Project Timeline 2005–2010

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Advisory Group Meeting #5

Categories: Advisory Group, Meetings
Date: 2 August 2007
Contributors: , , , ,

Meeting August 2nd, 2007. Notes on the discussion about the website development.

In attendance: Andy Lloyd James, Hugh Pattinson, Ross Gibson, Ben Goldsmith, Annmarie Chandler.
Apologies: n/a

A front page and primary functions

Objective is better comprehension for novice users.

Firstly to make site less confusing on first glance. And from coming at it cold, which was our response from early experiments we did with it, “While you can hunt around and get a sense of what’s what it takes a while to do this – what’s what and what’s where”. So need to think about it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have much time.

Need a front page that gives basic information about the project itself for people going there for the first time.

From the front page there should also be an opportunity/link to dump in a “thought” (either we as a team or the person coming back later on could tag it).”It’s a letterbox”.

Andy: we could simply have a front page that was one ball, with other balls sitting off it). We could have a front page that said “Outside the Box” that had one ball.

Hugh: we as a group can do the classifications or we have some applications running underneath that do them. That’s quite advanced but that’s the area we are working in with unstructured information. It would make a methodological contribution.

The Map doesn’t differentiate currently between empty bins and bins that have content in them.

Thought box doesn’t allow for an external link only ones within the site itself. You can’t dump a web page or report straight in there.

Not sure if there is a limit on characters allowed in thought box.

There is no scroll to take you back to the top of your text after the text leaves the window so you cant change anything at the top and have to post it, no preview or spell check function. And once you submit the text it’s uneditable.
You can delete now but not edit.

Ben: It doesn’t have a search function.

Andy: summary
We need a letterbox on the front page.
We need a library on the front page where you can dump PDF things that we can tag later.
As well as dumping documents we need to be able to link to them within the “thoughts” mechanism.
And a spell check and a search function.

Ross: on video talking about the project?

Ways of Looking at the Site:

Ben: if you had only the top-level balls on the front page, you could just see those 6 –what we spent some time talking about was the 2nd and 3rd levels. As a user you are currently locked into the structure that the site currently has, only admin people have rights to move things or add things. We spent some time talking about wether it was useful to allow users to identify the sub areas, because that in itself is an exercise in determining what are most important issues that people see at a particular point in time. i.e. “Here is Global Networks and what do you think are the most important relationships relating to these?” They may then potentially create that. That wouldn’t mean we dispense with what we’ve done on the map what it could mean is that you had a “variety of views” of the site-so you have this global view which is ours which is a researchers view, which is an iterative view in that we add things to it as it changes and over the course of the life of the project. So the iterations of the site become the research tool.
And an individual participant might have their own view of things they think are important. So if a person had a particular interest in intellectual property of finance, that would be the bit they see, because that’s the bit they might work on, and then they can click somewhere else to see other views.

Ross: if we did that and we had this more contributive aspect to it, that supplies us with the stuff to synthesise into this global view? (Ben) yes exactly, so at any point in time we can see the issues people thought were important. At the moment the site doesn’t show this easily (issues related to budget and time).
(Ross) that’s good because you could then see different ways the site could reflect that, there would be these spiles of activity where everyone gets on, confused or strong opinions and you’d see that so it would be a really good documentation procedure.
Andy developers have said every change on the site if recorded, so you can go back to any point in time and see what it was doing at that point. Does that achieve what you are talking about?

Ben: Not entirely, it does as a global level but not at a particularised individual user level.

Ross: a function that actually simulates that behaviour

A Development Project?

Hugh: It’s a software project and a development project in and of itself. Its almost like we need a development team for this site that is not just the technical people, but people like all of us who are going and putting all these ides in as part of the project in a systematic way. And also what we could do is get some of our more keen people in the industry to help us with this. What we’ve got currently is a software environment that is just beyond what we would call proof of concept (that means we can look at it and see bits where it doesn’t all quite work).

Our aim is to get it to a point where its launched in production form in such a way we can all use it, our mates can use it, the technical people can all use it and everything’s cleaned up. Maybe we need an expanded collaboration group for this development team.

Andy: How do we fund that?

Hugh: Possibilities of an “open source” approach where users in the community develop it with us. Where you have people in digital media who are experts who can look at this and be able to program and work on it. We could also have the content experts like some of us. The complete development would have to be moderated and managed. From where we are coming from what we may have to look at is “in kind” or spreading the costs of resource deployment differently than we’ve done so far in the budget.

The risk we have is that we will probably get a lot of things sorted out and we can use it, but dies that mean we are at the point where we are bullet proof enough for all the rest of the industry to use it.

Andy: if we resolve the issues we’ve talked about we’ve got a highly usable tool to engage the industry. The difficulty we’ve got if we go down the bigger path is resource and time. We need to run flat out end of September/October/November.

Hugh: I think there’s too much risk in trying to improve it in a month for it to work as an adjunct or a platform to really support the project and the workshops as we’ve conceptualised them so far.

Andy: Its not really designed to do that. What its designed to do is operate as a shard information site where people could dump stuff in as they thought about it, they could see what was going on, they could see what the new thinking was. That was its fundamental purpose. What exited the industry execs was seeing on one page all the issues. What we are giving them is a living mind map.

Ross: with the open source idea, its not clear to me how much “welding” has gone by the developers already that may be proprietary. For it to be open source development you would have to open the whole thing up.

Hugh: No, open source just to do with software is a 5 years ago idea. Development is going beyond the software to all information created, so the way were talking about is we as a community who are the people who developed this and the people were getting information from, we work together as a community to make this work and develop it collectively.

Am: we had the idea originally of developing something that would be a generative tool for these sorts of conversations, to go on always really, so that it was remaining there.

Regardless of workshops happening, thinks there is a social risk the site could be rejected as a tool if it’s not taken up by the community who are going to use it. We discussed the possibilities of a parallel situation where we had a small group (core) who worked on a continuous effort for getting the site responsive for users, but he main program goes on and we work within that parallel environment. Not to say we wouldn’t have to re look at budget

Ross: That’s doing two things. It’s keeping a rigidly defined brief and is also loosening the brief in an entrepreneurial way. Might be another funding project. Were rolling out another project on the strength of this existing project.

Hugh: we have to keep the timeline in context.

Ross: If the specs we’ve mentioned are fixed could the people who’ve already used it do what they want to?

Uncertainty.

Ross: OK if we invest in the specs we’ve discuss first and get a small core to test it (the insiders) we can get the project rolling.

AM: it will need a dedicated person on the team to see the tidy up through with everyone, preferably someone who is IT literate.

Ross: Have to be careful about “feature creep”

Conversation goes on around consensus to concentrate on the tidy up with developers and use small group of users – going over again needs for front page. Andy with coordinate with Hugh and Ben will revise specs and Andy would like to get it to designers next week.