Communities Online September 1996

September 17 1996 meeting. BT Centre

David Wilcox made the presentation below, and Richard Stubbs reported that Communities Online will shortly have use of a high specification server on which to develop conferencing and other applications.

Nick Trent from the Department of Trade and Industry provided an update on the
IT Partnership initiative. The initiative will consist of a promotional campaign, badging of projects, brokerage to link sponsors to projects in the community, and dissemination of best practice.

Those at the meeting decided to collaborate in helping develop a book and pages on the this Web site linked to the initiative. What follows is a first draft proposal prepared for discussion with the group and sponsors.

Book and Web development proposal

This is a first draft proposal following the September 17 meeting. See the Guide to Community Internet pages for updates.


Use collaborative online working to develop a Communities Online book(s) and Web site associated with the launch of the Government's IT Partnership initiative. Shows what the Internet (and later developments) offers 'ordinary people', and how community networks could further social and economic development of communities.


The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness among citizens not yet online, so the following audiences were agreed with DTI for the basic book: anyone interested in using the technology for personal learning, collaborative working outside a single business, community or voluntary sector initiatives, cross sector partnerships. Mainly active citizens and non-profit professionals, but also anyone stepping outside the usual business or education environments - e.g. professional networks.

The book will also be useful to agencies who want to support community use of IT, who need to understand the basics and the potential.

Book or books?

The scope of content is potentially very wide. Many readers will not understand Internet basics. On the other hand we want to start promoting the vision of community networks. In the long term we will probably need:
- A Getting Started book for December which includes a taster of community networking, but cannot go into great detail
- Follow on articles and/or a further book about community networks
- The Web site covering the full range, with linked mailing lists/conferencing

The basic book should encourage readers to access the Web site through a library, cybercafe, or other means.

Content - the long list

Content below spans a Getting Started book, the Web site, and possibly a further publication. How to slice this is for discussion with DTI, sponsors and contributors. It also partly depends on what else is planned, if anything.

Basics of online systems in a community context e.g.
* What is the Internet: the value of email, Web etc
* Who's who - ISPs, Online services
* How to make a choice
* Checklist for getting started
* Who may be able to help

What works - and what doesn't e.g.
* Examples of successful community projects and networks
* Personal stories of how people use the Internet
* Pitfalls and how to avoid them
* Debunking the myths
* How we used the Internet to write this book

What's there e.g.
* Examples of relevant content online
* Using search engines, finding newsgroups, mailing lists
* Gateway sites

Using the Internet actively e.g.
* Taking part in discussion
* Creating your own Home pages
* Making online activity a useful part of your life/organisation

Policy issues for community use e.g.
* What is community, community development - how might technology help
* Democracy online
* Social inclusion, universal service
* Public access
* Training and support

Community networks now
* UK and US examples
* Analysing the different models
* The technology - software, hardware, networks
* The sociology - gaining local commitment
* Building the network: technology, content, training, organisation, funding

What's on the horizon
* A reminder of where we were 5-10 years ago
* The drivers for change
* Technical possibilities
* Personal-social challenges these raise
* Scenarios, visions

Other routes in to the content e.g.
* An A-Z of online terms
* If you are interested in....

* Bibliography
* Contacts
* URLs

Development process

We practice what we preach and use the technology to develop the book and Web site by:
* A mailing list or Web conference for contributors
* Drafts on the Web site to solicit comment, contributions
* Taking the launch book as a snapshot/digest of current content
* Carrying the process forward to develop the site, further publications and linked events.

This outline will evolve through that process, and through the requirements of DTI and sponsors.

David Wilcox

How this outline developed -
Guide to Community Internet

Presentation by David Wilcox

UK Communities Online September 17 1996



Agreed on July 24


Web site currently


Those attending on September 17 1996

Peter Chauncey Newtel. Peter Chauncy <>
Peter Day. (Peter Day) Brighton University
Peter Durrant , Humberston. (Peter Durrant)
Kevin Harris Community Development Foundation. (Kevin Harris)
Val Jepps and Steve, Harlow CVS c/o
Peter Mason Sussex Community Internet Project. SCIP <>
Colin Millar BT Labs. Colin Millar <>
David Potts Walsall Central Library . c/o <>
Sue Sadler Rural Forum Scotland.
Penny Shepherd Business in the Community. (Penny Shepherd)
Richard Stubbs, Partnerships for Tomorrow and Communities Online. Richard Stubbs <>
Rowzat Tayyebkhan Business in the Community. (Rowzat Tayyebkhan)
Danny Torbica Quest Business Technology Centre. (Danny Torbica)
Nick Trent Department of Trade and Industry.
David Wilcox Communities Online. (David Wilcox)

Communities Online events

Prepared by David Wilcox September 27 1996