Communities Online July 1996

July 1996 meeting report

* Form charitable company - shadow board operates immediately
* Main activity - independent advocate, catalyst and info exchange
* First version of the Web site by mid August plus Prospectus
* Also develop events and book
* Work as closely as possible with IT for All


First phase: basic technology of mailing lists and BT Web site. Concentrate on human networking, gaining support, developing communication and content, forming organisation; initial fundraising.

Second phase:upgrade technically, more proactive on projects with organisational partners - public, private and/or voluntary.

Core development area: acting as an independent forum, information exchange and catalyst: charitable. In addition look for opportunities to innovate with partners. May require non-charitable trading company.

Aim to make this a learning experience for all concerned, with scope for anyone interested who supports the aims to join in. Inclusive, developmental, cross sector.

Aim to work as closely as possible with the IT for All initiative, as well as public and private organisations e.g. Society for Public Infomation Networks, Computing Services and Software Association. (See building support).

Develop aims and objectives from mission to:

"Promote electronic networking which empowers citizens, builds communities of interest and of locality"
... this will be done in two ways: for the constitution (memorandum and articles) of the charitable company, and for the Prospectus (see below).

In discussion we agreed that 'community' covered interest groups and organisations as well as local networks. Citizen empowerment will cover 'what does the Internet offer ordinary people', including scope for personal development and learning.

Action: Organisation and Prospectus groups

We agreed to create a charitable company, first with a 'Shadow' Board who may then become director/trustees: Michael Mulquin (acting chair), Jonathan Brown, Colin Millar, Doug Williams, Eta De Cicco.

Richard Stubbs, Dave Millar and Tim Walton were not present but have indicated they want to be in the core group. Any more self-nominations to the shadow board? (My role is as potential employee, and as such I cannot be a director/trustee.)

Michael's organisation, Aston Charities, can hold funds until we are incorporated. The shadow board is the decision making body from now on, working with groups around specific tasks.

Action by Michael Mulquin, Jonathan Brown, Pat Colley.

I will develop a one-page draft version of the who, why, what etc of Communities Online, plus a longer version. Chris Leigh will help, and we'll call on others as necessary. This will be available on our Web site (see below) and in print.

We will need, as part of this exercise, to consider our identity (name(s), logo, brief copy). Is UK Communities Online appropriate for the company, Web site, services? It may be that we can start with UKCO and some simple typography, then develop the identity as we grow.

Action: DW, Chris. Also approach Tim Walton.

DW will contact Nick Trent at DTI about involvement with IT for All, and the industry body Computing Services and Software Association. Colin and/or Doug to participate if possible.

Pat Colley and Kevin Harris, with Michael, will plan a late September event for community and voluntary organisations to brief/involve them.

DW, Michael, Colin and Doug will confirm cross-department internal BT commitment to the programme and aim to secure continuing support.

DW to continue to investigate/take up opportunities for workshops at conferences etc.

The above to plan longer-term events programme: cross-sector, regional.

The aim is to have some first pages up by mid-August covering UKCO, the content framework and invitation to join in. The site on the BT server will co-ordinate with the Sheffield site and the US IACN site.

Potential participants: Dave Miller, Richard Stubbs, DW, Doug, Spike. Doug has proposed a meeting August 2 which I (DW) can make

The greatest benefit for groups and organisations. Apparently technically trivial, but difficult to find anyone to do them.

Action: Doug and Colin to investigate what BT can do. Dave Miller to offer fall-back, Eta to contribute expertise from past experience.

Agreed that we need a book of articles to back up the Web and events.

DW to develop outline and investigate Joseph Rowntree Foundation interest.

DW and MM to develop strategy based on
- BT, DTI, CSSA contacts and responses
- Revenue generation opportunities from events and other 'products'

Training and support was felt to be fundamental.

Spike Robinson has indicated since the meeting that he would like to work in this area, and develop proposals with others. Anyone else?

Draft Prospectus David Wilcox, Chris August 2
Web DW, Doug, Spike, Richard First pages mid August
Internal BT DW, Michael, Doug, Colin Mid August
DTI, CSSA DW, Doug, Colin Mid August
Book outline DW End August
Volorgs event invites Pat, Kevin, Michael Early September

Those present on July 24

Jonathan Brown (NCVO Rural Team)
Eta De Cicco (National Council for Educational Technology)
Pat Colley (Community Matters)
Kevin Harris (Community Development Foundation)
Chris Leigh (Newtec)
Colin Millar (BT Labs)
Michael Mulquin (Aston Charities, Partnerships for Tomorrow)
Spike Robinson (DFAX)
John Routledge (Urban Forum)
Glenn Rothwell (I-Way)
David Wilcox (Partnerships for Tomorrow)
Doug Williams (BT Labs)



On the ground
* Growing number of local networks in UK - both local government and independent
* Voluntary sector & partnerships getting online
* Rapid growth in individual users

Industry and Government
* Major hardware and software companies treating Internet as THE platform
* BT Community Affairs funding for community regeneration network
* BT Labs researching community networks
* Government 'IT for All' initiative November

* International Association for Community Networking
* European telematics programmes


Agreed last time
* Focus: how can new technology help empower citizens and build communities - locally, and of interest
* Set up a small independent UK organisation to promote community networking
* Structure and style - light, cross sector, open, brokerage - and able to innovate

* UK Communities Online gained strong support at Sheffield conference
* First mailing list in operation
* Wide range of keen contacts
* Developed server spec. and reviewed options
* Agreed IACN collaboration with US group
* Developed more detailed Web outline and organisational plans


Stage one - three to six months
* Develop contacts and commitment - the human side
* Use BT WebWorld server as a testbed - see how it works for 'ordinary users'
* Identify real needs of national and local networks through discussion lists
* Create the organisation
* Explore links with 'IT for All'
* Develop business plan and fundraise

Stage two - 1997
* Develop higher technical specification and look for upgrade on BT server or elsewhere
* Work with local and national organisations and pilots
* Further develop site in association with IACN
* Produce print, hold events


About Communities Online
* Join our lists, help build this site
* People and organisations involved

Community information & regeneration
(Mainly links)
* Advice and support
* Central and local government information
* Key topics - social, economic, environmental
* Regeneration networks and partnerships

Community participation and partnerships
(links plus new material)
* Campaigning
* Effective participation
* Creating networks and partnerships
* Political debate - link to UKCOD

Community networking
(Sheffield & UKCO sites, linked to IACN sites)
* Background material and CN directories
* Technical platform for networking
* Content & management (link to sections above)
* Products and services of community networks
* User interface, design and metaphor
* Organisational development
* Marketing, economic base and sustainability
* Training and support
* Evaluation

Community futures
* What the technology may bring
* Challenges to the technology hype
* Success stories


Promote electronic networking which empowers citizens, builds communities of interest and locality
* Create a Web site and discussion areas for anyone interested in community networking
* Develop with users and industry partners technical platforms on which to test and evaluate new applications locally and nationally
* Promote community networking through publications, events and other means

* Charitable company and trading company
* Wider Community Networking Forum

* Maximise volunteer support and help in kind
* Sponsorship plus revenue earning
* Lottery and other grant bids


Web site and mailing lists
* Develop content centrally and through lists
* Recruit technical support

Prospectus and fund raising
* Draft Prospectus, contact sponsors, launch demo

Other products, services, support
* Training
* Fast track development of new approaches

Events, print to recruit
* Seminar for regeneration agencies
* Local and national networks

Organisational development
* Aims and objectives, mem. and arts.
* Develop draft business plan and agree roles


Prepared by David Wilcox September 18 1996
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