Community networks: lessons from Blacksburg, Virginia by Andrew Michael Cohill, Andrea L. Kavanaugh

By Andrew Michael Cohill, Andrea L. Kavanaugh

Provided during this paintings is the five-year evolution of the Blacksburg digital Village - the enterprise that associated the voters of Blacksburg, Virginia, to one another and to the remainder of the area, solely throughout the web. It addresses the social, financial, technical and academic influence of residing in a "connected town", in accordance with community-wide surveys, concentration teams and data-logging efforts. It additionally describes the basic parts of a neighborhood community, and provides precious recommendation on designing and constructing an digital neighborhood.

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But it can and does complement physical place and give us a new opportunity to communicate with each other in a public space and to talk with the entire community about the things that interest or concern us. Storytelling Storytelling is a human tradition that reaches back thousands of years. Human beings are different from animals in many ways, but one important difference is our love of stories and storytelling. In Blacksburg, each person can tell his or her own story free of intermediaries. This is what makes the BEV so powerful; we no longer have to ask (or beg) permission to tell others what we know or who we are.

As Nicholas Negroponte so cogently observes in Being Digital, networking is about bits, not atoms. It is about information and the coding schemes used to represent the information, not the artifact in which information has historically come packaged. It is about moving information, not about moving people. It is about removing the constraints of time and place and lowering the threshold for society to access information and each other. As delicious as this stone soup sounds, we should remember that there is a big stone in the bottom of the pot.

And the surprising answer will be, "Us! " That is going to require a level of citizenship beyond that for which most of us have been educated. The successful electronic villages will emerge from communities that are prepared to grapple with and are committed to resolving those kinds of difficult issues. The reward for winning such battles will be empowered citizens leading rich and full lives beyond any we have known in our history. Successful electronic villages will become magnets for economic development, quality educational systems, and satisfying cultural ambiance.

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