Explaining the Transition web constellation
By Ed Mitchell 8th December 2011
The Transition Network website does not see itself at the centre of the Transition movement’s online activities. It is part of a ‘constellation’ of different websites and networks supporting the various activities that Transitioners get up to, and a tool to help the various actors share their news and projects information.
- What the Transition Constellation looks like
- Transition Network’s pieces of the constellation
- Other pieces of the constellation
What the Transition Constellation looks like
(big thanks to Chris Wells for these lovely diagrams)
Transition Network’s pieces of the constellation
The website, at its most important, hosts the ‘user generated’ directories of Initiatives, Projects, and People, as well as the Ingredients, Stories and News.
The Network website is not trying to be all things to all people (a common technology trap). We do not want it to be a ‘centre’ of anything; it exists to support Transition Initiatives’ websites, not draw energy away from them.
Also, it simply can’t compete with Facebook, or your mother’s favourite knitting community, so aims to co-exist with other sites, using the Sharing Engine.
The Sharing Engine
The ‘Sharing Engine’ is an invisible service which chugs behind the scenes connecting many different strands in the constellation.
We think it is the future of the Transition web project as it distributes information power to all the Transition Initaitives’ sites instead of centralising it on one hub site.
At the time of writing, the Sharing Engine is collecting and re-sharing news stories from Transition Initiatives’ own sites, and we are working on the ‘Project Sharing Engine’ project, which will make it possible for all Transition Initiative websites to present projects information from around the movement.
Other parts in the constellation
Transition Initiatives’ websites
Websites set up and run by Transition Initiatives themselves. Ranging from the very simple to the very complex, the super-trendy to the totally casual, they are there to represent Transition Initiatives in their own communities and on the web.
They are important tools for initiatives’ awareness raising, and community building.
We want to help them by connecting them to eachother, offering them information from around the constellation to share with their communities on their own sites (and doing other good things like raising their google search rankings).
We have a list of Transition Initiatives and their sites in our Initiatives Directory, which is entirely driven by Transitioners themselves, and we are well aware it is far from complete, but it’s a good start.
Transition National Hub sites
National Hubs are emerging around the world, from Brasil to Germany, Japan to The USA. We keep a track of them on our National Hubs listings, but are aware that this is never a complete list. Many of them have their own ‘National Hub’ websites which have different sets of functionality and levels of sophistication.
A mega-project, being worked on by voluntary Transitioners and related people around the world. An ambition to support the provision a ‘website in a box’ service for Transition Initiatives around the world in multiple languages, all connected, easy to use, with key features like mapping local areas, swapping objects, news, forums etc.
- Technical work has been given a big headstart by the group behind the Community Tools platform in Estonia, with earlier planning and design work done by Transitioners in The USA and The UK in the Transition Towns Drupal group.
- Socially, there are discussions about what to do about the web going on between Transition National Hub people around the world in which Transition Network is supporting the Transition Drupal project as the technical answer (but it’s not our call, we can only support this suggestion).
It will require support from the National Hubs and funding from somewhere in order to be used and be sustainable, so we’re doing what we can to help connect the various people involved and participate in the various conversations holding it together.
If this comes together it will be fantastic and we at Transition Network are doing what we can (in our own time) to support it.
There are many online forums and communities and networks and tools dedicated to activating change in the world. We admire them all and wish them all the best, and call them eco-portals. We hope to connect with those with similar ambitions to Transition by sharing information about groups and projects and so forth. This is harder than it sounds as in spite of the urgent need for collaboration between all the different movements, we regularly use different terms and structures in our websites which make this difficult.
So we are trying to connect with a few of them who have clear overlaps (Wiser Earth, Project Dirt) as a starting point…
Blogs and news websites
Tonnes and tonnes of them; we know. News and blog sites all over the web. We are experimenting with making sense of them all by collecting and re-publishing various news feeds in our blogs section, learning as we go.
Social Networking websites
Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, etc. etc. etc. You love them or you don’t, sometimes it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship. Some say that Facebook *is* the internet. We have outposts in the various places which you can join, follow, friend, etc. but we don’t have time to do relentless social networking online, we all prefer to build community in our local areas, rather than just virtual ones…