So, the idea for an Orange County "encyclopedia" (a wiki, if you're sufficiently savvy) isn't my own. It somewhat grew out of a suggestion a friend made here on OP. I started collecting information for my own purposes for a research project I'm doing to analyze the 2005 elections, and storing it in a wiki just made sense. But the true power of a wiki is that anyone and everyone is welcome to contribute, and it would be a shame to not put this power to work!

Orangepedia is a collection of public domain information thrown together from various sources and hyperlinked together. It's not finished, and won't ever be, but that's where you come in. Please, help me fill in the basics and then add whatever knowledge of local politics you might want. To link to another page, all you have to do is put a word or phrase inside [[double brackets]]. And I'm moderating, so please keep things clean - the same decency rules that you'll find on transfer nicely.

Website optional?

In the past here on OrangePolitics, we have discussed whether endorsements matter, and made fun of candidates' yard signs (both of which I hope we will do again this year). Now that candidate websites are becoming more common, the Chapel Hill Herald has started the conversation about whether an online presence makes a difference in local campaigns. (And they have helped me complete the web site listings for the OP Election Guide, thanks!)

Weigh in on wi-fi

Guest Post by James Protzman

The idea of communitiy wi-fi is emerging as a potential local election issue -- and would seem to warrant broader public discussion as well.

Some say wi-fi should be a purely commercial undertaking left to the private sector. Others (like me, for example) see wireless connectivity as an increasingly critical part of community infrastructure -- similar to sidewalks, parks and public safety -- services that support the common good.

My view is simple: we cannot allow the issue of connectivity to become yet another element in the growing "digital divide." That is, no one should be disadvantaged for not having resources to buy high-speed access for their homes and families.

There are plenty of ways to think about this and many experiments going on around the country. Some of them are reported here . . . and I'm sure there are other good resources. If you know of any, please share them.

New Town Websites

There was some talk a few months ago about the status of the Chapel Hill Town website. The new site is up. What do you think?

I don't know when it happened, but it appears that Carrboro's got a new one too.

Free the Internet

Here's another chance for the town of Chapel Hill to catch up to Carrboro: free wireless Internet downtown.

It seems to have been a resounding success for Carrboro. Some businesses might worry about dozens of folks setting up their laptops for hours while only buying a pastry and coffee, but WSM has got plenty of space on the lawn, and more importantly having free wifi just adds to their role as the community hub. That attracts customers that aren't even using the wireless.

But Chapel Hill has a new angle on this. They are discussing covering the downtown neighborhoods like Northside where some residents can't afford high-speed Internet access.

Across the town line in Carrboro, officials decided last year to put a few thousand dollars into expanding the wireless network in the downtown area, enabling people to connect -- for free -- to the Internet with their laptop computers equipped with wireless cards.



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