Closing Session

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Patrick Finn
Frank Odasz
Jean Armor Polly

Jean Armor Polly
Jean Armor Polly is the author of "The Internet Kids Yellow Pages" and the original "Surfing the Internet". Her home page is available at

Polly's talk was titled "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road, Hello Information Superhighway: Net-mom Explains it All," an explanation of why kids should be using the Internet, and what parts they should be using.

What makes a good site?

She strongly recommends that parents and teachers use the net alongside their children. She demonstrated 10 good sites and 10 sites that didn't make it into her book. Links to the pages are available on her homepage.

Who builds/controls content? People with/without decency? Many sites are built by people with very good intentions, but on the other hand people are allowed to put whatever they want on their own web sites. Oftentimes it's difficult to determine what's educational and what's offensive -- it depends on the views of the user.

People can solicit ratings for themselves from existing ratings groups: W3, Information Highway Parental Empowerment Group, SafeSurf, McKinley/Magellan, Net-mom (her own rating), "Green Light" sites.

Sometimes people don't realize their audience is global. Sometimes they care, sometimes they don't, sometimes they're advancing their own agenda. The motives are unclear -- pay attention to the man behind the curtain!

Communications Decency Act: measures by contemporary community standards, and how do you measure that on a global level? There are many legal actions against the CDA in the works, and many groups lobbying against it.

Ways to control your view of content: SurfWatch, NetNanny, InterGo, Cybersitter, PEDINFO. Polly's paper on problems with stopwords is available on her homepage.

In her final thoughts, Polly quoted Jean Otto from the Rocky Mountain News: To let fear control our feature, is to destroy that future.

Frank Odasz
Frank Odasz is director of Big Sky Telegraph, an online educational community network in Montana.

Reflections on the past few days:

The purpose of life is to fulfill our greatest potential, to use the tools at our disposal to overcome the problems of life. We're returning to an agrarian, familial society where we're all working together. There is an incredible diversity of innovation in this technology that we need to take advantage of.

Visions are developmental, ideas change and grow -- this is how the process works for everyone, though we're coming from different places. Mistakes can be positive learning experiences and are worth funding.

Grand collaborations:

The Electronic Model Congress is a project at Big Sky, not well publicized but working so far on a grand scale. Reach for the Sky Project is another project at Big Sky. Both projects involve teachers learning how to use the Internet on a global scale, TEMC modeling electronic government and collaboration, Reach for the Sky having 20 teachers mentoring 80 in five states. Both involve people all over the world taking courses via the Internet and then implementing that knowledge locally.

Skills training progression:

Conceptual progression:

We're excited, we've seen what's out there, but we need a few people to help us along the way:


The children of the earth are the ones who will turn this thing around. Traditional power of governments and corporations is shifting to the bottom. We've got the power at the bottom, in the homes, people have the potential to prove how to best leverage this medium -- the citizens know best.

And Odasz reminded us that we need patience and perseverance, that others might follow.

Patrick Finn
Patrick Finn is co-founder and managing director for human and organizational development of La Plaza. He closed by thanking everyone for coming, for their contributions and their enthusiasm for the future of community networking.

He left us with a quote from a friend of his:

The whole world is my home, and also my family, and maybe these machines can help us with that.

Reported by Jennifer Stone