During the last decade the Internet has evolved from a specialized
research environment into a mass communications medium for
entertertainment, education and commerce. A mixture of economic
and social factors have driven this evolution. At present breadth
and equity are key features of the Internet. The projects described
below were early attempts to enlarge the public audience making use
of the Internet and to make networking technologies available more
broadly across the community.
The KIDSPHERE mailing list was formed in May, 1989
to encourage the development of computer networks
to serve students and teachers throughout the world.
Common Knowledge: Pittsburgh was a networking
testbed developed in the Pittsburgh Public Schools
through a collaboration of the school district with
the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh
Supercomputing Center, with sponsorship from the
National Science Foundation, the Heinz Endowments
and the Buhl Foundation.
Bridging the Urban Landscape extended the work of Common
Knowledge: Pittsburgh, providing after-school access to network
resources, developingan in-depth presentation of
Pittsburgh history and exploring technologies to
provide high-bandwidth services for a
Information Renaissance was organized as a
501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in January, 1996.
Its goal was to provide
a focus for public sector networking among the many
groups that were collaborating on networking efforts in
the Pittsburgh area at the completion
of the Bridging the Urban Landscape and Common
Knowledge: Pittsburgh projects. Since this time the
of Info Ren have expanded to encompass
national issues and programs for public
participation in government.