Friday, December 16, 2005

Things to do while I'm gone

Things for you to do while I'm gone (till Jan 9th):

Theatre of Yugen composer's blog

Well, it's about time. San Francisco's Theatre of Yugen was the organization to whom I originally made my modest proposal; now the composers for their ambitious, five hour (plus or minus) Cycle Plays project have started a composer's blog.

Rock on (as I'm sure they have said.....)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SF Wireless Community Meeting - Thursday Dec 14

Why am I posting this here? Despite a narrow regional focus, this issue will be coming to an urban center near you. Secondly, just as Municipal Wifi development folks need to hear about community needs as much as business needs, that community needs to be represented by arts organizations as much as anyone else.

San Francisco's generic TechConnect page (scroll down to see more details).

TechConnect Community Update
All Community Members Are Welcome!
Thursday, December 15, 2005, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Where: 4th Floor Conference Room, SFPUC, 1155 Market Street

Monday, December 12, 2005

Web 2.0: Already under your nose

Still trying to figure out what the heck I'm talking about when I refer to Web 2.0? As someone so eleoquently put it in last month's TechSoup Web2.0 event:

Web 1.0 = oooh,'s a picture of my dog that I put on the Internet with a caption underneath and I learned enough HTML to do this.

Web 2.0 = oooh, look...I can put a picture of my dog on the Internet using a web application so I don't need to know the code to do so, I can tag it so people interested in dogs can find it and leave their input about it, I can link my picture with a web forum that has information about dogs that other people may want to read about.
And I've slowly been adding Web 2.0 tools to this blog for months now. (Of course, if you're reading this via an RSS feed, a) you don't see the things I'm talking about, b) "RSS feed"? - you're already ahead of the game).

Blogging: Well, if you're reading this, then you're already seeing the benefit of the most ubiquitous Web 2.0 tool - blogs. Going back to the description above (and my previous description), I don't have to learn any HTML to be able to post information on this blog. Certainly, this blog is more of a meandering series of comments and observations - but that's just one way to use a blog.

Aggregating and tagging URLs: is a website / tool that allows me (after I've registered) to "bookmark" URLs, and add a description and tag ("category") of my choosing to any of these URLs. I've been collecting URLs of things important to me (personal and work wise); and I can share them with you, as I have done in my series of links to the right of the blog (above the photos). I just added a "blog" tag for arts orgs that are using blogs to discuss their process. Remember, this is "live" - so any time I add something new in, it shows up at the top of the list when you click the link.

Tagging and sharing photos: Flicikr is an online site / tool that allows you to upload photos, create sets, tag ("categorize") photos and share them with - well, anybody. While I don't have a Flickr account myself, I can stll use this tool to display the most recent three pictures that a) have been uploaded to the Flickr site, b) and are tagged with "theatre". That's what those pictures are to the right of the bog.

There are others out there, from to Wikis, but I just wanted to point out that the world of Web 2.0 is really not that far away. And that's the point. For some more examples of what nonprofits are doing with Web2.0, check out the NetSquared portal.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Open Source Content Management Systems - or "Your New Website"

In a nutshell: there are tools out there, developed by an open-source community dispersed around the world, that are designed specifically to do the things many community-building nonprofits are trying to do through their websites. (There are actually a ton of tools out there, but I'll get to that soon....)

What I'm referring particulalry is "website-in-a-box" solutions (commonly called "Content Management Systems" or CMS) that are:
* relatively easy to install and configure (given all the functionality)
* "easy" to use (i.e. closer to than the back end of a classic CMS...)
* designed with community use and community-building in mind
* come with built-in functionality like calendars; updated events / news pages; email list management, blogs (which can be used for the "notes from the field") and other tools
* are "free" - i.e. do not cost anything to purchase because they are open source packages

(More on "What is a CMS?" )

I want to clarify that CMS software has been available - commerically - for years; what I'm talking about is the development of open-source CMS software that has now become stable, powerful, and beginning to become user-friendly. And it's free. (Although don't expect to be able to put up a website for free, just because the software is free....) In any case, whether these tools are commercial or open-source, they are designed so that the web administrator's time is spent managing the information, not programming the website.

Some great examples of CMS-based websites are here:

In fact, both of these sites run on open-source CMS's (Civic Space Labs for the first, Drupal for the latter). All the functionality - the consistent templates for new pages, the polls, the blogs, the gallery - are a built-in functions of the CMS. The organizations themselves provide the specifics of the design (the colors, the layout shapes, etc.) and the content (the text, actual images, etc).

The distiction is key: none of these tools are designed to _do_ the work; they faciliate the work of community building. Again, time can be focused on content and relationships, and not on programming and troubleshooting.

I want to spend some more time here talking about these tools, people who used them (including my own experience running a Drupal site) and what projects we've got coming up that might be of interest to folks. In the meantime, here's an aggregated list of arts sites that are using the open-source CMS called Drupal.

Media Alliance wants your opinion on Wifi in San Francisco

I diatribed (not ranted) a couple of weeks ago about SF Wifi, and should you care? Unfortunately, it was too late for people to get their voices heard directly by city hall. But then again, there are always other ways of getting heard....

Enter Media Alliance, who are taking on the crusade. I quote mostly directly from their email (coz it's easier....):

Friends of San Francisco wireless,

Media Alliance and its partners have been advocating for ongoing, meaningful opportunities for our communities to provide input into the City's wireless initiative. Thanks to our collective advocacy, we now have an opportunity to speak up.

There will be a hearing at the Government Audit & Oversight Committee of the SF Board of Supervisors on Monday, December 12 at 1 pm. We need as many people as possible to come and speak in favor of an open process and in favor of using the wireless project to bridge the digital divide!

Here are three things you can do:

#1 Come to the hearing on December 12 (more info).

#2 Give your organizational endorsement to our Internet 4 Everyone campaign

#3 Subscribe to our very-low-traffic SF Wireless email list