Webmasters first meeting write up for project sharing engine
By Ed Mitchell 8th November 2011
This is a write up of the Transition Network Project Sharing Engine webmasters (alpha group) project meeting, that took place in the Royal Festival Hall, London, on Tuesday 1st November 2011, 11:30 – 15:00.
In summary, a great meeting for everyone to introduce themselves, get the background and some project information, some time for discussion, and specific breakout groups to explore the topics that emerged from the discussion.
- Introductions, background information and discussions
- Discussion and points raised
- Breakout groups and notes
- Next steps
Introductions, background information and discussions
(Taken by Mike Grenville. From left to right: Michael Waugman, Chris Setz, Richard Walter, Nick Garnder, Charlotte Du Cann, Ian Edwards, Gary Alexander, Jim Kirkpatrick, Ed Mitchell, Mike Grenville, Chris Cant, Helen Cunningham, Paul McKay, Chris Croome, Laura Whitehead)
The group introduced themselves to each other, then Ed introduced the Project Sharing Engine, with some background about the Transition web project.
It was agreed that all attendees were happy that the ‘alpha’ group would be a group of people who agreed to:
- attend 3 meetings face to face during the 18 month process
- use the mailing list in between meets to feedback, discuss etc.
- install the alpha and beta widgets on their websites
- ask their users to use the widget
- observe and possibly survey their users about the widget
- then they would see what emerges – might become an expert group, hard to say now
Discussion and questions raised the following points
- What is it that isn’t already out there on the web?
- How best to co-ordinate activities and find out about projects?
- How best to connect and disseminate information and knowledge between Transition initiatives
- How can I benefit from the collective wealth from the movement?
- I want to see it (web technology) used in groups
- Why not set up a bot to crawl lots of sites, apply the scraped data to a taxonomy so re-capture and assess what’s out there?
- What will the various permissions structures look like?
- The talk is of a distributed ‘solution’ but the technology resolves around a central server – is this resilient?
- How about setting up a group of transition techs who could act as a geek squad to help Transition Initiatives as they set up their websites?
- How is this related to the process of setting up a Transition Initiative? And then monitoring the connection?
- It’s not clear what Transition, or the web stuff, is actually for
- It wasn’t clear that the webmasters’ group isn’t a totally technical group, nor that the project was social as well as technical
- Can we detect what platforms are being used by TIs automatically?
- How will we measure this thing?
- Is there a ‘user hierarchy’ [Ed’s words] that needs to be considered in the design?
- TI site user
- TI site webmaster
- Where are the boundaries for this?
- A widget can be put on any website. And many projects are set up by people who were in Transition groups then moved onto do projects which are not then called Transition projects. This is a big question.
- Need to define things carefully:
- what is a project?
- what are the guidelines of usage?
- how is this presented?
- what is and what isn’t transition?
(Taken by Mike Grenville)
The discussion ended with the group agreeing how to break out into smaller groups, and what topics to resolve around. The following four groups were agreed.
User engagement group
- People want to know who to get help from. They can search for information already.
- Geographic element important. Want someone local.
- Topic filtering too.
- Who sets up the filtering? The webmaster or the user?
- Functions: search (or filter), display, adding your own.
- Ticker runs all the time, collecting and displaying stuff. But now I want to know stuff. I want to find it.
- Collation is most important. All in one place. So need to get the info uploaded.
- Never get the 90% to upload. Only important if it will be used.
- Lots of projects around, but few on website.
- Need to make project sharing sexy and wonderful, then people will do it.
- Blogs useless? Just too much information?
- Two types: serendipity, info you didn’t know you wanted, and info you did want.
- Need for a projects coordinator in each group. Network of social reporters.
- Difference between reporter who is actively looking for content, and participant who is just part of the project.
- Once people are engaged, they will update entry automatically.
- Do we want any changes to entry to be circulated?
- A role for secondary people to gather the information.
- Have more than 1 widget on the site, giving different topics (food, trees, heart and soul, etc.)
- Need people who are fully engaged with project, topic, website.
- Groundbreakers establish the format, that makes it easier for others.
Measuring success group
- Basic internal
- Project delivers on time/budget.
- An increase in new project registrations.
- Number of widget installs.
- Number of hits/clickthroughs.
- Connections made from one project to another (timeline? geographical?)
- How many new connections sparked?
- Could the projects have a means to register appreciation? “Like” buttons, 5-star, etc.
- Order by rating.
- Check-in idea at an actual site (like 4Square)
- Associated conversations around projects – attached specific forums.
- Effective grouping/categorisation.
- Growing set of categories. Defined by editors?
- Extract common data into related references?
- To be a knot or not to be? Or: Rubbish in, rubbish out
- Process: Person > widget > authentication > moderation? > output
- Person = anyone
- Widget = owned by site owner > 1st level of authentication
- Transitionnetwork.org registration
- need to authenticate individual submission as officially local TT?
- Is it two widgets
- what is being displayed?
- just a list of projects? Something more?
- Does the submission Process require its own widget or is it just a signposting to TN.org project submission form?
- Guidelines for site owners (ie widget instance owner)
- explain to those making submission that site/widget owner has editorial responsibilities and decides what does or does not go forward?
- appropriate projects that are a bad fit for the site, housing the widget?
- how would gate keeper access data to edit to ensure a submission makes sense or just to correct spelling mistakes?
- How to self filter project submissions AND filter display via widget?
Privacy, security and scalability group
- Server supports https, therefore our recommendation was to use https for all widget connections.
- Suggested using OpenId if appropriate to assist users create the sharing account for their initiative.
- Depending on the anticipated volume of data, we discussed two options for scalability.
- Hardware upgrade and server optimisation: apache > engineX
- Cloud implementation
- Internationalisation – will there be communications among Transition Initiatives in languages other than English?
- Set up mailing list
- Report back about meeting
- Set up group space (probably community microsite on the Transition website)
- Write a first outline and design for the PSE (using TN wiki for documentation)
- Build the alpha product
- Test the alpha product
- Meet again to reflect an alpha product and its use
- Laura Whitehead
- Chris Croome
- Ian Edwards
- Richard Walter
- Jim Kirkpatrick
- Chris Setz
- Mike Grenville
- Chris Cant
- Charlotte Du Can
- Gary Alexander
- Helen Cunningham
- Michael Waugaman
- Ed Mitchell
- Nick Gardner
- Paul McKay
Thanks to all for coming – a great day with a lot covered, and the gentle beginning to a big project!