CTCNet, the Community Technology Movement, and the Prospects for Democracy in America

CTCNet, the Community Technology Movement, and the Prospects for Democracy in America

Peter Miller
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-69-8.ch009
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In a large, airy room there is a crowd of young people and adults all working at computers. In one group students are having their first experience using a spreadsheet on an IBM PS/1. At the same time, in another corner, a senior adult is teaching herself to use a database on an IBM PC. A young man is updating the church’s membership files and printing mailing labels. A young woman is at the Macintosh working on a desktop publishing project, and two teenagers are in another corner debating how best to make the Logo Turtle do what they want it to do. Others are casually ‘messing about’ with simulations. They are all using these technologies to achieve their own personal goals and objectives.1 This description of an open public access session at the Playing to Win (PTW) Harlem Community Computing Center in the late 1980s contains a vision that extends far beyond technology access and education in a single storefront setting—for PTW was one of the country’s earliest examples of a technology education and access program established in a non-school community center, specifically for people of low-income and low literacy. It gave birth to what has become the Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet), a nationwide support project and membership association of more than 300 community organizations establishing similar technology education and access programs for disenfranchised communities or some special subset of its members. And PTW did this by embodying and making explicit a vision of democratic education around technology that is transformative and liberating for individuals, organizations, communities, and society at its best, one that is applicable to the community technology movement in general and to the wider and broader struggle for democracy and social change.

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