The Digital Clubhouse Network (DCN) was created in a 1996, NASA sponsored focus group, in response to the question: "How would the average person use new digital technologies to improve their lives and benefit their community?" This focus group eventually evolved into the first Digital Clubhouse.
The first Digital Clubhouse began in an empty room in a half vacant office building in Santa Clara County in the spring of 1996. We had no computers, no software, no high-speed Internet connection, no furniture, and no money. Only an idea...
The idea was that there should be a place where people of all ages and backgrounds could come together to explore new ways of using information technology to improve the quality of their lives and that of their community.
A place where people could learn at their own pace, and where each individual would have a "share of voice," empowered by the digital tools of the 21st century.
A place where companies could hear "customer murmuring" about what people themselves really wanted from the promise of technology.
A place where everyone was encouraged to become a "producer of producers," by teaching what they were learning to others, and committing volunteer hours to serve their community.
A place of inclusion, where technology "haves"--especially the young Net Generation--were encouraged to reach out and help the 'have nots."
A place of sharing and caring, dedicated to assuring that advances in technology contribute to a healthier, more inclusive, tolerant and compassionate society for us all as we fast forward into the Digital Age.
During the past nine years, this idea has become a reality.
We now operate two prototype Digital Clubhouses in Silicon Valley (we have recently move from a Mall to a new location at the History Park in downtown San Jose') and at the New York Information Technology Center in lower Manhattan (just across the street from the Stock Exchange in Wall Street).
More than 10,000 people between the ages of 6 and 98 have participated in DCN programs and projects that have garnered for us an international reputation for innovative new ways of using technology to benefit education, health and society.
Our pioneering intergenerational digital storytelling methodologies are redefining oral history and identifying powerful new techniques that contribute to the healing process that are now being used by hospitals and universities.
Our after school programs, such as "Webucation for New Netizens" and "Kids on the Web" have received national recognition as models for mobilizing teens to teach preteens about the ethical and productive uses of technology while promoting healthy life choices. (In 2000, we were acknowledged by the US Department of Justice as one of the leading examples in the nation that was teaching youth "cyber ethics" as a routine part of our curriculum.)
Our award winning teen leadership program -- Digitally Abled Producers Project -- has gained widespread media attention as a unique Service Learning experience for preparing young people from virtually every kind of socioeconomic background for success in the 21st century life space by mobilizing them to serve their communities.
Our annual Expanding CyberSpace conferences and our Young Brave Hearts program for have helped raise public awareness about the issue of the "disabilities divide" that effects so many people who have physical or mental barriers to accessing the full benefits of an increasingly digital society.
For these achievements, the DCN has won several prestigious awards, including three medals from the Smithsonian Institution for "visionary use of information technology to effect positive educational, political and economic change in society." Our work is part of the Permanent Research Collection of the National Museum of American History and in the Library of Congress, as well as more than 30 museums and libraries around the world.
Our national initiative, Stories of Service, is now part of an international campaign to leave a living tribute to the memory of America's greatest generation", by mobilizing members of the "latest generation" to document their lives to commemorate the end of World War II and the rebuilding of the post war global community, so that they can be preserved forever. In 2005-2006, this national DCN initiative will be partnering with the History Channel, the World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee of the Department of Defense, and an international exhibition that will open on the United Nations Plaza later this year, that will feature digital stories produced by our Members.
Our work has attracted the attention of the broadcast and print media, including being featured frequently on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, TechTV, and other networks.
For more information about the Digital Clubhouse Network Story:
Please visit the Digital Clubhouse Network in Silicon Valley or New York City, or go to In the News to see clips of news coverage and read articles describing our work that have appeared in the national media.
You might also like to read our 1999 Smithsonian case study which describes our early years and how we developed our award winning intergenerational digital storytelling techniques.
Examples of some of our digital stories produced by seniors, youth, people with disabilities and survivors of life challenging experiences will be available soon through the Programs and Projects page.