Co-Lab Launch Time!

Greetings Everyone!

After much effort, I’ve finally gotten around to setting up enough infrastructure to support the use of cool collaboration “toys” for us to play with.

Our experiment with using Howard Rheingold’s Brainstorms community did not turn out too well.  As it turns out, they were about ready to execute a server change when we started, and that resulted in a lot of down time.  Also the performance of the site on the old server was not very good, and I understand that turned off a a lot of folks.

To fix all of this, I’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks working with the folks at Rackspace to upgrade our Salsa.Net server.  I am happy to report that the mission was accomplished!  We now have a very nice server running the latest Linux-based software.  I’ve already started to install a set of tools that we can use to start working together, and that is the purpose of this message to you.  I would like to cover two broad topics:  1) How can we use these tools to work together, and 2) Work together towards what, exactly?

Using the tools to work together

The tools that have been deployed on Salsa.Net and other servers are intended to serve one purpose:  Making it easier for you to work with Public Studio.  Since we currently have no money, I have relied heavily on free open source software, of which there is plenty to choose from.

The main tool that I want to introduce as our central platform is called Alfresco.  Alfresco is what is known as a “collaboration suite” and includes tools for document management, discussions, wikis, blogs, data sharing, and expertise location.  I would like to use Alfresco as our main collaboration tool, and get feedback from everyone on how we can make it better and make our collaborations better and more productive.

Another tool that I have deployed on Salsa.Net is the Apache Foundation’s OpenMeetings server.  OpenMeetings is a tool that allows us to have video teleconferences as well as desktop sharing, and white board sessions.

I have placed several more tools at our disposal, and you can read about them in the “Projects” section of the Public Studio Co-Laboratory website at http://colab.salsa.net.

Working together towards…?

Now that we have these toys, and many more, what do we do?

The first thing I want to do is to try and build a sense of community amongst our small group.  Right now, our only common denominator is that we all know Pleas McNeel, and that we all think that the goals of Public Studio are a good idea.  I’d like to go beyond that, and have US (instead of just Pleas) take ownership of what the goals of Public Studio should be.  I think we can do that by coming together and talking about it, using face to face communication as well as our online toys.

A sense of community also involves a lot of TRUST, something we don’t currently have in abundance because we don’t know each other very well.  Let’s use our collaboration tools to share something of ourselves to each other.  We are a very, very impressive smart group of folks, and I am personally very excited to work with all of you and learn many new things.

The second set of “to-do” items for us are the rather mundane details of setting up and running Public Studio. These include:

  1. Updating the existing Salsa.Net bylaws to cover the activities of the new Public Studio.
  2. Lessons from the Carmen Tafolla project, and ideas for moving it forward
  3. Providing feedback on Alfresco and providing ideas for other collaboration tools.
  4. Testing and use of Apache OpenMeetings
  5. What are the great ideas?  What public problems do we wish to tackle?
  6. Recruiting young men and women to be the heart and soul of Public Studio.
  7. Use and storage of the Public Studio production equipment

These are the first set of items I’d like to focus on.  We can start by using the Alfresco tools to share discussions and documents on all of these areas, and hopefully make some rapid progress.  I think that face to face meetings should also factor into this process as well, preferably meetings that involve good music and beer.

What do I do now?

I will send out, under separate cover, the information you will need to access the Alfresco system on Salsa.net.

If you’d like a head start, the URL to access our Alfresco instance is http://salsa.net:8080/share.  Send me an email message (rl@well.com) and I will send you your login credentials.  You can access Alfresco’s online help at http://docs.alfresco.com/4.1/index.jsp.  Included at that site are a number of “getting started” videos and other tools for Alfresco beginners.  I’d also like to have a face to face meeting to go over this toolset, if everyone agrees it is needed.