by Diana Nucera, Detroit Community Technology Project and Andy Gunn, Open Technology Institute
On June 18th, 2015, at the 17th annual Allied Media Conference, over 90 people attended the first ever Community Technology Network Gathering. The event was was an unprecedented gathering of people from all over the world working on technology and inclusion issues. It included coders, civic technologists, network engineers, community wireless advocates, youth media practitioners, bloggers, as well as international participants from Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Mexico.
During the Community Technology Network Gathering, participants were invited to take notes. Many, many people contributed to an Etherpad – a real-time collaborative notepad. While we can’t guarantee the notes are complete, they do capture most of the ideas, questions, and processes from the gathering. You can find the notes for download here in ODT format and PDF format.
The handouts below were used during the Community Technology Network Gathering at the 2015 Allied Media Conference. The materials are available for anyone that wants to run similar activities at other events, or future Network Gatherings or workshops on community technology. Please re-use the materials below, with attribution. Thanks!
Below are many of the maps created by network gathering participants during the first activity of the day. Feel free to browse through them and learn more about the many journeys people take to (and through) Community Technology!
Wow! Even though we’re very excited about getting to talk about Community Technology with a bunch of brilliant minds at this year’s AMC, we still didn’t quite expect the amazing response to our call for participation. We’ve already got over 90 confirmed participants for our network gathering! That means that we’ve hit our capacity, so registration is now closed.
We’ll be sending an email out to folks who have registered later this week with more details on the gathering. If you’re not sure that you registered, or if you did register but won’t be able to make it, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re developing a waiting list of folks who are eager to attend, so if you’re not able to make it, let us know as soon as you can so we can offer that spot to someone else.
As a co-coordinator of the Community Technology Network Gathering this year, I have been thinking a lot about how I came into this work, and why we are having a gathering this year at the AMC.
I got my start in community technology through low power FM radio (LPFM). This was many years ago at this point, but the lessons I learned working with community organizations around the United States (and world) shaped how I think about technology, and how individuals and communities engage with that technology. Community radio taught me that technology should make communication more frequent, more affordable, and easier. Radio is still somewhat unique in that it is very affordable and accessible to the listener. There is still a relatively high bar for entry if you are building a station – in terms of licensing, expense, and organizing effort. That said, community radio has amazing transformative potential and outcome in every place it exists.
For the past few years, I have been working on using similar principles in building community wireless networks (CWNs). Along the way, I discovered digital justice principles, and found them deeply resonant with how I try to engage with communities. Many of these principles apply directly to the work I do with communities to build their own network infrastructure. I believe that when communities build their own infrastructure, it opens up new possibilities and avenues for communications, and can strengthen that community. It doesn’t come without hard work and a lot of organizing though!
Which brings me to one of the reasons why my fellow co-coordinators and I are putting together this gathering – sharing with each other and learning about how organizers from around the world engage in technology projects with their communities. Every community is unique, and all of our work is specific to the context of those communities. By discovering how other communities develop their own technologies for justice and addressing issues, we can strengthen our own communities.
If you’re interested in attending, you can check out the Allied Media Conference site to find out more about the whole conference or skip straight to the registration page to sign up for both the conference and the network gathering itself. Also feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions you may have or requests for help you might need getting to the conference and participating in the network gathering.
Keep an eye on this site for updates on our program and agenda, thoughts from the network gathering coordinators about why we’ve organized this and what we hope to achieve, and reflections from other folks who will be attending the gathering on what they hope to get out of it.