Tales from the Coffeeshop: Lulu on Internet access in Seattle

"Recently, I was unemployed. 2009 was broken laptops, less library hours, and less money to buy coffee to access the computer. I now understand the value of free internet--especially how hard it was to access resources for job hunting, food stamps, and governmental assistance programs. After acquiring a job, I understand the privilege of access and connecting to community resources."

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Seattle aims to become a world-class Internet city

Seattle is supposedly the nation's most wired city--but that's cold comfort to the many families in the Central District and Beacon Hill who are paying too much for unreliable cable Internet service, or who can't even get basic DSL. Take a look at this list of the world's top 20 cities for Internet speeds. What's the first thing you notice?

1. Busan
2. Seoul
3. Göteborg
4. Stockholm
5. Yokohama
6. Amsterdam
7. Paris
8. Tokyo
9. Aarhus
10. Helsinki
11. Rotterdam
12. Hamburg
13. Kosice
14. Bern
15. Berlin
16. Copenhagen
17. Espoo
18. Lyon
19. Lisbon
20. Oslo

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Position available: RTM seeks digital justice organizer

Reclaim the Media seeks a project organizer for its Seattle Digital Justice Campaign, to build and mobilize a diverse coalition of Seattle residents and organizations supporting broadband Internet as a public utility in Seattle. The organizer will conduct outreach and education, lead and attend community meetings, and recruit and maintain a base of community activists with a focus on youth, people of color, immigrant populations.

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Add your voice: support digital inclusion and an open Internet!

In Seattle and across the United States, organizations working with people of color, poor communities, and other marginalized groups are raising our voices for an open Internet that is fast, affordable, and accessible to everyone. Our communities should not have to choose between broadband access and Internet fairness.

Thanks to all the NW organizations that, like us, understand that digital access is a civil rights issue! Participating groups include One America, KBCS, ACLU-WA, the Youth Media Institute, Ozya, Washington Bus, Reel Grrls, Hidmo, the Minority Executive Directors Association, 206 Zulu, Common Language Project, the Community Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle NOW, WashPIRG, Hollow Earth Radio, Sustainable Ballard, the Langston Hughes Film Festival, the Community Alliance & Peacemaking Project, Newground Social Investment, and more! It's not too late to take the pledge: download (English) (Spanish) and return by email.

If you're an individual or organization in Seattle, add your voice to the Seattle Digital Justice Campaign!

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Journalism That Matters Seattle!

Journalism That Matters has concluded in Seattle: a forward-looking unconference on the theme: Re-Imagining News and Community in the Pacific Northwest. The 4-day event is the latest and largest in an ongoing series of meetings about the future of quality journalism, bringing together journalists, bloggers, editors, media activists, broadcasters, community media practictioners, educators and community leaders (attendees list here).

The conference kicked off Thursday evening with a session featuring "catalysts" former Mayor Norman Rice, Tracy Record (West Seattle Blog), and creative photojournalist Chris Jordan, reflecting on developing new information sources, economic solutions and accountability models that can revitalize journalism for a society grounded in social networking and civic engagement.

Conference registration capped at over 200 attendees. Details of the conference proceedings (including audio and video, tweets (#jtmpnw), photos and session notes) are archived here.

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Broadband: the next public utility

Glenn Fleishman at PubliCola:

Broadband in 2009 is electricity in 1900. We may think we know all the means to which high-speed Internet access may be put, but we clearly do not: YouTube and Twitter prove that new things are constantly on the way and will emerge as bandwidth and access continues to increase.

Like electricity, the notion of whether broadband is an inherent right and necessity of every citizen is up for grabs in the US. Sweden and Finland have already answered the question: It’s a birthright. Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and many European countries aren’t far behind in having created the right regulatory and market conditions to bring better and affordable broadband to a greater percentage of its citizens than in the US.

Read the rest, and consider that we may now have federal (FCC) and local (Seattle) public officials who are ready to help launch a new era of communication rights.

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McGinn to keep Schrier in place as tech chief

In an expected move, Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn will keep Bill Schrier in place as Chief Information Officer when he takes office next month. Schrier's office has been working for months on plans to seek federal stimulus funds for broadband/smart grid deployment, work which should only speed up under a McGinn administration. Todd Bishop at TechFlash writes:

As for other goals in 2010, Schrier pointed out that one plank in McGinn's platform is the improvement of broadband infrastructure in the city's neighborhoods. He said he expects the city to apply for federal stimulus money in the first part of the year to move toward that goal. In addition to improving broadband access in homes, the initiative could help Seattle City Light implement smart-grid infrastructure, and improve public safety communications.

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Re-imagining News & Community in the Pacific Northwest

A Seattle conference on journalism that matters: Jan 7-9, 2010
UPDATE: Scholarships available for young media makers!

Across the United States, our media ecosystem is quickly evolving. Old news organizations are shrinking as formerly reliable income streams dry up, and as audiences discover alternative news choices or simply read less. At the same time, new technologies and the work of committed people are making it easier to build new information sources that allow many more people to join the "news" conversation and stoke the fires of civic passion.

In the Pacific Northwest, this evolution is proceeding rapidly. What's working? Are the information needs of our communities being met? How can the public and journalists collaborate?

To find out, Journalism That Matters is convening a regionally-focused conversation, part of an ongoing national series of conferences aimed at provoking critical questions and creating new ideas for journalism that truly serves our communities and our democracy.

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Margins to mainstream: Indymedia anticipated blogs and social media

Norm Stockwell (WORT Madison) spoke on the development of Indymedia during last weekend's People's Summit, marking the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO. In today's Capitol Times, he reflects on what Indymedia has meant for the global expansion of participatory media:

On the first day of the WTO protests, Nov. 30, 1999 (now referred to as “N30”), the IndyMedia website claimed over 1 million hits -- more visitors than CNN. The reason was simple: CNN was still echoing the official press releases stating that rubber bullets were not being used against the demonstrators while IndyMedia journalists were grabbing up handfuls of rubber bullets, videotaping them, and putting the news out to the world across the Internet...

Many of the things IndyMedia did in the first half of this decade are now considered mainstream. In 2002-2003, I ran a website built on the IndyMedia experience called “IraqJournal” with independent journalist Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Jacquie Soohen reporting live from Baghdad before the U.S. invasion. At the time, someone asked us: “Oh, is that a blog?” We said, “No, this is a news site. What’s a blog?”

Read the complete article here.

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WTO media flashback: getting the word out, becoming the media

From the Blind Spot, December 1999: The IMC originally formed when local media activists and others from the independent and alternative media communities (among them Jeff Perlstein, Jimmy Mateson of Media Island International, former KCMU news director Sheri Herndon, and Seattle attorney Dan Merkle) decided to address the fact that information about the WTO was not being made available for public debate. They wrote: "The true impact of the WTO policies and rules on our communities was not being reported on. … Meaningful discussions, public knowledge, participation or scrutiny of the summit issues associated with this new governing body were avoided."

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