Clevelanders must get connected

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 05/10/2009 - 01:55.

Norm Roulet - November 5, 2001, Opinion Editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Joe Frolik's Oct. 21 (2001) column, "The high-tech route to City Hall," finally starts focusing attention on the Cleveland area's only hope for economic and social renewal: information technology.

Independent studies prove Cleveland is deficient in its use of information technology in government and in supporting the needs and interests of citizens. As a result, the community and the local economy have suffered.

Cleveland must move to the forefront of the information technology revolution by doing two things quickly and effectively:

Achieve universal access for our people.

Develop an optimal virtual community.

Every citizen in the Cleveland area should have regular, convenient access to a computer, e-mail and the Internet - ideally at home. For us to accept that any of our citizens are disconnected is to accept that they are stranded across a divide and not part of a hopeful new economy.

Universal access can be achieved. A very high percentage of area homes are online, and many more households may be willing to pay for a computer and access, if both are made affordable and convenient. Households that cannot afford computers and access must be subsidized and sponsored so that no citizen is allowed to fall off-line. Local, state and federal governments and local and global businesses should be thrilled to help get Greater Clevelander connected - and create a model for the new world in the process.

If Clevelanders act in concert - like a large corporation - we may negotiate better deals for computers, access, applications and technical support than possible acting as individual customers. If we notify Dell, HP and Gateway that Clevelanders need 100,000 cheap, preconfigured computers at the lowest possible price, they will deliver and be very pleased to help support the world's first significant, universally connected city. Universal access can happen using existing phone lines. People don't need fiber-optics or cable to benefit from the Internet.

To optimize our virtual community, Cleveland must learn from the accomplishments of great cities like Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Boston and New York. Visit the northwest, at www.ci.seattle.wa.us, and imagine the possibilities for us.

Millions of people worldwide and around Cleveland already are developing cheap, effective application service provider capabilities (which allow users to do whatever they want to do on the Internet and which underpin a useful virtual community). These great, open solutions just need to be configured for Clevelanders' purposes.

Cleveland must re-engineer business and governance processes so they are Internet-optimized (by that I mean perfectly suited to users' needs). For example, if Clevelanders wanted them, they could have ASP capabilities for voting, paying parking tickets, searching and registering for adult learning services, complaining about code violations or drug activity, finding gas lines before digging, checking on a fifth grader's school assignments and grades.

When Cleveland offers Clevelanders the online resources and services Seattle offers its citizens and business community, Cleveland will become a much more livable city.

The Cleveland-area virtual community should be a place for all citizens to learn. Our children should find access to free, online learning resources - the best the world has to offer - organized by age and skill level. They should find a place to communicate with their teachers and learning peers, extending healthy learning relationships and environments to their homes.

Adults should turn online to help their children learn, supporting their healthy virtual and physical learning environments, and to access adult learning resources. A city with computer-literate, computer-educated, computer-trained citizens will create, attract and retain more high-tech enterprise and jobs.

It's up to us. Cleveland can develop a world-class virtual community and a new economy. We have to do things right and stick with our goals. There are no quick fixes to our problems. We need to get better at the things that matter, like sharing, learning, collaborating and information technology.

Current U.S. and global economic developments won't spark and fuel our local economy. Quite the opposite. Cleveland must resolve this economic and social crisis alone. I hope our next mayor will be the right person, at the right place, at this right time, to help lead us on a better course for the future. But each leader throughout the community must now lead better, and each Clevelander must personally leverage all the best tools, insights and opportunities made available to succeed.

Roulet is a Cleveland-area virtual community developer. He encourages readers to comment on universal access and virtual community for Cleveland. Go to his Web site: http://roulets.net or e-mail him at: norm [at] roulets [dot] net

© 2001 The Plain Dealer.

Feedback to Op/Ed from Plain Dealer readers

When I had this opinion editorial published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there was a link at the end of the article to my website, which featured a survey asking people's perceptions about the digital divide - a variation on this one in the archive. I received a large amount of positive feedback, summarized below (I'm afraid the chart is missing). Here is what surfaced from the survey responses (I believe I had nearly 100 responses) showing what PD readers thought about information technology and the digital divide in 2001...

Based on responses from a mature, well educated, highly computer literate sample,
it is clear all citizens, especially students, need universal access and virtual community to ultimately succeed - and so does Cleveland (and your city).

In the chart above, a score of "6" means the respondent "strongly agrees" with the statement - a score of "5" means they "agree" with the statement - no statement scored below 5.3! 

As of November 15, 2001, everyone agrees with every statement surveyed (see scores and comments below):

"5.9" for "I regularly use a computer, e-mail and the Internet for work, learning, and/or communicating with others".

"5.6" for "I am computer literate and Internet savvy".

"5.8" for "Cleveland should move to the forefront of the Information Technology based world economy".

"5.8" for "I believe universal access and virtual community will be good for the city and people of Cleveland".

"5.3" for "Cleveland's economy will improve if all citizens  have home computers, e-mail and Internet access and become computer literate".

"5.8" for "All Cleveland-area citizens should have home computers, e-mail and Internet access".

"5.8" for "Adults with home computers, e-mail and Internet access have advantages over those without".

"5.8" for "All Cleveland-area students should have home computers, e-mail and Internet access and become computer-literate".

"5.8" for "Cleveland-area students will be more successful if they have home computers, e-mail and Internet access.".

"5.8" for "Students with home computers, e-mail and Internet access have advantages over students without".

The average age of respondents was 44 and they were almost equally divided between male and female. The above findings show they are all sophisticated IT users - at work and in life - who value the value of virtual computing and universal access.

It is therefore not surprising respondents typically had 4-year college degrees and more than 50% had post-college degrees.

As such, as of November 15, 2001, their comments are insightful, as well: 

_________________________________________

I think the ideas you are discussing cover so many areas, a series of articles would be necessary to really explain it to people in a way that could make it a concept people could get their heads around.


I think the idea of the city trying a pilot program with metrics in place to track success for families and individuals would be great. There is so much information out on the web and I think a real initiative to bring that technology and the information to the people most in need would be wonderful.


It has so many levels. Offering services to people over the web...just getting information on what services are available to people would be great.


When my daughter and I were going onto food stamps, it would have been wonderful to have had a website, where I could have gotten most of the information in advance to understand what I needed to do and what services were available, instead of wasting countless hours waiting around for people to get their shit together and tell me...


Unemployment, you can do it over the phone...would be better if I could do it on-line and if the former employer could too. It would certainly speed up the process, easier to fact check and verify data if it were an automated system. You could also check the status of your claims and processes. It would be a great service.


Student/Teacher/Parent websites for schools...I think as my daughter gets older, it would be great to have site I could go to check the homework assignments and make sure we are doing the right stuff. I could also check to see if she is telling the truth when she says she has nothing....students in high school could work on these programs, updating the website, creating new stuff...getting more girls interested in the IT/IS side of this would be great...I am sure their are some students who would love to do this work and it looks great on college applications, it develops a portfolio of work if you are interested in the field later...


I could go on forever with ideas for how this works...I do have to say that there are a number of things for unemployment that sends you to websites and offers skilling tests to help you put your resume together....I will forward you a copy of the sheet they sent me....it was pretty complete with regard to places that help with job placement on the web...so at least the Ohio Job and Family Services are beginning to realize that this technology is important to help move people along.


However, if I didn't have access already, it would be really difficult to get to...also the library is a great source but the hours are limited and if I work and I want to look for a better job, I might not have the opportunity to use the library resources....


This could turn into a novel and it already goes all over the place...just some random thought that came from your article...

I think that there will be a number of people who push back on this, but I think that with the mills closing...Cleveland is going to have to take a long hard look in the mirror to figure out how it is going to help these people find jobs as we move from the industrial age, through the service age to the technology age.


Good luck with this, it could be one of your better efforts...for so many reasons.


Shaker Heights



Thanks - and you're right on track with your thinking, and others seem to think the same way (as feedback has been supportive).


For all Cleveland's current problems, it's probably a good time to live here and catch an economic updraft - for a change.


Again, thanks for your thoughts and pass my message on and encourage more thinking, support and feedback regarding UA/VC for Cleveland (and beyond).


I'll keep you posted.


Norm


Student/Parent access to assignments would be wonderful. I often wonder if I am getting all the info from my child on homework assignments. I think in the future as assignments become more complex, it would be great for my child and I to be able to access assignments and for me to be able to offer assistance with all the instructions.


I also think that job hunting for people would be easier with access to the internet, registering for public programs and getting information on services available through the city, county or federal government would be wonderful for people in need.


Shaker Heights


Norm - Article is well done. Building the constituency and finding the money calls for persuasion and patience. The first steps of the long journey have been taken. Continue your leadership role.


Pepper Pike


Once again, I reiterate I share your quest to revolutionize the educational process from without, since its impossible to do it from within. However, you need a practitioner on board to guide you through the politics and pitfalls, who knows the standards and curriculum and can develop a blended learning solution powered by an ASP. Know anyone like that? 


Oh yeah...Me. Let me know what you are planning to do with the technology - and I'll gladly, free to you, explain what has and has not worked, what will or will not be accepted and the tolerance for a specific level of change. 


When you need that conversation, send me a plane ticket, pick up my expenses and I'll provide you a first class brain dump and bring materials to help orient your thinking as you draw closer to the enemy camp.


New York


I strongly support the IT idea for Greater Cleveland. All government agencies should be computerized and accessible from Internet Web sites. Any transactions can be done on Internet should available on WWW. There should have a low cost Internet access hub - a local phone number and high speed link.


I enjoyed on-line renewal of borrowed books on the Cuyahoga County Public Library. More services should be on-line. Paying taxes, Legal information, Court announcements, Public gathering announcement (e.g., Air show, home days, ..) .


Although I strongly support the UA/VC idea, I don't think it alone will revive Cleveland's economy or make us #1. More things need to come along with it.


Internet


I found your op-ed piece to be very interesting.  I can feel your passion for this noble cause.  However, I have a couple of concerns that I would like to get your feedback:

First, it is extremely hard if not impossible to refute your belief that all people, especially children in today's world need to be technically competent and prepared for this new economy and ultimately the new world order.  However, tremendous emphasis MUST be placed on the moral and ethical development of a young child who will learn to become an active participant in your virtual community. Why do I believe this is important?  Simple, as much good as the internet provides, there is an equally sinister aspect to it that must be acknowledged.  There are numerous "policing" efforts underway to try and protect children from themselves, but we all know that children left to their own devices will often navigate to the negative.  It's (their) our sin nature.  No parent will be able to sit and protect their children from the dark side of the net.  I especially see the potential for abuse where their are latch key children.  The net is wonderful and can truly assist one's efforts to remove the veil of ignorance and the lack of exposure.  Nevertheless, aside from the obvious vices of pornography and pedophilia, there are the challenges of access to gambling and even "How to" articles such as how to build bombs, etc. (It's been reported that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold downloaded articles that assisted their depravity at Columbine.)  How do you propose that this challenge be addressed?

My second concern is of equal challenge to me.  Do you believe that a virtual community will breed a generation of social misfits who grow to be uncomfortable with  personal human interaction?  How do you learn to give firm handshakes or look another person in the eye?  We're supposed to learn these things, but we can only learn these things by reinforcement.  The family unit is already under siege.  I wonder if a virtual community helps to stem this tide or merely causes its deterioration to accelerate.  How do you propose to address this issue?

Thanks a lot, I look forward to your responses.  It really was a great piece in the PD.  Never surrender and don't lose heart.

Richfield



Thanks for your feedback.


Regarding your concerns:


Regarding the quality of content on the Internet - if society, government and enterprises place importance on content quality over marketability - the Internet will provide far greater value to all. That is part of developing an optimal virtual community - developing optimal content for children (this must come from MIT, Case, the Cleveland Schools - anywhere but Hollywood). Further, the optimal virtual community for children will keep children focused on learning - and the best learning tools - rather than Barbie.com and the latest bomb recopies.


Answering your second concern finishes addressing your first; virtual community is a life enhancer - a replacement for cable television time - not a replacement for life. One enhancement may be distance learning from MIT - or the Vatican - and one enhancement may be paying your parking tickets online, rather than driving downtown. A certain enhancement will be the opportunity to more fully involve parents in their children's learning experiences. For students, computing should be part of a student's toolset for learning - and students must understand it is just a tool to be learned well. If they learn to use virtual community well, they will learn to use it morally - while having the opportunity to be all one may be.


Now, to make virtual community all it may be - I'm going to send you a separate email for more feedback - please reply.


Best regards,


Norm


the mayor-elect seems to understand the imperative for the city's moving quickly in this arena: if the needs are the laying of fiber-optic lines, cable, etc., these can be done immediately. we all need to drop our parochialism and become a united forum, a collective mind, on this subject, whether we be student, parent, businessman or woman, politician, or whatever. this has to do with cleveland's being a first-rate city or an also-ran.


Cleveland


in response to your article 'clevelanders must get connected' appearing in the forum section of the 11/5/01 plain dealer, i can only say amen, amen, and amen!


amen to achieving universal access for our people; amen to developing an optimal virtual community; and amen to getting better at sharing, learning, collaborating and information technology.


for whatever the reasons this city has been shy about tackling the new means of doing commerce. it seems to have languished in the mire of 'the old way has always been good enough'. and it continues to lose ground.


thanks for your insights and ideas.


Cleveland State University



From your email address it appears you are affiliated with Cleveland State University - several folks from CSU have commented on the article - and I believe CSU should take a leadership position driving UA/VC for Cleveland - and providing virtual learning for our stakeholders.


So, do you know other folks at CSU and elsewhere who would be interested in this initiative - helping to drive this reality? The best way for us to begin is expand this dialogue - I started it, and others must follow. I'm getting excellent feedback and need more! The PD will follow-up - they seem very supportive and I believe we can build up a critical mass quickly (especially with a new administration coming in).


I'll send you a separate message asking you to go to my website and complete a feedback form, submitting data on your opinion for a comparative analysis about the issues I surface in my column. Please complete the form - and forward my message to all CSU stakeholders and other interested parties you know for their comments and action - if enough of us speak out, we will be heard.


Thanks for your interest I look forward to your further insight.


Norm


The idea is wonderfully utopian, but who will step forward with the funding? State government already is stretched to the financial breaking point. Local governments barely make ends meet. What private industry will take the lead on this? Is this idea something the Greater Cleveland Growth Association or Cleveland Tomorrow will get behind? Where did the figure 100,000 come from in terms of assessing the number of computers needed? My guess is the need is much greater than that for the "Cleveland area." By the way, what is the "Cleveland area?"


Washington DC



It's good to hear from you - thanks for submitting your feedback. Good questions - the only thing I can't answer today is "what is the Cleveland area (and so how many computers must be subsidized)"? I really haven't thought that through - the more the merrier . . . economies of scale . . . tomorrow the world.


Regarding the costs of universal access . . . how much do you think it costs for your utility, phone, cable, insurance, credit card, bank, cell phone, ISP, etc., companies to each month process and send your bills and statements and receive and process your payments? What about for all the paperwork from government agencies? Add the costs for all the misdirected print advertising you receive - catalogues - sweepstakes entry forms - magazines . . . whom do you think pays for these costs? For each customer, like you, the hard costs - for paper, envelopes, printing, outbound bill processing and handling, postage and so USPS services, inbound payment handling and processing, and related support services - for all your bills, statements and junk exceeds the costs for optimal UA/VC.


UA/VC will quickly provide society much more in real economic benefits than will be its operating costs. Consider optimizing coordination of benefits (COB) - whereby a UA/VC solution would eliminate $ billions per year in insurance and medical waste and fraud.


The other side of the equation is economic value added (EVA) of computing and internetworking. With UA/VC, government, business, learning and living will become more efficient, people will become more effectively educated and productive, and capitalism will be nearer perfect and so work well.


True, with universal access the jobs of lots of postal workers and mail clerks will go the way of secretaries - but, with virtual community, people will learn to do more valuable work than shuffling junk mail.


I had a similar question from another reader and commented:


-------------------------


"Information technology (IT) should be as simple, standardized and ubiquitous as possible. With ASPs and the Internet optimized for universal access and virtual community (UA/VC), the boxes become irrelevant - Dell vs. Apple is old news and IT - at least at the average UA/VC user level - becomes a simple appliance based utility - like using a toaster. What do you want to do today - bank, learn, communicate, read news. Users must be focused on what they may do via IT in ways integrated with their life processes, rather than defined by operating systems and hard-wiring."


"Regarding the economics of computing and Internet access - current pricing is not strategic, or even open-market optimized. If we view Cleveland as an enterprise of 100,000s of united users - like GM - we deserve cost-based pricing . . . like $3 per month per user for dial-up Internet access (not $30) . . . perhaps broadband should cost $10 (not $50). As for the "information toaster" needed for the typical UA/VC user - made in China for $100 seems doable by the next holiday shopping season, if not ready for before-school-shopping 2002."


--------------------------


If Internet appliances become simple like Mr. Coffee - IT may be optimized. The focus should remain on the content - coffee or data. Keep the tools and processes low-cost, standardized and simple - then you'll have optimal outcomes. 


In reply to a reader who commented "though everyone can connect up via phone lines at 28.8 . . . it is difficult to do educational programming or other highly interactive types of learning at slow connection speeds . . . In it's infancy the Internet may have been OK at these speeds, but most web sites nowadays are so content rich and audiovisually packed that just to download the initial page at many sites may take 20 minutes!"


I reply:


--------------------------


"That is a good point, but it does not need to be so. A web page does not need to be audiovisually rich to test geography - and involve parents in their kids' learning environment - and report child abuse - and pay a parking ticket. Most of the multimedia content is advertising, fluff and window dressing - little adds value. But, then, so little now on the Internet adds value."


"An optimal virtual community (and little on the Internet today is near optimal) must be effective at low bandwidth - high bandwidth is for Hollywood and Madison Avenue, rather than Main Street."


"Of course, with more Internet users and purpose, there will be more drive to increase bandwidth to the home and so infrastructure, and so soon we may have fairly universal multimedia-on-demand . . . but that is a longer term vision and we must strategize in today's tech reality."


--------------------------


Regarding today's tech reality and my proposal for Cleveland, consider the clarification below I sent to (PD Editor) Doug Clifton a few days after I submitted to him my draft op-ed.


-----Original Message-----


From: norm roulet [mailto:normalst [at] ameritech [dot] net]


Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2001 5:34 AM


To: Doug Clifton


Subject: How long


Doug:


When we discussed my vision for universal access and optimal virtual community for Cleveland, you asked how long it will take to implement and make effective. I replied 6 months to a year. Let me briefly explain how.


First, consider northeast Ohio like a large corporation - with nearly 1 million "end users": people who need to be connected to the Internet - like Ford Motor Company; one of our time's more progressively-lead large corporations. Ford recently decided that all their workers should have home computers and Internet access, and they made arrangements with HP/Compaq and Microsoft for special purchasing and support terms for all their employees at quite reasonable costs. Their correct thinking was wired, computer savvy employees would be better employees - unfortunately, their Board didn't see the connection to their bottom line fast enough and more recently canned the program.


Now, we want to do the same type of program in Cleveland for a more unified, logical community of stakeholder - area citizens. The deal making required for Cleveland, Inc., should be very similar to what was structured by Ford, so we intend to get together with the Ford responsible and secure his insight and support for the initiative here. As Ford is maintaining their Cleveland presence, they should care about this market and be helpful.


I believe this initiative is important enough to approach any executive or government representative for help, so I further intend to approach Gates and all the other major high-tech CEOs seeking their support. As they all want universal access and ASP commerce, they will be supportive. I am confident of these outcomes and believe we will be far along toward universal access by the start of the 2002 school year.


Arranging optimal virtual community will follow the same course. We will quickly identify the ASP providers currently providing exceptional virtual community capabilities with proven applications and markets - for learning, governance, collaboration, dispute resolution, etc. - and structure optimal relations with them all for Clevelanders to access their services at the lowest or no cost via a logical, structured, standardized portal. Like with a large corporation, all users will share resources, directories, revenues and costs, so this model will be lowest cost, highest effectiveness for all. In fact, most access, ASP and virtual community services will be provided to Clevelanders by large corporations, like Microsoft, IBM, Ameritech, and Dell, leveraging their lowest cost resources - literally every aspect of operations will be "outsourced", so to speak,


All this is simple, though the details are complex. For implementation support, we will leverage the interests of industry leaders in consulting, telecommunications, accounting, law and data management - all well represented right here in Cleveland - to together optimize the return on investments and so economic value added of information technology for Cleveland.


As much as possible, we will look for strong Cleveland connections for all aspects of this initiative. We will prefer to use local vendors, manufacturers, ASPs and staff - assuming they produce at world-class levels. We will seek the involvement of the Cleveland Institute of Art with optimizing our design - and reach out to great local artists to make our presence visually unique and remarkable. The community colleges are already becoming involved. We'll involve CWRU at many levels. All K-12 students will become wired.


Cleveland, Inc., should be structured to make money, thus offsetting costs and ideally sharing profits. How? As one example, we may provide public opinion polling - Cleveland is well know as a strong test market - and ask our universally connected to respond to survey questions and evaluate things - like movies, TV shows, chain restaurants, cars, drugs, etc. These results will have significant economic value and the revenues may be passed on to the respondents or held on account to pay for services. I haven't projected the revenues, but assume millions per year just for polling and opinion surveying. We will also develop the optimal virtual news service for a universally accessed community - and you will see its value proposition come into focus very quickly. Consider all the other possibilities.


If the entire Cleveland market is available on line, leveraging the same resources, the economies of all transactions improve - moving our citizens' economies closer to the "perfect" system that makes capitalism a workable model. Once we get all this right, here, we'll share our model and relations with the rest of the world, further helping Cleveland and all those who support our renewal.


In the process, we'll quickly energize our learning community, enhance the business-value and livability of our region, and develop 1,000s of talented information workers and a global awareness that Cleveland is a world-class place to do high tech work. We'll attract call centers, data service providers, application developers, high-tech manufacturers, all seeking just the type of dedicated workers Cleveland is famous for, now tuned for the new economy.


This will all make great headlines, and the PD should be the source of world visibility into our achievements. Have one of your reporters meet with me and other leaders of this movement to discuss this vision further and develop a high level of understanding of what this initiative entails and will produce. Have them join us to meet with Ford, Gates, et al. Cover the birth and development of universal access and optimal virtual community - bricks and clicks - and win acclaim and build readership for the paper in the process.


__________________________


This is a great story to be shared with the world, and it is developing daily. Think anyone there may be interested in following-up?


Thanks for your interest,


Norm


Universal access is a laudable goal, and one big step in that direction would be the creation of a Cleveland-specific internet portal, i.e., a site that organizes links to Cleveland-area news, activities, and enterprises, in the same way that yahoo acts as a broadbased portal for the Web in general. For a *very poor* example of what this could be, visit www.columbuspages.com.


Columbus


This is such an important issue. Thank you for starting the discussion.


Cleveland


Looks like you're making some progress. Good luck. My only comment is that though everyone can connect up via phone lines at 28.8 (or if really lucky at 56) it is difficult to do educational programming or other highly interactive types of learning at slow connection speeds. My canyon has no high speed access and I actually almost never go online from home because it takes so much time to accomplish anything at such slow speeds. In it's infancy the Internet may have been OK at these speeds, but most web sites nowadays are so content rich and audiovisually packed that just to download the initial page at many sites may take 20 minutes!

Los Angeles


That is a good point, but it does not need to be so. A web page does not need to be audiovisually rich to test geography - and involve parents in their kids' learning environment - and report child abuse - and pay a parking ticket. Most of the multimedia content is advertising, fluff and window dressing - little adds value. But, then, so little now on the Internet adds value.


An optimal virtual community (and little on the Internet today is near optimal) must be effective at low bandwidth - high bandwidth is for Hollywood and Madison Avenue, rather than Main Street.


Of course, with more Internet users and purpose, there will be more drive to increase bandwidth to the home and so infrastructure, and so soon we may have fairly universal multimedia-on-demand . . . but that is a longer term vision and we must strategize in today's tech reality.


Thanks for the feedback - make sure you go to my site at http://roulets.net and complete the survey - it won't take you 3 minutes.


I'll keep you posted,


Norm


Spirited and strong. I applaud your efforts at civitas, wondering, of course, where it turns right onto commercial boulevard. Are the schools net enabled? Have you spoken with companies that could offer these services at a reduced rate? Can you import a successful guru who has been down the path?


One bit of coaching: Using the word 'cheap' and repeating it is pejorative. Perhaps inexpensive, less expensive, less costly, affordable, etc., would make a better case and make you sound less phlegmatic.


Otherwise, I await the next burst of genius and see where it goes. As soon as I sense some commercial viability I'll help you anyway I can. Right now, the picture is a bit foggy. Help me see where you are headed


New York


An important op-ed forum article appeared in the Plain Dealer on November 5 arguing that the Cleveland area's only hope for economic and social renewal rests in making information technology universally available to local citizens*. I was moved after reading it to sending a note to its author and visiting his website, where I completed and submitted a three-minute survey.
I urge you to do the same.


Cleveland Heights



That is terrific - I'll spend the next few weeks spreading the word every way possible, at which time a critical mass should be formed to move the initiative forward to success.


One reader who commented on the article said she was taking copies to all 21 members of the Cleveland City Council, so that should get word out there. The PD will follow-up as things developed. All this is very doable - right time/right place.


Do you have more than a passing interest in seeing UA/VC become reality in our region?


I'm interested in expanding dialogue among like-minded stakeholders so always speak-up.


Best regards,


Norm


I read your piece in Monday's Plain Dealer with great interest. I visited the Seattle homepage as you suggested and was enlightened by the possibilities of connecting citizens to their local government and to each other.

Your argument has a special salience for communities of color in Greater Cleveland whose members are most likely to find themselves on the downside of the digital divide.

Please count me among the supporters of developing local area virtual communities and keep me informed of your efforts in this regard.


Cleveland Heights



Thanks for your time considering these issues, my proposal, and commenting.  


In my original version of the article published, I referred to the "Digital Divide" as the "Racial Ravine" - a term I first heard used by Clinton. The PD edited that term out.  


I will keep you posted on developments and am pleased you support this initiative (all feedback has been very supportive).  


Norm


Your article in the PD was wonderful. It voices my own thoughts that I never thought to share to such a wide audience. Thank you for doing it.


Today I will deliver a copy of it to all 21 Cleveland City Council members and save some for any newly elected ones in January.


If you ever plan any activities, meetings, workshops, etc., please consider me to help you anyway I can.

Cleveland


Thanks for your support. Yes, spread the word to everyone you know, and tell them to spread the word further. Ask the Cleveland City Council members to be heard now on these issues and opportunities,

My article is a proposal for doable, real improvements for Cleveland, and we must now do all we can. At my website, I've featured a survey on these issues and I am sharing feedback and results with the editors of the PD. Send people to my website at http://roulets.net to complete the survey and send their comments. Have them send more people to the website to do the same.

When 1,000s of Clevelanders all stand behind the same proposal, the world will listen and Universal Access and Virtual Community can be optimized for us all - reshaping our economy and society.

Very much worth the effort.

I expect within a few weeks we'll want to assemble a group of Cleveland stakeholders to further discuss this proposal and plan actionable next steps. I'll certainly appreciate your help.

Let me know a bit about you and your interests in the community.

Best regards,

Norm

What a timely, pioneering brief.  Well done beginnings.  Yes I am currently patent writing the ultimate solution to America's electoral selection methods, and the other 200 or so potentially democratic - minded countries.  Let's keep in touch.  My first "marketing" org will be a public service Not-for-profit, needing an Exec Dir. 

Cleveland

Thanks for your thoughts.

Obviously, with optimal Universal Access and Virtual Community (UA/VC) comes the opportunity for highly effective virtual voting and near 100% turn-out of truly informed, insightful voters. I look forward to learning more about your work.

Best regards,

Norm


I agree that more people need access to personal computers but with the PC industry in the condition it is in, they are already loosing money the longer their PCs sit in their warehouses. Question: why would they go for a deal that would leave them even further behind financially? (i.e. the so called "cheap preconfigured computer") Also, even though a wintel box is the one computer that is used more often than not, don't forget about apple. I like the simplicity of the apple alot but Am no fan of apple not cloning out the mac brand which keeps their prices unacceptably high. Apple, with a market share of around 5%, might be a ripe target for your idea. While it would be nice not to have to utilize more costly access to the internet such as DSL or cable, the reality is that there is no better way to TURN OFF peoples attitudes toward the infobaun than a lousy dial up "connection" I sure as hell don't like having to pay the extra cost of broadband access but if you let people know that they would have to pay approx. 20 dollars a month for dial up access, then the extra 20 dollars a month on top of that for a connection that is significantly faster than dial up would seem somewhat less taxing. Anyway, just a few of my thoughts. Thanks for your time,


Cleveland


Information technology (IT) should be as simple, standardized and ubiquitous as possible. With ASPs and the Internet optimized for universal access and virtual community (US/VC), the boxes become irrelevant - Dell vs. Apple is old news and IT - at least at the average UA/VC user level - becomes a simple appliance based utility - like using a toaster. What do you want to do today - bank, learn, communicate, read news. Users must be focused on what they may do via IT in ways integrated with their life processes, rather than defined by operating systems and hard-wiring.


Regarding the economics of computing and Internet access - current pricing is not strategic, or even open-market optimized. If we view Cleveland as an enterprise of 100,000s of united users - like GM - we deserve cost-based pricing . . . like $3 per month per user for dial-up Internet access (not $30) . . . perhaps broadband should cost $10 (not $50). As for the "information toaster" needed for the typical UA/VC user - made in China for $100 seems doable by the next holiday shopping season, if not ready for before-school-shopping 2002.


The trick is IT must remain open in a world where global corporations and governments seek to make all doors as closed as possible. So, people like us need to keep kicking the doors open again - and finding new points of entry.


Let's keep in touch, as more will be developing,


norm

As Cleveland's economy completes its transition from manufacturing to service based, I believe that information technology will have tremendous economic implications. To guide these implications, public interests must become involved. If they do not and market forces continue to dictate their own course, these economic implications for Cleveland will be very unfavorable.

Cleveland

Norm, you're a genius. I hope this is the start of something big. Keep in touch.

Cleveland


Wow - such high praise from on high. This is the start of many big things - and you helped start the process.

I'm getting great feedback from great people - one woman is taking the article to all 21 city counsel members so the dialogue should quickly grow.

I'll keep you posted on further feedback and my survey findings - which I'm also posting in confidence at my site.

Best regards,

Norm

I read your interesting article in the PD today.  How about using your expertise to get Shaker Heights to offer a Web Site with E-mail addresses of city officials etc.

Shaker Heights

Thanks for your interest and time considering these issues. I grew up in Shaker, where my parents still reside, and consider Shaker Heights my core neighborhood. Your wish will soon be granted - all public employees must be accessible by e-mail and I'm confident Shaker leadership will be easy to convince that is so.

As Shaker is well integrated and affluent enough that most citizens probably already have home computers and Internet access, it should be a good place to push forward with my universal access and virtual community optimization initiative. I have enough connections in Shaker to push things forward quickly - if you are positioned to further influence other powers that be, let me know and we may attack from more fronts.

Best regards,

Norm


RE: Your column in today's PD.


I am a graduate student at Cleveland State University and I have been very interested in the IT deficiency between socioeconomic groups (i.e., the Digital Divide) I have written a small paper on the subject and developed some conclusions on this policy debate. I am currently working on my exit project for the program and I am trying to develop a policy proposal that will increase connectedness in the Cleveland Metropolitan area and utilize some applications that create the virtual community you speak of. I would like very much to discuss this subject with you and do some information gathering for my report. Please respond if you would be interested in talking with me. Thank you.

Cleveland


I'm very interested in getting together - your work sounds great!

Can you e-mail me more on your work?

For more on my interests, browse the normALST and ICEarts areas of my website.

I should have some time available this week - let me know when you'd like to connect.

Norm

 

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