ellohay! West Michigan

Article: Was EarthLink’s failed citywide Wi-Fi a blessing in disguise?

Posted in benchmarks, potential problems, wifi by forgr on September 7, 2008

A recent article from Tirana Magazine on Philadelphia’s wi-fi network, the Wireless Philadelphia organization and doing a really solid job on…

Defining the digital divide

There’s been a lot of chatter over the years about the digital divide or the idea that there is a great chasm between people who have access to technology such as computers and the Internet, and those who do not. While some 68 percent of the U.S. population has access to the Internet via broadband or dial-up connections, there are still millions of people across the country who do not have any access at all.

Overwhelmingly, these unconnected individuals tend to be minorities and people with low education levels. A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only 57 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of Hispanics have Internet access. And only 29 percent of people who have not graduated from high school are connected to the Internet.

It’s difficult to gauge what the impact of this exclusion means. In the past, Internet access was viewed as an unnecessary luxury, a tool used to send e-mail and casually surf Web sites. But increasingly, the Internet has become an important tool for getting information about and access to just about everything from health care to social services. It’s used as a tool to engage parents in their children’s education. And as newspapers shed their classified listings, it’s become an important tool for looking for jobs.

“Digital inclusion has traditionally been seen as a charity initiative,” The Knight Foundation’s Perry said. “But that is rapidly changing. Increasingly, cities of all types–urban, suburban, and rural–are linking universal digital access to economic development imperatives.”

From the beginning, Wireless Philadelphia’s goal has been to provide broadband service to families who have never owned a computer and have little or no online experience. The group believes that getting these families online will increase their access to educational, employment, and life opportunities.

But it will also have big benefits for the city, such as reducing crime and unemployment, improving public health and social service efficiency, and increasing educational excellence.

“It’s nearly impossible to apply for an entry-level job today without having basic digital skills and Internet access,” Greg Goldman, CEO of Wireless Philadelphia said. “And there have been studies that show patients who access information online about HIV AIDS, hypertension, or diabetes have better health outcomes.”

We’ll find out what happens next quite soon…

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Benchmarks, the importance of participation

Posted in benchmarks, bookmarks, discovery stages, writing by forgr on February 18, 2008

Programs like these are worth mentioning for their passionate staff, dedication to children and children at heart, and vision of encouraging others to participate. People involved are always learning, growing, teaching, sharing knowledge and passions.

When I was involved in programs like these, I knew that I could do, make, change things, change minds. I felt alive and connected and included. If people feel like they are a part of things, they care about the finished product. They gain respect for the process as well.

Personally, when someone makes decisions for me, I feel helpless, disconnected, trapped, or disposable. Think about simple everyday things in your life; when your co-worker doesn’t CC you on project developments, when your wife or husband forces you to go to IKEA all day on your day off, when your president decides to bomb a country. Think about when you were a kid and you had to go to bed at 8:00. Shitty right?

Here are some organizations, people and ideas that remedy those shitty little things that are all forced upon us.

826 Valencia, link

Earn-a-bike model, Bicycle Workshops Huston Earn-a-Bike Program, Youth Bicycle Education Network

The Tinkering School, link

Montessori, Erd Kinder projects, link

Montessori Farm Schools, link

Bre Petis, link

Make, Craft, Maker Faire, link

Cameron Sinclair’s Architecture for Humanity project, link

Implementing Municipal Wifi in Minneapolis

Posted in wifi by forgr on February 5, 2008

Some more benchmarks, GR’s outlines potential resources

Posted in benchmarks, hardware resources, research by forgr on February 5, 2008

MiBiz, Article about Comprenew
http://www.mibiz.com/absolutenm/templates/wetemplate.asp?articleid=12521&zoneid=187

WorldWide Christian School’s Comprenew program website
http://www.wwcs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cr_home

ISI’s Case Study on Comprenew Environmental Trust
http://www.isigr.com/Content/About/comprenew.asp

Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless: Applying lessons from Philadelphia’s WiFi story
http://www.successful.com/fgfoverview.html

Ocean City New Jersey Municipal Wireless project
http://www.ocnj.us/municipalwire.asp
Computer Recycling of Virginia for Non-Profits and Schools

Community Technology Centers’ Network
Mission
CTCNet was founded on the recognition that in an increasingly technologically dominated society, people who are economically disadvantaged will be left further behind if they are not provided access to and training on information tools.

Our mission is to provide resources and advocacy to improve the quality and sustainability of CTCs for underserved communities.
Vision

A world in which all people have equitable access to technology and the skills necessary to use it meaningfully.

Piles of links, research

Posted in bookmarks, discovery stages by forgr on February 4, 2008

Benchmarks

Posted in benchmarks, bookmarks, discovery stages, research by forgr on February 4, 2008