Most Wired Town 2.0 and BEV 2.0: A Meet Point in More Ways than One

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

The Most Wired Town in America 2.0 lives.

Cortney Vargo Martin, former assistant director of the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV), "met up" with a goal of creating community that has continued to pervade her life.

While working at the BEV, Martin attended graduate school, earning her doctorate in Human Factors – Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Today, she is an adjunct faculty member teaching in Virginia Tech's Earth Sustainability Curriculum. Her focus is on creating learning communities to aid students in becoming independent learners. “It's really about development and empowerment, and the way you do that is through integrated technology and community.” She considers this the focus of the electronic village.

“It was always about community first and technology second.”

Thirteen years after its Most Wired Town in America fame, the BEV now functions as an outreach project of Virginia Tech with some level of support from the Town of Blacksburg. According to William (Bill) H. Sanders, Director, Arts Initiative and Blacksburg Electronic Village, the BEV still operates as a community network. “We continue to provide many of the services pioneered in the 1990s. Businesses and local organizations still register at no cost to be listed on the BEV site. We still answer the phone. It's significant to be able to call somebody in your town and get answers to questions about web sites.”

Though gone are the days of supporting physical hardware that once included over 1000 dial-in modems, today's telecommunications infrastructure is about coordinating “Meet Points” where  data between two telecommunications carriers interconnect and exchange traffic. The result – more speed for a fraction of the cost – appeals to businesses seeking to locate in this region.

And with regard to the future – given the pervasiveness of Web 2.0, can BEV 2.0 be far behind?

Possibly. According to Sanders, a proposal to fund establishing a virtual town square under BEV 2.0 has been submitted to the National Science Foundation, which provided the funds for the first village project.

Integrating Web 2.0 tools into the BEV will facilitate channeling local and regional information originating from the vast universe of web-based resources, thus making it easier for villagers to connect with and process information about their community.

A different type of “meet point” perhaps, where big ideas thrive in a community that continues to connect and grow.


Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.

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  1. William (Bill) H. Sanders, Director, Arts Initiative and Blacksburg Electronic Village, is a creative guy. We promoted Rural System for a landowner group in coastal Virginia. What if a village square became a reality? Wouldn’t it be great if it was the vibrant urban center of a rural “surround”? A union with a fanciful Slice Initiative might serve Blacksburg and the New River Valley very well for the future.

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