Introductions A-D

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These are introductions made from July 1996 to the IACN mailing list A-D. Back to full IACN intros index

Peter Adams
Mike Astill
Alan Baker
Neil Ballantyne
Vicki Belt
Dr. Gilbert Brenson Lazan
Pat Colley
Ted Coltman
Linda Doyle
Peter Durrant

Peter Adams

Dear Community Onliners,

An introductory mailing this as I'm new to the list and have an interest in community development where it relates to information technology, based on my past involvement in community development (12 years); working with Microsoft Windows (10 years) and work in both live and recorded local programming in the cable television sector since 1988 - the three areas provide the foundation for mediaOptions here in the Black Country area of the English midlands and through mediaExchange which exists purely on the internet in email and web media.

I'm currently watching developments being reported about online internet broadcasting as sparked by Microsofts recent meetings in London. Please feel free to evaluate some of mediaOptions / mediaExchanges aims and objects on our monthly website, which also includes our media, community and communications Hyperlibrary.

Both projects are independent voluntary projects receiving no regular funding though we are looking for small revenue grants for capacity building - the National Lottery scheme of regional grants in the new year seems logical.

Pete Adams (Project Officer)

Mike Astill


I have been lurking around this discussion group for a little while now (September 1996) and have finally been goaded into making a contribution. My name is Mike Astill and I work for North Kesteven District Council as Telematics Officer and one of my main tasks is to set up a Community Information Network.

I have now been in post for about 10 weeks, prior to this job I had worked for about 10 years as an IT Officer, in Local Government. This last job was mainly concerned with the development and implementation of management information systems. I am therefore relatively new to working in the area of CINs, although I have always had an interest, ever since the days of good old Prestel. In fact I once set up a "local" prestel type system for schools and teachers in the East Midlands using a BBC model B computer and a 20mb hard disk drive. Anyway let me put forward a few observations and thoughts.

It appears that the majority of contributors to this group are working in urban areas. Whilst I appreciate the problems of urban deprivation I would like to bring your attention to rural deprivation which is something that we do not hear quite so much about. It may be OK to nip around to the local pub when you live in Liverpool, Sheffield or Newham. But what about when you live in the Lincolnshire and the local pub is two miles away.

Got a problem? then nip into the local CAB after all it's only ten miles away. the return bus fare is 2+ and the bus only runs two days a week (market days and Saturday) and by the way the bus stop is two miles walk along a country lane. It's the same with the Job Centre, DSS, public library etc. By the way the shop in the local village closed down 2 years ago and the nearest post office is at the next village three miles away. Interesting to ponder how it is possible to ensure public access to electronic information systems in this scenario.

The www is a wonderful thing - especially now that local telephone access is available over most of the UK. Interactivity, high resolution graphics, even audio and movie clips. Pity that you need a "state of the art" computer and modem to get the full benefit. All of the wonderful things that are available on the web require an outlay of at least 1000. Whilst this may be OK for Guardian readers - what about Sun and Daily Mirror readers?

This leads me onto another thought - perhaps its not just to do with money. If we could give every home, free of charge and running costs, a www terminal, are we sure that they would all be able to derive equal benefit. How do we measure the benefit that users derive? Are some ways of using the technology more worthwhile that others? Is it more worthwhile to be able to place a bet on the 2.30 at Doncaster or to use the technology in order to research the dangers of gambling. Who decides how the technology should be used. It seems to be market driven at the moment - is there any other way?

There seems to be talk about certain groups being left behind in the race towards the "information society". Should we be concerned about this, or will market solve the problem in the long run. I remember the time when the telephone could only be afforded by the middle classes. It is now used much more widely. Will the same thing happen with email and other computer based information systems.
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Alan Baker

I'm Alan Baker ,Director of Finance and Administration at Aylesbury Vale District Council a shire district council with a population of just over 150,000.

We have a relatively new political administration which is trying to generate a particular emphasis on community involvement and participation.

Initiatives we are currently pursuing that might be of interest:

1.Creating an Aylesbury Vale Youth Council.
2.Public question times at Committees plus some Committees going 'on the road'.
3.A grouping called 'Crimestop Aylesbury Vale'.
4.Planning applicants making presentations of their case.
5.A range of initiatives to encourage greater cooperation between bodies operating on our patch (not just with the council)
6.'Planning for real' exercises.
7.Town audit, followed by work with community group to improve physical & trading environment in Buckingham.

I'm also interested in forming an 'action learning' set on community involvement and participation.

If you are interested in further details on any of above let me know.

Alan Baker
Director of Finance and Administration
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Friars Sq. Offices
4 Gt. Western St.
Bucks HP20 2TW
Tel:- 01296 555251
Fax:- 01296 394351
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Neil Ballantyne (Neil Ballantyne)

I'm a lecturer in social work at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I heard about the list from both the UKSOCWORK electronic discussion list and from David Wilcox who is, along with myself and some others, part of a small virtual working group considering the development of a web based magazine publication for people concerned about and involved in social and community work.

My own particular practice interests, as well as the development of new technology in social and community work, are in the area of work with young people, especially marginalised young people.

Lecturer, Department of Social Work,
University of Strathclyde, Jordanhill Campus,
76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow G13 1PP, SCOTLAND, UK.
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Vicki Belt

I've just joined the mailing list and thought it would be a good idea to give a brief introduction, so so here goes......

I am a researcher based in the department of geography at Newcastle University, working on a research project concerned with the use of new communications technologies in rebuilding local communities in urban areas. I am looking at case studies of community information networks and also community television. I am approaching my research from a sociological/geographical perspective, so it is not 'technology centred'. I am especially interested in the differing definitions of the notion of community embodied in community networking projects, and the ways in which communications patterns are being changed within communities through the application of new technologies.

If anybody has any suggestions about reading that might be of use to me in my work i'd be glad to receive them. It would also be great if any other researchers working in a similar field could get in touch to exchange ideas and opinions.

Vicki Belt

Dr. Gilbert Brenson Lazan

"Dr. Gilbert Brenson Lazan" <>

My name is Gil Brenson and I'm a new subscriber, primerily to be able to pick the brains of the UK geniuses in this area that facinates me and has, IMNSHO, a great deal of untapped relevance and applicability to the poor communities of Latin America.

I am the Executive Director of the Fundación Neo-Humanista. Here's a little blurb about us, the only thing I have in English:

The "Fundacion Neo-Humanista" is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian training and consulting institution dedicated to facilitating transformational social management and greater institutional empowerment and effectiveness, for and with Third Sector educational, health and social service agencies in Latin America. Its mission is to offer quality training and consulting services to those institutions committed to facilitating processes of integral, psychosocial self-development with individuals, families, organizations and communities.

The Foundation was created in 1991 by Dr. Gilbert Brenson Lazan and his colleague-wife, Dr. Mercedes Sarmiento Diaz, when the couple decided to offer to the struggling Latin American Third Sector, their twenty years of experience in the fields of human and organizational development. Dr. Brenson, a Northamerican social psychologist, educator and writer, has lived in Colombia since
1972 and is recognized as a pioneer in South America in the fields of Transactional Analysis and NLP, Crisis Intervention, Organizational Transformation and Facilitation. He is the author of fifteen books. Dr. Sarmiento is Colombian, a clinical psychologist and educator who has been a leader in the development of systemic models of psychosocial intervention ; she is the author of three books.

The Foundation does not receive donations or subsidies ; its income is derived exclusively from the sale of its professional services directly to the benefiting organization on an ability-to-pay basis or with the support of a commercial or international patron of such services. Its portfolio of services include: The Foundation's offices and Training Center are located in Santafé de Bogota, Colombia, and its professionals have worked with local, national and international organizations throughout Colombia and in Venezuela, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. It is an active member of International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR), the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and the Organizational Development Network (ODNet).

I'm looking forward to learning and contributing to the list.
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Pat Colley

Pat Colley <101371.2276@CompuServe.COM>

My name is Pat Colley and I have been working in community organisations as a
volunteer for the past 23years. At the age of 50 I took early retirement from
Rank Xerox where I was International Technical Support Manager for Network
Systems products. My wife and I now run our own computer maintenance company
from home which provides me with the flexibility to increase the amount of time
I devote to my voluntary activities.

These are centred mainly around Community Matters. I am a director of Community
Matters and a director of their trading subsidiary Community Trading Services
Ltd. I am also the Training Officer for Community Matters Berkshire the
Berkshire federation (branch) of Community Matters.

Some of my areas of responsibility within Community Matters are:-
Chair of the Standing Orders committee
Member of the National Training Development committee
and leading a working party to plan and implement an I.T. strategy for Community

I hope my background and experience can enable me to be of some help to UK
Communities Online and that my involvement can also benefit Community Matters by
helping to bring themselves and their members into the IT community.

Ill finish with a short footnote on Community Matters for the folk who havent
come across us before.

Community Matters was formed 50 years ago and its primary role has always been
to provide support and advice to community organisations, especially those
running and managing community centres. Community Matters provides, for a
approximately 700 members, regular newsletters/mailings, an information and
advice service and national and regional seminars, training and workshops.
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Ted Coltman


As he does with new subscribers, Dave Miller suggested that I post an introduction. Herewith:

I'm Ted Coltman, executive director for new media of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (CPB is the American quango, located in Washington, that is responsible for disbursing federal government subsidies for what we call "public broadcasting." These funds provide about 15 percent. of the aggregate annual operating costs of the 650 or so independent organizations that constitute the American public broadcasting "industry.")

For the last five years, CPB has promoted the involvement of public broadcasting organizations in community, or civic, computer networking. We think that the interests and objectives of civic networking organizations are largely congruent with those of public broadcasters. The rich, dense social interactions facilitated by community networking will greatly enhance the value of traditional mass medium program services to their users.

My own early career as a newspaper journalist and later professional training in city and regional planning (spatial economics) give me a continuing interest in the information and communications traffic by which people within a community interact with each other and with other people in the community's environs, both close and distant.

My greatest current interest is in how civic networks can employ filtering, matching, polling, and similar software to harness the great density of communications traffic and stored information in a typical community. Without compromising the important, if sometimes fuzzy, boundaries between public and private spaces, such tools can serve well, I think, to engage the members of a community more closely with one another, whether in debate, discourse, pastime, or common endeavor.

Edward (Ted) Coltman
Executive Director, New Media
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
901 E Street, NW * Washington, DC 20004-2037 USA Voice: +1 202 879 9670
Facsimile: +1 202 783 1019
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Linda Doyle


Hi everyone,

I have been scanning the IACN messages and responding to some direct but I thought it was about time I emailed an intro for those who may be interested. So very belatedly (and not very briefly) here goes -

I am Project Manager of Manchester Community Information Network (MCIN) whose main aim is to facilitate public acccess to community information (based on philosophy that it should be free at point of use). MCIN is a non-profit Ltd Co about to become a charity; funded through SRB/ERDF with in-kind sponsorship from a private Co. and partnership with internet providers - Poptel/HOST (Mcr). Have Board of Directors rep all sectors.

Please check out the web-site - and note MCIN are not info holders but help community orgs to make their info available through our web-site. There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement but I currently subscribe to the view that its best to get as close to source as poss if info is to be kept up to date.

Significantly we have 11 public access terminals (details also on web-site) (which is why I have so little time to respond to all your messages!). The online terminals restrict the user to MCIN/links and have a browser mask for those not familar with net browsers. Also Citizens Advice Bureau are operating an online enquiry service and we have email links to some of the info providers and I want to do more in terms of two-way communication (eg public consultation etc).

I have been involved with community info in one guise or another for many years and am delighted with what the new technology offers but frustrated that problems remain of duplication of effort, poor info sharing (compounded by 'power' games), and the public not being able to access the thousands of resources available to them. You will note that MCIN focus is different from many community sites particularly Local Authorities. Having done face to face info work with the public dealing I am convinced we are on the right track but have lots more to do in terms of user friendliness to make it truly novice-proof as well as serious publicity. We also have a system in a supermarket but I won't quote usage figures nor say we have 30 million web pages because is says nothing about outcomes. Even the most perfect signposting system will be rendered useless if the contact 'signposted' doesn't respond or cannot help (the subject of another research project perhaps).

Part of our role is to work towards a community information strategy for Mcr and we are conducting action research to evaluate appropriateness of the medium, data content, etc. Debbie Ellen is assisting with the research as part of her MSc major project and has developed on online-user survey - we would be delighted if you complete it if you visit the site. We are currently working to change the interface and and criticism is welcome. I am tho quite proud of what MCIN has achieved with few resources and very little cash. We have just a project assistant and myself and I am desperate for more staff support as we are struggling to keep up with the demands. I'd be interested to know how others managing similar projects cope and what their staff resources are as I am aiming to put in a bid for more support.

Anyone wanting an info pack please send an sae to the address below:
Linda Doyle, MCIN, C/o MANCAT (Moston Campus), Room A6, Ashley Lane, Moston, Manchester, M9 4WU.

Peter Durrant

Peter Durrant <>

I arrived at this forum through links with David Wilcox, meeting in London and Partnerships for Tomorrow. I operate largely from my home in a village called Comberton near Cambridge and I'm coming up to retirement following a largely undistinguished social work career in Bristol and London. My particular community devleopment interests include;

(a) credit unions and community banking strategies in the nineties. (b) social firms and community entreprises. (c) encouraging social workers to think more collectively about their approach. (d) trying to persuade the Labour Party that Blair's notion of 'the community' need considerable work on its definition, fabric and structure. (e) frustration that the third, independent and voluntary sectors are far too individualistic.

(f) being secretary to a fast developing networking group called Humberstone which is concerned with encouraging community businesses to emerge and evolve.

(g) coordinator of BASW's Special Interest Group on Community Social Work...


Peter Durrant.
5 Kentings.
CB3 7DT,
01223 262759.
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Prepared by Communities Online December 2 1996