Home to the Mississippi Telecommunications Conference
and Training Commission

Vision statement meant as discussion starter
Prepared for Malcolm White by Pleas McNeel – September 5, 2001

Digital Mississippi

The personal computer is only 20 years old - MTV is 20 years old.  A whole generation is being raised on a new form of literacy . 

The Telecom Center can catalyze major change in the way Mississippi thinks, learns and  is perceived by promoting state wide media literacy. The building can make the statement that something different, and wonderful is happening in Mississippi.

In the building people can encounter the emerging world of global communication  (the stuff and the people using the stuff) in such a way as to inspire a sense of wonder about communications technology and  a feeling of confidence in Mississippi’s  future in the global economy.

A Center in Mississippi dedicated to the technology’s ability to provide all Mississippi’s  people the education, tools and opportunity to excel on the emerging world wide digital frontier.



Telecommunications Conference and Training Center



A developing vision of our mission

The following  is a starter draft, styled as a loose narrative.  We encourage the readers to add their own little stories about how people can use technology.  Soon these documents and others will be placed  on   the web to enable wider collaboration.

The purpose of this document is to stimulate discussion about the design, construction and operation of a state-of-the-art Telecommunications Center to provide a “high tech” meeting and training facility to attract and support technologies enabled meetings and serve the state of Mississippi as a technology transfer center.

It is important to use this opportunity to create a  public communications system that will help train the next generation of Mississippi technology leaders.  The training process described in this document is based of the concept of learning by doing.  Mississippi residents can get an education in technology by creating knowledge and data for the Mississippi Meta Data Base (A centralized data base which points to existing databases around the state. )

THE BUILDING  --------------------------

The  building will be an attractive and modern conference facility with adequate meeting spaces appropriately connected (wired and wireless) to the Mississippi Meta Data Base.  (a “Virtual Data Warehouse”, with the MMDB having pointers and indexes to public and private data bases in Mississippi. )  The Center should be a technology showcase and contain enough space for the “Mississippi Media Lab.” 

The Media Lab will house cutting edge experiments on how technology can be used to improve the lives and economy of the citizens of Mississippi.

To facilitate this process we propose the creation core team of imaginers   (Artist, writers, musicians, architects, designers of all sorts)    to work with the project architects and Mississippi Media Lab  to design the mission and methods that the center will use to  visualize Mississippi’s future.  (It would be wonderful if the family of Mississippi native, Jim Henson could take some sort of leadership role in this.  Kermit could be a wonderful symbol for using technology to transform the state.)

THE SITE -----------------------------------

Create physical and intellectual architecture that would attract tourists to the Center.  Create a space that will support emerging entrepreneurs. 

Design, build and operate a facility that will become the core and impetus of a technologically cutting edge Convention Center Complex in the heart of downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

The building will have clusters – technology enabled meeting spaces, collaborative design spaces, media labs and a space devoted to the creation of and  restoration and digitization of Mississippi arts and letters.

The empty space around the site, not tagged for convention center,   could be filled with a tech and arts community.  Low and medium rent apartments, great restaurants, live music clubs, a world class small grocery stores, exercise facilities, laundry, etc.  (everything people who work with their heads need within easy walking distance)  Preplanning should address this empty space as though the above already exists.  A pretty plaza and water feature could be a physical link

It is important to site the buildings so that a entrepreneurial community can grow around them.  Walking from the office to a technology enabled meeting room in the Center should be easy and pleasant.  If there are large structures surrounding the Center some thought should be given the amount of heat those structures can store and radiate and the ambient temperature of the open spaces that the people will have to walk through.  Spaces should encourage people to hang out and talk.  The best thing that might ever happen in Mississippi could come from an idea that occurs to a couple of people who met by chance sitting in a little garden space near the Center.

The Center will benefit from its proximity to Thalia? Mara Hall (2,400 seats) and the Davis Planetarium (350 seats) and student space capsule for break-out and tie-in with projects and meetings.  And Museum of Art.

            (Mini Vision story #1)

“A weekend workshop held by CIT.MS  (Communication Information Technology

Organization of Mississippi.) and gifted students are meeting to develop a networked system of technology clusters all over Mississippi.  Representatives of state groups in collaboration with universities and local governments are in the big room using the prototype of the 4D map of Mississippi to check the progress of the virtual county museums. 

The map is projected on a giant screen and the people are sitting at tables with wireless laptops and paper and pencils.  They hope to have the Map online on the net in a couple of weeks.  They are excited by the prospect the whole world will be able to visit Mississippi virtually.  Using the map, prospective tourists will explore the state – zooming in from space to special places and visit virtual museums (web sites with audio and video) filled with information and art.

A historian is reading an old diary on his laptop.  His is connected to the Eudora Welty virtual cultural center which is digitizing old documents, objects, audio and video recordings.  He is working on a television show, book and web site featuring the development of Mississippi art to integrate into the digital map of a Cultural tourism trail.  

Each of these participants have been casually organized  into groups of locals and folks from out of town during their lunch  recess and have been sampling different downtown restaurants through out the workshop.  Upon returning from lunch each day, the participants have been asked to write a brief review of the eateries which is being compiled and forwarded to the Jackson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for their dining database project. 

Also, each evening after the workshop, the participants are gathering at their  respective hotels, which are booked to capacity,  for informal “after-hours” socials and  featuring entertainment by local musicians.  At the conclusion of the workshop, the attendees will  take a sunset tour of the historic Farish Street District, view a short film of the life of Jackson native and Pulitzer Prize winning author Eudora Welty and attend a jazz and gospel concert at the Alamo Theatre.  Before  departing Jackson on Sunday morning, the attendees will gather at Thala Marah Hall, just a block from the Center,  for a farewell  remarks from Jackson convention & Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Wanda-Collier Wilson, Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr., WorldCom  President Bernie Ebbers and music by internationally known blues singer Dorothy Moore and the legendary Mississippi Mass Choir.

Create a Showcase for local technology companies.  A market place where entrepreneurs can meet and exchange money and ideas.  Mississippi communications companies can use the Center as a test bed to try out and  promote products and services.

                (Mini Vision Story #2)

“At the workshop Air2Lan can test and demonstrate connections and  devices.  When you come in, you get a wireless device for messaging your friends who are also in the building.  You make a date for lunch at a neighborhood restaurant that you found on the device.  You are looking at a beautiful plate of food on its colorful  little screen.”


THE MISSION  ------------------------------


Conference rooms could serve high tech local community by providing Internet 2  access and use of centers computing resources to enable worldwide collaborative work.

see THE GRID at end to the document on page 13.  


                (Mini Vision story #3)

“We’ve a meeting in the big hall at three to discuss the Jackson watershed  The high school data on dissolved oxygen is complete so we’ll be concentrating on the thirty year community health projections using the big digital map at the center.  We’ll be joined by a group in South Africa who have some experience in this in Asia and Africa and a subsurface modeling software and database.  Using the Internet 2 connection we will be able to do real time 3D modeling of the rivers and streams in action.  ”

Create a process to educate the public on how technology can work for them by demonstrating how we establish Metro Jackson as a “smart region” in order to attract and nurture the high tech companies that will partner with us to provide the technological foundations to  provide dignified employment for our people . To provide an example of “learning by doing” that will stimulate the next generation of bright young Mississippians. 


Mississippi Information System.  Mississippi.Net

Provide vision and leadership to develop a regional information environment.  (“Mississippi Information System”?).

Using the Center as the server farm and hub to connect the Center to Community Technology Centers throughout Mississippi.  Connect Internet2 to at least one CTC in each county.  (Information about Internet2 at

Collaborate with Mississippi Educational Television to create television series about the development of the center and invite Mississippians to participate by starting and staffing CTCs near where they live. 

Use the series to educate the community about the opportunities provided by conscientious and creative use of new media and technologies for teaching, learning, collaborating and growing better citizens.

Expand the means of educational and governmental access through telecommunications.  Create a meta database of community services and information so that a person could type in

“I am a single mother with a high school education.  I would like to learn about computers and the net.  What opportunities are available to me.”


“Show me the projected effects of a 3-inch rainstorm on the 4D map at coordinates XXXX by yyyy.  What time will the water arrive at my door.”


“I am a potential downtown real estate developer.  What parcels of land or existing structures are available for downtown housing?”

Provide a forum for the discussion of public policy related to information access. 

Explore new ways to distribute public information.  Explore e-commerce by enabling community groups to sell art, crafts, recordings, video through the Center e-gift shop.  Provide a stimulus for economic development by providing technical education and support to the business community. 

People will trade their intelligence, insight, energy, experience for a real world high tech education by doing high tech community service.  This will provide a powerful force to drive the project and raise the level of technology literacy in the State of Mississippi.


PROJECTS ----------------------------


Wired and linked with technology to mimic such programs as “Austin City Limits”, “Whad Ya Know?”, “My Music”, “My Word” (BBC), etc.  Main auditorium could become Mississippi culture collector.  Performances of music (blues to classical), drama, dance, taped for “virtual history museums” or “the virtual video store in the centers virtual gift shop,”  (some kind of  “pay for download” system could be devised to generate funds for the performers and the Center and serve as an e-commerce tutorial for the state.)

Promote Regional Culture  Use the technology to connect local musicians to Nashville, Los Angeles, New York or other “music industry cities” to “pitch” their music to recording industry.  Create statewide networked musical collaboratoriums. 


                Our children are our future.  Give them the tools and they will lead the way.

Create, in the building, the central hub for a network of community technology centers throughout Mississippi.  (clean rooms with twenty or so computers connected to the internet and opened to service the neighborhood).  The Center’s functions will be defined by the individual challenges of each site, but each will enable people who live near them to use and learn about computers and the network.  To send and receive email.  To self educate.  To create.  To hold technology enabled community meetings.

A basic resource site for CTCs is the Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet) –

A major function of the Mississippi Information System’s CTCs will be to transfer technology skills to the general public.

This will be done by creating student teachers from the states brightest high school students to play with and learn from the best available technology.

Students who will teach other students who will teach other students who will teach parents and teachers –

And they will do it on PUBLIC TELEVISION


Starting in Jackson – form teams of students and professionals to document the creation of the Center.  Stream the video and audio from the information system’s central web site at the hub in the Center.



Broadcast shows will solicit the involvement of quality students from the region who wish to advance themselves by mentoring and interning with us.  Shows will be connected to web site where a deeper longer versions of the documentary will be streamed. 

The web will be a source of tutorials on how to use technology and offer opportunities for involvement in the creation and use of the system.


Form a virtual space where we can invite expatriate and resident  Mississippi technology talent to help brainstorm the technology transfer process.  Have the student teams interview them.  Invite them to participate in the discussion on the web.  Invite them to the opening of a building that they  helped create.  They will be asked to help design the technology transfer process using the Mississippi Information System.

Example List:  Jim Barksdale, Ebbers, Bob Pittman, the Henson family.  (Kermit the frog)  , John Palmer (founder SkyTel), ?? CEO of Federal Express,   You could also get input from regional Venture Capitalists.     Writer  - Shelby Foote,    producer - Glen Ballard

                _________________,   ___________________,  ______________________.  etc


With Governor Musgrove wiring “every classroom” there’s lots of room to try to tie this into the school system.  This is the garden in which we can grow our own technology leaders.

                Mini Vision Story # 4

“Scattered all over Mississippi are clusters of people and computers working together in collarboratoriums to solve common problems.

At one such place a group of gifted students and teachers have  assembled a cluster of computers

The computers in the cluster  are configured as a GRID  ( “parallel processing”)  to aid in  real time image processing and connected to Internet 2 through Mississippi Educational Television to other computers on the GRID.

People will be sitting all over the room, watching the computer screen projected on the wall. 

The group is  looking at a birds eye view of their neighborhood projected on the wall.     The little cartoon like landscape is dotted  with designs for new houses to be built in the neighborhood.  Some local churches have proposed a Peace Park celebrating the life of a local hero and the students are helping with the design.

The model of the park is being built in a three  dimensional animated virtual representation of their neighborhood linked to the local  Mississippi meta database and in a few days they will run a thirty year environmental simulation for their whole neighborhood.   This will show the effects generated from all the proposed buildings in the model  as well as the  effects of the Peace Park.  The simulation shows that the park will lower the temperature in the neighborhood by 7 degrees in the next five years.  Clicking on any of the building models  will take the viewer to a web site where detailed how to manuals are available for download.

A documentary of the process is being made by a group of high school students.  They will stream the video from their web page to serve as tutorials on how to use the virtual planning tools. “

dedicate the building to the study and practice of non-violence. 

A public facility that has as a stated intention the promotion of peaceful co-existence of all citizens of both the physical State of Mississippi AND the virtual village accessible through The Center.

Mini vision story # 5

 “A group of students is in the media lab designing an action game based on the conversion of a violent computer game into a system for community planning.  High school students are working together in a high-resolution virtual landscape.  They are wearing strange looking glasses that enable them to be to be present and work together in a virtual world.  They are designing a strategy for the harvesting, processing and sale of kudzu to the Japanese and the American health food market. “


The Center (TCTC) is located in the heart of downtown Jackson, in the heart of the state of Mississippi and directly above Town Creek, a tributary of the Pearl River System, the life source of the city’s water supply and that of many other Mississippi towns and communities along the way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

One vision is  a virtual Town Creek model displayed in the lobby of the Center  People can zoom out  to see the whole Mississippi watershed.

You could search the model for a place to have dinner.


  •  MIT Media Lab,  Media Lab Europe,  SalsaNet,  Communication Information Technology Organization of Mississippi,  .
  • Mississippi Technology Alliance   -
  • NASA Stennis Space Center  -
  • Army Corp of Engineers (Vicksburg Unit), 
  •   Jackson State University   -
  • All the other universities:  MSU, Univ MS, Southern, etc.
  • Hinds Community College Eagle Ridge Conference Center  -
  • Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center  -

Pleas McNeel - September 5, 2005


Notes:   Design charrettes using 3D visualization techniques  developed at Media Lab,   Virtual museums = pictures, text, streaming audio and video,   -  Children teach children  - Inside out  to reveal technology,   Home hub for stateside metadata base and state GRID,    Smart Mississippi Project with Mississippi education television    -  PM



Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 16:57:05 -0500
From: Steve Davis <>
CC: Steve Davis <>
Subject: telecommunications conference center

Three thoughts regarding the Telecommunications Conference Center:

1. Seattle's Experience Music Project has a center for playing with and learning about musical instruments. We need a similar center for computers/digital stuff.

2. One segment we should be addressing is Mississippi artists. Unless they are in an academic setting, they have little access to technology. Writers, audio, and visual artists would benefit from exposure to computers, video conferencing, online collaboration, 3-d imaging, hypertext, digital sound recording, 2-d and 3-d input (scanners) and output (plotters and solid modelers). What might the next generation of art include?

3. An interesting article from the Clarion Ledger. Emphasis mine. Now, we need to provide a place for the public to access the info, not just government agencies.

“The Clarion-Ledger
August 13, 2001

DEQ praises mapping system
County efforts lead to pilot project status for state
The Associated Press

                  The state's Department of Environmental Quality was so impressed with Desoto County's mapping system, officials decided to use it as a model for the state. Keith Harkins, DEQ administrative services director, said Wednesday the county's Geographical Information System will become a pilot program for the entire state. Harkins said the county was selected because of the extensive amount of work it has done to set up its own GIS system. "DeSoto County stood out as a place where digital infrastructure mapping was well under way," Harkins said. Harkins said the state program, Digital Mississippi, has as its goal to produce an accurate three-dimensional representation of the surface features of the state. The information gathered can be used in multiple applications for local or state governments including transportation, emergency services, and economic development. County Administrator David Armstrong said they set up the system in 1999 and have spent more than $1 million to implement it. Harkins said DEQ hopes to have an interim report on the DeSoto County program ready by Sept. 20 to present to the Legislature while the new budget is being considered. A final report will be due in December. “




From: "angie durham" <>
To: <>
Subject: Telecom Center Vision
Date: Wed, Aug 15, 2001, 8:35 AM

Good morning Michael, hope all is well with you.  I am attaching a
discussion draft of a first run by Malcolm White (one of the Commission
Members) of the proposed vision for the Telecom Center.  Would you please
put a "realty" spin on what is doable and not, and, give us the technical
take on some of this "dreamy" stuff.  Malcolm and several others on the
Commission are beginning to really think about what this project should be
and we obviously want your input.


-----Original Message in reply-----


From: Michael Hall []
Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 1:06 PM
Subject: Re: Telecom Center Vision

Hey Angie,

What I read is science fact. 

All the stories can be made to happen, in fact we have done so on more than one occasion at the Austin Center.  At the phase we are in now with this project, infrastructure is a key element.  All voice/video/data signals travel over fiber/cooper/coax cables.  Yes there is wireless but it all ends up on a wire (and/or glass) sooner or later.  Putting in the right type/amounts in the right places will enable the ability to "be connect" and thus successful. 

All of the science fiction visions were about being connected.  As technology changes
and the speed of communication leap frogs, the basic infrastructure has to be able to support those needs.  R&D shops build new communication technologies around existing infrastructures.  Why, because unless you are building a new structure, communication services have to run on existing wires because it's cheaper to replace the "little black boxes" on the ends of the wire that modulate the signals than it is to rewire an office, high rise, city, state or country.  Granted there are new communication technologies that are designed to run on new/upgraded media and that is what we are looking at designing.   A facility that is backwards compatible.  Able to run the latest and greatest while still able to support a standard phone line.

Building alliances and awareness with local technology groups, education
agencies and telecommunication providers will help in bringing services to
the MTCTC.

Regards,   Michael


From Angie Dvorak
President/CEO, Mississippi Technology, Inc.
regarding potential roles for the Center:

  • Create premier center for advanced telecommunications;
  • In addition to technology-mediated conferencing capacity for professional
    organizational and development use, provide a home for advanced
    telecommunications technologies research and commercialization projects;
  • Link with efforts and initiatives in the research universities;
  • Serve as the home of communications and information technology industry
    cluster organization, CIT.MS;
  • Serve as an emerging telecommunications technologies marketplace for the
    State of Mississippi;
  • Support telecommunications companies in product promotion campaigns;
  • Recruit high-tech anchor tenants/events that provide a regular usage basefor the center, focusing on those groups, events, and initiatives that target 15-30 participants in high-level, extensive professional development and/or research dissemination programs;
  • Serve as a vehicle by which the science and technology community can be globally linked to the state of Mississippi and the City of Jackson in promoting the area as a high-tech conferencing and meeting site and an advanced telecommunications hub of the South; and
  • Provide an initial phase "smart" facility for an international trade initiative leading to the development of a companion facility that serves as Mississippi's global trade center.


Attached Document:

Strategic Agenda:  To accommodate through advanced computing and telecommunications infrastructure the maximum technological capacity of the client-user.  The emphasis is on infrastructure capacity with the client-user generally providing most or all of the specific equipment needs.

Delivery capacity:  Video, data and voice accessibility to all delivery points in facility either through internal or external origination.

Four-quad perspective:  Each delivery area - large conference area(s), mid-sized meeting/presentation/training space(s), and/or small seminar/workshop/training room(s) - will provide maximum connectivity from all four-quadrants, providing multiple space configuration options.

Technical assistance:  Professional technical staff to support client-based utilization and internal support services.

Technological diversity:  In order to access a variety of signal types to better serve client needs, each delivery area will provide fiber optic [single and multimode], UTP, and coaxial cable.  The configuration of the communications infrastructure must allow maximum accessibility and design flexibility to accommodate future upgrades; however, the wireless capacity will probably result in a limited life expectancy for most of these infrastructure technologies.

Web connectivity:  Each delivery area will have access to a minimum of a DS3 data circuit with multiple T-1 and Ethernet link backup support.

Super Technology Business Center:  A specified area of the facility will accommodate the needs of clients by providing the maximum in computing and telecommunications capacity - connectivity and equipment - for individual use.

Remote Sensor Technologies:  The latest remote sensor technologies available for presentation/communications purposes will be used to maximize mobility in each delivery area with ease of transition between and among different technologies.

Technology-Compatible Amenities:  Lighting, furnishings, acoustical system, projection and other permanent-mount technology support items must accommodate the complex yet flexible functionality of the facility and be designed to accommodate effective and efficient future upgrades.




From: "Dr. Christopher J. Freitas" <>
Principal Engineer Computational Mechanics
Southwest Research Institute
Phone: 210-522-2137
Fax: 210-522-6290


Constellations and galaxies are no longer terms solely applied to cosmological structures.  Due to several enabling technologies, such as high-speed data transmission technology, constellations now refers to local clusters of computers connected to other local clusters of computers, creating a distributed computer with an aggregate power far greater than the individual components. 

Imagine a group of computers at a specific site such as a neighborhood center all connected by a local area network.  Then imagine, each group of computers in different neighborhoods connected to one another through Internet 2.  Each of these neighborhood clusters then becomes a bright star in an Internet 2 created constellation.

These regional constellations may then spiral around a central nexus, the Telecom Center.

The central nexus provides over all control and management of the galaxy (the sum of the constellations), insuring access to distributed resources. These distributed resources may be data archives unique to a geographic location, computer processing power for applications exceeding the resources of a single neighborhood cluster or regional constellation, and support devices such as disk farms, high-yield printers, and interactive multimedia components such as virtual reality caves. 

All of this is not fantasy, but is demonstrated daily in the scientific computing world by the Grid, a national collection of computer hardware at different University and Laboratory sites, all connected by Internet 2 and enabled with public domain software, and shared by the user community. 

A scientist or engineer at one location may virtually acquire computational resources from other remote sites and execute their application on these shared resources.  Further, the application may be developed to take specific advantage of the unique attributes of each computer resulting in an efficient and effective use of the computing resources. 

However, in order for this system to work, a central facility must exist to broker resources and to provide guidelines for use and support of the infrastructure.  In the Grid's case, this central facility is provided by Internet 2.  In the context of Mississippi, this function may be provided by the Telecom Center.