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Many may not realize it, but we’re in the middle of a revolution. A digital one, that is.

“I feel like we are on the brink of one of the greatest things for the last 1,000 or so years.” said author Douglas Ruskoff to a crowd at Vancouver’s City Hall. He continued, “I feel what we are going through now is the bigger that the invention of the printing press. It is really as big as the invention of text.”

On February 26th, Vancouver citizens packed into a city hall conference room to discuss growing Vancouver’s digital economy. The keynote speaker Douglas delivered his message in an appropriate digital fashion using Google Hangout.

In his book, “Program or be Programmed” Rushkoff discusses the pros and cons of our current digital revolution. He also asks, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, “and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.”

Rushkoff is also an outspoken critic of Facebook. In a recent CNN article, he wrote “Facebook has never been merely a social platform. Rather, it exploits our social interactions the way a Tupperware party does.”

Dr. Dene Grigar, a professor at Washington State University – Vancouver says the vision for #nextchapter all started when the faculty got together and decided to curate a reading event about our digital era. Their choice was obvious: “Program or be Programmed”. The faculty added it to their student reading list and formed study groups that would discuss the concepts presented.

When talking with a representative from the Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ), Grigar says the concept grew to include Vancouver. The impetus was to build an awareness of digital media literacy in the community. From there #nextchapter was born.

Setareh Ghiasvand Alizadeh, who goes by Seti, is the project manager for #nextchapter. She states that the purpose of #next chapter is to “build digital literacy in Vancouver Washington.” What is digital literacy? According to Seti, “it is the use of technology in the workforce, within the family, and using that knowledge to your benefit.” Commenting on the kick-off event program, she said, “We have a laptop orchestra, we also have a local digital graffiti artist who will be performing during the launch event. So, along with our sponsors, who are supporting us, we have three co-chairs, two are which of the city of Vancouver, Alisa Pyszka and Jack Burkman, And we have Dr. Dene Grigar who is also leading a team of six students from the Created Media and Digital Culture program, that is in charge of creating all media objects and promotional material, web development, mobile app design, mobile app development, social media strategy. #nextchapter is also part of a bigger initiative in order to bring an innovation partnershipism to Vancouver Washington and Clark County area.”

The City of Vancouver’s Economic Development Services Manager Alisa Pyszka also commented on the importance of this initiative. “We have a great legacy of business’ here to build on. We have WACOM, we have HP, we have Logitech, we have software companies emerging downtown. It’s truly fertile ground that we believe we have the workforce development opportunities business here and true community support to move this knowledge base economy.”

#nextchapter, in partnership with the IPZ and 18 local sponsors is a three year initiative that plans to increase digital awareness in Vancouver. Focusing on “Ethics in Technology” this year, “Digital Diversity” in 2014 and closing the initiative in 2015 with “Digital Democracy”.

An upcoming #nextchapter event is March 2nd at the downtown branch of Vancouver Community Library.