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The Digital Beat -- Features

The Digital Beat -- Features

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The Digital Beat is a free online news service of the Benton Foundation's Communications Policy & Practice program. Our aim is to equip you to be engaged in the public debate on the public interest in digital television and the Internet. We will chronicle the action at the Federal Communications Commission and in Congress, the efforts of public interest advocates, the work of nonprofit organizations and government agencies to create new public services, technology developments, and communications trends. Let us know how we can serve you better.

Contributors to The Digital Beat include the Media Access Project (MAP), the Center for Media Education (CME), and the Civil Rights Forum for Communications Policy.

When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Secrets:
The Debate Over Online Steganography
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, various news outlets have reported on the possibility that terrorists have used a technique known as steganography to hide secret messages in publicly available Internet documents -- including pornographic image files -- to covertly communicate with each other. Though there's little direct evidence to support this at the moment, the speculation has raised the profile of steganography -- and raised weary eyebrows among policymakers and civil libertarians as they debate privacy rights in cyberspace. Peer to Peer Opportunities:
Keeping an Open Mind on File-Sharing Networks
In the face of industry copyright infringement claims and congressional interest in protecting children from pornography, the public interest uses of peer-to-peer networking may be lost before they are fully realized. Native Networking Trends:
Wireless Broadband Networks

The High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network, a collaboration between the University of California San Diego and the Southern California Tribal Chairman Association, has taken incremental steps toward proving the viability of broadband wireless technologies as a solution to the networking needs of Indian Country. Reflections on the Rise and Possible Fall of the Federal Community Technology Centers Program
Norris Dickard, former coordinator of the Department of Education's Community Technology Centers program, looks back at the history of the initiative and the challenges that are currently threatening it. A Closer Look at Phoenix's Neighborhood Networks Centers:
Myths, Realities and Digital Opportunities

In 1995, HUD created Neighborhood Networks as community-based initiative employing private/public partnerships to develop community technology centers for low- and moderate-income residents living in HUD multi-family housing. In this article, Kade Twist explores the successes and challenges of three Neighborhood Networks centers in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Internet Top-Level Domains:
Seizing Opportunities for Nonprofits

Top-Level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .edu, .net and .us, are very important means for presenting, organizing and finding content on the Internet. TLDs have become increasingly scarce resources as more and more organizations, companies and individuals are seeking a presence on the Internet. This article explores recent developments in the creation, administration and management of these top-level domains. An Inside Look at the New Digital Divide Database
In March 2001, the Benton Foundation's Digital Divide Network and a coalition of national organizations launched a groundbreaking online resource, the Digital Divide Database. This database allows uses to track down the locations of over 20,000 organizations that provide free or low-cost Internet access and training opportunities. This article describes the development of the database and includes instructions for organizations wishing to add or edit their own data listings. "Is Low Power FM Finally finding its Voice?"
In December 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that Mountain Empire Community Broadcasting Inc., along with 255 other local organizations, municipalities, churches and schools, had qualified for licenses to operate low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations. These 100-watt stations will begin airing broadcasts over the next 18 months. "No Child Left Behind" and the Bottom Line: The Case of Edtech Policy
President Bush has proposed in his education manifesto, "No Child Left Behind," to consolidate existing educational technology programs, reduce paperwork and direct more funding to the classroom. Sounds good, right? But what's the rest of the story -- what's the bottom line? Computers For Youth: Why It Makes Sense to Focus Digital Divide Efforts On The Home
Through the experiences and lessons learned by New York City-based Computers for Youth, Ms. Elisabeth Stock shares her insight into the educational and social worth of digital divide efforts that place computers in the home. Toward Digital Inclusion... Why Not Broadband?
This article is the second in a three-part series looking at the significance and implications of the latest figures on Internet use and computer ownership from the Department of Commerce's Falling Through the Net report. Toward Digital Inclusion... a First Look
This article is the first in a three-part series looking at the significance and implications of the latest figures on Internet use and computer ownership from the Department of Commerce's Falling Through the Net report. Building Online Communities: Transforming Assumptions Into Success
Outlines four common assumptions that nonprofits make when building online communities. Politics and the Digital Divide, Part 2:
Governor Bush, The Republicans and the "Digital Opportunity"

This article, the last in our Presidential Candidates & Communications Policy series, looks at Texas Governor George Bush's take on the technology gap and the New Economy. The DOT Campaign: Making ".us" work for all of US
The Benton Foundation and the Media Access Project recently filed comments with the NTIA concerning the management and administration of the .us domain space. This article provides background on the significance of this proceeding and the .us domain space. Gore and Bush Respond to Media Violence
Both major party candidates for president are strongly critical of the entertainment industry for peddling violence to children, but neither are entirely clear about the role of government in curbing the problem. Searching for the Difference - Gore v. Bush on High Tech Policy
How the candidates compare on high technology, Internet policy and e-commerce issues. Politics and the Digital Divide, Part 1 Vice President Gore and the Democrats
As the 2000 presidential election shapes up, Vice President Gore continues an educational focus to bridging the digital divide. Education Technology and the Presidential Race, Part 1:
George W. Bush's Edtech Proposals

(vol. 2, no. 33 9/5/2000)
Part 2: Al Gore's Edtech Proposals
How the candidates differ on edtech policy. Dishing Up The Public Interest Programming: Noncommercial Networks on DBS (8/29/00)
Would you expect to turn on your television and see a documentary on refugees from war-torn Liberia E-commerce and Fair Information Practices for Nonprofit Organizations
(vol. 2, no. 32 8/15/2000)
Privacy, regulation and collecting personal information online. Content and the Digital Divide: What Do People Want?
(vol. 2, no. 31 8/8/2000)
"There's been so much focus on the boxes and wires to connect to the Internet that we almost forgot to ask what people are getting once they connect," says Wendy Lazarus, founder of The Children's Partnership. WISH TV: A Wish Come True for Schools and Students? (8/1/00)
On July 18, the U.S. Congress played host to an announcement of a new educational Internet service that pledges to help bridge the digital divide. Who's Got the Power?: Challenges to Low-Power Radio (7/18/00) In the face of fierce opposition from power opponents, what are low-power supporters to do? E-Rate Activities in the Beltway (7/6/00)
An E-rate update. Connecting Communities: Public Media in the Digital Age (6/27/00) Connecting Communities explores some of the most promising experiments in media partnerships taking place in communities across the country. Nonprofits and Electronic Commerce (6/20/00)
Do we know what e-commerce means for nonprofits? The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Bridging the Digital Divide (6/13/00)
Faith-based organizations are becoming increasingly active in efforts to bridge the digital divide. Commercialism in Schools: New Technologies, Old Debates (6/6/00)
The premiere of [email protected] , a free online service, renews the debate about education and commercialism. Democracy in the Digital Age(5/18/00)
This book aims to shed light on a phenomenon that is misunderstood and exaggerated in the mass media, the relationship between a robust public sphere and emerging information and communications technologies. Nothing is What it Seems in Indian Country:
The New Lifeline Proposal for Tribal Lands

(vol. 2, no. 30 5/11/2000)
A solution to the problem of low telephone penetration rates in Indian Country may be beyond the scope of the new FCC Lifeline proposal. Tuning in Digital Audio Broadcasting (5/05/00)
While few people are aware that the transition to digital radio lurks just over the horizon, it could potentially impact the ability of new voices to get on the air. Four Directions to Making the Internet Indian (5/2/00)
One of the more significant efforts to emerge from the digital landscape of Indian Country has been the Four Directions project (4D), a collaborative initiative between Tribal Nations, federal government agencies, universities, academic organizations and private corporations. The Role of the Arts in Bridging the Digital Divide (4/28/2000)
The arts are uniquely positioned to help shape the dialogue about the digital divide and to create solutions for narrowing the technology gap. Opposition to AOL/Time Warner Merger Grows (4/26/00)
Public interest advocates try to block the mega-merger. Student Free Speech Rights on the Internet
and the Ghosts of Columbine

(vol. 2, no. 29 4/20/2000)
In the year since the Columbine massacre in Colorado, hundreds of schools have cracked down on how students use the Web to express themselves -- sometimes overlooking the First Amendment in the process. Arguing Over the Future of TV
(vol. 2, no. 28 4/13/2000)
Many groups have weighed in on the debate over the public interest obligations of digital broadcasters -- now it's your turn. The Library Connection @ Manassas Mall Program (4/6/00)
The first library of the Prince William Public Library System (VA) was created in 1952 in a small store in what is now Old Town Manassas. The latest branch in that system has returned to those mercantile roots, sitting in the middle of a shopping mall. What's Local About Local Broadcasting? -- Still Not Much (4/4/00)
According to Philip M. Napoli of Fordham University, only 0.3 percent of total commercial broadcast time was devoted to local public affairs programming during a typical two week period. Arizona "Ahead of Its Time" In Online Voting?
(vol. 2, no. 27 3/30/2000)
The use of communications tools, such as the Internet, for political purposes - what is called digital democracy - highlights the tensions in our society between exalted technology, today's marker of progress, and the unfinished business of social and political incorporation. The Arizona Democratic primary provides a backdrop for this debate. The Trib Eats the Times, But Who Cares? (3/28/00)
"So one newspaper buys another," the New York Times quoted high-tech pundit Esther Dyson saying. "So what?" AOL, Time Warner And The Open Access Landscape (3/21/00)
A major leap for open access occurred February 29, when America Online and Time Warner released a MOU pledging to offer equal access to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) over Time Warner's cable systems. The E-Rate in America -- Is it Working? (3/16/00)
"The E-Rate in America: A Tale of Four Cities" reviews the E-Rate funding process in four Midwestern school districts: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit,and Milwaukee. Conference Board Strategic Partnership Report (3/14/00)
According to the findings released in The Conference Board's latest research report, efforts in making universal connectivity a reality will "depend less on government than on private-sector marketing and outreach efforts." Access and Accessibility
(vol. 2, no. 26 3/10/2000)
The disabled, already underserved in many ways, are being kept from using potentially quality-of-life enhancing Web technologies. The steps needed to enable their use of these technologies are not onerous, but do take the continued participation of many groups on several levels. Television: Super Tuesday's Big Winner (3/7/00)
As we roll into the first national presidential primary, it is easy to foresee who the winner will be: television. Universal Service Update
(vol. 2, no. 25 2/29/2000)
With all the attention on the digital divide of late, we may be long sight of the 6.3+ million American households that are still not connected to the most basic of telecommunications services: plain old telephone. Despite claims that basic telephone service is already universal, millions of Americans still are not connected to a network envisioned to reach from every home to every other home. And looking at the diffusion of this technology may offer insight to how Internet access may be adopted by American households. Vodafone Wins Mannesmann (2/23/00)
Vodafone AirTouch's all-stock purchase of Mannesmann AG valued at $183-$190 billion. Speed Trap: Consumers and High-Speed Bandwidth (2/17/00)
As companies build-out the next wave of "last-mile" Internet infrastructure, the ability of users to be producers as well as consumers of information is being jeopardized. The 2001 Agenda (2/08/00)
In the wake of the State of the Union Address, a number of new initiatives to address the technology gap have recently been announced. Broadcasting And Equal Employment Opportunities (2/04/00)
Should the use of publicly-owned spectrum, licensed to broadcasters to serve the public interest, reflect the diversity of our communities? Community & Broadcasting
(vol. 2, no. 24 2/3/2000)
With America's long-standing commitment to localism in broadcasting, but, in some cases, non-existent service from broadcasters, the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on broadcasters' public internet obligations provides the public a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set rules that will ensure adequate coverage of issues important to communities. Low-Power Radio: Medium of the Masses (2/2/00)
"Every day it seems like we read about more and more consolidation in the broadcast area ...what low-power FM radio will do is create an important new outlet and spark a whole new outlet for creativity and new ideas and new music that we don't often hear on the radio," said FCC Chairman William Kennard. The Digital Divide: Evolving Awareness and Evolving Solutions
(vol. 2, no. 23 1/31/2000)
The new year allows for a revisiting of the term "digital divide" and the themes that have defined the popular name for the information technology gap. AOL Swallows Time Warner (1/25/00)
On January 10, America Online, the largest online and entertainment company -- with 22 million subscribers -- announced a "strategic merger of equals" with Time Warner, the media company with the largest revenues. Broadband and the AOL/Time Warner Merger (1/18/00)
The proposed merger of America Online, the number 1 Internet access provider with over 20 million subscribers, and Time Warner, considered one of the leading media companies, has raised the eyebrows of many public interest advocates. Independent Journalist Wrestle with the WTO (1/13/00)
The potential of non-traditional news sources to offer a diversity of timely, hard-hitting information perhaps reached a peak when the World Trade Organization (WTO) met in Seattle. Is There a Problem Here? 1/11/00
Recalling a social pledge of a prior era, Carolyn Lochhead outlines an argument against the role of government in bridging the technology gap. Deciding the Future of Television
(vol. 2, no. 22 1/6/2000)
The FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in mid-December opening an opportunity for the public to express its view of the public interest performance of television broadcasters and the public interest potential of digital broadcast technology being deployed around the nation. Although not a proposal for new rules, the NOI allows Americans to tell the FCC and television station owners what we think of our primary source of news, information and entertainment. FCC Begins Proceeding on Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV Broadcasters 1/4/00
"As we move into the 21st century television is undergoing a technological transformation. We must make sure that as television changes, broadcasters continue to serve the public in a variety of ways," FCC Chairman William Kennard. 1999 in Review
(vol. 1, no. 21 12/16/99)
As 1999 comes to a close, this Digital Beat reflects on four key stories from the past 12 months -- stories that will weigh heavily on discussions in not just the coming year, but for some time to come. 1999's first volume of The Digital Beat

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Last updated: 31 October 2001 awc