Moving from "Open source" to "Open roadmap"

Many NGOs are good at forming strategic alliances to achieve their objectives (they’re usually also good at competing each other nearly to death, often at the same time, but I’ll keep that for a different post maybe). Yet, at the level of web technolog…

Going Open! Thursday at the Transnational Institute

First post here after a long silence… maybe too busy with twitter, Nabuur, WebEnq, Ecampaigning Forum, NetSquared. And now preparing my short intro into "open everything" to set the stage for Thursday’s meetup of the E-collaboration group.

Within a smaller group, we had some discussions about "open", and about how choosing technology for your campaign or organisation is also a political, cultural, and ethical choice. Features and price often dominate, and lots of stuff on the internet is for free. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch: there are many lessons we learned in development aid that equally apply when your organisation gets such "free" web development aid. Lets not spend decades to learn them again.

So while on the one hand, people are trail-blazing the concept of "open everything", there are, on the other hand, many people working in international cooperation who are just starting to look at why all this "open" matters, and how it can help them achieve their mission.

How “web 2.0” can you become in six months?

Adaptive Path's DNA of web 2.0Adaptive Path’s DNA of web 2.0
A while ago I was asked to help answer an interesting question. Imagine: you want your website (and organisatuon) to become "truly web 2.0", and a donor is considering a sizeable grant to help you do that, under the condition that you define yourself how you will measure your "web 2.0"-ness, set your own targets for the next half year, and have reached those targets by then. What would you measure and what targets would you set?

  • Indicators: Web 1.0 metrics like number of visitors or registered users are not really a measure for "web 2.0-ness". Amount of user-generated content maybe more. Per registered user? Number of mashups? Position in Technorati? Having an API, connecting to the APIs of other sites? Number of feeds into your site?
  • Targets: A 6-month timeframe to do the technical work and show measurable results would lead me to focus more on the infrastructure and organisational side of things. What’s a realistic target… needs to be compelling enough to get the grant, but also a pretty certain win…

Back from FOSDEM in Brussels

Mozilla room meeting (photo: Martin Creutziger)Back from FOSDEM in Brussels. In their own words on the information booklet: "4000+ geeks, 200+ lectures, 2 days, 0 EURO". I had two motivations to go there: Brussels is close to my home in Amsterdam and always nice to visit; and I could sit and listen a whole day to Drupal presentations, and get the opportunity to check out some other projects too.

As the FOSDEM booklet says, it’s a gathering focused on lectures, so I got my portion of sitting still and getting powerpoint-poisened in over-crowded and under-ventilated rooms. A lot of people breaking the "show me, don’t tell me" rule. But Brussels was nice, and some of the presentations on Drupal and Thunderbird were useful for me:

Our first Nivocer office is open

Klooster DolphiaWe’ve got our first Nivocer office space this month! My business partner Jaap-André is based close to Enschede, in the east of The Netherlands, and found this lovely former seminary-now shared office building not too far from his home, where we now have our first room and access to facilities in an inspiring setting. A building completed in 1937, but having a pretty rich history of use already. Far away from my Amsterdam home for Dutch standards, so I will continue looking for something closer by. Canadian friends remind me that a two-and-a-half-hour commute to work is not even really rare within the Toronto area, but my 1-minute journey to my home office is quite precious to me still. Meanwhile, Jaap-Andre is connecting his now truly separated business and private life with his recumbent bicycle.

Dear Humane Society International,

Today, I received an action alert from you, through my membership of Care2. It’s great to hear your contributing to the fight against Japanese whaling, but I was somewhat taken back by your approach. You’re asking me to "Help Humane Society International lead the opposition on Japan’s Whale Hunt!". Pardon?

Humane Society's message

Having worked at a desk next to the international anti-whaling campaign team of 2006-2007 of "another organisation", your name wasn’t at the top of my list of anti-whaling campaigns. Frankly, it wasn’t at my list at all, and I’m sorry to say, I didn’t even know Humane Society International existed.

So I wanted to find out a bit more about your campaign. But…