The Sharing Engine
By Ed Mitchell 15th February 2010
This is a quick outline of how ‘The Sharing Engine’ should pan out.
What is The Sharing Engine?
The Sharing Engine is a ‘feed aggregation’ tool which will enable us to listen to and re-publish news of different types from around the web. If you want to see one in action, have a look at one of our friends who has one about Permaculture. There are a few types of news which you might imagine as ‘streams’ of continuously updated information:
Transition Initiative post news on their websites all over the web. We will aggregate these news posts on the TT web platform. This will enable anyone to see news from around the movement without having to go to all their different websites, and without having to ask all the different initiatives to add their news to a central website.
As well as this, the Sharing Engine will also publish a ‘feed’ of this ‘community news’ so that anyone can subscribe to it and not even come to the TN website to get the latest community news. They can also re-publish this community news feed on their own sites; making our technical model ‘distributed’ – ie not ‘centralised’.
Our aim is for wider and wider de-centralisation in the long term to reflect the bottom up nature of TT.
‘Partner news’ and ‘Transition Voices’:
As well as the ‘community news’, we hope to aggregate posts from ‘partners’ (who are respected authors or organisations in the field). This will be ‘partner news’.
From this stream, the editors will select individual posts to be ‘transition voices’. Transition Voices is an extension of the amazing work Rob has been doing on Transition Culture – an exploration into what is Transition.
How does it work?
It is driven by RSS feeds.
In order for it to work we need to know where initiatives’ news feeds are: the URL. We hope to gather this information when initiatives edit their Initiative Profile pages in phase one of the ‘adoption phases’ – read a high level outline of the adoption phases.
What is the long term plan for the Sharing Engine?
We will work through the following phases gradually, learning as we go. So this is not set in stone, more a guideline:
1. Sharing engine: V1: news focus: the aggregation unit behind aggregating and re-publishing on the site:
(a) community news gleaned from initiative websites (we ask for feed links in the initiative profile page)
(b) community news gleaned from our hosted ‘community microsites’
(c) ‘partner’ feeds: respected blogs we aggregate and re-publish as a continuous stream
(d) ‘transition voices’: individual blog posts from the partner feeds identified as ‘transition voice’ and promoted so on the site
2. Sharing engine: V2: events focus: aggregating events information from initiative websites and re-publishing on the site
3. Sharing engine: V3: projects focus: aggregating projects information from initiative websites and re-publishing on the site. also aiming to enable remote uploading to projects database from websites. This will require a lot of co-ordination between a group of advanced TT website owners and is a long term goal.
We are not ready to offer anything beyond Sharing Engine V1 for some time. The projects database will be up and running and we need to get that going centrally before any distributed activity. Sharing Engine V3 is a significant beast requiring Drupal 7 and a lot of social co-ordination and outcoming technical work (on our site and websites around the web participating), so that’s all ‘blue sky thinking’ at the moment.
That’s about it for now.
For those who made it to the bottom, here’s a picture of Elvis and Tilba the cats doing their impersonation of internet enabled data feeds: