Slide 5 of 12
Just because we can technically enable people to have a say by posting messages on a Web site doesn't mean they will - any more than people (apart from a few) will jump on a soapbox in front of a crowd they don't know. Good discussion takes a lot of preparation.
Just because people live in the same place doesn't mean they have shared interests beyond the basics. Think communities of interest and of practice. Recognise the Internet extends people's reach. Local communities are a mass of different communities.
While community and voluntary organisations are very important as sources of information and help, they are not 'the community'. They are hard-pressed and may not be the greatest champions of IT in the community. You will have to look for individuals &endash; not just official representatives.
At the same time recognise that meeting face to face and building on existing networks helps enormously to create online communities. Reach is great - but often we need a home base too. Real and virtual communities are not either-or ...best if both.