Mountain Area Information Network
Note - MAIN Street is currently on hiatus!

Welcome to "MAIN Street" - a feature for members and friends of the Mountain Area Information Network!

We know you're busy and that there is more and more to see on the Internet every day, so you may not have the opportunity to keep up with everything going on the MAIN homepage. MAIN Street is your chance to have the highlights of your community network delivered to your email inbox regularly (free of charge, of course!).

In each edition of MAIN Street, you'll find selected headlines from our popular Community Network News section, upcoming events from our Calendar, and important notes and announcements from MAIN. There will also be a variety of special features - including commentaries, tips and suggestions from our Help Desk, news from our low-power FM radio station WPVM, and more.

MAIN Street will be distributed via email each week and is an optional service for MAIN subscribers, other users of our web site, and anyone else interested in receiving it. This sample edition is posted on the web to give you the idea, but current editions of MAIN Street are distributed by email to MAIN Street subscribers. If you would like to receive MAIN Street, click here to subscribe.

Remember - MAIN is a community network. You can help that community strengthen and grow by spreading the word! If you find MAIN Street useful, feel free to send it along to your family and friends and encourage them to sign up, whether or not they are MAIN subscribers.

Thanks for your support of MAIN - and welcome to MAIN Street!

*-*-*-* What's Happening on MAIN STREET *-*-*-*

July 20, 2004



Click on the links below to go directly to articles posted recently on MAIN-CNN:

* Video sheds light on police shooting of Latino man in Hendersonville

* Poll shows N.C. still split over Iraq War

* How Big Oil dodges taxes

* Crafts putting WNC on the map

* N.C. college building projects hit by rising costs

* Fox News: Outed at last?



* 7/20 - Traditional Story-telling and Music in Marshall

* 7/21 - YWCA MotherLove Mentors needed

* 7/22 - Penland School of Crafts Scholarship Auction

* 7/22 - Hot Springs Tailgate Market


HEARD ON THE STREET - News and updates from your community network

* If the polls are still open (until 7:30 p.m. in most North Carolina counties), there's still time to vote in today's primary election. If you're not sure where you should go to vote, contact your county board of elections. Web sites and other contact information are on MAIN's primary election resource page, which is in the spotlight on MAIN's home page at


DIRECTOR'S CORNER - Notes and observations from Wally Bowen, MAIN Executive Director

Earlier this week I had the privilege of addressing three of the top executives of Red Hat. What is Red Hat? Red Hat is Bill Gates' worst nightmare. Based in the Research Triangle, Red Hat is the world's leader in bundling and supporting Linux, the "open source" network operating system that is the up-and-coming rival to Microsoft's Windows monopoly.

Linux is one of a wide array of open-source technologies that make the Internet and World Wide Web possible. Open-source code is created by computer programmers and then given away to the larger, global community of programmers, which continues to revise and refine the program -- to the benefit of all. Without open-source, the Internet and World Wide Web would not exist as we know it.

For example, the HTML code (HyperText Markup Language) that makes web pages possible is open source. The developer of HTML, Tim Berners-Lee, gave the code away -- placing it in the public domain -- rather than copyrighting and licensing it. For that revolutionary accomplishment, Berners-Lee was knighted last Friday by Queen Elizabeth.

Likewise, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish grad student, created Linux and shared it with the world of amateur and professional programmers, who over the years have refined it into an operating system that is far superior to Microsoft's. Despite an army of programmers and billions of dollars devoted to R&D, Microsoft is no match for the hundreds of thousands -- perpaps millions -- of programmers around the world who share in the communal project of refining and expanding the power of Linux.

We here in the mountains are well-versed in creating and sustaining the "commons," from building little league ballfields to maintaining hiking trails and protecting our natural resources.

Likewise, the Internet and World Wide Web were developed by a community of scientists and academics -- like Berners-Lee and Torvalds -- who were involved in a larger, creative vision than simply getting rich quick.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not slamming wealth. But these creators and protectors of our "cyber-commons" have been able to "do well while doing good."

We are the beneficiaries of the "commonwealth" these pioneers created, and we also have a role in protecting and preserving this commonwealth from enormous and growing pressure to "enclose" and "privatize" portions of this commons for private gain.

As Internet service providers are swallowed up by AOL, MSN or EarthLink, or put out of business by broadband cable or DSL monopolies, we are increasingly at risk that an oligopoly of ISPs will begin to dictate standards and carve up the commons into online "walled gardens" and "gated communities."

Already, cable and DSL business plans state how they can provide "preferred access" for business and marketing partners by whisking subscribers at high speeds to favored websites and enticing users to linger via special promotions and marketing-based entertainment. Indeed, this has been AOL's business model for years.

Meanwhile, nonprofit and grassroots political websites -- especially those challenging online media monopolies! -- could be relegated to an Internet "Siberia" requiring extra time and effort to visit. Or, shades of George Orwell, they could disappear down the "memory hole" altogether.

The Internet and World Wide Web began as an open and interconnected "cybercommons". Government funding and oversight ensured openness. In fact, it was the Pentagon that resisted a proprietary solution for ARPANET -- the Internet's progenitor -- and insisted instead on an open and interoperable network linking the nation's research labs and universities.

But there are no guarantees that the Web will remain a commons. As one of our early patriots warned, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Which brings me back to Red Hat, a homegrown company that is "doing well by doing good." Companies like Red Hat and nonprofits like MAIN are part of a global coalition committed to preserving the cyber-commons.

And by selecting MAIN as your Internet Service Provider, you are part of this historic effort.

Wally Bowen


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