Communities Online conference
October 1995 report

Conference report

In October 1995 Urban Forum and Partnerships for Tomorrow ran a conference at BT Centre on the theme of Communities Online, funded by BT Community Affairs. Plans for the conference were developed following a workshop at the the Urban Forum annual meeting of April 1995.

At the conference we demonstrated a bulletin board system which could be used as the basis for an online information system for community-based projects. It used the same user-friendly software - First Class - as the Regen.Net system backed by the Department of the Environment for `official' partners in local regeneration projects.

Our pilot system was developed on an existing system called pHreak operated by Intermedia Associates.

Plenary session conclusions

At the end of the conference, participants in the plenary session concluded that the task for the Community Regeneration Network is twofold:

The system should cater for a range of users: individuals, groups, organisations, networks. Some will already be online, but many will not.

The online system should enable users to have public and private conversation (email, use of conference and chat areas), and also provide substantial information resources.

The immediate implications for development are then:

The way forward is by:

Following the conference, BT Community Affairs invited Partnerships for Tomorrow to submit proposals for developing the Community Regeneration Network. David Wilcox started work on the project in March 1996.

Early feasibility work with Richard Stubbs suggested that it would be more fruitful to develop a system on World Wide Web, rather than the FirstClass system, and to broaden the scope to include community networking. This work led to the formation of Communities Online.

Prepared by David Wilcox September 23 1996
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