Archive for the ‘Beacon/Advocate Articles’ Category

Why NET Connect? … Participate in the New Paradigm

January 21, 2009

In the big picture, the 21st Century signals a move away from Industrial Age into the Technological Age. It requires smarter, more creative ways of thinking, working, relating, socializing, purchasing, selling, governance, and participation in government. New types of businesses will be birthed, unimagined jobs created, and social innovation unparalleled. Like it or not, we are a technologically driven world, and every part of our society and world will be transformed by it. The Internet models the principles of this new paradigm.

The first principle of the new paradigm, and computer systems theory, is that everything is interrelated. It is about getting connected, and forming networks on every level from our local community to vast social networking communities like Facebook. The possibilities of future global connections are unfathomable.

Participation by the many is now a key principle to balance the few in Board rooms holding hierarchical power. President-elect Obama is modeling a new way of governance by inviting participation of the citizens on his websites to offer their questions, stories, and ideas. Those on dialup cannot access his weekly video addresses, although they did add text. He is encouraging self-organizing communities so we, the people, can get involved to do our parts locally, and connect to the other communities nationwide on the Web. It is about “WE” more than “ME” in the new paradigm. Obama is bringing a team of advisors together to represent the many and diverse voices in America to promote understanding, cooperation and coordination. All people should be able to tap into these Internet discussions and video conferences.

Equality of Web-based economic opportunity and education are necessary in order to participate in, and reap the rewards of, this new Age. With high speed Internet, it does not matter where a person lives or works now that the world is “flattened” into a computer screen.

What can you do? Even on dial up? Go to http://www.change.gov/  and tell President-elect Obama your story about why it is important for his administration to make funding available first for broadband infrastructure in our rural area to revitalize our economy. On the bar at the top, click on “Agenda” click and scroll down to “Technology” to see the thoughts on broadband. Click “Submit your Ideas” to offer your support and even insistence for rural access. Let our County Supervisors as well as State and Federal elected officials know it matters to you.

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Why NET Connect? … Online Education Benefits Economy

January 21, 2009

Working folks and students alike can benefit from using high speed Internet to enhance their careers and lives – and, in turn, benefit the community and our economy. Adults can take online classes from home to brush up on skills, earn higher degrees and certificates, or continue lifelong learning. Many websites require high capacity connectivity to the Internet to download graphics and video streaming of demonstrations or talks. Our young people are growing up as “Digital Natives” where computer literacy and skills are a prerequisite to compete in the world economy. That means dial up is not adequate today, and will most certainly not be adequate in the near future.

“The rest of society is involved in this high speed world, but many of us here cannot take advantage of it so we are already behind the curve. Why should we suffer because we live in a beautiful place? It is an injustice to the community.” says Don Armstrong, Fort Bragg Superintendent of Schools. Catherine Stone, Mendocino Superintendent of Schools, says, “We need to have no child left behind technologically too.” Geisce Ly, Dean of the College of the Redwoods, wants to offer more online classes but says it is “tough” without adequate connectivity in homes.
Mrs. Stone says that Mendocino kids start on the Web in kindergarten with pen pals in different countries. Third graders learn keyboarding skills. As they move through the grades, students are taught how to do research on the Web. Instant learning results from the world’s resources available online. Blogging and text messaging are a way of life for young people to share what they see and do constantly. Most students on the Coast cannot continue this important “after-school learning” from home.

Paul Tichinin, County Superintendent of Schools, offers more insight into why our students, and our communities, need high speed connections. Students, particularly those who are ill or home schooling, need to access the Web from home for homework. He says that socialization is a big part of the school experience, much of which kids now do via online meetups; they feel cut off without it at home. Administrators need it for webcasts, trainings and video conferences online which save time, money, and fuel.

Schools are designated as evacuation centers in an emergency, and broadband is essential to emergency communications. Heaven forbid we should have a pandemic when people are isolated in their homes, but if we do, the Internet will be used to send information that keeps the community connected.

Equality of access to online education allows everyone to collaborate and compete globally. Digital technology is dictating our kids’ future. They want and deserve to be part of that future. We owe it to them, and our community’s future, to make broadband available to all sooner than later.

Why NET Connect? …More Opportunities for Workers

January 21, 2009

The face of business on the Coast is changing as some of our long time industries fade, like lumbering and fishing. Making a living looks different now for students as well as adults who want to have better jobs or new careers. Students want to have the 21st Century technical skills industry demands. Many adults look to improve their livelihoods with new degrees or certificates. Businesses want to train and retrain workers online. To do this in today’s world, and certainly in the future, computer technical skills and Internet savvy are necessities. High speed Internet access is a must. The many in our area who are still suffering with dial-up need to start jumping up and down to demand high speed Internet from ATT, Comcast and our County. The opportunities are limited for those without it.


One of the opportunities for people who live up here in Paradise is to work from home. Not only could they have their own home-based businesses or telecommute, but they could be part of the new trend for companies to have information workers all over the country and world. For example, all of airline Jet Blue’s reservation agents work from their homes while connected into the main network. CEO David Neeleman reported on a CBS Evening News interview that the productivity increased 25 percent when they took people out of call cubicles and put them in home offices. He calls this an “Internet revolution”, the way of the future. It is a win-win for happy people working from home as well as for the company.


Online education is getting to be commonplace in areas where broadband is available. College of the Redwoods President Jeff Marsee has set a goal to offer more high quality online classes. Mendocino Coast Dean, Geisce Ly, is poised to do just that, but with our lack of high speed connection outside of the central Fort Bragg and Mendocino areas, he says it is “tough”. He is taking bold and exciting steps nonetheless to prepare students for a 21st Century workforce where computer skills are assumed, and to offer professional development seminars.. He has started to collaborate with some local organizations and the Fire Department to train workers using computer technology.


Just imagine what might be possible as a development strategy for the GP mill site if high speed Internet access was available all over the coast! This could be a new information technology hub putting many people to work – without using gas or valuable travel time to do it!

Shirley Freriks of the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance; www.mendocinocoastbroadband.org; comments are welcome at sfreriks@mcn.org