CTNet conference: David Wilcox

From: David Wilcox <david@communities.org.uk>
Friday June 25 1999
To European Association for Community Networking

Hi Y'all (oops must be catching)

Thanks Artur for a perceptive report back on the conference we both attended... saved me some work:-)

I agree with all that Artur says, particularly the importance of community technology centres as a base for local initiatives. As Artur suggests, these don't need to be 'new build' - they can be part of a library, housing project, community centre.

Both CTCNet - the organisation for technology centres - and AFCN - community networks - are open for international membership. There are links here, or mail me if you would like to know more direct - I've signed up.

I would highlight from Artur's report and my own observations:

1 The technology centre movement appears to be stronger than the community networkers - organisationally at least. CTCNet has several hundred project affiliates, and staff; AFCN about a hundred mainly individual, and no paid staff. Having said that AFCN has truly visionary and experienced people among its ranks, and is developing a wider vision for the future. Maybe there's an issue longer term of whether the two organisations continue independently, or merge. They are certainly complementary at present and made a powerful team.

2 There is a strong operational and technology focus - it may be we have the edge in Europe in looking at the societal-ICT issues. We are also more atuned to partnerships... but then capitalism is a bit more red in tooth and claw over there....

3 I can confirm the enthusiasm for international links, which is encouraging considering general US media coverage of the UK and Europe. We generally don't seem to appear on the radar screen unless there is a Royal scandal, wedding or major disaster.

4 Despite the fact that most projects are - like here - finding problems of sustainability, the atmosphere was *positive* and *can do*.Maybe the grass is greener.... it's nice to be home, but I didn't want to leave.

I also spent some time with Terry Grunwald in North Carolina and visited the ground-breaking NCexChange project... just in time for the closing celebrations of the Community Networker project. Do take a look at their excellent Web site http://www.ncexchange.org/networker , particularly Lessons Learned. I hope that some of the NC folk will be visiting the UK later in the year.

As Artur said, a great trip. There is no substitute for meeting people.

Report of the
community networking game workshop run by David Wilcox at the conference