jonathan's blog

People with disabilities need a fair and open Internet: Cat Sullivan

"I'm a former Americorps volunteer IT person, working at the STAR Center for people with disabilities. We are very aware of the digital divide, which is worsening as high-speed access is becoming a necessity. Low income access is nearly impossible; young people are required to send homework over the Internet, people with disabilities need special equipment for online access, whicih can be very expensive. Seattle has free 56k wireless access in some areas, though it's not enough—slow and often busy.

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Seattle's verdict: we need strong protections for an open Internet

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Seattle FCC Open Internet events this week. About 80 people attended Reclaim the Media's community forum with FCC staff on Tuesday evening, and about 70 took part in the Wednesday morning workshop at the Federal Building. Soon we'll have a summary of the events, as well as some photos from Tuesday.

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April 27: Speaking Up for a Fair and Open Internet

This week, Seattle will get our chance to weigh in on the future of broadband in the US, as the FCC returns to Seattle with a pair of events focused on preserving an open Internet.

On Tuesday evening, Apr 27, FCC staff will be featured guests at a community conversation on open Internet and net neutrality, hosted by Reclaim the Media along with Hidmo, KBCS Community Radio and the NW Media Action Grassroots Network. The event, Speaking Up for a Fair and Open Internet, takes place 6:30-8:30pm at Asian Counseling and Referral Service, 3639 Martin Luther King Way in Seattle.

Then, at 9:30am on Weds. Apr. 28, the FCC will hold an official workshop on Preserving the Open Internet, downtown at the Federal Building. Both events are free and open to the public.

Want to come to one event but not both? The Tuesday evening event will offer far better opportunities to speak and interact with FCC staff and other featured guests; the focus of the event will be talking together about Internet policy and how it connects with related issues including social equality, education, economic development, social equality, and communications rights.

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FCC announces panelists for Apr 28 Open Internet hearing

Today the FCC announced the roster of expert panelists speaking at the April 28 open Internet workshop in Seattle. The public workshop will take place at 9:30am at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle. While attendees will be allowed to pose questions or comments only through written notecards, the workshop will also be streamed online, where viewers will be invited to comment via Twitter.

Panelists will include Seattle Chief Technology Officer Bill Schrier, and net neutrality opponent Carl Gipson from the Washington Policy Center, as well as academic researchers and corporate representatives. The public interest sphere will be represented by Gigi Sohn from the DC-based nonprofit Public Knowledge.

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Spot.us is expanding into Seattle

Spot.us is expanding its coverage to Seattle, currently soliciting support for three Seattle-focused stories to be researched and written by independent journalists, The project, launched a couple years ago in San Francisco by David Cohn, uses an innovative community-funded model for investigative journalism. With the help of independent journalists and readers, Spot.us identifies news stories that need to be researched and reported--then sets a reporting budget and solicits contributions to fund the reporting.

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LPFM: Light at the end of the tunnel?

These days, it may be difficult to imagine the US Senate working on anything other than health care. But now that lawmakers appear to be nearly done with that mammoth issue, other business awaits. Grassroots media watchers across the country are hopeful that, with the leadership of Senator Maria Cantwell, a long-awaited bill expanding Low-Power FM community radio could soon become law.

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CPB to fund a new Local Journalism Center in the Northwest

Our good friend Gavin Dahl passes along this news from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

Regional Collaborations to Counter Decline of Local Journalism

The CPB today announced funding for a major journalism initiative that will increase original local reporting capacity in seven regions around the country, and a planning project to develop an open information architecture to harness the collective power of the public media network...

In addition to [already-planned LJCs in the southwest, the plains, the upper midwest, upstate New York and central Florida], CPB will fund LJCs in the south and in the Northwest. CPB is currently accepting proposals from stations in these regions. These initial investments will expand local news capacity in these regions by an anticipated 50 new professional positions.

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FCC releases National Broadband Strategy

On March 16, the Federal Communications Commission released its national broadband strategy, a year in the making. The document is as inspiring as it is broad-reaching--envisioning a dramatic nationwide expansion of truly high-speed (gigabit) Internet access, the world's best wireless broadband systems, and completing next-generation networks supporting health care, public safety and community institutions as well as business and government.

The FCC's plan is being praised widely (read more for an initial response from the Media & Democracy Coalition, of which Reclaim the Media is a member). But their job isn't done yet. The FCC will continue to gather public input about the strategy; key policy battles such as net neutrality remain unresolved; and many urban and rural communities are still working at the local level to expand affordable access.

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Seattle wants your help wooing Google

Will Google choose Seattle as a test bed for its gigabit fiber network experiment? Capitol Hill Blog passes along these instructions on how you can help make Seattle's case:

1. Go to Google’s website: www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi

2. Click on the “Get Involved” button.

3. Login (if you already have an account).

4. If you do not have an account, click on “Create an Account Now,” and follow the instructions...

5. Go back to where you were in the Google website and click on “Nominate your Community.” This will bring up the list of questions that you will respond to on line, and submit to Google when you are finished.

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Let's Get Connected! Digital Justice forum on March 3

Hidmo Community Empowerment Project, Reclaim the Media and NW MAG-Net present Let's Get Connected: Internet and Social Justice in Central and South Seattle, a community forum on winning better, faster, and more affordable Internet access in the historically underserved neighborhoods of the Central District and Beacon Hill. The event, Let's Get Connected, takes place Weds. March 3, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Garfield Community Center on 2323 E. Cherry Street, Seattle.

Participants in the March 3 "Let's Get Connected" event will be invited to share their own experiences with local Internet access, while community media producers document their stories on audio and video. Featured guest speakers will discuss the history of telecommunications access in central and South Seattle, present-day challenges for fair, affordable access, and ways the City can respond to public outcry for digital justice.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey