Manifesto Points Summary
These summary points are taken from the discussion of the Manifesto
on CONET during November 1999. The comments have in part been paraphrased and
some are direct but anonymous quotes from individuals. It is in no way representative
of CONET as a group.
- The manifesto statement carries something of a top down paternalist flavour.
- Must support the notion of distributed communities (e.g. disabled, or people
from small but distributed ethnic groups). These are not 'local' to each other
but still form communities so should not be excluded.
- The technology and knowledge needs to be targeted at those who have a real
passion of something and an established network of relationships. What technology
can do is develop those relationships (whether local or distributed) and empower
- Key points are variety, inclusiveness, mixed motivations, growth and decay,
mergers and spin-offs. They may be local or global, single purpose or multi-purpose,
simple or complex. The common features are 'community' (a group with a shared
interest) and on-line (connected by current ICTs.)
- E.g. virtual resource centres: This makes sense for geographically related
communities ("local") with physical centres and needs every encouragement.
But it misses the crucial advantage of the Internet - it is based on telecommunications
and allows communities of interest (like CONETters) to collaborate. So champions
need to be supported in 'spatially unrelated' communities and partnerships
- Need to use broad forums like the Virtual Resource Centre, but the term
could apply equally to a National Resource Centre, Regional and Local Resource
Centres. All of these have a part to play in sharing knowledge and best practice.
- It doesn't matter how much ideas are disseminated in cyberspace, communities
will only be empowered when the capabilities of people who are passionate
about doing something at a local level are developed.
- There is little interest in giving Government "a banner to wave"
(We Help Communities) in the face of a constituency robbed of pensions, support
for disabled people, added measures for lone parents.
- If community control of Internet access and resources is to be enabled and
determination of their own evolution as players in online-UK, capacity building
(making able), representation (inclusion), and structuring (its not all one
big discussion) must be attended to.
- "How do these proposed technology centres differ from (say) telecentres,
telecottages etc that already exist?" and "Do they go alongside existing centres
or add to them?". Those telecentres that have survived the last ten years
have evolved with the times, why not just keep on evolving?
- E.g. Pathfinder Projects: the innate danger of a unified pathfinder programme
(i.e. one under common programme management) is that genuine diversity and
experimentation is more difficult under such a scheme.
- One important idea for any local facility to develop is to join forces with
the local media (newspapers, freesheets, local radio, local TV) to run joint
programmes and promotions.
- Another important idea to think about is to make sure the local facilities
are properly signposted in the more general places people search online, such
as Alta Vista et al. This is easy and cheap to do and being easy to find online
says something about any site, while finding that one's very own local community
network has not bothered to list itself is always disappointing.
- Another element is "global outreach". One of the hidden strengths of a local
community can be its invisible connections with the rest of the world. Most
UK communities have alumni who are now working in many different parts of
the world and who still have ties of friendship, family, allegiance. Other
UK communities have particular ties to distant homelands - for example to
China, Pakistan, East Africa . . . One of the most immediately valuable features
of the Internet is the "death of distance"; making bridges for "local" people
wherever they may be world-wide is a powerful activity that is too often overlooked
in CN planning. Such bridges need very good visibility in all the relevant
places (for example links in Alta Vista et al in the appropriate languages,
links in national search engines in the appropriate countries).
- Local community networking falling into the hands of commercial vested interests
(eg Tesco, the Beeb, FreeServe or whatever); this can be avoided by local
community network organisers ensuring that any deals they make for (eg) webspace,
access bandwidth etc don't allow the providers any editorial or process control
and don't prevent the community from readily switching to alternative provisions
- There is a need to state what kind of support is needed to address the particular
issues of particular kinds of neighbourhoods, such as:
- communities in areas of high unemployment
- communities with problems of neighbourhood crime, vandalism
- low-income communities
- communities with internal problems of racial discrimination or tension
- communities with external image problems (eg can't get a job because of
- communities that have local problems in education (provision, motivation,
- isolated communities (at a distance from centres of economic and social
- rural communities (dispersed populations)
- communities with very little hi-tech employment and activity
- middle class communities
- communities with particular languages difficulties (eg, in England, those
with a large proportion of people whose main language is not English)
- affluent communities
- communities suffering from economic or other "shocks" (eg the pit is closing/has
- Powerful Terms such as "Helping", "assisting" and "empowering" need to be
in the manifesto.
- "[The aim is that]. . . grass roots community groups become motivated
to organise and manage their own online community environments and have access
to the relevant know how, learning and other appropriate support".
- Community perspectives and values on the Internet need to be reflected on
equal terms with those of commerce and government
- It is important to establish the internet/web/cyberspace as a public interest
space as well as a commercial marketplace