Afloat in the Wireless Pond: Minnesotans: Reflect on Living in Digital Days

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Minnesotans celebrate the Sesquicentennial of statehood live in a world fundamentally different from the early days of statehood in the 1850’s. No change is more dramatic than the revolution in information and telecommunications technology.

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That digital revolution expands access to the records of Minnesota’s history at the same time it presents unprecedented challenges to those responsible for assuring transparency in government and an informed populace. Henry David Thoreau might have observed that Minnesotans are “afloat in the wireless pond.” He might also have advised taking time to stop and reflect on the meaning of it all.

Supported by the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission, Minnesotans will have just such an opportunity on Saturday, March 1, 2008. One of the Sesquicentennial’s early events is a day-long conference aptly entitled “Afloat in the Wireless Pond”, described by planners as a chance to “celebrate by joining other Minnesotans to think about the changes the Internet is making in our lives and in the ways we explore the past, preserve the record of our own times, and shape public policies that enforce the people’s right to know, now and for the future.”

Sponsors of the day are the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information and the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum.

Laura Waterman Wittstock, member of the MnCOGI Board, will introduce the American Indian legend of the seven generations that live in each person. Kenneth Brusic, editor of the Orange County (CA) Register, keynotes the day from the perspective of a journalist coping with shifting roles and the impact of the Internet. A panel of reactors will reflect on the impact of the Internet from their individual perspectives and roles as writers, scholars, journalists.

The afternoon will include a series of presentations on innovative applications of the Internet to expand access of the stories of Minnesota and enhance civic participation. Jane Leonard, Executive Director of the Sesquicentennial Commission, will host these presentations and discussion.

The day will also include exhibits and demonstrations of Minnesota-based initiatives involving the Internet as a tool for learning, participation and understanding of the state’s history and unique character.

“Afloat in the Wireless Pond” is 9:00-4:00 on Saturday, March 1, 2008, at Luther Seminary, Como and Hendon in St. Paul. Cost of $20, payable at the door, covers lunch and materials. Space is limited; reservations strongly advised at mncogi@gmail.com.

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