Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Leadership in a Connected Age Info

Yesterday's Leadership in a Connected Age conference at Champlain College was a blast!

Go here for more info: including attendees to follow on Twitter. Soon we will be posting CCTV's' coverage of the keynotes.

"A greater vulnerability than legacy assets is a legacy mindset." - Steve Shepard

Friday, May 22, 2009

Town Meeting Remote Participation

This is a photo of the computer screen of a 2009 Middlesex Town Meeting remote participant. Yes, it's true! This person was able to participate from home, by watching a video of the meeting, seeing a live chat feed, and calling in to add his voice.

Our fabulous panelist from the 2008 Snelling Center e-State Symposium, Greg Whitchurch, recently sent me some information about this year's Middlesex Town Meeting. Middlesex is working hard to help residents participate in Town Meeting even if they can't make it to the physical location.

This work could be used as a model for other towns looking to use technology to make Town Meeting more inclusive.

"At this year’s meeting, Middlesex voters experienced a first: During traditional floor discussion, the microphone was passed to a telephone, whereby a voter who was participating from home due to medical issues was able to voice his opinion.

Middlesex’s Remote Town Meeting Participation Task Force is working to facilitate town meeting participation by those who physically cannot attend (such as those with limited mobility, or who are abroad in the military), while maintaining an efficient and vibrant town meeting for those who are in the meeting room. How does Middlesex feel about the idea? The response from those attending town meeting offers a hint: the room burst into spontaneous applause.

Remote town meeting participation in Middlesex would not have been achieved without hours of volunteer effort by Greg Whitchurch, along with Lauri Scharf, Chris Reilly, and valuable support from John Riley. Thanks to VITL in Montpelier for the loan of the conference phone. With a web link, a two-way visual connection was also available."

The above image is one I pulled from Greg's photos of the meeting. Here is a link to a web album with this one and more.

Thank you, Greg, for your good work on the Middlesex Town Meeting!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kanter: Can Nonprofits work more like clouds?

Good blog post by Beth Kanter entitled Can Nonprofit Organizations Work more like Clouds?

A quote I liked from Mark Pesce:

If you can permute your organization so that it looks more like the cloud, you’ll have an easier time working with the cloud. Case in point: because of ‘message discipline’, only a very few people are allowed to speak for an organization. Yet, because of the exponential growth in connectivity and Web2.0 technologies, everyone in your organization has more opportunities to speak for your organization than ever before. Can you release control over message discipline, and empower your organization to speak for itself, from any point of contact? Yes, this sounds dangerous, and yes, there are some dangers involved, but the cloud wants to be spoken to authentically, and authenticity has many competing voices, not a single monolithic tone.

And later in Beth's post, this advice:

As a Leader - become deeply aware of - and truly mindful about - the scope and reach of interconnected markets and flows of information. Understand how people are connecting, talking, sharing information. Be prepared to listen deeply, be responsible, accountable and transparent.

As a Manager - become knowledgeable about online work systems and how the need for collaboration is changing the nature of work, generally - and the nature of managerial work specifically. Learning how to be an effective coach is all-important.

As an Employee - become more aware of the changing nature of work, and the traditional structures of authority. Develop a clear understanding of how to be both empowered and valuable and of service. Understand how to navigate on one's own through a constantly shifting landscape of work.

As a Citizen - understand the possibilities and responsibilities inherent in open and public dissemination of information. Understand and exercise the responsibilities of citizenship in a country. Understand how to have influence via electronic participation and collaboration.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Trying Twitter in the Classroom

A University of Texas professor uses Twitter in her classroom. A video worth watching.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Technology as an afterthought

An excerpt from an article on Tech&Learning called Passionate Voices by Ryan Bretag.

Educator Ryan Bretag interviewed a group of students about how teaching and learning should look in the 21st century. I like these two paragraphs:

"The concept of technology was really an after thought, it seemed, for many of them. This wasn't because it lacked importance but a belief, when asked, that technology was basically a given. In other words, technology was a key part for making all of the above happen but it was something they wanted to be transparent within the classroom, a multi-dimensional learning space they wanted to be 24/7/7.

Through connective technologies and participatory media, students as pre-professionals, a current and diverse curriculum, and learning could occur to create a well-educated person capable of success in the 21st Century. However, it was made clear with plenty of agreement that technology alone will do very little and that it should never be the only thing, done for its own sake."

Monday, April 27, 2009

NYT Article: Customer Service Volunteers

Enthusiastic power users are helping others for free. Check out the NYT article.

It's good to remember the 1-9-90 rule when it comes to online participation.

"About 1 percent of those in the community...are super-users who supply most of the best answers and commentary. An additional 9 percent are “responders” who mainly reply and rate Web posts, she said, and the other 90 percent are “readers” who primarily peruse and search the Web site for useful information."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leadership in a Connected Age

Register now!

As the State of Vermont approaches its goal of 100% digital connectivity, business and community leaders must constantly adapt and change the way they communicate, get work done, and participate in the public life of their communities.

Half day workshops
April 28, Lyndonville
May 12, Springfield
May 19, Montpelier
May 26, Middlebury

Full day conference
June 9, Burlington

Steve Shepard explains the series in 90 seconds here.
Steve Shepard talks about Google Voice here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Small and cheap

Mary Evslin told me about this...definitely worth looking at.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Households with high-speed Internet increase in Vermont, but digital divide remains

Date: for public release on March 30, 2009

Will Sawyer, UVM Center for Rural Studies (802) 656-0892,

The proportion of Vermont households with high-speed or broadband Internet connections has increased from 9% in 2001 to slightly more than 66% in 2009, according to the statewide Vermonter Poll conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont. Of households that did not have Internet or broadband, nearly 46% said that they knew broadband was available to them, while 17% were not sure.
Despite the overall increase in household broadband, there is still evidence of a digital divide. According to this year’s poll, 44% of responding households making less than $25,000/year have computers, compared to 83% of all households and 91% of households making more than $25,000.

“Citizens can’t be connected unless they have a computer,” says Center for Rural Studies Co-Director, Jane Kolodinsky. “While progress is being made with regard to access to personal computers and the Internet, we can’t ’level the playing field’ for Vermont students and adults in terms of access to the information highway until the digital divide issues are solved.”

A majority of all Vermont households that have Internet have a high-speed connection, but lower income households in that group are slightly less likely to have broadband than others. According to the poll, 76% of households with Internet making less than $50,000 have broadband versus 85% of households making more.
Traditionally there has also been a rural divide in high-speed Internet. According to the poll, 76% of rural households with Internet connections have broadband versus urban (88%) or suburban (93%) households. It should be noted however that urban households are less likely to have Internet overall (69% versus 84-85% for urban and suburban). This may be due to the fact that a higher proportion of urban households in Vermont are in lower income groups. Overall suburban households in Vermont are more likely to have Internet and broadband.

Overall nearly 82% of polled households have an Internet connection. Of connected households, 18% had dial-up, 24% had a cable modem, 42% had DSL, nearly 7% had satellite Internet, 6% had a wireless Internet service, and 3% had fiber-optic or some other service. Generally anything faster than dial-up is considered to be broadband, although speeds may vary.

Between those that have broadband and those that answered about the availability of high-speed Internet, at least 79% of households in this poll have broadband available to them. The State of Vermont has made 2010 a target for 100% broadband availability in the state. In the past, polled households have expressed varying support for State and community efforts to expand broadband service. The 2007 Vermonter Poll found a majority (58%) of respondents in support of the allocation of State funds toward universal broadband. However only a minority (36%) was in favor of the use of municipal funds for the development of broadband infrastructure.

Last year, the Vermonter Poll asked more focused questions about the favorability of respondents toward the use of local resources to work “alone or in partnership with other municipalities to develop high-speed Internet infrastructure, such as data lines or wireless transmitters, so that companies may use them to sell high-speed Internet connections to local residents and businesses.” The understanding was that any municipal investment eventually would be paid back through fees charged for the use of the new infrastructure. A vast majority of respondents (77%) were in favor of having their city or town involved in such an effort. When the question was focused to ask if respondents were in favor of an effort exclusively in fiber-optic infrastructure, much faster than typical broadband, a majority (73%) said yes once again.

For a detailed report on the information technology questions from the 2009 Vermonter Poll, please go to

The Vermonter Poll is a statistically representative, statewide telephone poll conducted annually by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont. Responses are limited to Vermont households with telephones, not including cell phones . Households are selected randomly using a list of telephone numbers generated from Vermont telephone directories. The 2009 Vermonter Poll was conducted February 18-27 and includes responses to questions on a wide range of topics from 615 Vermont households.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cathy Resmer on Twitter

This is a good description of Twitter, and how to use it intelligently. Thank you, Cathy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Broadband Hot Potato

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes rural Vermonter's efforts to to get broadband. Interesting discussion follows about whether broadband is a luxury or necessity. This article features Marian White, a Vermont sheep farmer who has unusual ways to keep her connection going. Marian is also an alumna of the Snelling Center's Vermont Leadership Institute.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Communications Public Meeting

Lauren-Glenn Davitian is hosting a meeting about the future of communications on March 12. I am planning to be there and I hope you will too. Below is the info about it from CCTV. - Karyn

What can we do to protect the our local communications networks and media production for the people?

Calling Free Speech Supporters and People Concerned about Access to Local Media and Communications

Tell us what you think at the next Future of Local Communications Public Meeting on Thursday March 12th at 6 p.m. (until 8:30 p.m.) here at Channel 17 Studios (294 North Winooski Avenue in Burlington). Register Here:
or call in to the LIVE public meeting on Channel 17 6.30 p.m. (Call in at 802.862.3966).

Please join us to answer these questions:

Does the decline of local media outlets concern you? Are you frustrated by your monthly telephone and cable bills? Does it worry you that only two companies provide cell phone service in the whole United States? Do your children have access to meaningful tv and internet programs? How can local and community media better serve activists, nonprofits, educators and local government? What are your views on local and public ownership of our local communications system and media network? What else would you like policy makers and decision makers to know?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Citizens in a Connected Age

Ten suggestions for Vermonters who wish to stay informed and engaged in an e-state.

1. Get connected. The Vermont Telecommunications Authority website has a wealth of information about the initiative to bring modern communications to all Vermonters by the end of 2010. The VTA is visiting many rural Vermont towns to discuss local Internet connectivity and mobile phone coverage. To find out how to bring them to your town, send an email to

2. Join the media mavens. Burlington's Center for Media and Democracy hosts free noontime meetings on topics such as increasing your website's traffic or using online video as an organizing tool.

3. Read a book. Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations" is a great place to start. Shirky walks the reader through successes and failures in the digital age with important civic implications. If you find yourself disparaging Wikipedia, lamenting the loss of community as people spend more time online, or yearning to be a 21st century activist, this is an important read.

4. Read a blog. The Snelling Center hosts a blog called Building Community in a Connected Age. And try these on for size - The Ghost of Midnight, Candleboy, DemocracySpace, Blurt, Vermont Daily Briefing, Vermont View, iBrattleboro, Political Animal, Fractals of Change, Young Writers' Project. Too many blogs and too little time? Google Reader can help. (NOTE: iBrattleboro is not a blog, but a citizen journalism site. I would like to see something like this replicated in other parts of the state.)

5. Test drive a tool. No matter your experience level, there are always new things to try on the web. Suggestions (all are free): Collaborate on a document or spreadsheet using Google Docs or the promising new DropBox, share bookmarks on Delicious, get connected with your neighbors using Front Porch Forum or a neighborhood listserve, help a young friend dig math using Visual Fractions, create a brochure or flier online using My Brochure Maker, review a restaurant on Yelp, find handmade things with Etsy, make your own internet radio station on Pandora, or get organized with Remember the Milk.

6. Check out the library. Librarians are on the front lines of the digital revolution. Vermont librarian/tech blogger Jessamyn West shares her insights on her blog, The Vermont Department of Libraries brought us 23 Things, a Web 2.0 teaching tool. Many Vermont libraries now offer online catalogs and online database access. The New York Public Library has a really good digital gallery.

7. Be a leader. The Snelling Center for Government and Champlain College Workforce Development Center are teaming up to offer a workshop series entitled "Leadership in a Connected Age" in Spring 2009. Stay tuned for more details. For a more comprehensive leadership development program, consider the Vermont Leadership Institute or the Vermont School Leadership Project.

8. Serve your community. Help a neighbor learn to use email or apply for a job online. Or volunteer to teach computer skills at a local senior center or social services organization.

9. Get your dot gov. Does your town have a website? Is information available online about town meetings and other business for those who can't be there in person? Are residents able to submit feedback? The Vermont Legislature website informs citizens about state government by supplying contact information for legislators, up-to-date information about bills and issues, and even live audio streaming of the House and Senate proceedings. The town of Middlesex has an impressive website with a wealth of information, including very detailed town meeting results; Essex hosts town meeting television via CCTV/Channel 17.

10. Listen to a young person. Ask your child or other young friend what they're doing online. It might surprise you. In a good way.

This list is also posted on our website: I'd like to know if you try any of these things or if you have other ideas for a list like this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weigh in on the State budget for fiscal year 2010!

I just found this on Front Porch Forum's Neighborhood Volunteers forum. A great resource. I haven't participated in a Vermont Interactive Television meeting yet, so maybe this is my chance.

Joint Public Hearing on Fiscal Year 2010 budget on Vermont Interactive Television

Appropriations Committees
Monday, February 9, 2009, 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. - The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will hold a joint public hearing on Vermont Interactive Television (V.I.T.) to give Vermonters throughout the state an opportunity to express their views about the State budget for fiscal year 2010.

All V.I.T. sites will be available for the hearing: Bennington, Brattleboro, Castleton, Johnson, Lyndonville, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Randolph Center, Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans, Waterbury, White River Junction and Williston. V.I.T.'s web site has an up-to-date location listing, including driving directions, addresses and telephone numbers,

For information about the format of this event, interested parties may call the House Appropriations Committee office at 802/828-5970. Requests for interpreters should be made to the office by 12:00 noon on Friday, January 23, 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Great things from CCTV

I just have to write something to celebrate all the wonderful work being done by CCTV in Burlington. I won't attempt to cover everything here, but there are two things I want to share with the readers of this blog.

Under the Dome. Have you heard? CCTV is broadcasting coverage of everything from opening ceremonies to public hearings to interviews with members of our fabulous citizen legislature. And you thought you were going to miss the boat...

Communications Security Meeting #2
. I know, you are wondering about meeting #1. If you weren't there, never fear - attend meeting number 2 on January 22! I was at the first meeting and am already registered for the second. It's about making sure that our telecommunications infrastructure is constructed, owned, and managed in a way that benefits all Vermonters. Additionally, CCTV has been asked to contribute feedback about internet policy to the new federal administration. So, join in, educate yourself and make your voice heard!