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partnerships:articles:coda [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Local groups start to investigate the Net in Nottingham
 +=======================================================
 +
 +\
 + by Jem Woolley\
 +
 +-   [Back to the Guide to Community Internet](../​pubs/​guide)
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +Coda was set up in 1983 to act as a community computing resource centre
 +for Nottingham. At the time personal computers as we know them know
 +didn't really exist and there was scepticism, even hostility, in the
 +voluntary sector. Computers were viewed as threats to jobs and
 +harbingers of more alienation in the workplace. Nevertheless,​ some
 +people involved in community and voluntary action realised that the
 +clock wouldn'​t be turned back and that, like any tool, computers were
 +neither good nor bad in themselves - it was the use they were put to
 +that was important.\
 +\
 + Our initial aims were to increase awareness of the positive potential
 +of computers and to enable easy and cheap access for community and
 +voluntary organisations. This was approached by combining a resource
 +centre with training programmes using a combination of funding -
 +Nottingham City Council, European Social Fund, TECs, etc. The last
 +decade or so of computing history has been characterised by increasing
 +computing power at falling prices but Coda's central idea is still
 +relevant. Many groups now have their own computers and are more
 +comfortable with them, but they are often used as little more than word
 +processors and calculators.\
 +\
 + There will always be areas of mystique and scepticism in computing and
 +the main ones at the moment are virtual reality, artificial intelligence
 +and the Internet. VR and AI won't generate too much interest at
 +community group level until they become much cheaper and more
 +accessible.\
 +\
 + The Internet is a different matter: it is fairly cheap to use and has
 +enormous potential for community development. Ideas can spread quickly
 +with information accessed from all over the world. Forums can be set up
 +for discussion and action. There is potential for decentralisation of
 +power away from the traditional centres.\
 +\
 + The downside is the suspicion that the Internet is viewed with and, as
 +usual, this is partly based in reality and partly in fantasy. Most of
 +the big media stories concerning the Internet have been to do with
 +pornography and security. There are justifiable concerns about the ease
 +with which images and text can travel across national boundaries and
 +into every home and office.\
 +\
 + ​Ultimately this adds to the debate around censorship and has to be a
 +matter for legislation. Security of data is a similar problem. People
 +who deal with sensitive information always need to be aware of ways of
 +protecting it. If we want to make on-line computing a positive
 +experience we need to work out ways of minimising the negative aspects
 +that will always arise when a new technology develops.\
 +\
 + ​Several groups in Nottingham are working towards a positive view. Coda
 +itself now has an Internet facility available at cost price and provides
 +training in this area. A forum has been started including Coda, Active
 +Ingredient (a group of artists), Nottingham Community Arts and
 +representatives from Trent University and Nottingham City Council.
 +Working around issues of using the Internet for artistic expression and
 +dissemination,​ this forum aims to increase public access to on-line
 +facilities and encourage artists to work in the medium.\
 +\
 + Coda is also researching ways in which small groups could develop their
 +own web presence and go on-line. On a wider scale there is EMNET, and
 +East Midlands wide network of private, public and voluntary sector
 +sites.\
 +\
 + One thing is sure: developments in computing won't stop yet, if ever.
 +Even with all our justifiable doubts about the hype and the dangers of
 +the Internet, maybe because of them, it's vital to be involved and
 +setting the agenda. If we don't, someone else will.\
 +\
 + [Jem Woolley](mailto:​coda@codadata.demon.co.uk) for Coda\
 +\
 + Coda is Nottingham'​s Community Computer Resource Centre\
 + ​Phone:​ +44 (0)115 952 6146\
 + ​Postal:​ 7B Broad Street, Nottingham, NG1 3AJ UK
 +[http://​www.emnet.co.uk/​clients/​c/​CODA](http://​www.emnet.co.uk/​clients/​c/​CODA)
 +
  
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