In the UK, US and around the world hundreds - maybe thousands - of towns, villages and cities have a presence on the Internet.
Sometimes this is a modest Web site created by a local enthusiast. Sometimes the public authority is committed to providing information and services online for its citizens.
Increasingly commercial interests see local community as a good market for e-commerce transactions linked to directories and news of events and organisations.
In Scotland the National Grid for Learning is promoting the model of Community Grids, with funding, in their Guide to Getting Communities Connected which has been developed by members of the Making the Net Work team. In England the UK Government is funding Wired Up Communities.
Here are a few other links to help you explore community networking. We’ll be adding more soon.
The Association For Community Networking\ http://www.afcn.net\ AFCN is a membership organisation for those who pioneered community networks in the 1980s and 1990s, and who are championing the benefits the Internet
University of Michigan\ http://databases.si.umich.edu/cfdocs/community/index.cfm\ The School of Information Community Networking Initiative has a site rich in content and contacts
NCexChange NETworker Project\ http://www.ncexchange.org/networker/lessonslearned.html\ The NCExchange project has documented hard-won lessons Learned from a two-year demonstration project that promoted community-wide networking strategies for four communities in North Carolina. It describes the challenges of an emerging new profession which requires a unique combination of technology and people skills. It shares what worked best (networking the NETworkers, for example) and doesn’t hesitate to describe the difficulties (such as “it’s hard to serve two masters”) as well.
Blacksburg Electronic Village\ Blacksburg is one of the oldest Internet-based community networks in the US and has over 60% of citizens online. Their site offers a wealth of ‘how to’ material and a second edition of their excellent book is now avilable as a free download from the publisher
NCexChange NETworker Project: Guiding Principles\ http://www.ncexchange.org/networker/lessonslearned.html\ For those communities who want to take the next step beyond the strategy of “technology-driven” infrastructure and funding disconnected silos,these guiding principles may be good starting point. Customize for your needs.
Building blocks\ Terry Grunwald has assembled this long list of ‘building blocks’ that might make up a community networking project.
Communities Online\ http://www.communities.org.uk/\ Communities Online promotes exchange of experience between those working in local online and nonprofit organisations. There’s news and resources on the site. Their Networksection provides instructions on how to join the useful conet discussion list.
Virtual communities\ http://virtualcommunities.start4all.com/\ Gerrit Visser has developing a terrific site of links about virtual communities, and also one on working onlinehttp://workingvirtually.start4all.com
What are the different types of online community?\ Communities of interest, locality and organisation.
Where are there online communities?\ Links to online communities - both local and virtual, UK and global.
Why consider creating an online community\ What are the benefit for your neighbourhood, town or village?
How did community networking start in the UK?\ Stories from some of the people who first found inspiration from US networks.