Jon Schull's Weblog

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Making The Web Relevant for Underserved Americans: What They Look For

In March 2000, The Childrenís Partnership released the firstever
comprehensive analysis of available online content. The
Audit was designed to determine how well existing online content
addressed the needs of low-income and underserved Americans.
Nine months of original research included discussion
groups with more than 100 low-income Internet users, interviews
with nearly 100 community technology leaders and other
experts, analysis of 1,000 Web sites, and a review of the literature
and promising activities across the country. The findings, which
provide a benchmark in this emerging field, documented a severe
shortage of the kind of information most often sought out by
underserved communities across America.We also found that
where relevant content did exist, it was extremely difficult to find
and was rarely presented in formats that individuals with limited-
literacy or limited English-language skills needed.
Online Content for Low-Income and Underserved Americans, The
Digital Divideís New Frontier: A Strategic Audit of Activities and
Opportunities, ).

As part of The Childrenís Partnershipís commitment to
address the online content gap ñ especially as it affects youth
opportunity ñ we have continued to monitor the need for, and
availability of, content for underserved communities. This
Issue Brief:

. Analyzes relevant shifts in Internet access, use, and

. Provides an updated snapshot of online content.

 Identifies key changes in the availability of relevant content
since our last report.

 Introduces The Childrenís Partnershipís response to the
content gap ó The Community Contentbank, a set of
Web-based resources and tools to assist staff working
with underserved communities to use and create relevant
online content.  see 

comments? [] 11:54:05 PM    

Inside the Digital Divide: Connecting Youth to Opportunities in the New Economy

Inside the Digital Divide: Connecting Youth to Opportunities in the New Economy
Bob Pearlman , Former President, Autodesk Foundation

A new study by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, however, finds that technology access is still a serious issue and a necessary precondition to solving the Digital Divide. But the study, the "2002 Workforce Study: Connecting Today's Youth with Tomorrow's Technology Careers," doesn't stop there. The Digital Divide in the Silicon Valley, the study finds, incorporates four components: a workforce gap, an educational achievement gap, an interest gap, and a technology skill and access gap. A significant finding is that providing technology equipment to the disenfranchised is not a comprehensive answer; rather, social networks that link our young people and citizens to the people, businesses, and institutions of the new economy must be expanded.
For the 2002 Workforce Study, A.T. Kearney developed a unique, innovative framework, the "Stages of Individual Technology Acclimation," that begins with access and then tracks how an individual uses technology, develops awareness of technology careers, acquires skills, and interest which leads to employment. The stages of individual technology acclimation are: Access, Content, Usage, Awareness, Preparedness, Interest, and Employment. "The Digital Divide is not just about access to technology," says Robert Caret, President, San Jose State University, and a Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network board member. "It's about access to education and careers."

... a major new finding: high levels of technology access do not translate into high awareness of, or motivation, to pursue technology careers.
But the most significant finding in the study is that a student's social network can have a significant impact on his/her career choice. Students whose parents are both in high-tech careers are more likely to be interested in technology careers themselves. In addition, 83 percent of students rely on personal connections for career-related information and guidance.

Role of Social Networks

The standard recipe for student success has been to provide students with a traditional K-12 and college program, with its heavy emphasis on rote learning and academic papers. Others believe that such education needs to be enhanced by skills, including hard skills like technology and soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and work ethics.

But the new report from Silicon Valley suggests that even this better recipe lacks a crucial ingredient: social networks.

Even though social networks are not part of the standard recipe for student success, it should come as no surprise. Isn't it through social networks that adults both learn and connect to education and career opportunities?

"Social networks that can bridge across geography, race and class are key to success in the new economy," says Professor Manuel Pastor, Jr., University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied social networks in Los Angeles among Latinos. 'Hard' skills are essential, but it's the connections and mentoring that provide information about what skills are necessary and a vision of how acquiring them can lead to new opportunities for all our residents".
Minority students in a Boston regional desegregation program "noticed that white high school students got interesting summer jobs through their parents' friends, and that those experiences helped on college applications. "Networking is white people's affirmative action"," concluded one of the graduates [vi]

The need for education to be enhanced by social networks is a given in the new field of "Behavioral Economics" [vii] , where success is linked to factors greater than monetary incentives, including the role of identity and cooperation, both of which depend upon social networks. Kids need to be linked humanly to the real world of adults in the workplace, in schools and colleges, and in the community.

Research on "informal learning" in high-performing workplaces also has significant implications for youth development. A landmark 1998 study, led by Monika Aring at the Education Development Center, showed that people learn 70% of what they know about their jobs informally, through projects, meetings, and networking. Real learning, the study finds, is both social and situated. [viii]

A traditional education is not enough. Students lack motivation for learning and also lack the human relationships to connect them to internship, college, and career learning opportunities. The recipe for student success needs a new ingredient, social networks, or expanding a student's adult connections. The new recipe should read:

Education + Skills (Hard + Soft) + Social Networks => Student Success

Enhancing a Student's Social Network

So how do you enhance social networks for all students, particularly those from disadvantaged communities? Obviously you are not going to change a student's parents or relatives or community, but you can give them schools, and programs, that link them to caring adults in the new economy.


The best youth programs today connect students with caring adults. Intel's Computer Clubhouses (, based on a design developed by the Boston Museum of Science, provides middle school students with a technology-rich after-school "workplace" and provides each student with an adult mentor.

Including internship or mentor experiences is also a key feature of many successful Community Technology Center programs (see programs for both youth and working adult programs. Year Up ( is a one-year, intensive training program that provides urban, young adults 18-23, with a unique combination of technical and professional skills and a paid corporate internship. Technology Goes Home, sponsored by the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation ( and the City of Boston, joins young people and their parents in a ten-week training program leading to a computer and internet access in their home.

Bridging the Digital Divide

The widening gap in both dial-up and broadband access, here and abroad, must be addressed. Investment is needed from both government and public-private partnerships to bring to scale programs of digital opportunity. But more than access and awareness is needed to bridge the Digital Divide in both the high-access Silicon Valley and in communities around the globe and to end what Colin Powell calls "Digital Apartheid".

Few students today, either in the Silicon Valley or elsewhere, have the kind of learning opportunities that Stephanie, Aiyahnna, and Oscar have. Fortunately, with the publication of this new study, some Silicon Valley leaders now understand this need and are calling for scaling up those programs that enhance social networks. "The 2002 Workforce Study emphasizes that a cooperative regional effort is needed to expand the social networks that connect young people with the Silicon Valley jobs of tomorrow," said Rebecca Guerra, Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources at Riverstone Networks and a member of the Joint Venture Board of Directors. "We must ensure that young people of all backgrounds have access to accurate, reliable information on high-tech careers and have relationships with role models and other adults who can provide valuable career-related guidance."

Praveen Madan, principal at A.T. Kearney's Silicon Valley office and leader of the 2002 Workforce Study, calls for regional action: "We need to increase students' affinity for high-tech careers in order to both prevent future workforce shortages in the Valley and prepare today's youth to be full participants in the region's economic future. Simply providing access to technology - something 99 percent of the students' surveyed already say they have -- is clearly not enough. Businesses, civic leaders and educators must work to increase students' exposure to and understanding of technology professions."

Madan's counsel for regional human and economic development speaks not only to the Silicon Valley, but to all emerging technology regions in the U.S. and around the world. It also speaks to more than the technology field. To engage the next generation of citizens and workers, businesses, civic leaders and educators need to increase students' social networks to the workplace and the larger community.

Further information about the 2002 Workforce Study can be found at A PDF of the study can be downloaded at

Bob Pearlman is a strategy consultant for education reform. He is the former Director of Education and Workforce Development at Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the former President of the Autodesk Foundation. He can be reached at and This article may be reprinted in the publications of non-profit organizations with the permission of the author.

comments? [] 6:38:08 PM    


Digital Divide Network


After years of waiting for the phone company (Verizon) to offer high-speed Internet service, the local government of Cumberland, Maryland is ready to take matters into its own hands. Cumberland, population 21,000, is facing a quandary familiar to much of rural America: the cost of upgrading the telephone system's wires to offer high-speed data service (DSL) is prohibitively expensive. As a result, phone companies prefer to invest where the population density guarantees a return on their upgrade investment. As a result, many local governments are making the leap into providing DSL services for their communities, in essence, going into competition with the phone companies. Small cities and towns who have rolled out their own broadband systems are finding themselves in legal battles with telecommunications companies. Jim Baller, a Washington-based lawyer who represents the American Public Power Association, an alliance of more than 2,000 community-owned utilities, sides with the local government broadband initiatives. Says Baller, "If local governments are not free to fill some of these gaps, what we'll see happening is what happened in the electric power industry." Electrification, he said, took government initiative in the most rural areas.

Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002
Author: Peter Wayner
Web site:

Issues: Accessibility issues, Rural issues, Governmental activities, North America

comments? [] 5:56:08 PM    

Mapping the mapping of meme-diffusion in blogspace

Voidstar writes about the spread of Blog-Neighborhood mapping memes through blogspace, to which I would say (again*): "pictures! we need pictures!"
There's a curious thing happening in BlogSpace this week [well, its been cooking on longer than a week.]. We've got Blogdex tracking links between blogs; Google tracking related websites. Then there's the whole Radio Userland blog community generating lots of metadata around and the Radio Community Server. Some of this is open to all, while some of it is extracted from Radio users only. In particular they track all the RSS news headline channels that are read by Radio users. The next piece is the habit Bloggers have of building a "blogroll" of blogs they frequently read and posting it on the site as a set of links, often with links to the related RSS. And then there's people trawling their referer files and turning it into pages of backlinks.

Then something happened on May 30. Matt Griffith
posted a suggestion about putting a link to the RSS for a page into the html of the page. Mark Pilgrim picked up on it and started evangelizing it. Within hours, people throughout the Blog community started implementing it. This leapt up the Blogdex and Daypop charts and spread like wildfire as people built support into all the major Blog CMS. Within a day people had started creating bookmarklets and other tools to take advantage of the new data.

Then one more latent meme got tossed into the mix to do with trying to find ways of navigating through the vast number of blogs. If we start mining all this data, maybe we can start at a weblog and explore it's neighbourhood in blogspace; all the blogs and sites that are "close" to this one. And so some new services were born. eg

  • Radio Neighbourhood and an example.
  • A Blogdex neighbourhood and an example
  • * 5/30/02:   Udell Blogroll exploration

    I adapted Jon Udell's Blogroll data and program to whack out a similarity matrix that could be analyzed by a social network analysis program called ucinet. 

    Some pictures and a 3D animation are here 


    comments? [] 2:54:12 PM    

    NPR will learn, now what about the critics?

    A little constructive criticism of the critics.

    NPR will learn, now what about the critics?  I don't really understand the vituperativeness of the NPR controversy. 

    Public Broadcasting (NPR, PBS) in America is a national treasure--quality, taste, and humor and an important working business model for an indispensable information service that is free, open,  and publicly funded.  We would all be well-advised to help Public Broadcasting learn to feel, and be, at home in what will soon be their new medium.

    (For background, follow the following back to TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home, which seems to be tracking the story carefully.)

    Just One More About NPR And Deep Linking 

    "DAN GILLMOR: In your lively blog for the San Jose Mercury News, you wrote: 'I have appeared on NPR quite a few times in the past. I doubt I'll be appearing there much in the future.' You might rethink that. The people who set the NPR linking policy are not the grunts who produce and report the programs. If you're for unfettered linking, you might as well be for unfettered interviewing.

    JEFFREY DVORKIN, NPR OMBUDSMAN: While Dan G would be wrong to cut back on NPR interviews, his comments typify the reaction your network is stirring up among the clueful--vexation that will continue as long as you're not open to linking by "left-handed socialist diabetics." And notice? Dan uses a blog to help stay in touch with the needs and interests of his readers.

    Not every NPR listener is on the Net, and only a fraction keep blogs or otherwise publish on the Web, but I suspect that millions of NPR listeners are readers of small Web sites and heartily dislike your network's attempts to restrict linking. Why not do a Gillmor and use a blog to keep up with the pulse of the Net so you can avoid similar mistakes in the future?" [TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home]

    David makes an interesting suggestion that NPR start using blogs, which are built primarily on links, in order to better understand links (although I think individual blogs, rather than a top-level NPR blog, is a better idea). However, an organization that is this scared of incoming links is going to be even more terrified of outgoing links. Until they understand the fundamental principles of linking, NPR will never blog.

    comments? [] 1:30:07 PM    

    The Plan at PersonalTelco

    Personal Telco Project    The Plan

    A brief description of how PersonalTelco will conquer the world

    Phase 1.

    Get as many AccessPoints (they will not be inter-connected to start with) up as possible. Help people make sensible choices about hardware.

    Phase 2.

    Use those AccessPoints to to start building local communities (eg. sharing with neighbors who have convenient LineOfSight). Each community should be autonomous (this is key). Currently the plan is that each community will have an access point, a CaptivePortal (probably a *nix box) and an internet connection. In the longer term they will also have at least one wireless link to another local community.

    Phase 3.

    Start building wireless connections between communities. By this point we should have a better feel for what's feasible and what technology works well for us. Our original intent was to just let the network mesh however was convenient, further thinking has revealed that we're not too confident in this plan so we have started talking about setting up regional aggregation points with higher quality gear.

    -- AdamShand

    comments? [] 12:27:18 PM    

    Wireless telecoms: Four disruptive technologies

    Good June 20 Economist article about smart antennas, mesh networks, ad hoc architectures, and ultra-wideband transmission four "disruptive technologies that  promise to render not only the next wave of so-called 3G wireless networks irrelevant, but possibly even their 4G successors"

    comments? [] 12:14:08 PM    

    the Snoop protocol for your ad-hoc wireless networks...

    IBM developerWorks : Wireless : Wireless articles

    A Snoop for every node: Update the Snoop protocol for your ad-hoc wireless network

    Originally developed primarily for military use, ad-hoc networks are increasing in popularity, and will likely continue to stake a claim on the wireless frontier. As a result, it is important to understand the differences between ad-hoc networks and those that are grounded in wired infrastructure. In this article, Aashish Patil addresses the very important issue of TCP throughput on ad-hoc networks, suggesting a few simple revisions to the Snoop protocol that could make a difference in the overall performance of your ad-hoc wireless network

    Snoop's primary function is data sniffing. Upon receiving a data packet, the Snoop module examines the sequence number of the packet and determines that it fits one of three types. Depending on the type of packet received, Snoop will respond in one of three ways:

    • A new in-sequence packet: The packet is cached and sent up the stack, where other modules, such as the router module, may process it.
    • An old out-of-sequence packet: If the sequence number of a new packet is lower than that of the last ACK seen, the packet is out of sequence. The probable cause of an out-of-sequence packet is that the ACK was lost on the way from Snoop to the receiver. Never having received the ACK, the sender would attempt to retransmit the packet upon timeout. Knowing that the packet had indeed been received and an acknowledgment sent, Snoop drops the packet, sending it no further. This avoids unnecessary traffic on further links. Next, Snoop regenerates the original ACK and relays it to the sender. Upon receiving the ACK, the sender widens it transmission window. This scenario is depicted in Figure 1 below.
    • A new out-of-sequence packet: Every ACK includes a reference to the TCP packet number that the receiver -- and hence Snoop -- is expecting to receive. If the sequence number of a new packet is greater than the expected sequence number, the packet is out of sequence. If a packet arrives out of sequence it is cached and forwarded on.

    comments? [] 12:10:06 PM    

    Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2003 Jon Schull.
    Last update: 11/10/03; 6:34:54 PM.
    June 2002
    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    9 10 11 12 13 14 15
    16 17 18 19 20 21 22
    23 24 25 26 27 28 29
    May   Jul