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We're looking into local online networks as part of this week's Knight Digital Media Center program. (For background, please check my first post about the course.

The course instructors define a local network like this: "In virtually all communities, residents use small networks to communicate about common interests. These networks may not be visible to news organizations that cover larger markets, but smaller market newspapers often know about them and the role they play in connecting residents to news, information and each other. These local networks and blogs may exert influence in their online communities and could be important sources of information. If they are not present in your community, that may pose an opportunity for your organization to start one."

What local online networks are most important to you?

Personally, I'm much more networked to work, for better or worse, than I was 20 years ago. I also can check my children's school progress almost daily. And, of course, I can use the newspaper Web site in countless ways to search for information.

The first reading assignment this week explores the explosion of information available now vs. 20 years ago:

-- Old Growth Media And The Future Of News

I have a vision of bringing our region's online networks together through the umbrella of VictoriaAdvocate.com. The Internet can be wonderful, but it also can be a mess to find the reliable information you're seeking.

We already try to pull together all of this information in print. We have many new ways to do this online, too, such as through a Crossroads dining guide or a garage sale guide.

What online network do you find most useful locally? How might the newspaper help?