Communities, the Internet, Openness and Freedom

A presentation for the Voices of Community: Choir or Cacophony? symposium, Teachers As Scholars, by Neal McBurnett, 2002-03-08.

This presentation is available, with links to more info, via the Boulder Community Network at


Some notes on preserving the freedom and openness that nurture community and democracy. Not "choir", not "cacaphony", but somewhere in-between. The "growing edge" between order and chaos, unimpeeded by monopolies.

Boulder Community Network (BCN)

Big success getting community on-line very early on:

Now much easier to get inexpensive web space. BCN is now evolving to leaner operation focussed on indexing where to go for local information, helping educate non-profits and citizens, promoting the benefits of free software, and technical assistance for non-profits.

Other Virtual Communities

Benefits of Openness and Freedom

My lessons over the years: openness is the key to citizen involvement and associated community benefits. E.g. from this symposium:


The shift from openness to control

Abuse and commercialization of community

Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford, writes in "The Future of Ideas" about the importance of this openness in creating the Internet, the opportunities for greater openness and innovation, and the threats to the future from forces that want to assert control so they can hold on to their power.

For more relevant links, see my home page.
Last modified: Fri Mar 8 13:56:04 MST 2002

Copyright (c) 2002 Neal McBurnett. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation