This thread and surrounding conversation literally kept me awake for hours last night.
So caveats for everything that I say in this comment;
unMonastery is not migrating away from the EdgeRyders platform;
and this thread controvenes the idea of "the person who does the work
calls the shots" - which is the principle reason why previously I haven’t
raised issues with the EdgeRyders’ platform, because I haven’t had the time
or skillset needed to make the fixes/changes I desired.
So I want to break this up into 3 areas:
unMonastery Matera vs unMonastery vs EdgeRyders
Different Tools, Different Jobs. Unchartered Territory
Baseline fixes/requirements for the EdgeRyders platform
1) What is unMonastery? What is EdgeRyders? What is unMonastery Matera?
As I understand it, unMonastery is a concept that grew and was built from the
EdgeRyders community, which finds its physical incarnation in a prototype
based in Southern Italy, Matera - it has though a life of its own, EdgeRyders is its
launchpad, if it’s successful its good for both ER and unMon but in different ways.
unMonastery Matera is a project that is building its own autonomous way of existing
in the world - through a reimagining of what work and living mean in the
present moment. Each iteration of the unMonastery attempts to rebuild everyday
life from the ground up, sometimes it will adopt elements from previous incarnations, if
it makes sense but that means that it will pick, choose and build tools based on perspective
of its participants.
There weren’t any rules, structure or decision making processes in place when we arrived
in this location, because that would have undermined the ideas and desires of the individuals
who have given up their lives for a period of time in order to realise this brave experiment,
it would have also introduce a destructive hierachy into the group dynamics.
The online prescence of unMonastery Matera has some key requirements:
-The lowest possible bar to entry, due to the fact that people we’re trying to reach aren’t exactly
the digirati which makes up EdgeRyders.
-Have an at-a-glance quality, so projects can be understood quickly and allows individuals to
make instant contact via phone or email.
-Support visualisation and plugin data growing from the project - unMonastery Analytics etc.
-Be easy and fast to integrate and disgard things we think up on the spot, OSM street mapping, d3js etc.
-Have aesthetic autonomony
Right now the EdgeRyders platform doesn’t support any of these elements, to fix this one needs
to learn Drupal. I’ve spent the last 8 months project managing the development of a drupal based
website, we have 2 designers and 2 developers, the site is still a total mess. There is a dramatic
difference between learning markup, some js, using existing APIs and making commits on GIT,
to learning all these things then learning how to integrate them into drupal on top.
That’s not to say we’re not interested in doing that but I’ll get to that.
2) Different Tools, Different Jobs. Unchartered Territory.
Picture the situation, you turn up in Matera there’s a constant downpour for days - you’re meeting
a group of people who you barely know from different backgrounds, with different skillsets, different intentions
and desires who for the foreseeable future you will be sharing a bedroom, eating with each day and working with daily.
Sounds fairly intense doesn’t it? Add to this, there’s no heating, no furniture, no internet - there’s
literally no infrastructure except you, your laptop and some unreliable WiFi spots dotted around the city.
How do you organise? - Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood but the impression I get from this post is that
we should have been organising around EdgeRyders based blogposts - creating tasks on the task tracker for;
fix the heating, reduce the humidity, get new keys cut for the building, find local food producers, document all receipts etc etc.
Wrong tool. You need something light and responsive, that doesn’t have Internal Server 500 errors, because
the environment feels bleak enough without additional technical problems.
This is the first time that EdgeRyders’ has attempted to do something that has a heavy and sustained
offline component that requires dealing with a difficult logistical environment with multiple stakeholders.
The bias of the platform towards long form blogposts doesn’t meet the very pressing needs we’re currently faced with.
Why are we using proprietry software? - This wasn’t my suggestion, this initially came from [elf Pavlik], who I’m
sure you’re aware is not exactly predisposed to using proprietry software, his reason; using expensive
to build software gives you the ability to work quickly together, identify the qualities and features needed to work
effectively. Once you know what you need, you can create a roadmap towards migrating and building open-source
solutions to solve the same problems.
In the projects I work on, my daily project management suite is made up of the following: SmartSheet, Twitter,
Pens and Notebooks, Remember the Milk, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Trello, EdgeRyders.eu, Popplet, Gephi,
Microsoft Excel, Evernote, Dropbox, Gmail Tasklist, iffft, Google Groups, a whiteboard, post-its.
I don’t ever anticipate that EdgeRyders’ will be capable of accomodating all these things and I wouldn’t want it to but I have a
workflow that allows these things to be relatively seamlessly connected to one another - in instances where there
is a limitation to connect the various services, I use them less.
- Baseline fixes/requirements for the EdgeRyders platform
An instant fix for all of the convergent desires outlined above would be for the EdgeRyders’ platform to
support data interoperability - it needs an API and its needs it’s underlying technical infrastructure to uphold the values it promotes, but it also needs some other things.
-a heavily optimized wysiwyg editor which strips out all unneeded HTML/CSS
-autosave / drafting functionality
-better file upload support
-The platform has begun to move at a snails pace in recent months, it needs a clean up and the optimisation of
-Remove error reporting upon posting at the top of the page.
-Investigation into the server logs, Internal 500 Server Errors have started to become very prevalent.
-A staging environment for experimentation and testing, so things can be properly tested before going live.
-A stripping back and removal of all unused pieces of functionality.
-Decent documentation in an obvious place
-Single video tutorial on using the platform
-Help notes in relevant locations in the GUI
-User journeys that take a service design approach to EdgeRyders; which account for on platform, off platform
and offline interaction - so that the platform can serve the way people work rather than restricting it.
Fundamentally, it needs a technical development roadmap and a rigorous scoping exercise to assess priorities and
needs. It also needs a team, it needs a designer, developer and a good teacher who has enough time to teach
those who are less able but willing.
These are my thoughts and feelings, and now that I’ve said all this I don’t feel comfortable just leaving it here
expecting someone else to fix the issues.
So here’s my offer, I’ll spend half a day a week whilst I’m in Matera scoping, researching and mocking
up functionality/fixes for the platform - this though is the limit of my skillset I can’t build it, I’m
not a drupal developer and neither is anyone else at the unMonastery.