Spring-Summer 2005

Editor's Introduction
Ohio and the World of Community Technology

I'm very pleased to be involved with this issue of the Review focusing on the special resources of community technology in Ohio, occasioned by the hosting of the 2005 Annual CTCNet Conference in Cleveland, June 17-19. It's not only from having been raised in Columbus—I recall, too, quite vividly, the extraordinary phone call I received one day in the 1994, early in my tenure as Network Director of CTCNet (actually, the Playing to Win Network at that point): "Hi, I'm Ellis Jacobs, Dayton Legal Services attorney working with a group of consumer and community organizations and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) — we're getting millions of dollars from an Ameritech settlement and I've been advised you can help us figure out what to do with it."

The story of the settlement and the subsequent development of the Ohio Community Computing Center Network (OCCCN originally) was covered in the Spring 1996 issue of the Community Technology Review (at that time, Community Technology Center News & Notes) in Ellis' article on "Public Utility Commissions and Sustainable Funding for Community Technology"—along with two other stories about the first Columbus CTC and the OCCCN. The six new Ohio affiliates (along with Dayton Access Television) gave Ohio the third largest CTCNet contingency in 1996, next to the 19 in NY, 17 in Massachusetts, 20 elsewhere across the country, and five internationally in El Salvador, Ireland, and Poland. There's been Ohio coverage in the Review ever since (see sidebar).

This current issue is marked by Ohio contributions from beginning to end, with a special section on OCCN (edited by Angela Stuber and Gabe Gloden), looking back Ten Years On—and nine stories highlighting different centers and their incredible VISTA Project. Anne McFarland's "Rise and Fall of the Ohio Free-Nets"—the sixth installment of her "Community Networking on the Night Shift" series—documents the impressive founding role that Ohio Free-Nets played in the community networking movement. The forceful and defining essay on "Community-Based Research" is written by Randy Stoecker, at the University of Toledo, home of comm-org, the online conference on community organizing and development. Randy's book on Research Methods for Community Change, is reviewed here by Melissa Jeter, a community organizer and college instructor, also in Toledo. The excellent research and evaluation articles here also include Mary Stansbury's "Update on Digital Divide Research, Ohio and the Nation." Note that our international story on "Community Technology, Guatemalan Style," is by former Oberlin, Ohio VISTA Paul Pitcher, who makes clear how much of his experience he brought with him.

The current issue, of course, has much more. Updates from UMass/Boston with the VISTA Project and the Community Media and Technology Program—AFCN and community networking developments, Phil Shapiro's Digital Divide Network update and two pieces on federal telecom policy and what's on the horizon, portraits of project developments in India, Nepal, and West Africa, and more, all concluding with a "Perspective" on the future by OCCN Director—and CTCNet Board President—Angela Stuber. We think we've captured a good part of the movement and excitement that's going on now and welcome your comments and contributions. — pm


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