UK Communities Online

Announcement following first UK conference on Community networking Sheffield July 1996

A new initiative to support community networking

UK Communities Online is a new initiative to promote electronic networking within communities, non-profit organisations and interest groups. The initiative was launched at the first UK conference on community networking at Sheffield University on July 4, where more than 100 people involved in the field gave it enthusiastic support.

The first task will be creation by September 1996 of a Web site and mailing lists in conjunction with the new International Association for Community Networking.

The site and lists will have two functions. First, to enable networkers to exchange technical and other experience. Secondly to provide a home for discussion of the social, economic and environmental issues affecting local communities.

Already there are hundreds of local electronic networks in North America, scores in the UK, and many emerging in Europe and other countries throughout the world.

The content on community networks covers arts to politics, sports fixtures to job opportunities, and many networks encourage 'readers to be writers' by helping users join discussion groups and add their own information to the system. Some networks also often provide training for new users, and a range of facilities including public access points in libraries, shops or community centres.

The first Communities Online event was held in October 1995 at BT Centre, when individuals and a partnership of public, private and community interests started planning a UK initiative to promote networking. BT Community Affairs and BT Labs have provided initial development funding.

In May 1996 the third annual conference of community networkers, meeting in Taos, New Mexico, decided to set up an International Association for Community Networking. UK Communities Online is the first national initiative to be formed as a result of the conference.

David Wilcox, editor for UK Communities Online, attended the Taos conference and was elected one of the core team to develop the international association. He has been working with Richard Stubbs and others in the Partnerships for Tomorrow network in the UK over the past year to promote community networking.

In the longer term UK Communities Online intends to provide assistance to new and existing community networking projects, particularly by developing a network of experts prepared to give technical support and advice on hardware and software, information management and organisational development.

As well as promoting local networking, UK Communities Online will aim to help non-profit organisations and interest groups improve their human networking through the use of new technology.

For more information contact David Wilcox <dwilcox@pavilion.co.uk> Tel: 01273 677377, or Richard Stubbs <R_Stubbs@compuserve.com> Tel: 0181 534 6891.

In order to join the UK Communities Online mailing list, send an email to Dave Miller <D.Miller@sheffield.ac.uk> asking to subscribe to iacn@sheffield.ac.uk. This is not an automatic subscription process.