CTNet conference: Artur Serra

Artur Serra <artur@ac.upc.es>
Friday, 25 Jun 1999
To European Association for Community networking

Hi everybody,

I'm just come back from Chicago from the annual conference of CTCNet (http://www.ctcnet.org), this year organized jointly with the AFCN (http://www.afcn.net), Association for Community Networking. Almost 400 people joined in the Hyatt McCormick Center discussing about the present and future of community networks in the US.

Things I've learned:

1. Discovering the CTC movement.

The oldest organization is CTC, founded by Antonia Stone in Harlem in the 80s. Main strenght: rooting computing technology in a physical community center. That allows them to arrive to all kind of segments of the population. The percentage of the African American in the conference, starting with her new president, Holly Carter, proved it. Great contributions, good speakers. We understand better now our own projects like RavalNet and NouBarrisNet, both a CTC and a CN at the same time. Patrik Hunt from IDRC exposed in a very good speech the global panorama of the Community Technology centers (http://www.idrc.ca/pan/chasqui.html)

Good think of CTC: they can be in each building in a neighborhood. They can tackel the bottom of a city. I saw in Chicago CTC in apartment buildings. My good friend Don Samuelson (DSSA310@aol.com), a developer and manager of public housing in Chicago, showed it to me. I saw what a digital city can be all about in physical,architectural terms. Please see the Edgewood project in Washington DC. http://www.edgenet.org

My advice to EACN: each CN needs a CTC at least, each CTC can be considered the birthplace of a CN. Weak point in CTC organization: I saw few understanding of Internet era and the power of networks, local and globally. But they are open. Other weak point: I saw still a kind of demand for "Digital Welfare State", instead of a new vision of how to build a Global Information Society.

2. The great potential of CNs as clearinghouse of new communities.

The AFCN is an association with a well experimented group of leaders, good university connections and with the possibility of being a kind of coordinating group of all these new movements on Community and Networking that will arise in the next years in the US.

An ongoing debate is starting in the US about "The Digital Divide". Please read carefully the last report of the Department of Commerce http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/net2/falling.html

A lot of the people I met in the conference still had a vision of Community as something opposed or alternative to Market. In the other side, I discovered new signs of considering CNs as a new plataform for developping entrepreurial activities, sustaineble Cns and good links with excelents univ. like CMU.

Finally, the AFCN still don't have very closed connections with ISOC and the Internet people in the US, f.e. with people from the Internet2 projects.

3. Convergence process.

There is an ongoing convergence between Community Technology Centers , Community Networking and Community Media(http://www.alliancecm.org) . Do you want to see their common journal?:(http://www.ctcnet.org/review99.htm)

Some support from the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and Department of Housing is starting also.

4. Global Conference on CN.

Finally, Amy Borgstrom, the President of AFCN, and a woman with great capacities conducting conferences, invited to Gary Shearman from TC, and me from the EACN, to introduce a brief presentation about the current situation of our organizations. I offered an oral presentation of this slides (I'm sending to you), included the idea of a Global Summer 2000 for CNs. Amy got the challenge, supporting the initiative followed by a group of AFCN volunteers. David Wilcox also offered the support from the BBC on Line.

Briefly, it is one of the most enjoyables trips I never did. Good people, good city, good friends,

Finally, I contacted my colleagues of the Internet world in Chicago. This city is currently the site of the STAR TAP http://www.startap.net, the contact point of the most advanced Internet 2 projectes in the world. I met colleagues from the iCAIR, International Center for Advanced Internet Applications, http://www.icair.org, offering the possible colaboration with the CNs people and I gave them their contacts to the people of CN in Chicago, closing the circle. :-)

I'm just working in the 2000 proposal. Amy too.

I guess our EACN meeting in September can close this proposal.



Dr.Artur Serra
Centre for Internet Applications (cANet)
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya.
Campus Nord. Gran Capita, s/n , Modul D6-008
Barcelona 08034
tel, +34-3-4017182
fax, +34-3-4017055