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Let the conversation begin with #nextchapter

The name Douglas Rushkoff is about to become a household word in Vancouver, Wash. as Washington State University Vancouver and 17 community partners kick off a first-ever community-wide reading and conversation program known as #nextchapter.

CMDC student, Spencer Watson, created the website at hasnextchapter.com. Photo by Cyndie Meyer.

CMDC student, Spencer Watson, created the website at hasnextchapter.com. Photo by Cyndie Meyer.

Rushkoff is the author of  “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age.” His book inspired Dene Grigar, chair of the Creative Media and Digital Culture program at WSU Vancouver, to approach stakeholders in Vancouver’s public and private sectors to join in promoting education and dialogue about the community’s future in a digital, knowledge-based economy.

Over the next six weeks, 1,000 copies of Rushkoff’s book will be distributed throughout the Vancouver area. Ten community workshops regarding digital literacy will be held at the Vancouver Community Library.

At noon on March 9, John Barber, CMDC faculty member, will present “QR Codes: Connecting the Local to Online Media.” At noon on March 16, Frank Mungeam, adjunct professor at WSU Vancouver, will present “Control Your Privacy on the Web.” Details about additional workshops and a link to registration are posted at hashnextchapter.com.

At 1 p.m. April 18, WSU Vancouver will host the program’s culminating event, a presentation by author Douglas Rushkoff, in the Dengerink Administration building auditorium.  Rushkoff will present again at 7 p.m. in the downtown branch of the Vancouver Community Library.

CMDC senior, Aaron Hahn, manages the social media for #nextchapter. Photo by Cyndie Meyer.

CMDC senior, Aaron Hahn, manages the social media for #nextchapter. Photo by Cyndie Meyer.

To support the project, a team of CMDC seniors has created a website, bookmarks and social media support. Team members include Project Manager Setareh Alizedeh, Lead Designer Inahlee Bauer, SEO/Social Media Manager Aaron Hahn, Multimedia Designer Lia Thompson, Web Developer Spencer Watson and Mobile Developer Cameron Whitman.

On Feb. 27, approximately 75 people gathered at Vancouver City Hall to launch #nextchapter. Vancouver City Councilman, Jack Burkman, co-chair of the #nextchapter initiative, introduced the event.

“By working together on this, we start to build our future. The essence of this is a community conversation,” Burkman said. “It is about pulling emerging cultural issues from this new digital economy and saying: ‘What does it mean to you? What does it mean to your business? What does it mean to your family?’’

WSU Vancouver chancellor, Mel Netzhammer, spoke about the role of education in a knowledge-based economy:

“The information of the world is at our fingertips now, and one of the big responsibilities of higher education is no longer just the transmission of knowledge but how we evaluate that knowledge. How do we think about and use that knowledge to solve our community’s problems?  How do we engage with our communities and use digital technology in ethical ways?” Netzhammer said.

#nextchapter co-chair, Alisa Pyszka, economic development division manager with the City of Vancouver, discussed the program’s anticipated role in helping the community address the state of Washington’s Innovation Partnership Zone challenge.

‘We see an opportunity to build on digital media in this knowledge-based economy and position ourselves to be unique in that aspect. We will pull together these businesses, partnerships, education and non-profits to fully challenge and brand ourselves in this area,” Pyszka said.

Rushkoff addressed the gathering via Skype:

“I have been interested in our migration from the industrial age to the digital age. I go back and forth between being excited and hopeful about it and being worried about it. What we are going through now is bigger than the invention of the printing press. It’s as big as the invention of text.

“What the digital age should teach us more than anything is what it is to be human. All sorts of values can be retrieved from digital technology, but only if we are its true masters — only if we know how to program it. I am out here stumping for digital literacy. People at least have to know what programming is, at least understand the fundamental biases of digital technology,” Rushkoff said.

Dene Grigar, director of WSU Vancouver CMDC program was pleased by the turn out. Photo by Laura Evancich.

Dene Grigar, director of WSU Vancouver CMDC program was pleased by the turn out. Photo by Laura Evancich.

Grigar was happy with the outcome of the launch event.

“There is a lot of strife in any community and we have our own challenges. This is one place right now where we can put our finger and say ‘There! That is going well. The community can get along. We do like each other,” Grigar said.

WSU Vancouver’s community partners in the #nextchapter program include: Berger-ABAM, City of Vancouver, Clark College, The Columbian, Columbia River Development Council, Comcast, Community Foundation of Southwest Washington, Coug Parents, Evergreen School District, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, Friends of the Library, Vancouver School District, Shwabe, Williamson & Wyatt and the WSU Foundation.

For more information about the community-wide reading program, visit: hashnextchapter.com.

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