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partnerships:articles:ccis [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Craigmillar Community Information Service
 +-   A community Development Approach to Cyberspace, by Dr Andrew
 +    McDonald, Manager.\
 +Rousseau, in his CONFESSIONS,​ sardonically mused that, "it is never any
 +good foreseeing the future,"​ for he had, "never known how to avoid it."
 +Yet, in a world of rapid techno change, where the telematic possibility
 +curve is ever upwards, and where today'​s fictions are tomorrow'​s
 +realities, it would be unwise to sleepwalk blindly past the
 +opportunities presented by the Information Society.\
 + Such recognition informed the thinking behind the creation of
 +Craigmillar Community Information (Society) Service (CCIS) in Feb 1994,
 +under the auspices of the Scottish Office'​s Urban Programme in
 +conjunction with support from Edinburgh City Council. The project has 3
 +full time members of staff and is managed by an independently
 +constituted management committee comprised of local politicians,​ council
 +officials, and reps from community groups.\
 + ​Craigmillar itself, is an unlikely setting for a global communications
 +project. The area is a conurbation of council housing estates which are
 +blighted by poverty, social ills and economic decline. Indeed,
 +Craigmillar is by official recognition,​ one of the poorest parts of
 + The CCIS, which has charitable status in Scotland, seeks to encourage
 +community groups and agencies to migrate to, and through, the so called
 +super digital highways. CCIS believes in the concept of civic networking
 +and subscribes to a low cost/high value approach to info communication
 +technology applications,​ services and networks, Further to this, CCIS
 +provides access to the following telematic services:
 +-   Free Internet email accounts.
 +-   Free in house, public WWW access on 9 terminals linked up to a 64K
 +    leased line.
 +-   Free user support & training.
 +-   ​Direct dial up access to the WWW for 20 local groups and agencies.
 +-   Help with the creation, hosting & posting of Web pages for community
 +    groups on our 3 Web servers (<​http://​>​)
 +-   We also maintain two mail servers, an FTP server plus database and
 +    portal backbone super hub gateway servers.
 +-   Free dial up access to bulletin boards/​newsgroups over ten modem
 +    lines and a Craignet/​OneNet server.
 +Additionally,​ CCIS is he European Super Hub (there are only 5 such hubs
 +in the world) for a freenet of 3 million users worldwide called OneNet.
 +Here, CCIS feeds 640 computer sites throughout Europe.
 +CCIS can reasonably claim to have established itself as an imaginative
 +benchmark for those voluntary sector groups, public agencies & community
 +activists who seek to exploit the benefits of infomatics for community
 +advantage. Signposts of success to date include:
 +-   ​Currently,​ de facto, CCIS is the biggest FREE BBS in the UK.
 +-   Being shortlisted in the BT/Sunday Times '​Towards the Superhighways'​
 +    awards in 1995.
 +-   ​Winner of an IBM '​Community Connections'​ award in 1996.
 +-   Cited in numerous press articles, journals and other publications
 +    (see for example, DGX111'​s "​Telematics & Urban Development",​ Spring
 +    1996).
 +-   Short listed in the EC's Bangemann/​Stockholm Challenge (winners to
 +    be annouced at a ceremony, presided over by the King of Sewden, in
 +    late Jan 1997).
 +-   One of only 5 super hubs in the world for OneNet.
 +-   ​Original signatory to the DTI's 'IT For All' initiative.
 +-   First mainland UK project to be accepted as an affiliate member to
 +    the US based Community Technology Centres'​ Network.
 +As suggested above, CCIS was created to develop access to telematic
 +services for the 'IT poor', or 'info have nots'. The core idea was that
 +'​ordinary'​ folk could do '​extraordinary'​ things with computers and
 +electronic networks and the like, if given ACCESS, training and
 + CCIS was established to develop a stretch of the digital highway for
 +local use and application and so harness the potential of the
 +information society as a '​public'​ good.\
 + At the outset, the project team recognised that most community groups
 +and agencies already have ample IT kit. Certainly, in Craigmillar,​ where
 +there are at least 80 local groups straddling every functional typology
 +one can imagine, from the cradle to the grave',​ most groups already have
 +computers, telephone lines and fax machines. The trick was, from the
 +earliest, to convince projects that their pc should be deployed as
 +something more than a glorified type writer i.e it could be transformed
 +with a modem into a vehicle for surfing the info sphere and cruising the
 +dataverse. Likewise, we found that part of the '​battle of ideas' in
 +getting people to accept electronic networking lay in explaining to
 +people that modems and fax machines are essentially of the same genus
 +and that the fax is an extremely inefficient mode for sending large
 +amounts of data (in contrast to FTP). Here, CCIS has registered some
 +success, with the local housing project indicating that they are saving
 +£30 per month by sending email rather than faxes.\
 + ​Agencies in Craigmillar are increasingly communicating across a growing
 +digital community. Indeed, more and more Craigmillar groups are using
 +the Net to their advantage and making the most of a wide range of info
 +benefits. By way of illustration,​ we currently have Craigmillar
 +Community Housing Development Project on line, along with the Council'​s
 +local housing office, Edinburgh Tenants Federation, and TPAS ( a
 +national tenants advisory group). This not only means that these housing
 +bodies can share ideas, experiences and info over the Craignet, it means
 +that their client group can have a mixed economy of choice over who they
 +have a dialogue with.\
 + CCIS has linked together over 150 community agencies in Edinburgh. We
 +have a range of newsgroups moderated by local people. For instance,
 +Christian Net is overseen by an activist in Wester Hailes (another
 +urban, peripheral area in Edinburgh), while a local T&G official
 +administrates a trades union site. Most recently, Children in Crisis
 +have set up a '​clearing house' network where groups can find out about
 +equipment that is up for grabs. Finally, the Craigmillar Out of School
 +Project is using the Net to maintain & develop contact between children
 +in Craigmillar and South Africa.\
 + One clear issue that has become evident over the past two years plus,
 +has been the need for training in cyberskills. Here, CCIS teams up with
 +the local community high school and the Craigmillar Festival'​s Community
 +Development Project, to deliver training classes every 2 months or so.
 +We have found that, not surprisingly,​ people will not use the Craignet
 +unless they are confident and comfortarble with the basic skills to use
 +it. Even then, we have discovered that individuals prefer to write
 +privately to one another as opposed to sending messages to public areas
 +of the board where they may be exposed to challenges.\
 + ​Another problematic is that some genuinely suffer impotence of the
 +imagination. Those that are afflicted with blunted senses simply refuse
 +to accept the case for harnessing of ICT's for community advantage. The
 +'​unconvinced'​ are, in my experience, a hard nut to crack. Such people
 +tend to be partisans of the past, locked into the paper based paradigm
 +(in contrast to the cyber paradigm of bits & bytes) and stubbornly
 +refuse to open their imagination to the unfolding future.
 +The Net has taken hold in Craigmillar and will continue to expand from
 +there in the coming years. CCIS subscribed to the view, perhaps sooner
 +than most, that the Net will increasingly shed its elitist and mystical
 +garb to become part of all our heritage.\
 + In the meantime, CCIS will continue to promote computer networking as a
 +tool for community problem solving, economic development,​ info sharing,
 +democratic dialogue and discourse, and as a publishing tool with a
 +potential audience of 40 million cybercitizens.\
 + In short, CCIS pledges to continue making the Net and its associated
 +technologies such as video conferencing accessible to everyone, not just
 +the technically literate. Ultimately, few things are more challenging.\
 + ​[ (Andy McDonald)\
 +](mailto:​ [Top of the page](ccis)\
partnerships/articles/ccis.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)