The Future of Community Development -
               Make the living you want living wherever you want   

                                 Just published in a book by Technopress "Future Courses -
                      A Compendium of Thought about Education, Technology and the Future"

                                           By Frank Odasz,  

Making a life while making a living

In the past, most jobs have been tied to a given location and provided limited flexibility. The ideal "dream" job would have been to be able to work anywhere, doing what you love, and to be successful at it. Today, this "dream" is becoming a reality for more and more people who have explored the profoundly new opportunities the Internet brings to those with Internet access.

In 2001, over 300 million people were estimated to be on the Internet. New satellite and wireless systems are making it technically and economically feasible for any community, worldwide, no matter how remote, to have Internet access. In short, billions will come onto the Internet over the next couple decades, creating a huge consumer marketplace with new dynamics and possibilities. The most important new dynamic is every consumer can now also become a producer.

The Internet offers low-cost global marketing, for the first time in human history. For $15/month your web pages can be as globally accessible as those of any government, university or corporation. If you have free Internet access, such as is available at many libraries and public offices, web-based services exist to allow you to create an Ecommerce web site at no cost at all!

For those with a product to sell, one of the hottest new Internet trends is free Ecommerce sites offered by dozens of web sites. At , which began as an online bookstore, free Zstores (so-named by Amazon) are offered by one of the largest and fastest growing online "shopping malls" in the world.

Other Examples of Interest:

At Native American artists are offered free web sites, with the added advantage of being linked with many other artist web sites in a similar "mall" fashion.

At crafts from villages without electricity or Internet can globally market their crafts, artwork, digital music, and any other products available, once they work out how to get their products posted.

At villages can learn about a solar powered, Internet connection system with a water purifier as a single integrated unit for which the village would pay over time as they use the system to vend their original cultural artwork, digital music, crafts, and products. Many similar "integrated container projects" are appearing!

At you’ll find many new Ecommerce free services as well as entrepreneurial training sites, all competing to offer more value for less time and effort.

Even without their own Ecommerce web sites, thousands of entrepreneurs are successfully selling products regardless of their physical locations through online auction sites, where buyers drive the prices higher, to the sellers’ delight! The largest such auction site is Ebay who project one billion dollars of exchange for 2001!

As the number of such programs begin to bring Ecommerce equity to the most remote corners of the globe, all citizens and communities are challenged to reassess their own Ecommerce opportunities. How can any community learn to monitor the rapidly increasing number of successful Ecommerce business models as they appear on the Internet?

Youth-based Community Development Strategies

          Youth today are likely to prove a key part of the answer. Youth today are often
          the technology leaders and key change agents in most communities and cultures.

It is becoming clearer to many communities that youth can serve as local Internet trainers to help adults understand the emerging new Internet capabilities and services. (See "Building Individual and Community Collaborative Capacity" at - This is an essay detailing youth-based community development strategies and Internet awareness-raising workshop models.)

How can 15,000 cultures worldwide can some to grips in the short term with both the economic opportunities, and the risks to their traditions, that the Internet represents? Imagine youth teaching youth Internet skills across cultural barriers, from anywhere, to anywhere, allowing diverse cultures the opportunity to understand how best to deal with both positive and negative Internet impacts! The Internet provides the means for unparalleled human support unlike anything we’ve seen before.

For instance, the Thinkquest International competition has students collaborate across the Internet to create instructional Web sites. More than 4,500 exemplary instructional sites are viewable at The potential for students to actively mentor and teach other students as a vocation is becoming clearer as we are beginning to understand that education is the foundation of the new economy. Bill Gates, in his book, 'The Road Ahead" lists the three biggest emerging economic arenas: 1) entertainment, 2) education and 3) social services. To put this another way, creating fun, social, learning experiences is emerging as a key potential vocation. Consider peer teaching and mentoring with measurable learning outcomes as an emerging viable vocation for citizens of any age, worldwide. For more youth-based, culturally sensitive strategies, see "Culture Club "   Here you will find a concept paper detailing multiple approaches for engaging youth in the creation of measurable value for their communities with emphasis on creating citizen-to-citizen mentoring models and youth-driven Internet instructional services.

If you have a product to sell it is not difficult to post your products on a web page for online ordering worldwide. Programs for assisting businesses in the creation of Ecommerce websites are proliferating, but there are many dimensions to the shifting structure of global commerce that are yet unaddressed. While web sites such as offer free Ecommerce web sites in five minutes they offer no business plan templates or advice such as is available at the Small Business Knowledge Base (SBKB . How will people learn what they didn’t know they needed to know?

SBKB is suggestive of the type of interpretive site that helps regular people grasp a complex topic such as creating a business plan. Less is more, in the age of information overload. We're seeing the most popular sites emerging as those that best simplify the complex. The most popular sites will be those which offer the greatest benefits to the most people, with the least investment of their time and effort, with emphasis on free Web tools that do most of the work. Setting an understandable context is becoming a key value-added component of posted content. Peer interpretation of Internet resources has great value regarding setting an appropriate local context, particularly when coupled with tangible local examples and local mentors.

Instructional Entrepreneurship and Mentoring Services

If you don’t have a product to sell, your best bet may be to learn skills online that you can market as an ‘online’ employee, such as how to create web sites for businesses. Resume posting and job searching sites are proliferating, as are online information technology training programs. (See, one of the best of the many new job placement services). At, you'll find tutorials on becoming an independent "free agent" knowledge worker (see also

There is yet another way to create value through online learning.

Information condenses to knowledge,
which condenses to wisdom,
value is created in a knowledge economy.

In an information economy, the best timely information possible will be in greatest demand, and will change daily. Expectations increase with experience, and as people gain more experience with the Internet, they will better understand the value of their time. Those services that provide people with the greatest knowledge gains (wisdom) with the least investment of time and effort will be most successful. Providing those services via the Internet can allow a person to make a living anywhere.

Most people today feel overwhelmed by the volume of information on the Internet, and for good reason --- a billion new web pages appear every month! The value of an experienced human mentor, to encourage and to filter what an individual really needs to know, is a commodity we can expect to see grow in value. Instructional mentoring services, in as friendly and supportive a context as possible, will prove very popular.

Another key Internet trend is the burgeoning variety of free self-directed learning resources with which, which individuals with Internet access will be able to engage in inquiry-based, just-in-time learning whenever the need presents itself. In addition, powerful search engines which require only a typed question to retrieve specific information in seconds from the world’s knowledge base. Since self-directed learning resources can scale to impact an unlimited number of persons, once Internet access is achieved, the historical economic and access barriers to unlimited global education disappear!
(See "Common Ground - A Cross-cultural Self-directed Learner’s Internet Guide" This is a comprehensive self-directed learning resource that provides the best free Web tools in an easy-to-understand, step-by-step, hands-on, activity-based format.)

The New Gold Rush: Mining Raw Human Potential
with Free Web Tools

What the human family now faces is a new gold rush where mining raw human potential using free web tools  and tutorials will become the economic development strategy for individuals, communities, cultures and nations.

We’re all now faced with the same big question; "What free web tools, in combination with learned attitudes, perspectives, and skills will produce the greatest benefits for the most people with the least investment of time and money?" (See "Gearing Up with Free Web Tools" at   This is a unique listing of the best free Web tools presented in a simplified context.) Some of these tools will be provided by corporations, which are now seeing that if they help train citizens to create their own e-commerce businesses, they can profit as well. Hence, we're seeing huge amounts of money going into Web Sites offering free e-commerce sites, as well as educational sites hoping to become the best single resource for all learners. (See Elearners Web site at, an example of the new genre of self-directed learning Web sites for K-Grey learners.)

Soon, we’ll see online mentoring models emerge with citizens learning to mentor and guide peers through self-directed learning pathways, providing personalized encouragement as well as sensitivity to the local culture and context.
( See "Mentoring models Web Tour " at , a listing of many of the best mentoring models on the Internet.)  Inevitably, instructional mentoring brokerage models will appear where the citizen and educator authors of the best online courses and learning pathways will be financially rewarded in direct proportion to the levels of benefit their instructional products deliver. Everyone will become both learner and teacher, all the time. (See "Lone Eagles Learn to Teach From Any Beach" at   This is a review of significant innovative educational trends in Alaska with direct implications for the future of education, worldwide. )

Given the above trends, what should today’s K12 education look like, and as importantly, what should online adult education look and feel like, particularly for cultural, second language, and/or low literacy populations? How can caring and connectivity best be combined with common sense?

Building Learning Communities

In the past, communities were based on physical proximity, today communities are those to which we give our time, regardless of physical location. Communities are the sum of what we give to each other. Despite whether they are geographical or virtual, communities are being redefined based on shared learning and mutual support. (See "Building Learning Communities Resources" at   This is a listing of articles on "Building Learning Communities" written for patrons of community technology centers and focused on raising their vision for their own unprecedented opportunities, regardless of their income or literacy levels.)

This very human Internet application, sharing the knowledge that best benefits others, will grow steadily as the understanding grows that the Internet is much more than just a physical network. The Internet represents the opportunity for individuals to impact greater numbers of people than was ever before possible, and for humankind to invent dramatically new forms of community, culture, democracy and mutual support!

Making a life, while making a living, is as much about creating meaning in our lives as it is about making money. We cannot ignore the responsibility to help others that come with the unprecedented power at our fingertips. The greatest satisfaction to which we can aspire will include benefiting others in addition to benefiting ourselves. To achieve the kind of world we'd want to be living in, we'll each need to truly understand that if we all share what we know, we'll all have access to all our joint knowledge.

A product-based economy has inherent limits: there is demand for only so much corn, etc. But a knowledge-based economy has no such limits. As more people create more knowledge-based value, more wealth results with no upward limitations. We have for the first time in history the means to meet the needs of everyone on the planet.

An example of knowledge-based wealth creation: The value of Intel, Cisco and Microsoft is 1.3 trillion dollars, created in roughly the last ten years: this is 200 billion more than all the precious metals mined in the history of humankind.

And the best is yet to come!

For More Information:

Virtual Activism Tutorial
A simple curriculum for using the Web as a tool to advocate for your cause. How to take action for what you believe in. For a database of activism sites, go to

Electronic Democracy Web Tour
A tour of many of the best sites for community applications of the Internet with emphasis on building a more participatory democracy, locally and globally.

The Good Neighbor’s Guide to Community Networking 
An 11-chapter guide with links to diverse Web-site models and a robust listing of additional resources on community networking.

About the Author

Frank Odasz has been a carpenter, oil field roughneck, dude ranch manager, college professor and is now a "Lone Eagle," an independent instructional entrepreneur. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from he University of California-Davis. At the age of 32, Frank attended the University of Wyoming to learn the benefits computers and telecommunications could bring to citizens and earned his MS in Instructional Technology. He founded the Big Sky Telegraph network, 1988-1998, one of the first online systems to offer online courses, and was a co-founder of the Consortium for School Networking ( He was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the microcomputer industry by Microtimes Magazine in 1990. in 1992, Big Sky Telegraph was included in the National Information Infrastructure White House Agenda report as a network model of excellence.  Frank’s biography, resume, and photograph are at And the Lone Eagle Consulting Web site is at