Afloat on the wireless pond


As every compulsive planner knows, we have an extra day this year. How better to spend the day than in lively discussion and reflection on the impact of communications and information technology (read: the Internet) on Minnesotans and Minnesota government..

Though it’s not exactly Leap Day, the next day, Saturday, March 1, offers just such an opportunity. The theme of Saturday’s day-long conference, “Afloat in the wireless pond”, is a Waldenesque reference to the human need to ponder….The conference is one of the first events celebrating the Minnesota Sesquicentennial. Participants will “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 times, and shape public policies that enforce the people’s right to know.”

Laura Waterman Wittstock will set the tone with her retelling of the American Indian story of the “seven generations” that live in each of us. Kenneth Brusic, editor of the Orange County (CA) Register, keynotes the note with reflections on the challenges facing journalists and the free press.

The day include presentations on a wide variety of ways in which technology has the potential to expand access, interpret the public record, and enhance citizen participation. Presenters include Thomas Leighton, Mpls City Planning and manager of the West Broadway Alive project; Jim Ramstrom who combines history and geography in a digital presentation True North; Marian Rengel of the Minnesota Digital Library, History Day students who have delved into the digital archives, and geographer and retired librarian Carol Urness, co-author of Minnesota on the Map, soon to be published by the Minnesota Historical Society. Other presenters include Jane Leonard, Executive Director of the Sesquicentennial Commission, David Wiggins of the National Park Service, poet Morgan Grayce Willow and Peter Shea of Gustavus Adolphus College and host of the Bat of Minerva show on the Metro Cable Network.

The conference is 9:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m. at Luther Seminary, Como and Hendon in Saint Paul. Seating is limited – reservations recommended at Full details at A $20 fee covering lunch and materials is payable at the door.

The day is sponsored by the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum and the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.