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Thread: New Project Structure: TZM Network Expansion Proposal

  1. #11
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    Boldhawk & 4ndy,

    I agree with everything you are saying here. You both make very good points, this is very good feedback, so thank you for that. Let me begin by apologizing for my lack of knowledge of any previous attempts at an advancement of this type of system, as well as my lack of tech savvyness. This fact about me, come to think of it, is actually what drove my vision of this proposal. Because it seems that there are many in the movement, like myself, who would greatly benefit from a temporarily simplified and familiar user interface such as this one. As you pointed out, it is certainly nowhere near what the ideal global communication system would be, and the points you made are clear and accurate indications of that.

    And that leads me to a question that I had not considered before creating this presentation: In the effort to build an online organizational structure to help facilitate the progress of TZM’s goals, are we to create a simplified system of project development that caters to the skills and knowledge of the current majority of activists (which, I would argue, most to be not very tech savvy at all, such as myself), or are we to gather all of our best developers together to work to create the most ideal global communication, effort prioritization, transitional and resource management system on the planet, OR can we do both at different times or at the same time?

    It’s a question I think should be discussed, and the issue could probably be looked at in a few different ways, but allow me to share my thoughts to this particular angle. It all should come down to the movement’s current priorities, really. As our priorities change over time, so do our efforts. I think we can all agree that our current priority with this movement is spreading awareness. Very general, very simple, just getting the word out there of what the human race is capable of. What I think is happening with the movement now, as I somewhat outlined in the beginning of the presentation, is that many are lacking inspiration to continue their work and dedication to the movement’s ideas because the burden of time and commitment in organizing awareness efforts that is compounded by a lack of a centrally used communication and organizational system has become so overbearing. And I’m not talking about people like us, who are communicating on this forum right now, I’m talking about those who maybe have liked the Facebook page, read a couple paragraphs of the new orientation guide, and are really interested in helping out, but are confused as to where to start. They maybe have gone to a chapter meeting, but feel as though they’d rather start something on their own to spread awareness. Maybe something online based, maybe something in their local community. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting too specific with this, but, in general, I think those activists do exist on a large scale and I think they do need a place where they can go, feel like they belong, see what other people are doing, and be encouraged to do something themselves, no matter how simple. So, in the effort to harness this potential and keep the general practice of spreading awareness going, I would suppose a system such as the one in this presentation with the added improvements and suggestions would help this cause.

    Now, at the same time, developers can also be active in efforts to constantly improve this user interface, as well as creating other more advanced systems that can either be added on to or replace the initial one. And the initial network certainly doesn’t have to be used by everyone in the movement who wants to do something. It will have its limitations and many more involved projects will likely need to use systems outside of it to facilitate their efforts. So, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we should at least get something out there for people to use sooner rather than later, and then improve upon it as we see fit. This doesn’t mean we have to make something exactly as I proposed. The entire proposal is, in fact, merely a suggestion. I only went into the detail I did because proposals that are too general are often overlooked. I do agree that flexibility is important, it’s just how flexible do we become before we draw the line and say, “OK, this is what we’re going to do for now, and we can make improvements later as we see fit.”

    Anyway, I am very happy with the input I’ve received thus far and I’m excited to hear more! ☺ I would like to eventually move this discussion to a wiki-based process if enough there is enough interest. Any other suggestions of how to facilitate this are most welcome. Suggestions for improvements to this proposal that I’ve collected thus far (including yours) are listed below:

    1. A degree of anonymity to be possibly introduced into the process to prevent personal attacks or group bias.

    2. To showcase project ideas and their progress to the whole TZM community in order to focus common interests and to avoid duplication, it would be very effective if a basic framework could be put in place to categorize projects by Discipline, Project, Location, Responsibility, and Progress.

    1) Discipline/Subject Area (Education/Media/Health/Agriculture/Technology…)
    2) Project (Computer Science/Documentary/Hospitals/Urban Farming/3D Printer…)
    3) Location (Global/National/Regional/Local/Individual…)
    4) Responsibility (Coordinator, Team member…)
    5) Progress (Assigned, In Progress, Stage 1 80% complete, Stage 2 45% Complete, Stage 3 20% Complete, etc.)

    3. Having the option on the platform to break a task down into very visible stages 1,2,3 etc. can prove very effective in providing clarity and focus to help manage priorities, progress, and time. Statuses can be for example
    Stage 1 80%,
    Stage 2 45%,
    Stage 3 20%,
    Stage 4 0%, etc.)

    4. If other visitors did want to see the project group’s discussions then they could have the simple option to change the view of the page in order to learn what makes that group’s progress so effective or if they think they would like to commit.

    5. Perhaps there could be a one-month trial period of joining a group at the end of which the new member is sent a short survey to complete that captures their feedback on the group in terms of its activism and areas for improvement. This will encourage accountability and continuous improvement of the process.

    6. Some activists may not have sufficient IT access to take full advantage of the platform. They may need to be given additional time or support by coordinator or peers. Another solution could be to make the project exportable/downloadable in various formats such as word that can be printed and used.

    7. Modifiability of admin rules and functions such as approval of task assignment, progress update posting requirements for projects that rely on small open-ended improvements over a long period of time.

    8. Option to extend project communications outside of simplified wall-based structure into wikis/forums to prevent clutter and inefficiency.

    9. Adding an RBE-Slanted crypto currency component should the project organizational structure also eventually seek to become a societal transition-based structure as well.

    10. A more in-depth look at management features beyond the micro-management features described in the presentation.

    11. An integration of a media-based prioritization system where people can focus on issues they are passionate about while also being able to keep an eye on critical global priorities. Possibly something that can come from the project review utility or something wiki-based.

    More to come!

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4ndy View Post
    For background, please review details of the Developers Team and info on their dormant Phoenix Project, check out the current/old Zeitgeist Resources project/sharing website, and a recent proposal that another user posted for a separate project-listing website.

    I like most of what I saw in your presentation so far, though in some places I think you're over-extending into possible details by saying how a page "will" be laid out rather than making it clear to be just a suggestion, while in other areas you've been a bit vague about issues that are quite obvious to developers, that projects would have tasks set, they would have required skills and be assigned to users, some of them would have deadlines, etc., which simply echoes almost every other project management system out there.
    Also, many of the automated admin rules/functions that you mentioned, such as having a coordinator need to approve a member taking up a task, or setting a member as inactive after 30 days, would need to be optional/modifiable on a per-project basis through a settings menu, as some very long and open projects, take wikipedia for a great example, rely heavily upon people being able to jump in quickly to make small improvements/contributions whenever their busy schedule allows, while there may be some intense projects such as production of story-driven multimedia, which people may even want stricter communication/membership security on in order to prevent spoilers from being released.

    Flexibility is important here. I agree with Boldhawk that in some instances, such as software/hardware projects, a 'facebook-wall-style' communication medium would be extremely inefficient and quickly become cluttered/unreadable. In those instances the use of a wiki and/or threaded forum board may be crucial, as for instance a wiki has been very effective for compiling information within Open Source Ecology, while a combination of mainly forum use with a wiki for record-keeping has been successful for our Linguistic Team.
    However, for some less tech-savvy people (and I never cease to be amazed at just how many there are), who may want to organise a community activism project such as a town-hall meeting, festival or movie screening, something like a comment wall, or a similar function with minimal learning curve, may be more helpful in enabling them to coordinate their efforts.
    4ndy and everyone,

    I've been taking a look at the Dev team wiki and the Phoenix Project, and was wondering if you know what happened to the Atrium site, or if there is any saved information from that? I would like, if there is enough interest, to begin developing this TZM Network Expansion Proposal, but I wanted to make sure that I'm taking all previous development work into account. I would rather learn from past projects about what made them become stagnant, and to also not plow over any previously created work. I'm also wondering if you or anyone have any suggestions about the form in which to introduce a centralized project development site for this proposal? Would it be good to get into contact with the Developers Team Wiki site and launch the project from there? I also have the means to create my own Mediawiki based site that could solely be used for this expansion. I would also much rather this project be in collaboration with Global coordinators and TZM Network. It would be great to get their support. I have contacted them both directly and am awaiting their response. Again, I want this to be something that can evolve as an idea, rather than just sticking to the specifics of the base proposal, so wiki-based input to what I've already created may be ideal for developing an improved framework. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  3. #13
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    Hello,

    First of all, I'm glad that someone took the time to think in such alternative to improve the moviment as a whole. As a software developer and someone that worked in differents projects for TZM, I think I can add some comments to what is being proposed here:

    1 - I see what you are proposing as a huge Project Manager System (PMS). Today there are many open source out there: http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/open-s...-software.html

    2 - Can you tell me some examples of projects that can be cover by this system? What are the examples of projects that already happen in TZM that could be done more easily, if managed using this kind of system?
    I asked that because I know by experience that, for instance, the Linguistic Team projects couldn't be done using such tool because our tasks are too specific. That's why the LTI is now creating their own tools to manage all the different projects.

    3 - You described a system where we can have a database of users and skills, and we can "recruit potential members". Can you give me some examples were such approuch is used?
    I used to have the same thinking that having a database of skills we can easily contact people to work on different projects but I realise that I actually never saw that happen.

    4 - I read the PDF were you describe the project. In the development point the view, the whole project is huge: it would take mouths just to plan how to develop all the structure. The coding itself will took much more time, and then come the testing and so on. I'm not sure if today we have volunteers enough to handle a project like that. And even when the system is done you can't garanty that people will use it.

    I hate to sound pessimistic, but we have to be realistic when talking about huge projects and what the moviment can actually accomplish today.

    As a software developer, when I think in helping the moviment I first have to question: Which are the current projects that are going on in the movement and how can I use my programming skills to make that easier to them?
    What I mean by that is: usually people build a system because they know exactly what they tasks are. The system you describe seems to me too generalistic.

    I wont say you should give up of everything. No!
    But I encourage you to think in small projects that are happen today.

  4. #14
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    hello,
    i was part of the Phoenix Team and worked with Boldhawk and other members on the this now for over two years and i am not sure why we as a movement are not looking to change and utilise existing technology and work practices to achieve our goals! my concerns, back from these days, which are still valid today is that we want to build a decentralized application using a centralized hardware / software stack! all the proposals being presented are based on this and IMHO it is wrong and will cause us issues and take away resources in having to maintain these systems. This post explains what i am trying to propose: https://github.com/TZM/phoenix-zgc/w...buted-Workflow

    the basis of the ZMGC project, which i 'forked' from the initial Phoenix project tried to achieve this - here is a link where i discussed this on the TZM UK Forum - http://www.tzmforums.co.uk/showthrea...full=1#post787 and here is https://github.com/TZM/tzm-blade the chapters template i have been working on. There is also a Trello board https://trello.com/zmgc

    as an example small project, i worked on, is the Z-Tabzilla widget (http://tzm.github.com/Z-Tabzilla/) which basically 'pulls' all the International Chapter sites from Darr's Google Fusion Table, which contains the definative Chapter URL list and contact details. this work was started by the Australian chapter and i improved it slightly in that the user only needs to update the Google Fusion Table, rather then the javascript code. this code can be further extended so that we don't have to rely on one person to keep the GFT table up to date, but this is an exercise for another time

    i would also agree with michael, in that we need to start on small projects and small pieces of code to improve our way of working together with no one central authority, like the way the Open Source projects are done, using Git as a tool and Github as the platform for collaboration!
    Last edited by norman; 04-04-2013 at 10:14 AM.

  5. #15
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    I understand what michael is getting at there - one of the first questions ever asked when an end-user is asking for a software system to meet some need of theirs, whether a project management system or any other little app, is whether it would be more appropriate to create a bespoke (written from scratch in-house) solution or to adapt an 'off-the-shelf' solution to their needs. A lack of available time/resources/talent often drives people to use off-the-shelf solutions, and since TZM was such a young movement at the time of those previous projects, the lack of software development & programming talent available goes some way to explaining why off-the-shelf open source solutions (such as Open Atrium, which is a module for Drupal) were being evaluated, and perhaps even one of the reasons why TZM has so many separate websites for different projects/applications rather than integrating them all on one host (aside from a benefit of multiple-redundancy that it brings).

    As has already been said, having multiple features in one place can be very beneficial for general project management as they make a software tool flexible to different demands, just as Github and SourceForge both enable wiki pages to be attached to any project and some people use them thoroughly while others don't even touch them, this can be seen in the nice variety of features combined in Open Atrium. However, combining multiple very different features into one software application in such a way that they work elegantly and with few bugs, let alone having them interact with each other, becomes a very difficult and time-consuming task as the number of features increases, and so michael is quite right to warn us of that.

    Nevertheless, I just remembered a name of the most recent major active project that I remember on this frontier, which was described as the 'Zeitgeist Global Connect' website, which seems to still be undergoing some development with some concept to show for it here.

    Whether or not that is still in progress, I can see a possible benefit of both working long-term on such a detailed bespoke project management system, while in the short-term you could create a very small application for TZM Network that does little more than enable people to create directory pages with a description of their project, with links to appropriate third-party applications such as Trello, Google Docs, various public EtherPad sites, possibly even some wiki pages, etc., in order to federate those functions to off-the-shelf solutions while maintaining some level of centralised cohesion to listing/finding projects. A skills list should need nothing more than a small expansion to user profile pages in order to add fields that list skills in a way that makes them easily searchable, and a small corresponding expansion to the advanced search for members.
    I need to shoot off just now to do some work outdoors, but I'll try to elaborate on that point later.

  6. #16
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    4ndy, the zmgc.net is the fork project i started as a stop gap solution in order to achieve the then goals, which were to provide an easy way for members to create chapter website with all the tools needed to further promote the RBE message. but as you said, we lack time/resources/talent so people use off the shelf systems like the wordpress tzmchapter.com templates or open atrium, so i have evolved this into a even simpler application stack running just javascript on both the server and client and connecting directly to the 'resources' (video, images, documents etc...)!

    i think it is just a fundamental issue here in that we are trying to move away from a centralised system so why build our infrastructures also on centralised systems - where you have a 'server' serving 'clients' - this is what i am trying for us to avoid here!

    for example, the orientation guide would have been so much better if more people could have contributed to it and we used a similar workflow like coders use to improve their code.

    there is the progress, and participation between members of projects, there is no one that is in charge as everyone is free to fork the entire project and then send changes back for others to review and comment on. this topic has already been covered by the TED talk http://blog.ted.com/2012/09/25/furth...ing-in-github/ and by many others before.

    at the london z-day, the key content was to connect-the-dots, so lets connect the dots rather then enforce a particular CMS/PMS system, which will be like trying to put a square peg inside a round hole!

  7. #17
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    Thank you very much, everyone, for your insight. It's good to hear from those who are currently involved with software development in the movement. Your various points have allowed me to look at this whole thing from a different perspective similar to what some of you have described, so here is what I've come to realize when thinking on them:

    First, what we have is that all of these other PMSs exist, which I, for some reason, was just too involved with my project to initially consider. In addition, there are many different currently existing initiatives and possible initiatives that require varying degrees and formulations of management strategies, most of which use a variety of different currently existing online systems and programs to facilitate their work (i.e. the PMSs you mentioned, wikis, etc.). And they're all doing their own thing, which is great, because each different project requires a different set of facilitation needs in order to function on its own merit. Optionality and flexibility are already inherently built in through the various tools currently usable on the internet, so there would be no point to try to build that same function into one system. Going even further, the initial concerns in the proposal really don't specifically call for a new centralized project management system. Yes, I do mention a lack of volunteer organizational structure, but further input has allowed me to realize that it's very difficult and rather pointless to attempt to facilitate every single TZM initiative into one restrictive PMS. Thus, my conclusion regarding this presentation is that it may be best to simplify the intentions of the project by eliminating the project management system function all together from the proposal. This would simply mean eliminating the task function, the task stream, and the task search in the database, as well as a few other changes. That way the goal of the expansion is more so focused to be a tool that helps connect TZM's initiatives to people that want to help in an easy to use online social setting.

    This would also mean simplifying the intentions of the project as a whole, while also keeping some intentions exactly the same. First, the project pages function idea could be changed to merely adding a few features to regular pages (a function that already exists on TZMNetwork) or groups. Added optional features that could help maximize the transparency of the project as far as progress updates, currently active team members, etc, could still exist. I'll have to think more on this, though. The categorization and tagging features would serve the same purpose in this instance because the searchable database (the tool that will help connect potential volunteers to potential projects) will now be more of the central purpose of the expansion. This way, rather than being being a project management facilitator, TZM network could serve as a project updates, recruitment, and media outlet, allowing users to promote their project, search for help (if needed) and post news, photos, and updates as they wish. Management facilitation would then be designated to whatever outside utilities they see fit to use for their specific project. I suppose the subproject idea could also still stand as well, but simplified to the same promotional functions as i've just described with the main projects.

    The user profile expansion idea would generally stay the same, but the Active Team Member designation could change from rather than being automatically assigned to a person when they assign themselves to a task, they can just have option of writing in the profile information as "working on this project" just as one would say they work at a certain company on Facebook. The optional input sections in the info section on the user profile would stay the same, allowing the project search utility to serve the same function, just without the task feature.

    As far as the accountability system, obviously all task features (deadlines, unsatisfied responsibilities) would be irrelevant, but I still think the review process, especially for projects, can play a key role in finding relevance and therefore helping to prioritize what projects are going to most help the movement spread awareness, and also providing a possible starting point for criticism and further discussion on the forum.

    Anyway, the other good thing about this simplification is that it allows for the overall goal of the project to be broken down into smaller expansion phases, as was also mentioned, because the additions aren't so dependent on one another to function properly. For instance, simply adding the optional information inputs into the already created page function as well as the user profile will be a great start to creating a more functional database to search within. Then, maybe the next phase could be adding additional inputs onto the standard search to begin creating the more enhanced search utility. The review process could then be added separately, and more functions can be added as the system evolves, etc.

    So basically what 4ndy was talking about with less of a focus on enforcing the PMS as Norman mentioned and more so focusing on a constantly upgrading tool. That's all I think I really think my original intentions were, to just add some simple tools to an already created user interface to help maximize connectivity with the movement's projects and initiatives. Again, everything I discuss here is a suggestion for guidance. I in no way have the capability of heading this project from a technical perspective, as I hope is clear from my lack of development skills, so take it as you will.

  8. #18
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    not sure if it is just me, but albus your voice is so much like Peter Joseph's

    anyhow i have looked at your video and have to say everything appart from the time constraints and some other Built-in Accountability points are built within the Github interface https://github.com/features/projects - here is the TZM organization page https://github.com/TZM where repositories are the projects and members is self explanitary.

    the time constraints can be linked to the project's trello board and use github pages as the front-end interface to each project. here is a link to some wireframe interfaces i did sometime back https://gomockingbird.com/mockingbird/#yy5xpoz/mBiAW for the Phoenix project.

    so far this has zero cost for hosting and administration!

    for the search we can use Freebase, Yahoo Pipes or other tools to first index the data and then display it, an idea i am trying to implement with the media player widget is detailed here - https://github.com/nkhine/phoenix/bl...d-audio-widget - the design pattern is the same as the TZM Network widget, where instead of video/audio links we have URL's and the same design pattern can work for say localizing/internationalizing the web interface. again, an example of this, http://chapter.zmgc.net, is using the i18next.js library to localize the interface pulling all the data from the locals.json file.

    here is another use case, mindmaps, there is a project started http://mind42.com/mindmap/b4fdd8c8-1...a-ad248a989a17 for Urban Farming, Aquaponics System, but this uses a closed abit like trello in that it is free to use but not open source; the point here is that we should use libraries like D3.js to build this, here is a howto: http://blog.ouseful.info/2012/05/11/...s-using-d3-js/ at the core of which is just a .json file

    the interesting and most important part of this proposal is that every time someone clones / forks a project, there is a whole copy of this, so no one has a complete ownership of it.

    another by product is that we can run the entire application directly from your own machine and only come online when we want to submit our changes and also means that we can even by pass the ISP's and run this entirely on a P2P network.

    start simple and make loads of iterations, use technology/software which does not have lock-downs and design patterns which can solve a range of requirements would be my approach and is what i have tried to stick to and promote.
    ANT-Z likes this.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by norman View Post
    hello,
    i am not sure why we as a movement are not looking to change and utilise existing technology and work practices to achieve our goals! my concerns, back from these days, which are still valid today is that we want to build a decentralized application using a centralized hardware / software stack! all the proposals being presented are based on this and IMHO it is wrong
    While I was root'n around reading this thread a question came up. Is BONIC a "decentralized application using a centralized hardware / software stack" ?
    Sorry if this is off the topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RhythmAnarchy View Post
    While I was root'n around reading this thread a question came up. Is BONIC a "decentralized application using a centralized hardware / software stack" ?
    Sorry if this is off the topic.
    it is a client-server architecture, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BOINC_c...ver_technology

    but it needs to be made clear that a decentralised system simply means in this context that everyone has the entire code/content/database etc on their own machine and updates are done from a 'central' remote repository; but don't think the 'central' as being a server-client is just a 'place' where you have the option to push or pull updates or a backup place.
    Last edited by norman; 04-05-2013 at 06:49 AM.

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