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Posts Tagged ‘social-sourcing’

We are very excited to announce that our session on open source as a model of collaboration got accepted to one of the premier conferences on systems thinking in action! We decided to go to our core experience and crafted a really solid session that Tirza and I are very excited about. It builds on our work in open source communities, and especially the Social Sourcing approach we pioneered. The work on this talk will kick off a series of articles later this spring and summer, including the “principles of open source communities” (can’t believe I couldn’t really find something good out there on this already!) and more on the social sourcing model in action.

Here’s some more on the session as we proposed it. Working title: “Open Source Your Collaboration: Save Money, Increase Engagement, Build Community”

Description: The model of Open Source software offers lessons for those organizations seeking to cross institutional boundaries for genuine collaboration towards shared goals. We will review the tools, techniques and cultural norms of sustainable communities, highlight where these may challenge entrenched mental models and habits of organizations. We will show how to create shared ownership and foster continuous listening within a diverse collaboration. We also offer a straight-forward approach for those wishing to lead or facilitate collaborative projects. The presenters will speak from their experience in Open Source projects over the last 9 years, as well as from their experience extending this model to non-software projects.

Learning goals:

  • Understand Open Source software projects as a form of distributed, self-sustaining collaboration.
  • Learn the Social Sourcing process for leading projects based on a collaborative design process that engages participants and creates shared ownership of the outcome.
  • Identify where open collaboration models can potentially clash with existing mental models and organizational culture.
  • Take home tools and techniques for ensuring the needs of members are continuously heard and responded to in their work to build sustainable collaboration.

If you’re interested to check out more on the topic, see the Pegasus Communications website for the conference. Hopefully we’ll see you in Seattle in November!

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For the last month, I’ve had a chance to extend the thought/work I started two years by organizing the GetPaid project to a new Plone product project, eduCommons (ifPeople‘s team is also working on Selenium tests and unit tests in the project too). GetPaid organizing led me to what I call “social sourcing”, or finding collaborative design processes for an open community, which became my way of conceptualizing open source organizing (for a non-developer). That was a topic of real interest for eduCommons, who is in the process of shifting from a centrally funded and developed project to a community supported project.

Background: eduCommons leverages Plone content management system to make an OpenCourseWare (OCW) system. If you don’t know OCW, you are missing out on a ton of free knowledge, made famous by MIT’s effort to put all its courses online, freely available and followed by many other institutions. So many institutions, there’s actually a consortium of over 200 universities around the world (of which about 80 use educommons!). A while back, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation recognized this was a big deal and stepped up to support a re-usable, open source platform for OCW. Thus was born educommons, which originally lived at Utah State’s Center for Open and Sustainable Learning. Personally, I was trying to collect all the (playing) cards of the COSL staff and am sad I won’t be able to complete my set now! Maybe enPraxis will do something similar…? Plonistas, note that these are the folks who brough us the Content Licensing product and other goodies!

Anyway, the current situation is that eduCommons, while having a substantial user base and a solid history of development, is now going social sourced. That is, the community will now need to step up to fill the needed roles to keep the project going, fund new work, and ensure the well-being of the project going forward. This means a whole new strategy of communication with all the users, and with it more tools (yes, more mailing lists!  I also prodded them into registering the #educommons irc channel in open source style).

The project has got some great tools, and now even uses a buildout to make it even easier to check out (also check out the demo). There will be some more changes getting organized over the next couple months, so keep your eye on educommons.com for the latest. Seriously…check it out!

Speaking of which…that’s what I need to be working on now. I am presenting about social sourcing at the Connexions/OpenCourseWare Consortium conference in Houston, TX on Friday (Feb 6 @11am) along with Tom Caswell, who is a project manager for the OCWC. Since it’s exciting work, I wanted to share it.

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I attended my first Atlanta Python user group’s meeting (PyAtl) this month (see the meeting announcement). I have a regular conflict on Thursday evenings (soccer:), but made this one to give a talk on Plone. Our local Atlanta Plone users group has merged with PyAtl and serves as a Special Interest Group now.

Brandon Rhodes opened the session with a discussion of search trends, using Google Trends, and left us with a question: why isn’t Python and Plone going up in the trend lines? That framed my talk nicely, as I got to share my enthusiasm for Plone, which I believe if more people knew about certainly would be trending up! I gave a talk to help those there learn more about Plone, an intro and answering some questions about why people choose Plone. To my surprise, several people there had prior Plone experience, but not recent work. So it was like re-chosing Plone…they recalled things like dtml and lots of through-the-web editing and other pain, so I think I played the role of dusting off the memories and filling in some details about where Plone has gotten to now. In particular, the fact that it is easy to install, uses extensive Zope 3 and the community has adopted best practices in development widely, that there is lots of documentation (and books), and that the community rocks!

I didn’t do any demos or code stuff, just introducing why we should care about Plone…hopefully that will be the subject of our future contributions at PyAtl meetings!

The presentation videos are now up on the PyAtl site, though the sound is quite low. I will be posting my slides as soon as I get a chance to clean them up a bit…but they were based heavily on Jon Stahl’s slides, the World Plone Day slides, and bits and pieces from Roberto Allende and Nate Aune’s presentations too :). See Plone Evangelist hq for more of those.

Also, as part of our merger to into PyAtl, note that we now have domains atlantaplone.com and atlantaplone.net working! (please note that the .org address has been lost to domain hell).

My first meeting certainly was fun (and I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Holden’s talk on Python community…more on that in a later post), so I hope to be back soon!

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