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May 29, 2008

eState Panel Discussion

More from the symposium, where I'm live blogging today.

Just finished the panel discussion. A summary:

• Michael Wood-Lewis talked about Front Porch Forum. It's essentially a free, neighborhood-based email newsletter service available in Chittenden County.

Take away: FPF enables social strangers who live next to each other to become neighbors.

• Deb Lisi-Baker from the Vermont Center for Independent Living spoke about inclusive website design. Take aways:

"With some people with disabilities, technology makes some communication possible... when technology does not get in the way."

16-20% of Vermonters have disabilities that affect their lives.

"Inclusive design benefits everyone."

• Dov Stucker from Edmunds Middle School and Ken Reissig from Champlain College talked about "Technology as a Bridge," creating partnerships between local schools, colleges and communities.

Take away: What defines successful partnerships? "It's not just access to the technology. It's the one on one relationship as well."

• Greg Whitchurch, of the Middlesex Town Meeting Solutions Committee. The group formed in response to a movement to eliminate town meeting. They made it possible for people unable to attend town meeting to participate via video conferencing. They bought 3 $40 webcams, and provided a video stream from the meeting.

Take away: They don't want everyone to be able to skip Town Meeting. "We don't want people to sit at home and swig beer in the underwear and participate in Town Meeting," he says. "We're looking for a way to restrict the technology."

All of the questions were for Michael — there weren't many. Not much time for discussion after everyone presented their work.

Now I'm going to scarf down my pulled pork sandwich.

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