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Web Researchers Find Some North Country Communities More Visible than Others

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ A team of communication researchers at Plattsburgh State University of New York is about to release data showing that the Internet presence of many communities in the North Country has not been keeping up with the growth of the World Wide Web.

In an article to appear in the fall issue of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies (AJES), the Community Web Visibility (CWV) project team reveals that certain communities in the region demonstrate superior Web visibility, while others are clearly lagging.

In the article, titled "Tracking the Web Visibility of North Country Communities," the project team asserts that Web visibility has direct implications for a community's identity both online and in the physical world.

Low visibility and an ill-defined virtual identity, the article concludes, can be harmful to a community's economic development efforts and hurt its prospects for a sustainable future in an age of personalized, digital media.

The article summarizes three years of findings from of an ongoing study that is entering its second phase this fall.

CWV project researcher Tim Clukey announced that the CWV team will soon be compiling in-depth Web profiles of all the communities under study, and that an intensive outreach effort to a number of communities will begin in spring 2004.

The CWV team held a briefing for several civic leaders in June 2003 and "our team is already holding productive dialogues with a handful of community organizations, " Clukey revealed.

The initial community Web visibility research, according to Clukey, "sprang from the sincere belief that there is a substantial connection between a community's collective, online growth and its ability to attract tourists, to induce people to settle there and to spur business development."

The Community Web Visibility project team is (Dr.) Elizabeth R. Bernat, Tim Clukey, and (Dr.) Jonathan R. Slater, all assistant professors of communication in the Department of Communication at Plattsburgh State.

Since 2000, the team has been investigating what Web users see when they search for local community information online. The project has been funded by grants and other awards offered by Plattsburgh State.

For more information about the CWV project, click on www.communitywebvisibility.com or contact Clukey at 518-564-4290.

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