Monday, January 23, 2006
Online Community Building Tools
A friend recently called me up asking my help to enhance the ties of some activist groups he is touch with, by using the web.
I have been reading a bit about the web2.0, I had a quick brush with Ning and I mused on philosophical issues.Now, it is the right time to act.
I am pretty certain that what I want to do is to not start some kind of website project from scratch.
The group already has a small website, acting as a web frontend for the organization, but I would rather go for existing services or a mush-up rather then trying to run the infrastructure on our own.The other point is that, while I am very willing to spend time to create new stuff and put ideas together, I am not willing to put much effort into the maintenance.
I also believe this is a chore that the community itself should take care of, learning how to live their own spaces and take care of them.I can see that on the web there are plenty of web2.0 apps, but what I see missing is some kind of glue to put together what I need into a single mushup.
The lack of a single sign-on is particularly critical.
We could go around this, by gathering user subscription requests through the main site and then automate subscriptions to all the different sites of the mush-up, making sure the usernames and passwords are unique.
However this is both labour intensive and it raises some doubts from a privacy point of view. What I am doing now is to look for a all-in-one community container.
Something that provides single sign on to a number of basic services, which allows html customization and enhancements, and that allows easy administration of the system.
These are some promising links that I have found:
Thursday, January 12, 2006
HTTrack - website downloader
Simple to the point web site downloader.
I looked at several website copiers and I installed and uninstalled 7 of them before settling for HTTrack.
Read more at www.httrack.com/
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
This might look like a silly fashion story, but in my opinion it's an important first. When Levi's maes jeans explicitly shaped so that they can house an iPod, it means that that the virtual is taking more and more mindshare.In true millenarist style I could say that This is a Sign of the Impending TechnoRapture .
Leveraging Power through the Web
You might have already read about the PriceRitePhoto episode .
To make a long story short, this camera dealer in NY was trying a cheap scam on people and when a guy confronted him he started becoming seriously abusive. Now, this guy was also a blogger and he denounced what had happened on his blog.
News of the event went out to digg and within hours the 'people of the web' started taking action. Mostly they started talking about it. Within a month the story of the event has gone on the NY Times and PriceRitePhoto seems to have gone out of business.To me this event represents the first sign of a shift of power to the community. For the first time people have the communication resources to coordinate their efforts and act together for what they believe it. Even more important, abuses can be denounced and made clearly visible.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Imagine if you could tag the physical world with text, pictures and voice, as you are there experiencing it. Imagine if you could surf the soul of a place from the impressions of people that have experienced it on the web. The 'real' world will merge with the noosphere, as information and material objects start interleaving.
You don't like the service in a cafè? As soon as you leave it you give it a negative rate. The next customer approaching the place will see your negative review overlayed to the place, if she is tuned on your layer of broadcasting, on your 'fold'.
You will be able to leave poems hanging from the branches of a tree under the window of your loved one, and the tree will sing them to her in the morning, as she walks in front of it.You can see battles raging in the streets of french medieval towns, and you can follow legionnaires from old movies along the streets of rome.
You can see people in the park coloured according to their interest groups or according to the topics they would like to discuss. Maybe an engine will suggest that two of you have an interest in common and will gently suggest to introduce you to each other.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Beware of Upfront Design
Complex systems and emergent behaviours in the management of a 'natural' park
Read more about Fear, Complexity, Environmental Management in the 21st Century at www.michaelcrichton.com...
Wisdom of Crowds
Now we have a word for emerging social behaviour: Wisdom of Crowds.
Read more at www.fastcompany.com/mag...
The Business Experiment
Now, this looks a bit like the Koiné idea from the previous post - in some ways.. here you have a distributed sparse management (potentially the customers are the board, rather than just being distant shareholders), whereas in a Koinè you have sparse employees.
Read more at www.thebusinessexperime...
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Koiné - Time Shared Self Sustaining Social Systems
Now I would like to elaborate on another concept that interests me: medium-long term communities that can survive even without the full-time contribution of any of their members. This is almost the opposite of a TAG, that totally relies on the enthusiasm of a very specific cabal of people.
I initially called this initiative Time Shared Self Sustaining Social Systems, but then I settled for Koiné, which means "common", as in "of the community".
A Koiné tries to answer to the question: how can I fruitfully organize in a scalable way the limited efforts of a large number of participants? Suppose that you would like to help a certain cause that you care about, but you would like to devote it only a couple of hours, sometimes. Or maybe you would like to devote a week of your holidays to some activity, but a week is just enough time to waste the 'serious' workers time without contributing anything to the community.
How can you design a self sustaining social system that works using bits of time from volunteers? How can you design a system that has roles and memories and attitudes and action plans for those roles? How can it be so simple that people can become immediately effective within that system? How do you build a peer-to-peer occasional community that can be effective in the 'real' world too?
How do you do it?
How would you design, let's say, a company that operates 24/24 hours but only between 8pm and 10pm on every time-zone? How would you design a phase-nation that exists only on saturday afternoons?
I would like to see TAGs spontaneously emerge through the internet, and in a sense they do already, but I would like to work more on the specific social format that I outlined. Open Source is similar to a tag, but it is longer lived. A TAG is a bit like the inception phase of an open source project, except that it lives *only* through its inception. It is not meant to continue, even if it can later regroup for another purpose.
A <TAG> is a social Spike. You do it to push some kind of boundary, either personal or social. You do it to gather knowledge and to give it back to the larger community. A TAG lives through the time of a single Spike, then disbands.
I have just found out about about Ning, a software platform to build social software and I want to see if I can use it to build a platform supporting TAGs. In Ning you can clone an application that you like and then expand on that. While looking for something matching the TAG concept I found find-a-developer, composed by Jonathan Aquino, the renaissance man that also brought us YubNub.
I was glad to see that Aquino was working on something with a structure similar to TAGs, and I have no doubt that I have found a very good shortcut cloning Aquino's social app. I'll post more on TAGs as I develop and change the tagpod meeting place.