Conference Focuses On Vt.’s Digital Future

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In Burlington Tuesday, state and local leaders will delve into Vermont’s digital future.

At a conference at Champlain College, they will discuss how to use broadband resources to promote economic opportunity and basic digital literacy in the state.

Governor Shumlin will speak, and Nicco Mele will be the keynote speaker. 

Mele, now a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, harnessed the Internet when he served on Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. In a phone interview Monday, Mele said much of Vermont’s digital future has already arrived.

"Small businesses in Vermont can compete globally and have global customers thanks to the Internet. Even just the degree of connectivity and the availability of internet access has changed dramatically," Mele said. "That opens up all kinds of opportunities."

Mele said political scientists are still trying to figure out what role social media will play in democracy and democratic elections. "The technology radically empowers individuals," said Mele.

The divide in digital literacy in rural states like Vermont is a significant concern, Mele said, but the real issue will be the cost of connectivity.

The Digital Future conference is being hosted by e-Vermont Community Broadband Partnership. It’s open to the public.

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