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Connecticut Rising to the Challenge: A Report of the Conecticut Dialogue on Public Libraries

January 26, 2016

On April 13, 2015, nearly 100 library leaders, state and local policy makers, and civic partners convened at the Connecticut State Capitol to explore the opportunities for working more closely and more intentionally with Connecticut's public libraries. Two themes formed the focal point for the daylong discussions: (1) how to leverage the considerable assets of the state's public libraries to build more knowledgeable, healthy and sustain able communities across the state and (2) how to improve the sustainability of public libraries in Connecticut. Convened by the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries in partnership with the Connecticut State Library, the Connecticut Dialogue on Public Libraries examined the work Connecticut's public libraries are already doing individually and collectively to meet community needs, address emerging challenges, and build more connected communities. Participants in the Dialogue also explored the economic and social challenges that are shaping community needs in Connecticut and fiscal challenges affecting library sustainability. Finally, the Dialogue considered new proposals, partnerships, and initiatives to guide collective action by the Connecticut State Library, the 164 local public libraries, and state and community partners. The Connecticut session was the first in a series of state and local dialogues that will examine issues, challenges, and opportunities facing communities and their public libraries, building on the framework provided by the Aspen Institute's October 2014 report, Rising to the Challenge: Re - Envisioning Public Libraries.

Integrating Diplomacy and Social Media: A Report of the First Annual Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology

March 27, 2013

This report is a result of the first annual Aspen Institute Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology, or what we call ADDTech. The concept for this Dialogue originated with longtime communications executive and Aspen Institute Trustee Marc Nathanson. Since his tenure as Chairman of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Nathanson has been concerned with how American diplomacy could more rapidly embrace the changing world of social media and other technologies. He is also a graduate of the University of Denver where former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's father, Josef Korbel, namesake of the Josef Korbel School of International Relations there, was his professor. Thus, Albright, another Institute Trustee, was a natural partner to create the first Dialogue on Diplomacy and Technology. The cast is ably supplemented with Korbel School Dean and former U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, who himself was also recently the chair of the BBG.The topic for this inaugural dialogue is how the diplomatic realm could better utilize new communications technologies. The group focused particularly on social media, but needed to differentiate among the various diplomacies in play in the current world, viz., formal state diplomacy, public diplomacy, citizen diplomacy and business diplomacy. Each presents its own array of opportunities as well as problems. In this first Dialogue, much of the time necessarily had to be used to define our terms and learn how technologies are currently being used in each case. To help us in that endeavor, we focused on the Middle East. While the resulting recommendations are therefore rather modest, they set up the series of dialogues to come in the years ahead.

Power Curve Society: The Future of Innovation, Opportunity and Social Equity in the Emerging Networked Economy

February 6, 2013

Many people grew up learning about bell curves as the shape of normal distribution of most problems were faced. Certainly, in a high middle class society such as the United States, the bell curve described the wealth and income distribution of American society: starting low with the few rich, rising up to reflect a large middle class, and tapering off with a sizeable but still diminishing poverty class.As the technology boom of the 1990s increased productivity, many assumed that the rising water level of the economy was raising all those middle class boats. But a different phenomenon has also occurred. The wealthy have gained substantially over the past two decades while the middle class has remained stagnant in real income, and the poor are simply poorer. This has led some to wonder if America is turning into a power-curve society: one where there are a relative few at the top and a gradually declining curve with a long tail of relatively poorer people. Recent research indicates thatmid-level jobs, the kind that helped create economic stability in the 1950s and 1960s, are becoming rarer. For the first time since the end of World War II, the middle class is apparently doing worse, not better, than previous generations. If these statistics are an accurate measure of how people are doing, then this is an alarming trend. What is the role of technology in these developments? How will future generations fare in a world defined less by broad distributions of wealth and more defined by power-curves? Will a small number of "winners," accumulate the larger share of wealth through an increasingly automated and globalized economy? If this is our trajectory, how can we brace ourselves for it? To answer these and similar questions the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program assembled a knowledgeable group of thinkers, leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs seasoned in the digital economy for a three-day dialogue in Aspen, Colorado in August of 2012. The event focused on the broader economic and social implications of an economy being redefined by new networks, behaviors and rules. A significant portion of the discussion also explored personal data as a possible untapped source of economic empowerment. This report covers the relationship between innovation and productivity, the "new economy of personal information", the workings of the "power-curve society", the future of jobs, and the social, policy and leadership implications of these changes.