Online Strengthens the Real World

Thanks to a post from the Western Telecom Alliance, I noticed a little heralded report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the value of broadband Internet for rural America.

At this point, I have only scanned through the report, but the one section I did read pointed to how broadband can strengthen community ties, whether the community is in an urban, suburban or rural locale. Instead of isolating people in virtual worlds like some fear, social communities built around a local geography can augment and face-to-face interactions. I have seen the positive effects of broadband enabled social networks in my own neighborhood, as our community online site has brought the neighborhood together in ways that paper flyers and occasional meetings never could.

In this overscheduled world, where home is often a place for sleeping, the online local community is a way for neighbors to meet and learn more about their neighbors. Through videos, images and blogs, we have a stronger community where crime is collectively fought, picnics are organized and local events are publicized. We are currently working to connect the disparate local online school communities with our neighborhood association to build an even better place to live. Where it goes, who knows, but broadband has definitely been key to curbing what could have been a slow crime-induced decline in our real world neighborhood.

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