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September 20, 2005

Google, Cerf, and OneCleveland

Two weeks ago (9/8/05), the big news in the technology world was that Sir Vinton Cerf was lured to help shape Google's vision of the future of the Internet as its Chief Evangelist.

Last week, Google confirmed the rumors that it was out to acquire a national footprint of dark fiber. Google is reviewing bids it solicited from tech vendors to build a national optical DWDM network capable of pushing massive amounts of voice, video and data very close to end users. Even more interesting is that the purported cost of this dynamic national fiber fabric is under $100 million (not including dark fiber) and can be launched within a matter of months. But the last-mile is, as always, the problem.

Today, Anne Estrada announced that Cerf had agreed to serve on First Mile US's Big Broadband Everywhere Board. According to Cerf's prepared comments, "I believe that the goals of FirstMile.US are exactly what our nation needs right now. FirstMile.US has the staff and the smarts to help bring the US back to a position of leadership by creating a grassroots coalition that focuses on creating demand for broadband -- especially symmetric, low-latency and high-performance big broadband. I look forward to helping grow FirstMile.US into a position of leadership."

Smile, OneCleveland and Northeast Ohio. We're on the First.Mile radar screen and helping the rest of the country imagine its future by seeing it happen right here in our own Digital City efforts. We've got a plan, we have lit our own dark fiber with the most advanced optical networking infrastructure in the land and we're working to deliver first mile (and last mile) connectivity both with our fiber partners as well as through innovative use of next generation wireless services.

In the end, after the excitement of all of the infrastructure, the world will be divided between those who have worked together to develop and deploy applications that change people's lives and those who have not accomplished that goal. Our strongest advantage in Cleveland and northeast Ohio is our strong content and applications based in health care, education, research, arts, culture, and a growing collaboration in government services.

To see some of the important policy implications for our region's public policy work in this area see the newly launched techfutures web and blog environment launched this week by Chris Varley and Nortech.

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Java Heaven and WiFi in University Circle

Where can you get a good cup of Java and Wi-Fi in University Circle?

Today the answer to the question grew to n+1. And, as always, with leadership from Case and transportation from OneCleveland, all of University Circle's Java WiFi hotspots are open and free to the public (and secured through VPN access for Case faculty, students, and staff).

Today, Sages Cafe opened in Crawford Hall proudly serving Peet's coffee. Sages Central is the first location in the State of Ohio to be serving Peet's coffee.


Of course there is WiFi access in the beautiful lounge area. Indeed, you can watch the lineups at Sages Cafe and even see if your favorite Barista is around to answer questions about Sages curriculum. Check out Sages Cafe for interactive video conferencing gear, evening interactive poetry slams and global Shakespeare readings (all coming soon).

The original, Java WiFi Mecca at Arabica on Juniper is still serving up the best Chai (IMHO) in University Circle and best open-mike and music scene. WiFi has been available at Arabica for two years and morning, noon, and night, customers have become come to expect open airwaves.


Less than a month ago, the most exquisite Starbucks cafe in Cleveland opened at the Village at 115th, serving up the Seattle Company’ blend of drinks, music, and snacks. At given time there are dozens of WiFi enabled laptop users collaborating, IMing, and surfing the web while enjoying a cup of Sumatra.


The Silver Spartan, one of America's first Wi-Fi-enabled 50s diners has been serving up coffee and good greasy-spoon eggs until all of hours of the night.


Severance Hall Case Faculty Club and Restaurant offers WiFi access for a cup of java, lunch buffet or evening dining pleasure (full bar service available in the evening).


Nord Hall has one of Einstein Bagels (coffee, low carb bagels and nasharai) WiFi hotspots.


The Biomedical Research Building Starbucks also has a very well used, iBook friendly :-) WiFi offering.


Not to be left off the list are a host of University Buildings including the Thwing Center, Wade and Fribley Commons, and other cafeterias. Send me pictures and I'm happy to add.

thwing int.jpg.

Life is good for Java WiFi lovers.

We've come along way here in our part of Cleveland's digital community. Enjoy.

Lev Gonick, Cleveland, September 20, 2005

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September 08, 2005

OneCleveland: A Model for the Future of Public Libraries

Library Journal has just published the following


By Sari Feldman & Lev Gonick — September 1, 2005

This ultrabroadband network could transform the library's educational role.

OneCleveland, an ultrabroadband technology network platform, is helping the residents in the greater Cleveland region believe that they can chart their own destiny. Connecting thousands of public sector and not-for-profit community assets in northeast Ohio—and with leadership from public libraries, schools, universities, museums, government agencies, and healthcare institutions—the goal of OneCleveland is nothing less than the reinvention of the region by contributing to an economically viable, educated, healthy, and forward-thinking community.

Challenges to text

We are in transition from the analog to the digital world. The emergence of the digital era has created excitement, but it has also created a need for new models of service and a new understanding of potential users. In the digital era, enabled by ultrabroadband networks like OneCleveland, image, moving image, sound, interactivity, mass distribution, and other advancements are readily available. If these new dynamic media are, in fact, emerging to challenge the primacy of plain text in our daily communications, we are witnessing the first true communications revolution in more than 5000 years.

The public library, like many other institutions, grew to address the analog era and is now being challenged. Are our institutions prepared to address the basic literacy needs of the 21st century, or will the traditional institutions surrender this role to completely commercial interests? It is not only the relevancy of our key public institutions that are at stake today. The very nature of what embodies the public good is at issue. Commercial forces strive to appropriate and help shape what constitutes the public good via new and converged communication media.

Citizens & netizens

The telephone took close to 75 years to reach 50 million users worldwide, and television took 13 years. It took the Internet only four years to reach the same plateau, and it is now in its 13th year of popular existence. The net's geometric growth surpasses one billion netizens—the critical mass of human identities shaped by interactions in online communities.

Network access has doubled since 1998, and more than half of America's inner cities and nearly 60 percent of all Americans are wired. More than half of our nation's libraries have broadband access, and over 98 percent have some form of Internet access. Adults are more likely to visit libraries for net access than to attend book and film discussions or other cultural or recreational events, making net access the leading program activity at public libraries.

Recent debate over the public library role in the information society has been limited, to a considerable degree, to the role of libraries in overcoming the digital divide. The underlying assumption is that the public library's raison d'être is to support access and to enable the public to connect. This line of economic reductionism argues that geographic regions and communities deprived of many economic and social basics are less likely to produce netizens. Public policy and some funding have followed to enable public libraries to remove geographic boundaries when designing online communities.

However, the most important predicator of netizenship is not economic development. Viewed from aggregated census data, economic development is actually a fairly weak determinant of access and connectivity. Nearly 35 percent more powerful a predictor of netizenship is education. Indeed, education is the strongest determinant of connectivity in America. More so than any demographic or social variable, cities and regions that invest more in education, and ultimately produce more college-educated residents, are the most likely to have connected citizens.

To be sure, public libraries still have an important role in providing network connectivity. But they must also design services for those with access and skills. Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL), Parma, OH, in collaboration with OneCleveland, is positioning the library community to address social inclusion not only through access but also through a deliberate internal reinvention. By intentionally connecting to academic and cultural institutions, it is possible to introduce a more formalized learning environment into the public library. This both increases the value for the community's most connected citizens and raises the competency levels and experiences of those with limited access.

Real education

CCPL is a suburban system that rings Cleveland, with an inner ring of older communities struggling to maintain a vibrant business area and an outer ring of suburban sprawl, new housing stock, and a more diversified business base. The library's 29 buildings serve approximately 630,000. Ours is one of the ten busiest public library systems in the country. In 2003, as we finalized our strategic plan for delivering services for the next three to five years, it seemed evident that our 47 suburban communities lacked a deep connection with the great cultural institutions of the city center, despite a long history of collaboration and partnership. Our libraries draw on speakers from such institutions as the Cleveland Museum of Art and Great Lakes Science Center and other teammates as well. But none of this programming truly represents a sustainable educational experience.

Enter the OneCleveland opportunity. Currently, if the library wants to share distance education with Cleveland State University, each transmittal must travel from Cleveland to Columbus and back, with the state of Ohio providing the switching mechanism between the academic and library networks. With the OneCleveland ring completed, information flows back and forth among OneCleveland subscribers at gigabit speed. The jerky, awkward look of distance education can be replaced by broadcast-quality, multiway communication.
Art into the classroom

One early application has been between the Cleveland Museum of Art and CCPL. Dwindling funds for suburban school district field trips make virtual field trips a positive alternative. With Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funding, the library is training docents to link storytelling to international exhibits. Together the library and museum are able to provide educator training to improve classroom content with museum collections and library resources. One of the most long-lasting benefits of this relationship is access to the digital library of the museum's art.

"Both museums and libraries are facing the challenge of bridging their resources and expanding their reach, while retaining their traditional high-touch values in an increasingly high-tech world," says Leonard Steinbach, the museum's CIO. "And all along, they must remember the community is at their core. The quality of high-definition video and sound teleconferencing over OneCleveland's ultrabroadband network will make the technology almost transparent as visitors, teachers, travelers, storytellers, and young poets make multisite programs, which embrace the high touch of 'being there,' their own."

A Healthier Cleveland

Cleveland Public Library (CPL) has had four years of collaboration with the MetroHealth System, the public hospital in the Greater Cleveland community. Soon after CPL launched its KnowItNow24x7, live web reference service, nurses on call began to answer health questions beyond the scope of the librarian's response in real-time, live chat. Today, KnowItNow24x7 is the statewide service. CCPL and the NOLA Regional Library joined CPL as managing partners. Tomorrow, using the OneCleveland network, there will be a system of public education programming that extends the reach of MetroHealth into community and neighborhood libraries, through interactive distance education and streaming video formats. "We can utilize community resources such as libraries, community centers, and churches to push important wellness information using more than just pure text," says Joan McFaul, director, IS infrastructure, MetroHealth. "We can augment text with audio/ video thereby capturing audiences that may not otherwise benefit from the information."
Challenges of the ring

The ideas for new community programs at our libraries are endless, but there are some hurdles to overcome. While downtown Cleveland is dense with fiber, and most buildings are easily connected to the ring, moving to the suburbs increases the "first mile" costs.

Right now, the capital cost has limited the library's ability to bring each of our buildings to the OneCleveland ring. So far, two libraries have been connected through the IMLS grant. Area cable companies and new wireless technologies may help to bridge the "first mile" challenge. Ultimately, the demand for ultrabroadband speeds, increased demand for devices, the expansion of wireless access, and network redundancy will make projects like OneCleveland a necessity regardless of the capital outlay.

In the digital world, instead of overbuilding fiber and other digital infrastructure (like electronics and technical support), our regional library system can serve as a community hub to schools, community centers, legal clinics, healthcare facilities, churches, and other assets that can work together to connect via their libraries to the OneCleveland footprint. Connecting to OneCleveland, using the technological architecture, will allow all of these community resources to collaborate with one another and build their own never-before-seen solutions to community needs. These same dynamics will lead others to use our libraries as centers for education, communication, neighborhood archives, and countless other services.

Author Information

Sari Feldman is Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH, and Lev Gonick is VP, Information Services & CIO, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

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September 06, 2005

Case and Cleveland to Launch Institute for Digital Cities

OneCleveland has been part of the emergence of a series of thus far largely disconnected digital cities. Helping to frame replicable, scalable solutions for connecting cities around the world has already proven to be a highly desirable outcome. Sharing of experiences among emerging digital cities is another deliverable that has already attracted significant interest. In general, the emergence of digital cities around the world and the need to both provide context as well as multidisciplinary understanding has led Case to open a community-wide dialogue on the efficacy of launching an ambitious new public policy institute on the digital city. As proposed, the Institute will be a collaboration of the IdeaCenter and Case’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Weatherhead School of Management, and the Mandel School of Applied Social Science with support from the Division of Information Technology Services. The original framing questions for the Institute including 10 key issues for the future of the Digital City.

• Civic Life and New Democracy
• Commercial Activity and Entrepreneurship
• Collaboration and Community Building
• Citizenship and Human Capacity Building
• Communication and Human Interaction
• Culture and Art
• Community Health Care
• Convenience and Personalization
• Content and Control
• Compelling Application Development

The Institute partners have outlined an ambitious public policy research agenda to focus its activities. The segments under active review, including the development of virtual working research teams, and adjunct fellows program include:

• Re-Inventing the Urban Experience
• Healthcare Research and Delivery
• K-12 Education
• Disaster Planning
• Transportation
• Housing and Urban Planning
• Culture and the Arts
• Advanced Research and Commercialization
• Life on the Fringe: Counter Culture in the Digital City
• Tourism and Hospitality
• Sports and Recreation
• Wired and Wireless Infrastructure
• Digital Divide and Community Access
• Homeland Security grids
• Biomedical grids and Community Health

Finally, the Institute for Digital Cities will deliver a series of important deliverables underwritten by corporate sponsorship, grants and philanthropic donations.

• International Clearinghouse on effective practices in the digital city
• Research Network on Applications in digital cities
• Faculty/Senior Scholars Seminar
• Doctoral Seminar
• Lectures and Seminar Series
• Briefs and Working Papers
• Public policy work and legislative efforts
• Profiles of digital city heroes
• Small Grants Program
• Monthly webcast and satellite broadcast
• Facilitation services to align technology interests in the digital city with receptors in digital cities around the world
• Symposia of decision makers
• Bi-annual International Digital Cities Conference

Next Steps

It is our hope and expectation that the Institute for Digital Cities will be part of Case's forthcoming downtown move. We very much hope the Institute will have a "space" in the vibrant downtown technology corridor.

We are actively solicting and looking to recruit a founding director of the Institute. This recruitment will attract world class leadership to Case and to Cleveland.

For more information, feedback, and inquiries, as always, feel free to contact me at lev.gonick@case.edu

Lev Gonick, Cleveland, OH September 6, 2005

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September 05, 2005

Electronic Entertainment and Media Center and High School in Downtown Cleveland

A couple of weeks ago, City of Cleveland’s tech czar , Michael Dealoia showed a group of gamer enthusiasts, academics, and entrepreneurs one of Cleveland’s many empty downtown buildings. He opened the tour with a vision of the building being turned into a gaming Mecca in downtown Cleveland supporting both a state-of-the-art 9,000 sq foot massive multi-player immersive and virtual reality gaming center along with another 10,000 sq feet for gaming software development and engineering companies and another 8,000 sq feet for a studio. The conversation continued after the tour and was enhanced by some super hot wings at Winking Lizard and drinks (soft drinks that is…).

If money was no object (which of course is a false premise) what could be done in downtown Cleveland to support a “break out” strategy to enhance Michael’s goal of an “edgier” more “hip” scene both for playing and working in downtown Cleveland.

First off, it comes as little surprise to learn that gaming is hot. Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art are collaborating on a gaming center in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science program at Case (with support from the Case School of Medicine). The courses are all sold out with long waiting lists of students. Mark Buchner , director of the center is optimistic that the center’s activities will become pervasive not only in the EECS curriculum but elsewhere across the University. Jurgen Faust, Dean of CIA’s TIME program reports that the digital media arts program at CIA is now the largest academic offering at CIA.

Gaming is also big business. Annual revenue of the multi-billion industry now exceeds the annual box office take of Hollywood. Among certain demographics, gaming now exceeds the combined time that young people spend in front of other screens, like movies, television and “traditional” internet activity (email, web surfing and IM).

So, is there an angle that makes sense here in Cleveland? Absolutely. I think Michael’s vision is fabulous. The work/play double play is an important and necessary condition. Creating a watering hole where gamer developers can both code as well as invite other to join them for city-wide, regional, national and international gaming competitions is terrific. There will absolutely be an “X” games version for massive player and virtual reality gaming. We just need a good television producer to take the ideas and pitch them to the right executive. But, I think we may need to stretch for the rare triple play of work/play/study if we’re going to get both the necessary and sufficient conditions met. The reason for the addition of an education component comes from both design as well as economic considerations. First, here’s an idea for consideration.

Although I am speaking out of turn, I think Jurgen Faust might consider approaching his colleagues at the Cleveland Institute of Art and propose a magnet high school for digital media arts and entertainment. Case Western Reserve University could be a junior partner, along with dozens of other community assets. Moreover, I think the angle should be on gaming development for cultural communities. There is a huge and growing market for gaming software that has narratives and interactions that speak to the growing Latino market, to the African American community, and of course many other natural cultural communities. Given Cleveland’s ethnic diversity and our interest in developing a continued pipeline of international visitors/students/residents to reinvigorate our community, this may be a perfect fit. At the same time, traditional communities interested in the high school program should be encouraged not only to participate in cross-cultural curriculum but to also have an international experience built into their program of study.

The magnet school for digital media arts and entertainment is critical to the downtown project, because we need to find an anchor tenant and long term player to support the gaming effort. Graduates could find themselves at University Circle and/or in the gaming incubators and startups in the downtown facility. Graduates could also be mentoring and teaching juniors.

Another important dimension for the Electronic Entertainment and Media High School in downtown Cleveland is to identify new emerging collaborating partnerships. In Cleveland, the most obvious partners are in the music and publishing industries. Games blending music education for our major partner institutions like the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Music Settlement, the High School for the Arts, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and so forth are not only good for our marketplace but stand to be important partners in producing games for derivative and secondary markets. An early, and strong commitment to work with the K-20 text book market could also be an important strategy. The major imprints in the publishing industry from science and math to history and art history have no pipeline for educational gaming supplements to their traditional text books. There is huge pressure for this multi-billion dollar industry to adapt their traditional textbooks to meet the new education markets. Why not work on a critical mass of subject matter experts who are gamers (or gamers who become subject matter experts).

Documentary gaming, gaming for cultural communities, gaming for text books, gaming for music education, gaming for physical therapy, gaming for health education are but a handful of examples of gaming strategies that are nascent areas for business development for gaming industry in Cleveland. Combined with a state-of-the-art presentation and solutions center, and a school for gaming represents a powerful foundation upon which to explore the efficacy of such an initiative in Cleveland.

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