Midwest Conference on Technology, Employment & Community

Chicago Circle Center, UIC, 750 South Halsted, Chicago, March 2 - 4, 1995

Notes on Workshop #03: Access to information


Doug Gordin:

View of reforming educational system. What's the Northwestern Collaborative Visualization's model: Student as doer, active participant. Access to What? Real world information - student as investigative reporter. Economic model that makes most sense is break out of the large system to smaller, local based systems that can be codified.

Antonia Stone:

She disagreed with Doug, in that she feels you CAN learn in a bare classroom with only chalk, as long as the people can connect. The technology is not what's important, rather it's the ability to get people to share. Technology working for us, is the fundamental thing. It needs to enable us to do things better than we used to do it. Needs to let us do things that we didn't know we could do. We need to play around, and in doing so, we are Playing to Win. There is an assumption that everyone wants to use technology. Assume that the benefits of using technology are obvious. BUT THEY'RE NOT. Making it obvious is an important role. The other assumption is that we all need more information.

Three reasons why PTW was started. 1) Everyone can/should have access to a computer who want it. 2) Access is not sufficient, it's the people who make it useful (training) 3) Must make the technology benefits obvious.

People should be given the opportunity to do what THEY want to do, not what we think we want them to do. People create their own agenda.

Marylin Borgendale:

Librarians are playing an important role in the new age. If librarians can be replaced because everyone can get to all the contents of the library from home, then great. BUT, it's much more complicated to that. She tells a story of a Native American boy who travels to a virtual museum to learn about his heritage. The museums can now be accessible universally, and three beyond the few people can get to the museum physically. And unbelievably, libraries are fighting a loss of budgets. Carolyn Coyle of CPSR wrote an articles about libraries. Internet more than the sum of the networks, it's the connection to the people. Librarians are sifters of information, who can deliver information to people in the form that they want.

We have to make the information smart so that we can find the information once the time is gone, or the next version is there. Lots of questions of what should be on the NII and how to we access it. We have to be sure that the people who are cut out of the process can come to the public library in the future and provide this place of democracy.


Infoshop. Why? So that people who are interested in more of a communal living. Part of this is to connect with people, and collective around the country, can come together on-line. Connect with lots of sub-cultures, from hip-hop to punk and other minorities. Teach other Infoshops around the country. Started branching out to other groups in Chicago. One, the Nekuhmah Washington Center is an Afro-American cultural center. The Center feels that it's kids will be more interested in learning with computers and talking to other kids around the country.

The A-zone has been really self-sufficient, and self-taught. They've had a lot of donations and fixing up old equipment. Technology has allowed people to create their own media.

Comments and Questions:

Who has the right (public) as to what goes on over the Internet? The phone companies are trying to control this. Model of cable access.

How do these different groups connect in a future where each of the parties have their systems and access? Playing To Win attempts to help connect these groups. It helps act as a community builder. Social goal of participation in NII and these separate goals are not contradictory. There can be links to it.

One participant, talked about the opportunity to do a project with what's happening to privatization of the Internet. He compares this to the Minitel in France. Much higher costs. Problem is that people are trying to fit this whole structure into old paradigms. Need to frame arguments for retaining the current Internet access structure. Needs to be mapped out and impressed upon the power brokers.

If the 'net is wiped out, there is an important impact on the historians' ability to write about this time and what we did during the early development of this discussion.

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Maintained by Robin Burke <burke@cs.uchicago.edu>
Last modified: Tue Mar 7 13:27:39 1995