duke
Duke
Odasz
Odasz

Steve Cisler provided an introduction and overview of community networks that was then supplimented by a number of other speakers. Cisler first got involved in community networks in 1986 in the Santa Monica Public Electronic Network (PEN), and then through the Apple Library of Tomarrow Project (ALOT). He then enumerated the types of information and the types of organization usually constituting community networks including:

These networks are made available to the communities in a host of ways (BBSs, World Wide Web sites, gophers, telnet sessions) and by many different types of institutions (computer enthusiasts, universities, libraries, schools, commercial groups like Americ Online, and non-profit, 501(3)(c) organizations. He also listed a usual ways community networksare funded (volunteers, government, in-kind donations, grants, user fees and subscriptions, advertizing). After displaying a few community networks, Cisler enumerated some to the problems facting community networks ("turf wars", commerical competition, burnout, sucess, unstable funding, law suits). These problems were most definitely echoed, especially funding, throughout the conference. Finally, Cisler called for scalable, interoperable systems implementing transactinal-based data (commerical entities) and exemplifying the results of research into low-end interfaces.

Richard Civille of the Center for Civic Networking, Washington, DC was then given the podium. His focus was to simply raise the issues/challenges concerning community networks. One of his stronger suggestions was to avoid funding mechanisms for community networks that put community network in traditional organization; "Do not confuse professional interest with community interests." He then compared the current environment to the Ptolemiac cosmos, and told the audience to be skeptical of umbrella definitions of community networks. He also suggested we think of sustainability not as non-profit nor as for-profit. He thought the cost of sustainability was a $250,000/year at a minimum.

Finally, he suggested points for getting started:

Lauren-Glenn Davitian of Chittenden Community Television (CCTV) Burlington, VT presented "The Old North End Community/technology Center Burlington Vermont". She described CCTV as a community network. To create the network, the community was for assessed for its needs. Then purchased television equipment to satisfy those needs as well as a facility that is underutilized. They are exploring the expansion of their network to include voice and data. They wanted to demonstrate how to use a public telecommunications facility on a policy level and demonstation level. Furthermore, they are not about technology. Rather, they are about people and the creation of a "ladder" enabling people to improve themselves and their community. (Incidentally, this was a recurring theme thoughout the conference.)

Patrick Finn of La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation , Taos, NM presented "Bringing Communities Together". La Plaza has been available to their community since December of 1994 based on the philosohy of giving people a voice and creating positive social change To thoses ends they have strived to:

  1. Serve needs of community
  2. Engage the broader community (ethnic groups)
  3. Redefine support
  4. Use open technology and educate the public to evalute the information
  5. Plan for competitive times ahead since content makes all the difference
  6. Creating a sustainable community networks.

Again, he reenfources that people are driving these things, not the technology. Grants and Foundations are not the answer to sustainability. This is what is going to make or break the community network phenomonea.

Dennis Duke of Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL shared "Tallaheassee Free-Net (TFN)". The TFN is one of the largest freenets in the country with more than 30,000 members and partnerships with many institutions. These partnerships work because each partner has different and complimentary goals like: research and developement, information dissemination, building a sustainable community organization. He outlined the organizational structure and infrastructure of the freenet including the services it provides (mail, Internet, Internet relay chat, talk, usenet, create home pages).

He then briefly discussed WANE , their next freenet system that runs on a pentium-type machines as well as a couple projects of the system including:

This system definity seemed the most mature of the entire conference.

Odasz - barries to networking is a unified vision. challenge is one of words. the benefits of these technologies are not nailed down. expectations increase with connectivity. the network is full of individuals and not createing communities. cn is communities coming together as opposed to going out on the internet. ongong learningis the challenge; change is the only constant. loaner laptop programs. learning won't take place in community centers. value of informaton is more important than the technology. time is one of the biggest expenses. internet vs innernet. challenges include to teach telecollaboration. getting started. teleliteracy. infoliteracy. outlined a number things his community is doing on the internet. telling stories is how this is most effectilvy communicated to tothers.

wireless networking

Lovette
Lovette
Hendricks
Hendricks
Hughes
Hughes
Weldon
Weldon

Lovette - where we are with wireless as compared to last year. they share their 10 Mrz of bandwidth with ham operators. fcc manatiens cable, telephone, ham packets, satalights, broadcasting, newspaper, computers. wireless in an untamed resources because it has not physical entity. closing down the fcc. "we ought to abolish the fcc" this is because some people to see deregulation necessary for complete communication. fcc is indispensipb for settling squables between contenders for electromagnetic spectrum. fcc recently made license free, deregulatied spectrum available.

Hendricks - focuses in on the raw materials of radio networking. ham took over during the oaklahoma disaster wereas the cellular brokedown. ham is a cn. current services include: paging, cellular, radio LAN/WAN, infrared. compared and contrasted various technologies. IR seemed the best featured. all these service require lots of bandwidth. he predicts that computers and wireless will be merging. advocated the use of spread spectrum which ranges from 1000 to 10's of miles, but the further you go the slower it is going to go. furthermore, practice an ecology of spectrum use (use only what you need). amatre radio is a voluntary noncommerical serice, radio art, international goodwill. call to actions include: work in a regularoty front, work with amature radio services, work with commercial sector.

Hughes - spectrum should be free best interest of the public. it is the means of universal access. it can be the last few miles of access to these things. there is a public unknown. bbs technology is good technolgoy for small communities. he then expounded on the "black box" that does wireless. he called for unlimited spread spectrum technology that microchips can filter the noise from the signal. these microprocessors scramble and spread the signal and then reassemble the signal. the wireless technology is here but simply not supported. all of this can be bypassing the phone company. he then demonstrated the technology and it worked flawlessly. the cowboy cuss.

WWW publishing

Eric Lease Morgan of the North Carolina State University Librarires presented " World Wide Web Publishing ".

Weldon - demonstrated boulder community (government center) network. funamental to the process is to keep the data up-to-date. they are designing templates for people to use. http://bsn.boulder.co.us/ working with the university was good and bad. involve the media in your project. get out into the community and understand their issues. work within existing structures. they have a lot of html writers to devlope their pages. estabolish a chain of command. create contracts between yourself your providers and your helpers. estabolish relationships between yourself and your. universities are too far removed from the community to be very effective. set up systems that represent local interests. merge commerce and community.

In the evening

Eric & Charlie
Eric & Charlie

After the afternoon's activities, I got together with Charlie , a friend of mine since about 3rd grade. We went to a seafood resturant and then got a beer. It is nice to be able to connect with someone from such a long time ago.

Thursday, May 4

Community Networks & the National Information Infrastructure

Irving
Irving
Breeden
Breeden
Cisler's motif
Cisler's motif
Sharp
Sharp
Lutman
Lutman
Eric, Ann, and Nancy
Eric, Ann, and Nancy
Helm
Helm
Durrance
Durrance
Hansen
Hansen
Knox
Knox

Irving - http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ NTIA "Community Networking Partnerships". "dont' get too attatched to technology". we have to keep pushing down the envelope so many people can access this information. http://www.ntia.gov/ we have got to find ways to get people more in contact with government. interested in discovering new ways the technologies to do the same things they were dong before like commerce, eduction. his experiences with sharing the net like in charlotte and los anglese has touched him. enumerated numbers of granted projects from alaska to south carolina. to use technology to share interests. "it takes a whole villiage to educate a child." is speech was rather inpiring.

Breeden - http://www.ntia.doc.gov:80/otiahome/otiaact.html there has been a resizion of 15 million. there is 40 million in the pot. three catagories of funding: 1900-2000 grant applications. must be non-profit or state/local institution. share results of 1994 projects. recieved a billion dollars worth of requests. people must have a specific need in mind (edcation, medical). they are creating a knowledge base, and may be the importanc legacy of this program for future work. positive spin-offs are a good thing about these grants. brief examples of a few grants. grants have advance people's technology. deliverables included: earthquake data, common depository of government county information, focus groups are happening, dummying-down html to gopher. http://www.state.tn.us/ common problems: hard getting started, partnerships creation, hardware/software, audience does not understand what this stuff does and haven't seen it thus they do more outreach than anticipated, low cost low access is the norm, budget constraints. observations: sustained dialog is a need, youth and young people are good motivators for projects.

Between session, Steve Cisler displayed the original piece of art that became the motif for the conference. He noted that he got the painting in Austrialia some time last year. He liked it for its simplitity and connectivity. The painting is acrylic approximately 1' 6" X 2" 6" and is composed of many simple dots of color. The artist is XXX YYY.

Sharp - "communications networks and community revitalization: collaboration for growth" spent the past 25 years providign serverices to non-profit organizations. outlined who non-profit organizations are, but these organizations are very small and have short life spans. non-profits are commited to communications and they see communications as engagement. to mobilize the "we" of community. and thus they are advocating for the whole. she basically outlined how non-profit organization work and the hope they may have for the use of electronic networking to achieve their goals. cn are an excellent model for non-profit organizations. we need to expand dialog and understanding around civic infrastructure. make a transformation from private information to public problem solving. technology represetns connectivity.

Lutman - provided suggestions on how to access the community she works in. there if very little motivation for foundations to change including new technologies. her job is to say "no." foundations have wealth of information that could be made available on the networks. need for $ is not a distinquishing feature of a grant request. a grant proposal is an debate sort of argument.

Carpenter - sees technology as bridge building. have computer camp for adults where the kids are the counclors. access is critical. foundations can convene and leverage authority. synergy between cn and non-profit organizations. trends: collaboration, initiatives. literacy is large issue and leads to computers and the technology. "does understanding lead to knowledge, or does knowledge lead to understanding?"

That afternoon I briefly left to the conference to meet with Ann and Nancy from Apple Computer. Initially I had planned to simply give them a printed beta-version of my book Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks , but instead they took me to the bar adjacent to Apple Computer and we discussed some legal contracts concerning copyright and ownership of the "tome".

libraries

Helm - core partners: bell atlantic of virginia, virginia tech, town of blacksburg. implemented dos/windows/macintosh aplications distributed on disks. the goal was to get everybody on line $6 registration. 8.60 per month. 30 unlimited access to ethernet. he gave an alternative view of blacksburg that is not technological/electronic. there is a lot of richness of blacksburg not represented by BEV. the library is there to help resolve some of these issues and make for of this sort of stuff available. encouraged reference librarians to "play" with the internet. playing and releveance helped a lot. http://www.bev.net/ he then demonstrated BEV: grocery store, community page. because they had public access terminals 70% of BEV users were new users. in the near future they are going to make available a server for more general use via WebStar.

DR. Durrance - focus on changing library and ifnormation science eduction through kellog fouondation. http://sils.umich.ed/Community.html to bring together information found about communities because librarianship is about these sorts of initialtives. goals for flint community networking initialtive: create the infrastructure, estabolish living labority, provide extensive traning to librarians, develope sustainable mode for ifnormain delivery compatible with the public library ethic, revolutionizepublich librarian's practices.

Hansen - http://http2.sils.umich.edu/~lebell/FPL.html he outlined what the librry is doing to create a community network, but they are at the very beginings of their project. demonstrated how they have a legacy, rich tradition of community networkign even though it was not ncessarily technological. "cn is talking to people." remember value pull rather than technology push.

Knox - "the cybrarian" http://www.sils.umich.edu/Publicaations/CRISTALED/Flintcommnetwork.html goals for network: friendl meeting place, public access to internet, facilities for training a with range of users, studio for the creation of community informatin resources. training librarians: operators licence (http://www.sils.umich.edu/FlintCSR/HomePage.html), chauffer's licience (train the trainer), licence to design where local inforation is recycled and made available. outreach: hosting traingin efforts, public access sites for town meetings, sils student collaboration with flint community groups, informatin needs assessment for community groups. goal is have the librry be an intramental force in te creation of cn.

Friday, May 5

Atkins
Atkins
Niles
Niles
Tom, Dale, and Eric
Tom, Dale, and Eric
Polly
Polly

Atkins - http://www.sils.umich.edu/ innovation and extrapolatin are the two ways to deal with social & technological forces. what do we do with all this computing capacity?: )communication/collaboratin, informatin resources, physical world), interface with humans, create real applications, integrate information technology into social "fabric" of society. We need to formal education to bring all these things together andn to fruition. "national collaboratory" is combination we want to use digital libraries, communiction and physical world. this is the same thing as team science, virtual corporation, etc. software must be technical, social, user-centered. digital is a better term to describe future librarires rather than electronic. thus we have new genras to collect and dissemination and work with. the scarest commodity is human attention, not information. we need to discover ways to get the most out of attention. core of ils is access: intellectual, physical, long-term. evolution of library: public library to cn, special libraries to business collaboration systems, univerisiyt to education collaboration. enumerated a few opportunities for public libraries icluding: elimiatin of has vs. have nots, training, access, cener for community informain. challenges: facilities, training, perception of public, money, fear. need to rething professinal education. their school is like borromean ring alluded to earlier.

Niles - has had his hands on "keyboards" since 1964. we are in a world of enourmous change with "telematics" and ties social change are atributed to these technologies. the u.s. is far along in terms of the inforamiton age. sustainable developement: 1) consideratin of natural environment 2) commitement of social equity between generations and geographic regions. There is relatinship btween sustainable development and communiyt netorking. things intrisic against information devleopment: shopping, ecash, pleasent sites (it pushes the old patterns), it promotes travel like this conference or federal express, maps in cars, telecommunications, promtoes sprallying development.

Again, in the afternoon I took a break from the conference to do some "Apple networking". This adventure lead to Tom Zillner and Dale Mead . Dale is the WebMaster for Apple Computer, and I bent his ear about Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks .

Polly - "As We May Link" gave a historical persepctive of vanevar bush. she did a search of "knowledge" on yahoo. it was interseting to see what hits came back with such keywords. "how far we haven't come." better selection, improve human race. "demand epiphany!" in resources and search tools.


Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: This text was never formally published.
Date created: 1995-05-03
Date updated: 2004-11-26
Subject(s): Apple Computer; Cupertino, CA; travel log;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/ties-that-bind-95/