Saturday, December 20, 2008

Email Scams

I am not an alarmist, and I don't think that there are criminals lurking at every turn, trying to steal my passwords and bank account information. I do my banking online, make purchases online, share information online and I'm comfortable with that. However, I have gotten some interesting scam emails lately that could have fooled the uneducated computer user. And, lately, I've heard friends and colleagues wondering about security and privacy on the internet.

Here is a video that I think does a good job of describing how to detect a dangerous email and what to do about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Leadership in a Connected Age Survey

The Snelling Center for Government and Champlain College's Workforce Development Center are embarking on an exciting new partnership to pilot a workshop series in the spring on 21st century leadership skills.

Please take a minute to respond to this brief survey so that we can create these workshops with your preferences in mind. And, if you read my earlier post but haven't tried SurveyMonkey yet, this is your chance!

Thank you for your interest! Click here to take the survey.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Edge-Based Organization

Heidi Klein of the Snelling Center clued me in to an article by John Sviokla at Harvard Business Publishing on the power of the edge-based organization. It's a nice follow-up to my earlier posting about lessons from the presidential campaign for nonprofits.

This article talks about how the Obama campaign gave tech tools and decision-making power to those at the "edge" of the campaign, rather than keeping it on the "inside". It's worth reading, as it is an interesting question for all organizations to ponder.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Here at the Snelling Center we are getting a lot of mileage out of an online tool called SurveyMonkey. I thought I'd post a little note about it in case any of you haven't heard of it yet.

SurveyMonkey is a wonderful thing. You can write your own survey and then email the link around. We do this a lot when we want to get feedback about a program, get input on a public policy issue, or even just ask one little yes/no question. It's far easier than getting lots of emails back and sorting through them by hand. SurveyMonkey will tally the results for you and make it very easy to get the answers you were looking for.

Recently, the Snelling Center hosted a conference on repairing Vermont Roads and Bridges, then followed it with a SurveyMonkey survey that gleaned over 400 responses! Not bad... You can learn more about this important public policy work and read the report here:

You can really see the polar bear now

You can really see the polar bear on this link sent in by Lorie Loeb. I'd posted something about this Dartmouth energy-saving project earlier but the site wasn't up and running yet. Now, by going to you can get real data about energy usage from three different Dartmouth College dorms.

Lorie also provides some links to articles about the project.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lessons from the Obama Campaign

How did the Obama campaign run so successfully? I have been asking myself this question. A recent article in The Nonprofit Quarterly is a good starting point. In a Successful Campaign: Lessons for Nonprofits by Paul Schmidtz discusses 5 best practices from the Obama campaign. We might all do well to look at our own work through this lens. Particularly interesting to me was the fact that online tools were so widely and impressively used, yet they are clearly not the whole ball of wax.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Education action team rocks

The Education Action Team had their third meeting on October 21.

Read their big ideas and take a look at the Wordle!

A book called Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns was mentioned. I'm going to pick up a copy. I like the title.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rural TeleCon 2008 in Vermont

Rural TeleCon 2008 occurred this past week at Smugglers Notch. Hundreds of telecom professionals from across North America convened for several days of learning, networking, etc. around bringing broadband and cell coverage to more of rural America.

I led a rich discussion about local community building via Front Porch Forum with a room full of interesting people, and then Front Porch Forum collected two wonderful honors…

First, the RTC People’s Choice Award — Most Innovative. And then, the real shocker, the RTC Champion Award… this is the top national award from the Rural Telecom Congress! And a genuine honor, especially considering the caliber of the other award finalists.

Regrettably, an excellent panel focused on the state of Vermont's e-State didn't materialize.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Response to Student Video

The message that I take away from this video is that students want to be engaged, they want to be enthusiastic. They want to be passionate and productive. Technology offers the tools that attract kids intuitively. Kids don’t think consciously, “That stupid map doesn’t move, doesn’t show me how high the mountains really are…” They are simply not interested in static presentation materials. Kids react more than they think. Their response to interactive material is physical and intellectual when they reach for the mouse saying, “ WOW! If I fly over the Himalayas I will feel like God looking over the Earth!” Curiosity takes over and they begin probing the capability of the application and the various types of things they can learn by using the technology. Can I scale the mountain and look down? Which peak is the highest? Can I mark out the trail I’d like to take or can I see the route that Sir Edmund Hillary took?

From Sue Mc Cormack's post: I wonder if it is also fostering a stronger sense of community?
In some ways, I think technology (and I really wish we had a new word for it!) fosters a stronger sense of community by offering a forum for new ideas to kids with unique experiences and perspectives. Particularly in rural places. lower populations seem to narrow the walls of acceptance. Yet, when kids and adults have access to communities beyond town and state borders, they often discover that they are not as alone as they thought, and that their perspectives are not so foreign. Think about the movie ( for the older folk reading the blog) Footloose. The kids in town were strongly influenced by their traditional values and venues for expression and interaction, but they ached for change. When the troubled Kevin Bacon arrived on the scene, his passion for dancing and willingness to teach and share it provided an outlet for some of the kids’ frustration with the local traditions. Technology opens doors for expanding minds.

My thought on technology fostering community: Yes. Technology fosters community. Technology fosters new definitions of community and technology fosters kids’ willingness and ability to interact with their communities. Our task is to assure that more kids in Vermont have access to many of the tools South Burlington has!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is the STATE of the eState of Vermont?

The Education Action Team met on September 9 to discuss this question. Around the table was an interested group of people ready and willing to get into the messy conversation of where they really think we are as an eState and where it is we want to be. The group pondered these questions:
  • Does this team support educators or provide education to a broader constituency?
  • Is this team contributing to managing the process of education or will it engage in the practice of education?
  • Does this action team deliver education?
  • How can we go forward - do the thing (educate) we say is necessary to bring the eState forward?
The group was clear that the actual vision of where we want to be should be a bit fuzzy right now. It will be ever changing as the technological capacity continues to grow. They were in agreement that this conversation should not be held back by what is. The group challenged the idea of maintaining the status quo until we can change the structures around us. Clearly the message of urgency was heard around the table.

Ultimately this work will entail the PROMOTION of an idea; ACTION on the part of many educators, community members, businesses, and government officials; and FUNDING for the work and the tools to bring the ideas forward to the public.

Some ideas that stirred up the group to discuss further:
  • How do we keep the intellkectual capital in Vermont? how do we build for this sustainability for and with our youth?
  • How do we create global community thinking within
  • What should education look like in the future?
The next step will be to invite more people to the table. This group needs to be more diverse. The next meeting will be another "skunkworks" meeting - with each person bringing another person to the meeting ready to get deep into a messy conversation wrapped around these big ideas.

Are you game?

Next meeting date: October 21, 2009 @ 12:30-2:30 Pm in the conference room at the Superintendent's Office in the Essex Town School District.

Student Video on Classroom Technology

S. Burlington students made this video contrasting technology in 1983 to today’s classroom technology. First of all, the production values make this thing look like the network news. At the end they list the current ways technology is being used to teach, communicate and learn. It seems like all of this technology is making teaching and learning more efficient. I wonder if it is also fostering a stronger sense of community? Or weakening traditional ties that get formed when students have to call each other on the phone to find out about homework. Do students still have study groups where people all show up at someone’s house?

Here is the link:

Posted by Karyn Vogel for Sue McCormack

Monday, September 29, 2008

e-State Affectionados: Oct. 4 Event for You

UVM's Center for Rural Studies is hosting a one-day conference on Oct. 4 and they've landed a big prize of a keynote speaker... Dan Gillmor.
Dan Gillmor is working to help create a culture of innovation and risk-taking in journalism education, and in the wider media world.
Dan will speak at 5:00 PM.

October Events

There are a few events happening in October that look really exciting.

First, the Rural Telecon '08 Conference at Smugglers' Notch on Oct 5 - 8. If you are interested in what's going on as Vermont becomes an e-State, this line should interest you:

"The conference will showcase innovative approaches to building local capacity to improve the quality of life for people in rural communities."

This is exactly what many of the e-State Action Teams have been discussing. They've got some amazing speakers on the docket and it's not too late to register.

And, the second installment of the wildly successful Creative/Tech Career Jam is being held on October 25 at Champlain College. There are no fewer than 12 different panel discussions planned. Should be quite a gathering!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Democracy & Civic Engagement e-State Action Team

The Democracy & Civic Engagement Action Team had a fine gathering of folks in South Burlington on 9/12, with remote participants in Middlebury and Montpelier. The focus of this group is to think about increasing participatory democracy in Vermont, namely to explore and promote public officials engaging citizens via technology. Check out the online meeting notes.

Here were the ideas for homework prior to the next meeting:

1. Think about priorities and values in these four areas: Access, Content, Culture, Privacy.

2. What are some ways we can measure critical mass and grassroots demand for civics and community development?

3. Look at Front Porch Forum as a model to know more about the ins and outs and what works and what doesn’t. Ask Michael Wood-Lewis how it’s going. What are people happy with? What would it take to be replicated around the state? Ask him about the four areas mentioned above. Talk to people in the coverage area who have and haven’t joined it, and ask them why and why not.

4. What capacities exist now that we could bring together to provide outreach to deal with the issue of education/fear of being technologically un-savvy or incapable?

5. Review the action ideas from the symposium.

For all of the above, talking to people outside the group and reporting back is encouraged.

Interested? More info is available here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Institutions to Individuals

I went to the Northern New England Planning Conference in Woodstock on Friday. One of the workshops I attended featured Lorie Loeb, a Dartmouth College professor. Her students in the computer science department won a prize from Google after they had worked day and night to draw their entire campus in three dimensions using Google Sketchup. 3D Dartmouth is now featured on Google Earth due to their efforts.

Lorie is a engaging speaker. She described the process of recruiting students to work on the incredibly ambitious Google project. Lorie had gotten a little bit of grant money, and decided to use it to buy a refrigerator for the computer lab. Then she’d put some (cold) cash in the fridge for students to use to buy food for themselves. “At least I will feed you!” was her mantra. Lorie also cites good tools (computers, cameras) and good people (students who have that special something) as critical elements in the success of the team. It was obvious from watching her present at this workshop that her contagious enthusiasm and warm personality were an important ingredient as well. Lorie felt that an important outcome of this project was the community-building that occurred between the students and faculty members on the team.

Lorie’s work at Dartmouth also includes a Real Time Energy Display Project, in which dorms and other campus buildings are wired to provide energy use data. An animated polar bear frolics happily on the ice if the energy use is acceptably low; the ice cracks and the bear unhappily falls through if energy use is too high. Students can close a window, adjust thermostats, or take other measures to see if the polar bear will be affected. It’s a wonderful concept! I wasn’t able to find a link because I think it is still in the early stages. Please, readers, let me know if you have more info.

Allison Fine, author of Momentum, was the keynote speaker of the day. She talked about the “shifting of power from institutions to individuals” and the fact that so many young people are exemplary “social citizens” with high volunteer rates and dedication to charitable causes. I knew Allison was delivering a convincing speech when a friend turned to me and asked, “Do you think I am making a mistake to forbid my teenagers from creating their own Facebook pages?” Allison predicts that within 18 months a new tool will have taken the place of Facebook for the college crowd. We thirty and forty-somethings on Facebook will probably stay where we are.

One of Allison’s more important points as far as I was concerned was her advice to organizations and institutions in the age of individual power: Listen. Let the public help guide your work. You might think you don’t have time to process comments, suggestions and feedback from your constituents. But make the time, says Fine, because it is probably a better way to spend part of the day than some of that other stuff on your To Do list.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Workforce and Economic Development Team Meeting September 18th

The Workforce and Economic Development action team will be meeting on September 18th from 2-4 PM at the Snelling Center office at 130 Williard Street. Anyone who is interested in getting involved can attend this meeting.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A person a day

I just read about something called Project 365 on a photography website called Photojojo. Someone decides to photograph a different person in their town each day for a whole year. It's wonderful!

Take a look at this one.

Wouldn't it be fun to do this around here? I would love to try it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

VPT show on Snelling e-State Symposium online

Vermont Public Television has added the Public Square show about the Snelling Center e-State Symposium to their website. The show aired on VPT on August 21. If you weren't able to catch it, now you can watch it online.

Let us know what you think!

Monday, August 25, 2008

VPT Show Librarian Comments

The VPT show garnered quite a few comments about the role of libraries in a connected age, many from librarians. I have re-published them here. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts!

written by Marti Fiske, Director-Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, August 19, 2008
The internet is a boon, for those who can afford it. That's where public libraries are helping. Public libraries across the state offer free access to computers for internet access and document writing. Last year the public computers in Williston's library were used almost 10,000 times. That is in Williston alone! Librarians are also training people how to use the internet and computer programs. Increasing e-access in Vermont doesn't only help those who can afford it in their homes. It also provides access through public libraries. It's time for the small rural Vermont libraries to have faster, more reliable connections to help their residents break the barrier to internet and computer access too.

written by Martha A. Penzer, August 20, 2008
As a librarian, as Marti Fiske, I observe the role of public libraries in extending e-technology to one and all. This is sharing resources at its best.

If we are serious about democracy in this high-tech age and including everyone in the conversation regardless of his/her capacity to own a P.C., this requires greater support to libraries and librarians.

written by Penny Pillsbury, August 20, 2008
Written by Penelope(Penny) Pillsbury-yet another Librarian.
I feel we need to get all the libraries, but especially public libraries' resources linked together with a single ONLINE catalog,so all Vermonters can find out where the resources are. A blessing to all is the we now have a real live Martha Reid a Public Librarian as State Librarian. Support and communicate with Martha Reid, State Librarian. As it stands now, each library has to pay for software to create a database, wouldn't it be a great deal more cost effective to have one system for the entire state. It exists in West Virginia, another mountainous state. It would level the playing field for rich and poor.

written by Paula J. Baker, August 20, 2008
Libraries USED to be private, the domain of the wealthy. With the rise of public libraries in the last century, the community has enlarged and to the benefit of all. I can't say it strongly enough: Librarians daily assist the elderly who wish to connect with their grandchildren across the continent, aid workers looking for jobs in a tighter economy (often without keyboard skills), work with students whose home internet connections are either nonexistent or very, very slow, and the list of needs goes on. Many of us also offer full-text databases 24/7 through our websites, a valuable tool for a rural environment. Libraries are or should be key players in all discussions regarding community and access. What state agency is open nights and weekends? Cost effectiveness dictates many of those restrictive hours, but libraries do it locally anyway. We should be thinking about connectivity and access not only for residents but between agencies which ultimately serves all Vermont citizens and visitors.

written by Karyn Vogel, August 20, 2008
I am so glad librarians are participating in this discussion. I agree with Paula - librarians should be key players in discussions about technology, equity and access. One of the biggest concerns about our increasing dependence on and use of technology is the fact that some have access to it and some don't. Lack of access can take different forms: some can't afford the hardware, some can't afford to pay for connectivity, some don't have broadband options, some just don't have the computer skills they need. Or a disability may prevent them from easily using a computer. Libraries are doing such important work to help people use technology. I'm interested in what librarians are saying about how we can support their work and make them a part of our becoming a successful e-state. It would be good to hear from library patrons as well, especially those who rely on the library for technology access and education.

written by Anne Lezak, August 21, 2008
These comments by librarians point out the vital role that libraries play in extending Internet access to those who would otherwise be left behind. And they underscore the need for state support to enable libraries to continue to play this key connecting role in our rural state.

Our library board (I am a trustee) is very much aware of the importance of computers and technology to our users. Our computers are in use all the time, every day, usually with people waiting to use them. We know that this is the only place many folks can go to get online, do the research they need, connect with others, and have at least a short time to take advantage of the technology that those of who can afford it consider a necessity.

Vermont is one of only 9 states where libraries receive no state support. Providing some state funding to enable libraries to maintain and expand their ability to provide access to technology for all must be a priority if we are to truly become an e-state.

written by Stephanie Chase, August 21, 2008
Yet another Librarian comment! Here in Stowe, we too see such a wide variety of folks coming in to the Library to use our computers: visitors to our state, local folks popping in, residents without high-speed access or computers at home to access the Internet or our online resources. Our public access computers were used nearly 15,000 times last year!

Providing high-speed access across the state not only allows our residents, whether at home or through their schools or public libraries, access to the resources of the greater world; to compete in the work environment by staying current with technology; to acquire new skills; and to keep up with "what's happening," whether in popular culture, news, or even the Olympics! It also allows us to move towards a "greener" life, where resources are not replicated from organization to organization, and where we can obtain reliable information without paper. As Penny mentioned, it also allows us to collaborate on projects to provide equity to all our residents -- whether through a single online library catalog to find books and other materials, or through resource sharing as we have with the Vermont Online Library ( collection of databases or the downloadable audiobooks available through Listen Up! Vermont (

written by Zelda43, August 21, 2008
Libraries are struggling to meet the demand for public internet access and are doing a pretty good job when it comes to providing such within the physical library building. But...libraries are also beginning to embrace technological methods to delivery library resources. Accessing the Vermont Online Library is a tedious and frustrating task for those who do not have high-speed Internet. If we are moving toward making audiobooks, DVDs, etc. available only through downloads we will effectively prevent many from enjoying them. Internet access is critical, but it is high-speed Internet that's needed. Pretending that access is provided through a phone-modem is out of touch with reality.

written by Martha Reid, Vermont State Librarian, August 21, 2008
We cannot talk about economic development in this state without including the need for high speed internet access. Vermonters in every demographic group need access -- students, job seekers, businesses, retirees, youth, parents, teachers, local and state government, etc. Expanding broadband capacity throughout the state is key, but access for all Vermonters is also essential. Any discussion about "building community in a connected age" must also include recognition that there is a "digital divide" between those who can afford computers in their homes and businesses and who are well trained in using them and those who do not own computers or do not know how to use them. Vermont's system of public libraries offers free access to computers and internet access. Librarians are trained and available to help people use those computers; many of Vermont's libraries offer one-on-one assistance in using computers, as well as free computer classes. Of the 175 Vermont public libraries that submitted statistical reports to the Vermont Department of Libraries for 2006-07, 93% reported that they offer free high speed intenet access for the public. For the same period Vermont ranked #2 in the nation for the number of public access computers in libraries per 5,000 population. But Vermont libraries cannot sustain this level of access and service without financial support: for hardware and software upgrades, additional computer workstations, staff costs (including training for staff), connectivity charges, database subscription costs, etc. Vermont is lucky to have such a fine system of libraries already in place to support Vermont in becoming a true e-state. To make this library network viable for the long term, however, we need to make sure that our libraries have adequate financial support. [To see the complete statistical report about Vermont's public libraries, go to: ]]

written by Meris Morrison, Librarian Moore Free Library,Newfane, VT, August 22, 2008
We even have internet users when our Newfane library is closed. If they have a laptop they can access our high speed access anytime from their cars or sitting on the porch. This is true of other libraries as well. What a boon to our rural communities!

VPT Show blog comments

Living in a rural state, Vermonters have a strong sense of place and a tradition of civic discourse. As we move toward becoming an e-State, how will we master emerging technologies to unite and strengthen our communities?

written by Technologyisgood, August 19, 2008

As Vermonters we should embrace technology! It offers endless options for us to communicate with our friends, neighbors, and legislators. You can send an email to a friend, use an online forum to check out what's happening on your block, or express your concerns to your elected officials.

written by Left Behind, August 19, 2008

One of the challenges facing Vermont is a lack of connected-ness among certain demographic groups such as the elderly and those from lower income families. The Internet is becoming a primary resource of information, news, resources etc... Where does this leave the segment of the population that is not connected?

written by Mr. Mischief, August 19, 2008

We are such a small state. To me it's unbelievable that it is taking so long to provide across-the-state access for all Vermonters. The regional disparity results in an unfair "connection-gap" that hurts rural Vermonters.

written by Michael Wood-Lewis, August 19, 2008

While many folks rightly focus on the issue of getting more Vermonters connected in "a connected age," the broader question on the table is "how do we enhance the sense of community within the State of Vermont while the landscape is changing with the growth of the internet, cell phone usage, cable tv, etc.?"

Some argue that all of this technology is stealing our attention away from our local communities and focusing it on entertainment, issues away from our hometowns, etc.

Some great panelists appeared at the conference. Here's a link to my presentation...

Thanks to all who are helping stimulate this larger discussion. I'm looking forward to the VPT show and discussion. -Michael

Michael Wood-Lewis
Front Porch Forum

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The democratization of the news

I just read a good article by Joyce Valenza in School Library Journal about a new site called NewsCred. NewsCred has aggregated credible online news sources so you can get the best information quickly and easily. They provide a mix of mainstream newspapers and blogs.
What is a credible news source you say? NewsCred has made an initial selection of online newspapers and blogs based on several factors you can read about on their site. Then, in true Web 2.0 fashion, NewsCred lets users rate sources and customize the site to display the sources they prefer.

As time goes on, the data for each article, news source, and journalist will grow as more readers give them the thumbs up or thumbs down. Who can predict who will come out ahead? What criteria readers will use to make their judgments? And how will these ratings feed back onto the way content is being produced? This is the democratization of the media.

And, as Valenza aptly notes, NewsCred is an excellent tool to use for teaching students how to be critical consumers of news. She suggests reviewing NewsCred’s analytic algorithms with students and asking them to decide if they agree or disagree with the methods being used. Students can also review the user rating data to look for trends and come up with their own criteria. The possibilities are endless and the result is a compelling curriculum that can truly prepare our young people for the world they are entering.

Take a look at NewsCred yourself. Remember to weigh in!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Questioning "March Toward Total Screenlife"

Scott Heiferman of offers interesting quotes on his blog... several of which seem apropos to the topic of this blog and in line with our experience of hosting Front Porch Forum in Chittenden County...
Andrew Mason: "Inaction stems from a pragmatic judgment that participating doesn’t matter. Not apathy."
So how can we use our new and pending connectedness in Vermont to make participation matter to Vermonters?
Daniel Goleman: "While there are certainly arguments for staying connected to those we care about while we are at a distance, there is always a trade-off with the distractedness this wisp of an information stream induces, drawing our attention from people in the here and now."
So all that Facebooking with distant old pals means there's less of me available for my local community? Go figure.
Jeff Pulver: "twitter... is the platform I go to when I am in a mood to communicate with others... "'s shocking that this piece was written without even a nod to the absurdity & risk of our March Toward Total Screenlife. Real-time communication is free & easy, so why have "real-enough time communication"? When you want to say 'good morning' or are in a mood to communicate with others, why not arrange your life so it's F2F (eg. a workplace, people you live with, a breakfast club, ?)? Are the people within X miles not good enough? As I quoted the other day, "The physical world is very high bandwidth."

VPT Public Square: Add your comments

Vermont Public Television will be broadcasting a show about the Snelling Center e-State Symposium on Thursday, August 21 at 8pm. They are hosting a live, online chat as well. You can add your thoughts and comments right now by clicking here. I encourage you to participate and make your voice heard!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vermont slowing down :-(

Ouuff... this is not good news... from Dave Bradbury at VCET... released its 2008 State Internet Speed Survey findings.....In 2007, Vermont ranked 21st fastest in the US for Internet speeds and in 2008 (drum roll please), we sank to 38th fastest place (or, 12th slowest place in U.S. depending on your outlook). Whether or not these surveys pass statistical muster or not (They seem too), it is still the best survey on Internet speeds that I have come across. And unfortunately, it feels about the right results too.

And folks, here is among the saddest results: Vermont was one of five US States whose median download speed actually declined in the year over year survey. Yup, we got worse along with North Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota and Hawaii.

Could your town's website get a date?

An interesting article mysteriously appeared in my in box this morning (perhaps Glenn?) It's exciting to see how much experimentation is going on among local and state government folks. In Missouri, they created a job kiosk in Second Life (virtual world). Wonder what kind of applicants it's attracting? In Delaware, the human resources director fretted that her town's website would get very few dates on, so they redesigned the site.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to add a comment to the blog

Here at the Snelling e-State Blog, we welcome your comments. Did you know you can add a comment to any of the blog posts? I'll walk you through it.

For example, I am going to add a comment to Sue McCormack's post about Vermont's aging population. Here's is the post.

In order to add a comment, I am going to click on the words "0 comments".

When I click it, I will get a new page with a blank text box. I type my comments into the box.

Below the box, I need to show my identity. If my name appears already, it is because I am already logged in with my google account. No need to change anything. Just click the Publish Your Comment button.

If my name isn't already there, I can choose Name and then just type my name in the box that appears. Then click Publish Your Comment button. Here's a picture.

Voila! Comments are the wonderful part about blogs. We want to hear from you! Please try these steps to add a comment and let me know how it goes... By adding a comment to this post, of course! If you get stuck, email me at

Economic and Workforce Development Action Team

I am proposing to hold the first meeting on Thursday, September 18th. The location will depend on where the interested parties live or work; it may be in the Burlington area or somewhere in Central Vermont.

Since this team is just getting organized I can’t really say right now what level of commitment may be required. We may find that there is a lot to do (holding some meetings in various parts of the state in order to create more involvement is a possibility) or we may find that there are a number of initiatives already underway and our job could be as simple as cataloging those efforts and trying them into future work of the Snelling Center E-State Initiative. Or the folks may have a completely different idea of how this should come together. There are no pre-conceived notions other than there appears to be a need to come together and see what there might be to do.

I hope that you will agree to participate on this team. If you can commit to a meeting on September 18th, please let me know. If that time is out of the question for you but you want to propose a different time to meet, I’m happy to consider that as well. I can be reached by Email at

But if you can commit to at least one meeting, please let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

VT population aging, diversifying - e-state implications?

How do you think these trends will affect the way we use our increasing connectivity? What are the opportunities? Challenges?

Education action team meeting

Last night I attended the first meeting of the e-State action team focused on the topic of Education. Ellen Thompson, Director of Instruction and Information Services for the Essex Town School District hosted us at the district offices.

We had a great group and some interesting discussion. See Ellen's meeting notes as well as some thoughts from a few folks who couldn't make the meeting on the Snelling e-State wiki by clicking here.

One of my takeaways from this meeting was that there are many promising projects, ideas, and initiatives happening around the state related to technology and education, including right here where I live in Essex. We'll be working to connect the dots and providing opportunities to share and collaborate.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Should our next President be tech-savvy?

Yesterday I was reading the print edition of the Sunday New York Times and came across an article called “Hail to The Twitterer” by Marc Leibovich. Online it is called "McCain, The Analog Candidate". Not sure why there are different titles.

The article is about how John McCain can’t use a computer and whether that’s OK. He’s trying to change his image—he says he reads emails now when his staffers show them to him. I’m not sure if that should count as technological literacy.

Of course, not everyone needs to embrace technology. But there are certain jobs (President being one) where it would be helpful. White House staff can handle the email and Google look-ups, but if the leader of the country has little direct experience with the technology that is transforming our world it could have serious implications.

What do you think?

The author even harkens back to Abraham Lincoln, who apparently was an early adopter of technology. He was out there chatting with his Civil War generals via telegraph when others were still hoofing it. I will include the NYT excerpt from Abe's “Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements” (1859) lecture here, because how many opportunities will there be to quote Abraham Lincoln on this blog?

The great difference between Young America and Old Fogy is the result of Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements. These, in turn, are the result of observation, reflection and experiment. For instance, it is quite certain that ever since water has been boiled in covered vessels, men have seen the lids of the vessels rise and fall a little, with a sort of fluttering motion, by force of the steam; but so long as this was not specially observed, and reflected, and experimented upon, it came to nothing. At length, however, after many thousand years, some man observes this long-known effect of hot water lifting a pot-lid, and begins a train of reflection upon it. He says “Why, to be sure, the force that lifts the pot-lid will lift anything else, which is no heavier than the pot-lid. And, as man has much hard lifting to do, cannot this hot-water power be made to help him?” He has become a little excited on the subject, and he fancies he hears a voice answering “Try me.”

Friday, August 1, 2008

Knight Foundation's big impace on local democracy

Steven Clift, writing on the MediaShift Idea Lab, shares a summary of "e-state-like" activity undertaken by the Knight Foundation and then offers some advice:

The Knight Foundation is beginning to make some waves in local democracy circles. And I am not just saying that because they fund this blog.

Earlier this year they hosted a conference with community foundations on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, then they announced the Knight Center of Digital Excellence focused on universal access to the "digital town square," and most recently announced a commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy and $24 million in matching funds for community foundations (see my collection of online civic engagement resources for community foundations referenced in a Council on Foundation's e-newsletter).

These investments represent the largest basket of resources I've seen to date on e-democracy/citizen media in the United States focused at the local level. What comes of this matters.

Click here for the advice...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Local government 2.0?

Here is an excerpt from an interesting article from Food for thought for the democracy and civic engagement action team:

Could the idea of an electronic commons, a new civic switchboard, materially improve city governments across the U.S.? Could it also draw younger idealists into government as the baby boom professionals start to retire in droves?

That’s the hope. And there’s an even wider possibility. Governments everywhere are facing local versions of the toughest challenges of the times — energy, global warming, immigration and others. Narrowly conceived solutions born inside government hierarchies won’t do. So how about engaging citizens as co-producers of answers and ideas in the virtual world’s public square? Could we advance government itself from 1.0 to 2.0? Why not?

Brooke Bennett case

Still on the library angle, take a look at Jessamyn West's blog,, if you haven't already. She is always a great source of information on topics related to libraries and technology.

Worth reading is Jessamyn's take on the Brooke Bennett tragedy as related to social networking sites:

Libraries in a digital age

Here's the link to a recent Burlington Free Press article on libraries:

And a quote I pulled out:

Free Internet access is particularly important for low-income people, said Ken Flamm, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied the role of the Internet in public libraries.

Only about a third of households with incomes below $25,000 have Internet access, according to federal data.

“In a world in which Internet access is increasingly important for all sorts of things, from getting a driver’s license to preparing a homework project or looking for a job, this is becoming a vital lifeline for the least advantaged segment of the population,” Flamm said.

Will Vermont libraries close the digital divide?

According to a recent article in the BFP, Vermont libraries "boast the highest number of Internet-ready computers per capita in the country: 11.1 per 10,000 people." It sounds like our libraries are doing a great job embracing the digital age, but if you think about the potential for Vermont to conduct more and more public business online, will library computers adequately address the digital divide? Here is a link to the BFP article:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Education Action Team to Meet

A meeting date, time and place has been set for the first Education Action Team meeting.

Where: Essex Town Superintendent's Office, 58 Founders Road
Time: 5:00-7:00 PM

All are welcome. If you can not attend but would like to give your input - send me (Ellen) your top 3 ideas to

Monday, July 21, 2008

Growing Up Digital

Hello everyone,

I'm sure this will be a very worthwhile event. Please consider attending and pass it on to friends and colleagues.


Friday, September 26, 2008

sponsored by ACME Vermont

Growing Up Digital: Kids, Commercialism and New Media Culture

Bishop Booth Conference Center at Rock Point 20 Rock Point Circle Burlington, VT

Friday, Sep. 26, 2008 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Keynote Speakers:

  • Josh Golin, Campaign for Commerial Free Childhood
  • Lauren-Glenn Davitian,CCTV Center for media & Democracy
  • Workshops include:

  • Social Networks and New Media-Sheryl Rivera and Adam Kenner.
  • Packaging Girlhood-Sharon Lamb
  • Media Literacy Through Media Production-James Valastro
  • Disney and the marketing/ morphing of Child Stars-Sheryl Rivera and Adam Kenner
  • Why People Under 40 Don’t Follow the News-David Mindich, SMC Journalism Dept.
  • Blogging, Screening, and Print In-Betweening: Reinventing Journalism for the 21st Century
  • Internet Safety-Sgt. Carlson, Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Teacher 2.0: Literacy and Learning in a Digital World-Tre Redmond and John Henson
  • Friday, July 18, 2008

    Public Square Program on e-state initiative

    The air date of the Public Square program on VPT that highlighted the May 29th conference has been moved to Thursday, August 21st at 8:00 p.m.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Education Action Team - Interested?

    Fulfilling Our e-State Potential: Building Community in a Connected Age
    What does this statement mean to you?
    On May 29th several hundred Vermonters converged on the campus of Champlain College to discuss just what a community would look like and feel like within an actively "wired" state. From this meeting came many BIG ideas and several action groups. I volunteered to bring people together around the charge of EDUCATION. The time to begin is now.
    This group can approach this work in so many different ways. There is the actual work of educating a public as to the power and potential of using digital literacies to support, enhance and improve ongoing work across all venues. Add to this the importance of adding more uses of collaborative web 2.0 tools in our schools, businesses, and community centers. Sprinkle in the ability to capture the life work and ambitions of our community elders. Mix it up by finding ways to increase our global awareness through the use of technology.
    The problem for our group will be: Where to start?
    Are you interested? Intrigued? Confused?
    I would like to set up a preliminary planning meeting to better define our charge. Here are a couple of dates to consider...
    August 5 OR 6
    Morning 9:00-11:00
    Afternoon: 1:00-3:00 OR 3:00-5:00 OR 5:00-7:00
    We can meet here at the Superintendent's Office in Essex Town.
    Drop me an email at if either of these days would work and if there is a best time for you. I will choose a day and time when several can attend just to get the ball rolling.
    Do you have someone you think should be involved? Send me their email address and I will send an invite - or better yet bring them to the meeting with you.
    Thank you,
    Ellen A. Thompson, Ed.D.
    Director of Instruction and Information Services
    Essex Town School District

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Online Tools Training

    At this very moment, E-State Action Team leaders are logged into a webinar to learn how to use the E-State wiki and blog to support our teams.

    Monday, July 7, 2008

    Team Needs Members

    I sent out a note to the individuals who signed up for this action team at the Symposium, but we need more people to get involved. I'm going to propose at our organizational meeting later this summer/early fall that we go out on the road and talk to folks in some of the regions around the state. Having representation from different regions in the state would not only be good for the team, it could help facilitate the process for establishing the meetings. Let Karyn or I know if you want to sign on, or if you know some people I should reach out to and invite.

    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Access to low cost computers focus of new business

    Equity and Access to technology is one of the key concerns that came up during the e-state symposium. Here is an article about a new business in Essex Junction that aims to help the environment and provide low cost computers to people who need them.

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    Information, Communities, Democracy... New Knight Commission

    Greetings all. I had the pleasure of address the kick off meeting of a new blue ribbon commission in Washington, DC this week with a similar charge as this blog is covering...

    Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
    “The charge of the Commission is straightforward,” says Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “Articulate the information needs of communities in this democracy; determine where we are today; and propose public policy that will encourage market solutions.”

    The Commission was keen to learn about our experiences operating Front Porch Forum in Chittenden County. The full Commission is listed here. And…

    The Commission will be led by co-chairs Ted Olson, former Solicitor General of the United States, and Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google. Peter Shane, a distinguished law professor at Ohio State University Law School, is the executive director.

    The Knight Commission is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and organized by the Aspen Institute.

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Great article on technology and civic life

    Check out this article by Matt Leighninger, author of "The Next Form of Democracy."
    He talks about the potential that bloggers have to reshape the relationship between citizens and government and to have a real impact on local communities. How do we connect online talk and information to real action and change? Matt has some good ideas about this, and his four principles really speak to what the e-state symposium was all about. I hope we can continue to move the e-state work forward in a way that combines the best of face to face dialogue with online tools. I can't wait to see how this continues to unfold.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    VPT feature in the works

    Vermont Public Television is creating an hour-long show on the e-State Symposium! It will air on July 24 at 8PM. I can't wait to watch it.

    Meanwhile, take a look at CCTV's e-State video if you haven't already:

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    e-State kick-off

    Blogosphere, here we come!

    The Snelling Center e-State initiative needs a blog. It won't really be very exciting until I find a good picture to go at the top.