Kenan Jarboe on Thu, 3 Jun 1999 03:14:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Athena Alliance

Dear friends and colleagues:

I am contacting you to announce a new venture, the formation of the Athena
Alliance, and invite you to participate in an electronic discussion forum on
economic development in the information age.

The Athena Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to public education
and research about the promises and pitfalls of the global information economy
and the networked society. Our purpose is to bring together organizations and
individuals concerned with these issues in order to create a focused action
agenda to facilitate a positive response by individuals, communities and firms
to the challenges posed by the emerging information economy. A more detailed
explanation of the Athena Alliance can be found on our web site at

As our first major undertaking, we will be hosting a conference on information
technology, equality and the changing economic reality on November 10 in
Washington, D.C., co-sponsored with the Corporation for Enterprise Development
( and the Center for International Development and Conflict
Management at the University of Maryland ( The
conference ('New IT  New Equity  New Economy') will focus on the broad
issues concerning the inclusion of all persons in the information age,
including access to communications and information technologies (CIT) and the
changing nature of  work, skills and governance in the new economy.

The conference is motivated by our twofold concerns over the state of public
discussion on these issues:

1.      There is little discussion about what these changes mean for those at
the bottom end of the economy. When the conversation has turned to the question
of 'the digital divide,' the focus is generally on the narrow topics of the
problems of physical access to information technology or the need for increased
technical training. The deeper issues  such as the financial and psychological
barriers to access to information technology, the changing nature of work and
skills, the existing inequality of incomes and skills, the use of information
technology and the relevance of content, the questions of control (who sets the
standards and who this process leaves out), and the interconnect among the
various issues  are rarely discussed.

2.      The discussion do not seem to include a wide range of actors and
experts, such as those who work on poverty issues, local economic development
professionals and individuals from the communities-left-behind themselves.  We
seem to have a parallel digital divide, mirroring C.P. Snow's famous Two

To begin the process of overcoming this gap in our public discourse, the
conference will:

-       articulate the broad range of issues in order to move discussion
beyond the narrow discussions about access to the technology and training, and

-       begin the dialogue among various the stakeholders  intellectuals from
many disciplines, policy analysts and policy makers, business and labor
leaders, economic development practitioners representatives from the
communities-left-behind and the communities-at-risk, service providers, and

The conference will be structured around a series of workshops and small group
discussions focused on a sharply defined set of issues arising from the shift
from an industrial economy to an information age. The purpose is to maximize
mutual learning through the sharing of information, insight, perceptions and
solutions. The workshops will be asked to report back to the entire group in a
final plenary session about their discussion, particularly on potential tools
for confronting the problems. The Athena Alliance will organize follow on
meetings based on the outcomes of the workshops to continue the discussions and
research  and to inform policy makers and opinion leaders.

Further information on the conference will be posted on our web site as it
becomes available. Or you can contact me at the address, phone number or e-mail
given below.

As a lead up to the conference, I would like to invite you to participate in an
electronic forum on these issues, sponsored by CFED. This forum will address
the myriad of issues arising from the shift from an industrial economy to an
information age: Will the shift to networked centered and information-based
production systems allow communities-left-behind to rejoin the economic
mainstream?  Do these communities have information, intellectual and social
capital assets that can be utilized in this new economic environment? Can
information technology be used to leverage these assets? Or are we headed to a
permanent 'digital divide' with a new gap between the information haves and
the have-nots?

What impact will information technologies have on both the delivery of services
to these communities and on the very forms of governance in the communities and
the states and regions wherein they are located? As different types of
Internet-oriented standard setting regimes determine more and more the shape of
the environment for the production and delivery of goods and services in the
information age, what standards might benefit the communities-left-behind and
their service providers?

The issues raised in the electronic forum will be further discussed at the CFED
20th Anniversary conference on June 23-25 in Washington.

Instructions for joining the electronic forum, and about the CFED 20th
Anniversary conference, are listed below.

I hope you will join us in this new endeavor. Please feel free to forward this
message on to whomever you think might be interested.

Ken Jarboe

Signing on to the electronic forum:

1. Go to the CFED web site at

2. Click on "Chatrooms and Forums."

3. Click again on "Chatrooms and Forums" at the far right of the web page.

4. This will take you to the log on page.  A separate help window will open
automatically with instructions to guide you through the log on process.

5. After you have logged on, to enter this specific forum, click on "The
Challenge of the Global Information Age"  the 4th forum listed.


Kenan Patrick Jarboe, Ph.D.
Athena Alliance
711 10th Street, SE
Washington, DC  20003
(202) 547-7064

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