UK and US community networkers plan to share ideas and experience

Conferences in the UK and US on June 17 - 20 1999 helped promote plans to share international experience in using the Internet to benefit local communities.

In London on June 17 US Internet guru Howard Rheingold called for a 'community of online community-builders' while in Chicago on June 19 UK community networker David Wilcox was spoke to US networkers on "What can we learn from the global picture'.

Howard spoke at a BBC Online Community Day, and David at the conference of the Community Technology Centers' Network, and Association for Community Networking (AFCN).

Howard said: "I believe that well thought-out and well-run virtual communities can play an important role, along with civic-minded journalism, and face-to-face community-building, in the creation of a cybersociety we would be proud to hand on to our children.

"I want to leave you with a suggestion. You can amplify your efforts to build authentic community and online forums that serve a commercial, educational, or civic purpose by communicating regularly with one another about best practices and common obstacles.

"Is it too radical to propose that a group of community-builders ought to consider building their own community, online and face to face? "

In his speech in Chicago, David reminded those present of earlier plans to create an Internation Association for Community Networking, developed in 1996.

In the event, those proposing the International Association decided first to create national networks or organisations. This led to AFCN in the US, Communities Online and Partnerships Online in the UK, and a European Association for Community networking.

BBC Online Communities Day