Tag Archives: localcommunities

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Revisiting local online communities, 15 years on

Over the past few weeks I’ve been concentrating on an issue that first engaged me with things Internet some 15 years ago – how to use the Net in local communities, and how to help those pioneering this work to share experience.

My Social by Social book collaborator Amy Sample Ward and I have been developing an online network that’s particularly aimed at helping join up the various programmes now being funded by Government others in this field. I’ve listed the main ones here, on a wiki linked to the network. Earlier posts on local communities here.

On Monday we are running a workshop, hosted by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which brings all the new players together for the first time. They have some exciting developments to report: the Talk About Local team are running an unconference in October, the Media Trust Community Voices team is preparing its grants and support programme; the Young Foundation’s Local 2.0 programme has selected three local authorities to work with. We’ll also be hearing about other Government porogrammes, and from people actually running local communities and blogs.

I’m particularly keen to talk about the role of community and local reporters, as I’ve described here.

We are reaching the limit of numbers for the workshop, but do please join the online community and add your ideas there.

I was first interested in local online communities back in 1994 when we had good enough web access to see how Freenets and community networks had been developing in North America. I managed to get across to the Ties that Bind conference in Cupertino, and came back full of enthusiasm to get things moving in the UK. You can read the what happened next here, thanks to the magic of the waybackmachine at archive.org. I thought I had lost the story I wrote in 1999, but there it is links and all.

The machine also allows me to look at Making the Net Work, a site developed with Terry Grunwald, one of the real pioneers of use of the net for community benefit. One of the sections I wrote was a Who’s who of social tech in the UK. On Monday we’ll be doing some fresh mapping on who is on the landscape, so comparisons will be interesting.