At precisely 3:15 a.m., the other morning, the Sage kicked off the blankets and emerged from his warm and cozy bed because too many thoughts, ideas, words, and analogies were bouncing around inside his head. He realized that he would need help to sort things out, so he convened a meeting of the Trio (Me, Myself, and I), Eagle-Eyes, and Hammerhead.

What was the problem? Why did he need help? Over the past few weeks, this blog site has been “revisiting” Our Information Highway in order to decide whether or not our City is “tech friendly;” e.g., Internet connectivity, digital village, or a smart community. All these terms, at one time or another have been used as buzz words related to the use of technology and telecommunications in order to improve the quality of our living, working, learning, and playing. No wonder readers are lost in CyberSpace; they’re not sure if they took the right “on” ramp or “off” ramp as they traveled along Petaluma’s Information Highway looking for the most effective, efficient, and economical ways to use information communication technology (ICT).

Eagle-Eyes reminded the group that the media and especially newspapers have been using the Information Highway analogy ever since our nation’s freeway system was constructed in the 1950s. However, let’s not get too caught up with buzz words; let’s find out what they really mean and call for our civic leaders and policy makers to help Petaluma become a “smart, digital, connected, and more tech friendly city.”  BTW (that’s tech talk for by the way), the Petaluma Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Committee has formulated a series of questions that will be used to guide their discussion at their next meeting, scheduled for this coming Wednesday, January 13th, at City Hall at 7 p.m. Their focus will be on the Petaluma Economic Strategic Plan/Applied Development Economics.

Hammerhead thinks their process “hits the nail on the head.”  But first, it might be wise to look back at a few of the earlier initiatives, projects, and programs designed to achieve similar goals. Me remembers the groundwork developed by the Petaluma Cybercity Roundtable that was organized in 1999, and replicated in other municipalities, that came together and formed the North Bay CyberCity Roundtable Consortium in 2000.

Myself thought the Sonoma County Connectivity Council committee and its recommendations of 2001 were a great beginning by citizens from all sectors of a community to discuss and identify the significant elements or basic structure of a Networked Community.

I recalls that the Sonoma State University Cyber Institute, which was established in 2002, but never really got off the ground due to the economic downfall of Telecom Valley.  Before it collapsed in 2004, however, some pertinent information was gathered and posted on a “Virtual Reality Community” website serving the San Francisco North Bay Region titled, Cyberville-USA; but, forgotten or over-looked as a new generation of “information highway” engineers emerged to take on the challenge of where do we go from here in our local Cyberplaces. The spirit of this era: promoting greater use of information and communication technology By Thinking Globally About Cyberspace and Acting Locally in Cyberplaces, was kept alive through an Internet TV show called “Tech Corner” and sponsored by Pacific Clearstream Multimedia Group. Eventually, the Petaluma CyberCity Roundtable was successful in getting the City of Petaluma to create an official Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Committee in 2005.

The Sage reminded the group of the motto adopted by PetalumaNet in the mid-1990s: the greatest resource of any community is the collective wisdom, intellect, and creativity of its citizens; and that a thorough review of past efforts might help the cause to move forward in a more efficient, effective, and economical manner. Too often, not taking the time for an historical review  simply ends up with a repeat of the past.

Some readers might believe that continually modifying and expanding our “automobile” freeways may not be the wisest choice in the long run. Is it possible that Our Information Highway journey might be heading in the same direction? Maybe there was an “off” ramp that was proposed at one time, but never built. What do you think? Please post a comment and  stay tuned.