MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario's First Nation Communities Made Themselves At Home On The World Wide Web
Keywords:MyKnet.org, K-Net, First Nations, Northern Ontario, Internet, World Wide Web
In this article we explore the development of MyKnet.org, a loosely structured system of personal homepages that was established by indigenous communities in the region of Northern Ontario, Canada in 2000. Individuals from over 50 remote First Nations across Northern Ontario have made this free of charge, free of advertisements, locally-driven online social environment their virtual home. MyKnet.org currently comprises over 25,000 active homepages and strongly reflects the demographic and geographic profile of Northern Ontario. It is thus youth-based and built around the communities’ need to maintain social ties across great distances. We draw upon encounters with a range of MyKnet.org’s developers and long time users to explore how this community-developed and community-controlled form of communication reflects life in the remote First Nations. Our focus is on the importance of locality: MyKnet.org’s development was contingent on K-Net, a regional indigenous computerization movement to bring broadband communications to remote First Nations. MyKnet.org is explicitly community-driven and not-for-profit, thus playing an important role in inter- and intra-community interaction in a region that has lacked basic telecommunications infrastructure well into the millennium.