Thursday, May 21, 2009

Digital Divide or Lack of Outreach???

Photo credit: Circotasu
I've been to Yvette Alexander's website many times. Even as recent as February to get her email address, because I was having issues with cabbies (that's a post for another day). Today, I was actually planning to blog about the horrible building that has Ms. Alexander's name draped across it (which will be a post for another day). I was trying to see if I could find a photo of it online, when I happened to stumble upon Ms. Alexander's new site.

This is a huge improvement from her last website and I applaud Ms. Alexander's efforts to keep the community informed. Though I try to remain positive, it got me to wondering.... if someone who is internet savvy and tries to stay informed on what's going on in the community, such as myself, didn't even know she had a new website, what about the rest of Ward 7? I don't even recall getting a postcard from Ms. Alexander announcing the new website. Maybe the assumption is people will come looking for the information as opposed to bringing the information to the people.

There are 72,000 people in this Ward, but only 471 registered users on her site. Is it that people in Ward 7 don't have internet access or there is no outreach to us? Either way, it's a problem. If the former is the problem, then we have an entire population of residents that aren't connected to the rest of the city or the rest of the world for that matter. If the later is the problem, then Ms. Alexander may want to extend her outreach efforts to more than just campaigning. When she was running for office, I felt like I was getting mail from her every day.

I was looking around the website and was quickly met with frustration. I took me almost 20 minutes to figure out how to register to be a member of her site. I was intrigued by the fact that she has forums and a blog... only to be disappointed that there were no topics created in the forums and no information in the blog. There is a chatroom feature, but if no one knows about it, there can be no chats. ***sigh***

All-in-all this is 10 times better than her last site, but it still needs some work. Especially since the new infusion into the neighborhood are young professionals (such as myself) who have very little time to attend community meetings. We rely on technology and online communications to keep is informed and to provide feedback.

I sent Ms. Alexander some feedback on her site... while I'm sure she has more pressing issues, her website could be a vital source of information to the residents of Ward 7 if she wants to reach out to us.... Though I was distracted by today's find, rest assured I will blog about that horrible building with her name on it is in the pipeline.

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