Heritage of Foley “Gets Connected”

This is an article from Benton County, one of Blandin Foundation’s Get Broadband communities.

66 year old Judy Nybakke can now look forward to the e-mails and digital pictures she will soon receive from her 4 grandchildren living in Paso Robles, California.

“We don’t see them very often, but now I hope we can e-mail and see more pictures of them playing baseball this spring,” said Nybakke.

Milton and Judy Nybakke live at Heritage Place independent senior apartments in Foley. The Heritage of Foley Campus was awarded a technology grant to contribute to the costs for two computer stations. One station is available at the Foley Nursing Center for residents and their families to use. The second station is located at Heritage Place apartments and is available for tenants and their families.

The computers are welcomed additions to the campus. The added benefit to long-term residents, short-term residents, and apartment tenants is priceless. The computers will provide a chance to research any topic on the internet, check e-mail, play computer games, and an endless list of other functions that computers fulfill.

In addition to the grant, “Get Connected” provides the opportunity for networking within our own community. Heritage of Foley, a campus which provides many services to seniors, will also benefit from the connection made with the Foley School District.

As part of his administrative internship, 2nd grade teacher Curt Rock is working with the Foley Nursing Center and Heritage Place to pair up the tenants/residents with a Foley High School student. The students will be helping the tenants/residents with e-mail, doing research, and sending and receiving photos.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the students to build community bridges with the seniors in Foley,” says Rock. There were over 40 Foley High School students interested in participating in this program. Some students have started working with the tenants/residents and more will begin as soon as they can. Rock adds, “I see this partnership continuing into the summer and moving into the next school year with the addition of other high school students.”

What is Exaflood?

According to the Internet Innovation Alliance, Exaflood “refers to the torrent of data the Internet will have to handle in the very near future. The amount of information we upload, download and share is growing at an exponential rate.”

The Internet Innovation Alliance is an association that believes in the power of the broadband Internet to improve Americans’ lives. They are committed to enabling Internet-based innovations by identifying and generating consumer support for wise public policy decisions.Broadband Factbook

They have created a Broadband Factbook that outlines broadband use, users, and growth in the United States. It starts with a basic definition of the Internet, cool map of “just about every router” in the US, flagged by provider, and moves into statistics benefits of broadband. (Did you know that the government saves $3000 for every telecommuter?)

The IIA chairs are both consultants in the telecommunications industry but each has worked for the government; one as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the other as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy.

Connecting Renville County to the rest of the world

By Shelby Lindrud Staff Writer (Originally published by the Olivia Times Journal)

Annie Tepfer, the county’s “Get Broadband” Consultant, paid a visit to the Renville County Kiwanis meeting and the county HRA/EDA meeting April 19 to discuss broadband in the county and what it can do for the communities. I’m really pushing increased awareness and education,” said Tepfer.

“We have some really neat opportunities to bring education to our rural communities.”

“Get Broadband” is sponsored by the Bladin Foundation, which is running a matching funds drive. The foundation will match the funds raised by the county up to $15,000.

At the Kiwanis meeting, Tepfer and Mark Glesener demonstrated what a broadband connection could bring to Renville County.

Podcasts, which are like radio broadcasts for the web, allow people from all over the world to hear the message. “Get Broadband” is specifically aiming toward the agriculture business. Seed companies, FFA and farmers could educate interested listeners about what is happening on the farm, possibly bringing more attention and interest to Renville County.

There are also webcasts, which are video clips created and produced by individuals. Webcasts have really taken off with the help of web video sharing sites like You Tube.

All someone needs to create a webcast is a camera, a computer and a high-speed internet connection.

Like podcasts, webcasts can be about anything, from farming to schools to advertising clips. The RCW FFA is planning on taking a camera to its convention this spring and posting the clips online. Technology like webcasts would enable the school to reach out to parents and actually show them what their children are doing in school.

The “Get Broadband” program has four goals that it hopes to achieve by Dec. of 2007. The first is to increase the awareness and education about broadband and what it can do in the general community. This could include computer classes at libraries.

The second is to expand e-commerce for local businesses. An example of expanding e-commerce would be each local business having its own website connected to the city website, allowing potential visitors to see what the community has to offer. Bird Island, which has been growing its broadband presence for the past three years, is now starting to get the local businesses online.

Goal three is to get the youth of Renville County involved in developing the pod and webcasts.

“The youth can teach us about technology,” said Tepfer. The broadband program would give students a chance to become leaders in the community through podcasts.

The final goal is have wireless broadband internet access at internet cafés in each town, or at least have an access point in a public place.

This will allow everyone the chance to connect to the internet.

Broadband access is becoming easier to achieve in rural areas thanks to satellites and a growing coverage area.

With broadband access in the county, Tepfer and the rest of the “Get Broadband” task force hope to bring a better quality of life to the communities and the county’s economy.

Intro to Flickr Video Podcast

As promised earlier today, Bill Coleman and I created a video podcast on Flickr. (That link goes to my Flickr page.) We used PodcastPeople to record the videocast. Then I posted it on YouTube, which makes it easier to embed the video into our blog. The nice thing about all of these tools is that they are free to use. All we needed was the computer, camera, and broadband connectivity.

I will fully admit that the format may surpass the content here – but it’s our first attempt. In the end I think we were both pretty impressed with how easy it was to do. You just might be seeing or hearing more video and audio podcasts from us in the future.

Technorati Post

Today Bill Coleman and I are going to try to make a video podcast demonstration of various online tools, including Technorati. Towards that end I am posting an article to “claim my blog”. That just means that I’m including a link to my Technorati Profile so that Technorati knows that I really am connected to this blog.

Technorati is a directory of blogs – if you claim your blog you have access to information on your blog to help market and track the reach of your blog. More on the video podcast later, I hope!

OECD Says US is 15th

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published an update to their broadband statistics. They rank broadband statistics by country. Last year the US ranked 12; this year we rank 15. Not such great news – but hardly surprising. Top rankers were:

  1. Denmark (31.9% broadband subscribers)
  2. Netherlands (31.8%)
  3. Iceland (29.7%)
  4. Korea (29.1%)
  5. Switzerland (28.5%)
    …12. US (19.6%)

Some people seemed to take issue with the research methodology. (Congressman Fred Upton says the methodology understates broadband in the US because they only count businesses with DSL, Cable, FTTP, satellite & wireless. The US Department of State is “concerned about the methodology.)

Some people think the numbers are good but the questions are wrong. (Andrew Schmitt thinks the question should include – who wants broadband and can’t get it?)

Some people think this is impetus to act. (Senator Daniel K. Inouye plans “to introduce two bills shortly.  Baller Herbst mentions their National Broadband Strategy.)

Finally some think we should do nothing. (The Citizens Against Government Waste urges the US not to create a policy as the current Internet has grown without one.)

I’m glad that it is at least getting people to think beyond how company A or B can get a larger part of an existing market share. I used to develop e-business curriculum and one of the things we talked about often was how the Internet increased your competition by removing geographic barriers and spurring innovation. Suddenly if you sold books your competition wasn’t just the independent bookshops, or Borders, but Amazon as well. I think it’s time that the US looked at new forms and news places for competition as well or we end up like many closed bookshops.

Community Space Online at the MCN Conference

Earlier this week I was at the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits conference. I was there to give a presentation with my friend and colleague David Erickson from e-Strategy. We spoke about Web 2.0; you can see the PowerPoint slides online. (I’m working on a fun way to get the info on these new applications in the next Blandin eNews.)

MN Council on NonprofitsI love this conference. It’s a great place to see a lot of people I have met online over the year or people who are primarily online buddies. The notion of the online social networks was a big theme this year.

MCN awarded the first annual .Org awards:

Rainbow Rumpus for Awesome Audience Awareness
Twin Cities Media Alliance’s Twin Cities Daily Planet for Journalism 2.0
Minnesota Historical Society’s Greatest Generation Project for Storytelling for the Ages
The Cedar Cultural Center for Community Convergence

Six Honorable Mentions
Textile Center
Youth Express

Minnesota Film and TV Board
Renewing the Countryside
PACER Center

It was noted that a common these on the sites was the ability to appeal to the target audience and create a community for/of that audience. Some were technically advanced and others were clever in their use of less technical resources.

One of my favorite moments in the conference was a conversation I had with Jeremy Iggers from TC Daily Planet, Mike Wassenaar from SPNN, Mary Treacy from MN COGI, and Rick Birmingham from MAP. We were talking about the need for public spaces online. That although Mike represented cable TV, Jeremy online newspapers, Mary online government, and Rick nonprofits – the goal was the same to give voice to the citizens. I feel like the tools are out there to do it – both “traditional” tools such as web sites but also new tools such as Twitter. The barrier to entry is getting lower but the requirement is the access to technology and the know-how to use it.