Reminder: Still time to Register for Afloat on the Wireless Pond – Saturday, March 1

Posted by: on Feb 29, 2008 | No Comments

Minnesota’s Hidden Heroes in the News

  • There are many things about MinnPost that are worthy of note – the first rate team of investigative journalists, the style, the tone, the format. From my perspective as an information junky, MinnPost adds a subtle but significant spin by focusing not just on the news but on the behind-the-scenes work. Yesterday’s blog was about hidden heroes of Minnesota history; today’s MinnPost offers some timely examples:
  • There’s a great piece from the Minnesota Historical Society, a MinnPost partner, about how to locate death certificate information collected over the decades by meticulous government employees, now organized and made accessible through the Minnesota Historical Society. This incredible resource, representing countless hours of work by skilled and committed public servants, is now accessible on the web.
  • A second article describes the ways in which the Poetry Foundation is opening up its extensive, and carefully maintained, poetry collection by engaging comic strip illustrators to add their creative interpretation to sometimes inscrutable literary works. Somebody logged and indexed and catalogs those hundreds of thousands of poems now enhanced and shared online.
  • The third story spotlights a different “hidden heroine,” in this case a Spanish-English translator, a woman who connected the dots to solve the puzzle of the mysterious illness that struck packing house workers in Austin. If you ever want to observe the mind of a “hidden heroine” at work, here is a superb example
  • And finally, MinnPost itself plays an essential role by sharing this latent information with a readership that will use that information to achieve its potential. Today is just one example of an ongoing emphasis of the journal.

All of which raises digital age questions: How will MinnPost and other digital resources be preserved, organized, made accessible for future Minnesotans who want to know about what’s going on today? What is the public good of that preserved and organized information? What is the responsibility of public institutions to take the long view? How are we addressing the preparation of Minnesotans to understand the power of information or their information rights?

Announcing: Hidden Heroes of Minnesota History Wiki *

Posted by: on Feb 28, 2008 | No Comments

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Question: Who is a “hidden hero” of Minnesota history? How do we know what we know about our state? Who gathered all those files, that data, the maps, the diaries, the photos that tell the story, that give us a glimpse into our past? And who is doing that now in our digital age? What were the skills of the archivist? The selector? The curator? The indexer? The librarian? The genealogist? The publisher?

Most of all, who are these people. For the most part, they didn’t make history – and they surely didn’t make it into the history books — but they are essential links to understanding Minnesota at 150 years or at our Bicentennial in 2058.

These are the questions that keep coming to me as we’ve prepared for the March 2008 Afloat on the wireless pond conference. Compulsive surfer that I am I’ve sifted through the digital record to spot and shine a flicker of light on those hidden heroes and heroines. Knowing that I’m barely touching the surface, I’ve made no attempt to go beyond the digital record.

The Afloat conference is upon us now so I’m taking a break in the surfing expedition to post the little nuggets I’ve dug up so far. Just as the Minnesota History Center encourages the public to add to their Sesquicentennial wiki of famous folks I’m asking you to contribute to this mini-wiki by putting a name, maybe a face, on some of those self-effacing public servants, scholars, collectors, archivists, genealogists or much-maligned packrats who’ve seen to it that we know the stories. Be sure to include those who are exploring with gusto the ways in which information age technology is expanding and enhancing access.

That’s what the Afloat conference is all about – the jumpstart to a hidden hero wiki! Thanks for your help!

* My definition of “hero” is inclusive, particularly since an extraordinary number of these heroes are very female

Mary Treacy

Afloat in the Wireless Pond – A Week Away

Posted by: on Feb 21, 2008 | No Comments

Not your “in the box” day: We have room for a few more participants in the March 1 conference affectionately (?) known as “Afloat in the wireless pond.” All the details at If you’re looking for the same old, same old this is not your venue, but if you’re looking for original perspectives on our digital environment, check it out! Where else will you find a noted journalist, a geographer, a poet, a philosopher, a data manager, city planner, librarian and high school students – plus numerous demos and a room full of creative thinkers — all focused on the realities and possibilities of information age life in Minnesota. Note: Students are invited to participate at no charge.

Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives

Posted by: on Feb 20, 2008 | No Comments

Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives
Fascinating article about youth, media and technology – good background read for the “Afloat in the wireless pond” conference on March 1.

State Highways and Bridges

Posted by: on Feb 20, 2008 | No Comments

Because the Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s Report on State Highways and Bridges grabbed all of the headlines today you probably know that it was little critical of MnDOT’s decisions and forthright communication with the public. Che

Come to hear more from Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles at the premier “COGI-tations” program sponsored by MnCOGI and Common Cause Minnesota – Tuesday, April 8, 5:00 p.m. at the TIES administrative office, Snelling and Larpenteur in St. Paul.

New Media, New Journalism – Ethics in Online Journalism

Posted by: on Feb 18, 2008 | No Comments

New Media, New Journalism – Ethics in Online Journalism
A Minnesota SPJ Public Forum
Monday, February 25, 2008 7:00 p.m.
UBS Forum, Minnesota Public Radio
480 Cedar Street, St. Paul

Thoughts While Thinking

Posted by: on Feb 17, 2008 | No Comments

As I write, I’m listening to Garrison Keillor and a delightful rendition of “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” It reminds me of a dear friend, Ruth Myers, who used to speak of “perceptive paranoia” as the sine qua non of a good education.

Inspiration enough for me to remind you, dear surfer, to be sure you’re signed up for the March 1 “Afloat in the wireless pond” conference. This ambiguous title reflects not just society’s present state of being but conference planners’ invocation of the thought-provoking “Thoreau in Minnesota” conference organized by Dale Schwie. The Waldenesque image inspired the planning process.

Title notwithstanding, March 1 promises to be an “out of the box” day with a roster of speakers that includes a journalist, an historian, a city planner, a philosopher, a geographer, a poet, high school participants in History Day research, and David Wiggins, who defies categorization. Each speaker has a perspective on living in digital days informed by experience and by time devoted to thinking about life afloat on the wireless pond.

There will be time to connect with other “floaters” and to consider the oft-cited pernicious characteristics of technology. Above all, participants will explore the many ways in which people and organizations of good are capitalizing on the potential of information age tools to enhance access to information and thus expand the circle of informed participation.

Agenda and details abound. Reserve with just an email. Pay at the door.
($20 for lunch and materials)

By Mary Treacy

National Conference for Media Reform: Minneapolis, June 6-8, 2008

Posted by: on Feb 3, 2008 | No Comments

Join fellow activists, media makers, educators, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens in calling for real and lasting changes to our nation’s media system.

2008 provides us with a great opportunity to put the issue of media reform in the national spotlight. Join us in Minneapolis and help us build this critical movement.

Registration is now open. (Learn more)

Minnesotans Afloat in the Wireless Pond?

Posted by: on Jan 18, 2008 | No Comments

JANUARY 15, 2008

Minnesotans Afloat in the Wireless Pond?
Journalist Keynotes Sesquicentennial Event

Kenneth Brusic, executive editor of the Orange County (CA) Register, will be the keynote speaker at conference whimsically entitled “Afloat in the Wireless Pond” on Saturday, March 1, 2008. Exploring the changes that the Internet is making in our lives on the state, local, and personal levels, the conference will take place at Luther Seminary, 2481 Como, St. Paul, from 9:00-4:00.

The conference, funded in part by the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission as part of the celebration of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary of statehood, is cosponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information and the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum.

Brusic will speak to the challenges that newspapers face in this time of Internet saturation. Under Brusic’s leadership the Orange County Register has been involved in rethinking the nature of the newspaper business. “We are more than a newspaper; we are really an information company,” he says. In addition to the daily and Sunday newspaper the OCR runs 23 community weeklies, an Orange County Home magazine and the website.

Ken Brusic graduated from the University of Denver and has a Master’s Degree from the School of Journalism of the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has previously worked on the Boulder Daily Camera, the Wichita Eagle, and the Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger. He joined the Orange County Register in 1989. Under his leadership the Register won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1996. In late 2007 he was named Communicator of the Year by at he School of Communication at California State University in Fullerton.

Other scheduled speakers include David Wiggins, Mississippi River Visitor Center; Laura Waterman Wittstock, CEO of Wittstock Associates; Jane Leonard, Executive Director of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission; Thomas Leighton, Principal City Planner, City of Minneapolis; librarian and geographer Carol Urness; Jim Ramstrom of the Land Management Information Center; Helen Burke, Director of the federal depository library at Minneapolis Public Library; scholar and educator Peter Shea, and youth representatives of the state’s History Day program.

The day will also include demonstrations of initiatives that employ the Internet to expand access to public information. Emphasis is on raising public awareness of the profound impact of the Internet, the implicit but systemic changes and the potential – and limits – of technology to promote civic awareness and involvement. Participants will have an opportunity to focus on information as a public good to be produced, preserved and made accessible as essential to an informed citizenry – in the past and in the future.

Registration ( $20 payable at the door ) includes lunch and materials. Seating is limited; early registration is advised at

Lucy Brusic 612 860 2495 or
Or check the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information website:
(Get .Doc of press release)


Posted by: on Jan 18, 2008 | No Comments

Celebrate Sunshine Week 2008
Participate in the national satellite/webcast

Local site sponsored by the
Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
11:45 – 2:00 p.m.

Minneapolis Telecommunications Network
125 Main Street SE in St. Anthony Main
Just across the river from downtown Minneapolis

Free and open

Come early and pick up lunch at the Aster Cafe, Tuggs or another local eatery.
Enjoy lunch during the webcast. Stay for brief discussion of the issues and a quick tour of the MTN studios