This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 24,1999

Geo-Cyber Communities

Over the years, we've lost much of the sense of community in our neighbor- hoods. After people have worked long hours on their jobs, they yearn for the quiet of their homes . . . their fortresses. Planners, architects, and developers have created environments where people can enjoy their privacy, but often at the expense of neighborliness. And now that so many of us have developed close relationships with our televisions and computers, there's even less communication with other families who happen to live nearby.

A new concept, exemplified by the recently-announced planned mega- community under development in James City County, Virginia. The new community, named Stonehouse, has established an alliance with Cox Communications to link residents and businesses with a multi-faceted network that will foster a sort of cyber-community within the geographic community.

Cox will outfit every new home in the development with high-bandwidth cable systems. The hope is that the connections will allow residents to tap into the latest and greatest technology, helping to create an "esprit de corps" within the town as well. If residents choose to buy all of Cox's high-bandwidth service, they will have access to a bevy of services: more than 200 cable TV and digital music stations, toll-free local phone service from Richmond to Virginia Beach, internet service via cable modem, which offers much faster connections than dial-up modems.

Moreover, the service will make the homes ready to become "smart houses" —where even appliances can be connected to the Internet for remote diagnosis of problems. You keep an eye on your child using a high-speed Internet connection with a camera set up at the neighborhood day-care center. Play the latest computer game with a friend on the other side of town, who also has a speedy Net connection. And from your home, you can reserve a book at the local library, or order a pizza. Cox will establish Stonehouse Neighborhood News Network, or SNNN—an intranet, closed off to the outside by a "firewall." SNNN will have bulletin boards, community news, video conferencing, games and anything else residents dream up.

Technology will enable greater "community."

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