November 24 in the history of the web is the day that American Online (AOL) announced that it had bought Netscape, in 1998, a move that should have reopened the games of the “browser war” with Microsoft but not. But here I like to recall a much smaller story, which took place many years later, in 2014.
That day in Basilicata they organized over 140 events in Basilicata: 140 events in a region that has 131 municipalities. The thing was all the more amazing because they were digital culture events, moments to learn something about the Internet, or rather to learn that there was a need to learn a lot more. The format was created inspired by a very successful UK project: Go On UK.
The goal is to spread digital skills among the population with “bottom-up” events. The debut of the Italian project had taken place in Friuli Venezia Giulia, a few months earlier. But there was Trieste, one of the most digital cities in Italy. In Basilicata it was different. In Basilicata, thinking of organizing digital events in every small town was a challenge that smacked of redemption. But that challenge was won. I remember that the evening before the organizers met in a restaurant in Potenza: on the table there was a parade of glasses of prosecco, twenty to be precise, one for each region. They had been filled according to the availability of ultra-broadband: the glass of Lombardy was full, that of Molise was for teetotalers. That table set was the infographic of the digital divide. The next day was a big party: there was talk of the Internet in schools, businesses, public offices, squares. I toured the region in a camper, discovering authentic digital samples in microscopic communes in the mountains. When we left, someone said that this time the future didn’t stop at Eboli. It was an incredible season: we really thought we could help the country overcome the age-old digital lag by creating a great network of people.