My friend, Cyrus Farivar, filed this report for ABC Radio National in Australia's Future Tense program: Cyrus, who lives in Oakland, but is currently studying in Berlin, takes a look at the Actual Cafe, a coffeeshop that Sal Bednarz opened to bring people into a sense of community in Oakland. Oakland has a high crime rate, and a long history of government neglect and outright animosity. It's a tough place to live, even though plenty of people love living there.
Bednarz, as I wrote back in February (tipped by Cyrus, of course), was dismayed to see that people weren't talking and interacting, but that face-down computing filled his store. After a long dialog with customers, some of it online, he opted for a laptop-free weekend policy. It's not enforced with a heavy hand, and customers seem to like it.