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partnerships:articles:scifdw [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +When do ordinary people get a look in?
 +======================================
 +
 +This presentation was given by David Wilcox at [Sussex Community
 +Internet Forum](http://​www.pact.org.uk/​scip/​scifrep) September 30
 +1996. The title of the Forum was: The Internet: When do ordinary people
 +get a look in?
 +
 +This presentation
 +
 +[Other presentations and Forum workshop
 +reports](http://​www.pact.org.uk/​scip/​scifrep)\
 +
 +An appropriate title
 +--------------------
 +
 +It is a great pleasure, and appropriate,​ to be introducing the seminar
 +under this title - when do ordinary people get a look in - because it is
 +the result of work by ordinary people.\
 +\
 + ​Eighteen months ago Clive Baldock of the Health Care Trust, Colin
 +Miller of Hove community development team, Elaine Jewell of Brighton
 +Library and I met.\
 +\
 + I was inspired by a trip to a US conference of community networkers -
 +The Ties that Bind. Since then Mark Walker at PACT, Gill Muncey of
 +Common Purpose, Peter Day of Brighton University, Sally McMahon from the
 +library and others have carried the ideas forward with our volunteer
 +co-ordinator Peter Mason.\
 +\
 + ​Nationally I have worked with others to help create [Communities
 +Online](../​index) which has funding from BT and the Department of
 +Trade and Industry.\
 +\
 + Three questions lie behind the main title
 +
 +1.  Does the Internet matter?
 +2.  If so, do ordinary people need to get a look in? Can't we just leave
 +    it to the experts?
 +3.  If ordinary people do need a look in, how is that best achieved?
 +
 +I'll give you my conclusions in advance: it is important, we can't leave
 +it to the experts, and the way to gain involvement is local.
 +
 +Does the Internet matter?
 +-------------------------
 +
 +I think there are three views:
 +
 +### Techno-doom.
 +
 +The impact of new technology will be something like a combination of the
 +internal combustion engine on town and countryside,​ TV on our leisure,
 +and the black death on our health - mentally at least. It will destroy
 +the national state, destroy many jobs, and glue our children to the
 +screen downloading porn. This view was ably presented by Ian Angell, LSE
 +Professor in last week's Independent and on BBC2 on Saturday in the
 +programme on globalisation.
 +
 +### Techno empowerment.
 +
 +For the first time anyone can be an international publisher. The kid is
 +the back bedroom is as powerful as the grey suits. The Internet can be
 +used to rebuild our communities by democratising communication and
 +provides great opportunities for entrepreneurs. See Victor Keegan in
 +today'​s Guardian.
 +
 +### Techno weary.
 +
 +The Internet is over hyped - rather like CB radio. If you do use it
 +regularly you will soon fall back to basic email. Top people in the
 +industry use meetings, phone and pieces of paper. See Clifford Stoll in
 +Silicon Snake Oil for this view.
 +
 +### Which is right?
 +
 +I offer some pointers in judging between these three views:
 +
 +-   Lots of smart money in the computer industry is going towards the
 +    Net - see the trade paper Computing where the proportion of Net
 +    related articles is extraordinarily high. There is kit to be sold.
 +-   Big media message-carriers and message-producers are getting
 +    together - BT and Rupert Murdoch are joining forces. There is
 +    content to be sold.
 +-   At the other end of the scale environmentalists and community
 +    activists are using the Net to organise. It gives small people
 +    leverage.
 +-   The Internet - and its successors - will soon be consumer services
 +    in the home. Set top boxes will be available for a few hundred
 +    pounds. It is coming to our home.
 +-   Every Single Regeneration Budget application has to have an IT
 +    component to it. So it is official.
 +-   Local authorities and independent partnerships throughout the
 +    country are creating local community information and communication
 +    systems.
 +
 +·.... so something is afoot
 +
 +Do ordinary people need a look in?
 +----------------------------------
 +
 +#### Can't we leave it to the experts?
 +
 +-   Even if it is important do we need to know the car mechanics - under
 +    the bonnet?
 +-   There are policy concerns are around pornography,​ security,
 +    integrity of information - but can't we leave this to techies and
 +    select committees to sort out?
 +-   ​What'​s wrong if we do get more home shopping, banking?
 +
 +#### The case for ordinary people and their representatives
 +
 +-   Do we trust the experts? Look at the history of roads, high rise
 +    housing and historic buildings. These don't give us confidence in
 +    '​experts'​.
 +-   The people in charge of the super highway are not public servants,
 +    they are employed by international corporations in desperate battles
 +    for survival and profitability. Their criteria must be market share,
 +    return on investment - their methods cutting costs, which means
 +    jobs. They are on the side of their consumers and shareholders,​ but
 +    not of all citizens. Quite right - that's their role - but we need
 +    other roles too.
 +-   It is OK if you are connected, but what about the rest?
 +-   ​Politicians won't have much influence unless there is widespread
 +    support. The default route is commercial. We will build the
 +    infrastructure by behaving as consumers not citizens. We wouldn'​t be
 +    happy if the only interests represented at road enquiries were car
 +    drivers and the road transport and construction industry.
 +-   There aren't even any public enquiries for the information
 +    superhighway.
 +
 +How do we give ordinary people a look in?
 +-----------------------------------------
 +
 +### Some of it is happening
 +
 +-   ​Locally Brighton, Hove and Sussex have a wide range of initiatives -
 +    many started by ordinary people like Simon Turner of Virtual Bright
 +    and Hove, Jonny Shipp of Cybar, Jane Finnis of Lighthouse. Mark
 +    Walker will tell us more in his presentation.
 +-   ​Nationally the Government will be launching an 'IT for All' campaign
 +    in December. It would be easy to put that down to pre-election
 +    gimmickry - but I believe there is genuine concern about both
 +    increasing international competitiveness by improving skills and
 +    social cohesion. The DTI leaflet warns of the dangers of haves and
 +    have nots.
 +-   I am involved with developing Communities Online and an
 +    International Association for Community Networking.
 +
 +### But this isn't enough - it is a new set of elites
 +
 +-   It costs over £1000 to buy the necessary equipment.
 +-   It costs £15 a month plus phone bills to use
 +-   It still isn't that easy to use.
 +-   Most of the effort is going towards publishing - not helping
 +    citizens talk to each other
 +-   Few of the people with the power and the money to help will do so -
 +    because they don't understand, and they do not see the point. If
 +    they do see the point, it may be threatening.
 +-   Local media generally don't carry positive stories because they are
 +    concerned about competition.
 +
 +#### We need
 +
 +-   More public access points
 +-   New infrastructure
 +-   ​Community servers as well as official ones on the new network
 +-   A programme of training and support
 +-   Ways of relating the virtual world to the real work - better ways of
 +    understanding how electronic networking can help human networking
 +
 +Why local is important
 +----------------------
 +
 +There are several reasons for focusing on the local, which come down to
 +the same thing - that electronic communications are not enough:
 +
 +-   Local may become economically and socially more important as we
 +    globalise. We will need the communication pipes of the future, and
 +    the competence to use them, as much as we have needed good transport
 +    infrastructure. I expect Colin Millar and Doug Williams from BT Labs
 +    will say more about that.
 +-   In order to make sense of things people need to meet. In order to
 +    plan this meeting we used email, but we had to meet a lot too. The
 +    energy from this event may be carried forward on mailing lists and
 +    the Web, but we had to see each other.
 +-   If we spend more time in front of screens, friends, family and local
 +    quality of life may well become more important.
 +
 +If we want ordinary people to have a look in, we have to start where
 +ordinary people are - and that means with the real world schools,
 +businesses, clubs, societies, families and friends in Brighton, Hove and
 +Sussex.
  
partnerships/articles/scifdw.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)