Case Studies

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510pen is an East Bay mesh networking project spawned in 2009 by Mark Burdett and Graham Freeman.

Digital Inclusion: Working Both Sides of the Equation (2010)

Digital Inclusion: Working Both Sides of the Equation was an action research project carried out in a largely immigrant and working class neighborhood of East Oakland, California, in 2008 and 2009, in a partnership between the San Francisco Bay media advocacy organization, Media Alliance, and Dorothy Kidd, a researcher from the Department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco. The larger social problem which this project addressed was the continuing deep-seated exclusion of poorer and working class urban neighborhoods, and especially of African American, Spanish speaking and immigrant communities from full participation in the emerging digital broadband communications system (Kolko, 2007); and therefore from full participation in the production and reception of communications necessary for a democratic public sphere. More specifically, the project was designed to address the gap in previous citizen-based efforts at digital inclusion, between technical questions of infrastructure (broadband pipelines, and computer hardware/software); media justice organizations working to increase media content production from under-represented publics; and media reformers acting to change national information and communication technology (ICT) policy. The premise of the project was that “digital inclusion” could be enhanced by synergizing these three different sectors of activism – digital media content addressing issues of social justice; information and communications (ICT) design and infrastructure; and communications policy reform.

Three interconnected sets of activities were designed to carry out these goals:

1. Raising our Voices III (ROV 3): Immigrant Women Speak Out!, a free media training workshop focused on media training for community leaders of organizations, which already constitute important counter public-spheres, and the production of media content relating to issues of immigration, poverty, gender, labor and social justice;

2. Planning a community-generated and managed media hub (network) that included the creation of a community multi-media lab and the accompanying broadband wireless build-out. This phase also included the development of a grassroots network of media justice advocates;

3. Incorporating local knowledge and planning expertise from community cultural workers, grassroots social justice organizers, and media policy activists into ongoing discussions about communications policy and political strategy about media (in)justice and the democratization of broadband communications.


Exelsior, San Francisco

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