Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Digital Divide Headlines

Both the Advertiser and the Advocate run digital divide stories this morning based on last night's council meeting. Both are worth reviewing.

The Advertiser runs its story pretty much as a straightforward report. The article, Citizens speak up on LUS plan, Many say digital divide needs to be considered now, sets up as clean summary of what happened in the order that things occured.

The Advocate's version of the tale
LUS seeking to close 'digital divide' works some parallel strands into the mix as well. Blanchard reports that LUS is setting up a team (my impression is that work has begun) headed by Walter Guillory, executive director of the parish housing authority. He also reports that the chamber is looking into the digital divide question this year. Menefee, spearheading the project, tells me the effort is already underway and that the chamber will be taking an "inventory" and publishing a report in the spring. I'm not sure just what that means but it should be interesting. There's more interesting detail and quotes in the story. Take a look.

A passing note: Both of these stories report an exchange between councilmen and Durel on the digital divide that focused on Durel advocating working parallel to the plan of the network rather than tightly integrating digital divide issues into the plan itself. The councilmen tended to be looking for tighter integration. To my way of thinking what is needed is both integration and parallellism with the committment (and the money) built into the business plan but with the details of the digital divide plan developing in parallel and continuing to develop even after the network is built. I'm not too sure the apparent opposition is very real.

But what caught my attention and apparently was missed by the room was that Durel touched off that part of the discussion by noting that rural digital divide issues couldn't really be addressed until the network was built because until then it couldn't be extended. That's uncontestably true. And nationally rural/urban differences in raw access is the dominant digital divide issue. But that's not germane to LUS' current plan at all. That little mumble about extensions that was ignored last night in favor of discussion about our current, more pressing, digital divide issues might well be the clearest public signal yet that the final hopes for our system might well be larger than LUS' current footprint.

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