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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Building the RSA Networks Prototype

Hello openrsa readers.

I'm going to blog our progress on the RSA Networks Prototype here so we can benefit from even more of your comments and guidance.

After collating a huge mass of material, ideas and suggestions over the last week, we finally fixed on some simple first steps and put our noses firmly to the grindstone.

When I say 'we' - I should introduce the rest of the development team (as David did such a nice job of introducing Andy and myself on this blog): Liz Turner on design and user interface and Peter Brownell (left, with loud hailer) on code and architecture. This is the same team that I put together to develop - RSA Fellow Neil Johnston's initiative to network creative businesses in West London.

But enough preliminaries - you are probably all eager to hear what we're actually going to do.

The most important function of the Network Prototype by all accounts is to foster online and offline discussion and development of new projects amongst the RSA fellowship. There are many other functions that can be added later, but these are the ones we are focusing on for the prototype.

To explain how we are going to do this, allow me to introduce more new faces: Norah, Simon, and Trevor - our hypothetical group of RSA fellows.

The idea here is that ideas are contributed by fellows, and through discussion (online as blog posts and comments) and offline (as events) they are refined and developed into projects.

Of course there will be a lot more to this process than we are outlining here, but this is the very basic flow between idea, discussion and project.

We also have some key principles that we are going to use in the development process that will inform how we achieve this:
  • We are using Drupal, an Open Source toolkit as our starting point.
  • We will be building this fast, explaining what we are doing (here) and releasing our results and trying to do two or three micro-iterations by the 22nd November.
  • We don't want to re-invent the Web(2.0) or create a walled garden for fellows (facebook style), so we will be using a lot of RSS aggregation to pull in discussions and media from other sites (such as flickr, youtube, technorati, blogger etc.) and show them alongside relevant projects.
I hope that gives you some indication as to what direction we're going in with this.

Please do give feedback and ask any questions you have about what we're doing - here or to, and I'll try to pry myself out of the process for long enough to respond!

Until tomorrow then...

1 comment:

Joy said...

The RSA has always been a hub and attractant of people who are movers and shakers as well as thinkers and observers. I believe that setting up a system of networks, whilst a good thing, is slightly jumping the gun - now shoot me down!

If we are, as RSA fellows, going to do more than a series of 'me too' projects like many other organisations, governments and businesses, then we need to think fearlessly as to:

firstly, what is right and wrong with society now - a SWAT analysis of society in all its facets and impacts and

secondly, do a SWAT analysis of the Fellows....then we will be able to see what power and skills are there to effect a BIG project, as befits the legacy of the RSA.

The RSA has worked on projects, viewing them on presentation, assessing, funding etc for many years, and automating this may speed it up, which would be good, but the Fellowship within the RSA could do something that no other organisation is doing if it looks at what society is really about, work, warts and all, and then sees what that HUGE project could be rather than creating a facility for a proliferation of many disparate projects, which I fear might happen in all the enthusiasm for unleasing the networks, with the selected few who are invited to attend on 22nd.

Huge differences can be made if we think fearlessly and then plan practically and rationally. The RSA is worth it, and so are all of us. Many further projects linked into that will flow from that key work.