Does building a neighborhood wide mesh network bridge the digital divide? That’s a question explored by the Next City blog, The Equity Factor, in a recent post. We’ve been following Red Hook’s socially conscious moves into technology from the beginning of this site. From the Digital Stewards’ trip to Germany, to giving the young network pro’s a chance to tell their story and the recent hackathon at Pioneer Works, where one of the winning ideas was a new info sharing hub for the neighborhood.
Access to the Internet itself may be less and less of an issue in Brooklyn than learning how to make the Internet work for you. That’s what groups like ScriptEd and the Red Hook Initiative are confronting here.
The more acute digital divide in our borough, though, is access to the high paying tech sector jobs. While we know that not all of those jobs necessarily require developer training, there’s not enough of those non-developer jobs to go round.
Is facilitating a sort of network administration mentorship program one way to give young people from the neighborhood a chance to attain the tech sector lifestyle?
[The Red Hook Initiative‘s Tony Schloss] works with The Digital Stewards, a year-long fellowship that RHI runs as part of the mesh network project. It gives Red Hook young adults, ages 19-24 — the majority of which have come from the Red Hook Houses, Schloss said — a crash course in technology. They work maintaining and installing the mesh networks while dabbling with internships. “We’re trying to get them into the field so they can branch out to a tech-related career,” Schloss said.