The Next Open Left? -- Towards a more Powerful Netroots

by: texas dem

Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 12:32


(Here's a provocative idea about how we might substantially change online organizing.  In the wake of the Soapblox meltdown a couple of weeks ago, I had some ideas of my own I'll be writing about this weekend. - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

Chris and Natasha announced a new project recently in which the netroots would organize to systematically track, influence, push, and block legislation introduced into the new Congress this year.  Their larger motivation for this project, at least as they communicated it that day, was that they were tired of being in a reactive position, constantly fighting against bad Republican or Bush Dog legislation, against anti-progressive or just plain wrong media narratives, and against a political system in which the two main centers of gravity are a pro-elite "center" and a reactionary Right.  They expressed a desire to act proactively, with initiative, pushing for positive progressive change.

Even more recently Matt announced that he is leaving the blogosphere for a job in the House.  The centerpiece of his announcement was a problem he called the "rootsgap": a disconnect between what activists want and want to help deliver, and what the party representing them believes is possible and cares to achieve.  He argued that much recent political history can be explained by the fact that conservative activists took control of their party in the 70s, while progressive activists have had very little control over their party since then.  Thus we have one right-wing party, and one mainstream party, with progressives trying to influence what the mainstream party does.

Both these moves share in common the realization that a progressive force is missing on the national stage....

texas dem :: The Next Open Left? -- Towards a more Powerful Netroots
  We have a Mainstream Media Complex and a Right-Wing Media Complex; we have a "centrist" political machine and a conservative political machine.  The progressive movement is overshadowed by these other two.  We have activists and organizations, there are progressive politicians, and our most potent advantage is that our arguments tend to be vindicated over time; but we do not have the massive, dense, hegemonic political assembly that the center/elite and the right each have.  These other two are able to consistently bend the government to their will, even when their cause is unpopular; we are seldom able to move the government in our direction even when supermajorities of the public demand it.  These other two are in a position to define the debate and frequently win it; we get to resist what they want and often lose.  I do not mean to degrade our movement, our people, or our efforts; but the progressive movement simply does not have or exert power on the scale that the conservative movement and the center/elite do.

(In case it needs to be said, the Obama campaign and Administration and our Congressional majorities rely on a current alliance of the center/elite and the progressive movement.  This was necessary, but is not ideal, and we have yet to see which of these two is the senior partner and which the junior.)

This must change, of course, for the good of the country and the world.  And it can be changed; I believe the progressive movement can exert power over public opinion, electorates, and politicians that would rival or exceed the other groups, and that would allow much of what we know the country needs to be achieved.  But we will have to be much more powerful than we are at present to do it.


Though the internet has already been the vehicle through which many of our recent gains were realized, I believe there is a great deal of potential power here that still remains to be tapped.  A great population of talented, creative, politically-engaged people have gathered in the blogs, but the overwhelming majority of them are still not in a position to do really meaningful work through the internet.  A lot of real work has been done in the blogosphere, but it has almost all been done by the bloggers themselves -- a tiny slice of the total human resources of the netroots, the most dedicated among them certainly, but also those who are willing to meet the peculiar and demanding requirements of blogging.  To become a blogger is to commit to producing original content several times per day, every day, all year, for years.  Even this commitment doesn't guarantee any real visibility or impact, but anything less and you're probably going to get more readers in someone else's comment section than at your blog.  That's ok, except someone else's comment section is not a particularly great place for productively organizing yourself or others.  There is a very large gap between being a commenter and being a blogger, with not many reliable or useful points in between, and into that gap falls the potential productivity of thousands of people who could be doing so much more than commenting, though they would rather do less or other than multi-year blogging.

What are needed are spaces that are expressly designed to allow people to collaborate on specific, defined, short-term projects.  Blogs are a powerful platform because of their speed, their permanence, and because they rely on the action of individual free agents -- both bloggers and commenters.  They are very good; but we should add to them the ability to facilitate and support group productivity, by adding connected spaces designed for that purpose.


Defined, intentional group work has some basic patterns.  A project is chartered when a group of people already have discovered and agreed upon a common mission.  Brainstorming and wide-ranging suggestion resolve toward a smaller number of workable ideas, whose merits are debated and eventually agreed upon.  A plan of action is developed; work is divided, monitored, improved, and then integrated.  If there is a final product then it is polished and eventually released; if work is ongoing then results continue to be collated and conclusions, criticism and new directions discussed.   Each part of this process is necessary both to manage and to take advantage of the contribution of many people.  This model can integrate up to two or three dozen people working more or less as equals, and remains roughly the same across many different types of undertakings -- for instance, conducting an investigation or research project; creating a multi-part publicity campaign; developing a proposal for legislation; co-ordinating pressure on Congress; identifying under-appreciated information or narratives; or producing video segments to disseminate an argument widely.

Projects of this size are broken into lots of bite-size pieces, but these must be properly connected to each other, be seen by all who are involved, be easy to find over time, and have readily apparent structure and relationships.  The diary section of a large or medium blog is unsuitable on almost all these grounds.  Even an expressly-created blog or a list of tagged diaries in a large one still offers no internal structure beyond "most recent at the top."  Organizing a very complex effort under these conditions requires an exceedingly gifted leader, an exceedingly compelling purpose, or both; in the last four years only Gina Cooper's YearlyKos and SusanG's Gannon investigation come to mind, and I'm not sure how much of YearlyKos was actually organized on DailyKos messageboards.  Beyond those, very little has been done by people who were not established bloggers; a great many ideas have been generated, including a proposal almost identical to Chris and Natasha's back in 2006, but the ability to manage the efforts and maintain the momentum of many people has evidently been absent.

Instead of a diary sidebar or a comment section or even a purpose-made blog, structured as all of these are around novelty alone, what are needed are spaces specifically designed to support group work.  A number of internet-based group productivity platforms are already used successfully in the business world.  Not being a businessman, I don't know anything about any of them; I can guarantee though that in the talent pool of the netroots are a great many people who do.  Setting those aside though, anyone can invent a simple system that would be more helpful than what we have now.  Using the already-developed diary-and-comments model, but rearranging how the diaries fall across the page, I produced this simple blueprint in about fifteen minutes.

workroom blueprint
  Click on image for larger, legible version.
workroom blueprint demo 3.1

I'm sure others could improve this or invent something better.  I don't know anything of Soapblox or Drupal or Scoop, but I imagine that using the current diary-and-comments system and rearranging the flow of diaries across the page in this way would be a relatively simple change.  Add the ability for an administrator of an existing blog to open one of these workrooms when a group of people offer a serious proposal, and in short order the ability of a community like Open Left to support self-organizing small groups has been born.

.

I believe that empowering the larger population of the netroots to work on projects of this scale and complexity is a great advance for all of us.  The progressive movement currently relies on the efforts of a fairly small "career activist" class that survives on tenuous funding.  The bloggers are a new and effective addition to this class, but they too are a fairly small group of people for whom online activism is mostly a full-time pursuit.  The political energy of the larger progressive base -- talented, creative, committed, bright people with flourishing minds and diverse experience -- mostly lies unused.  The modes of political engagement they have been offered -- canvassing neighborhoods, cold-calling voters, haranguing senators, donating money -- tend to be ninth-inning strategies, effective mostly at the margins, and rely on numeric superiority rather than advanced ability.  Offering these people a way to collaborate on defined, short-term projects with sophisticated political aims both honors their higher abilities, and opens the door to what I think will be a flood of political activity for our side.  Having power; having the ability to influence the world around you in ways that matter to you; can be a thrilling experience.  I think if we give people the chance to do more than they have been able to do, they will take it.  The political activity that results will be profoundly democratic, and I think will become very influential.  It will also expand and enlarge the capacity of the progressive movement, perhaps several times over.  In a world that badly needs American progressives to be stronger, in a country that badly needs the imbalance between the progressive movement, the conservative movement, and the ruling class to be righted, I think it is imperative that we do it.

.

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Your thoughts?  Agree, disagree, long overdue, completely unworkable?  Let's have a discussion in the comments!

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Reality show? (0.00 / 0)
I favor a reality-show format, where beautiful, intelligent people are cast as progressives, and Democrat/Republicans are played by ugly sub-humans.

No, wait...

We already have that.

It's called "reality."


A shared work environment (0.00 / 0)
called "Central Desktop" may be useful - albeit there is a fee for use once it grows past a certain size.  

www.centraldesktop.com

Another collaborative tool is Vyew: www.vyew.com

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




Thanks, I'll look into those. (0.00 / 0)
I tried to do some digging online while I was writing this, but most of what I found was not really useful even as inspiration or contrast.  I found something called Broadchoice and another called Wrike, but they didn't seem to be the right idea at all.  Though there was an interesting personal productivity program called Tinderbox, that I may look into for myself someday.

If anyone has any experience or knowledge of business group productivity stuff, I'd appreciate any additional pointers on where to look.


[ Parent ]
Check out Zoho (0.00 / 0)
at http://zoho.com -- they offer a suite of collaborative tools.

[ Parent ]
You're on the right track, (4.00 / 1)
as far as I'm concerned. Several of the OpenLeft people, Glenn Greenwald, firedoglake people, and others keep hinting about organization to come, but they seem to be hindered by some kind of quota system for number of words published per day. So many words, so little time.

So - we'll see what develops in the Comments, as you suggest. Meantime, PDA seems to be doing some actual organizing among activists. Other than that, it's pretty much single issue, all with their hands out.

Of course, Obama - that is, the 'campaign' - is trying to maintain some level of grassroots involvement. Don't know if they'll keep their funding, since the DNC is eliminating a number of paid 'organizer' positions in the state organizations. Not sure whether I would call it 'organizing' at this point anyway. At one time it seemed that there would be a trade-off between listening to the roots and the roots acting as a shock force for Obama programs, but I haven't heard a thing, since we sent in our local-group-meeting policy and program priorities. Maybe between Fair Trade, single-payer health insurance, and get the fuck out of foreign countries, the administration decided that we weren't all that reliable.

Still, it's wonderful that Bush is gone, even if Jacob is 100% correct about the neo-liberals in the economic jobs.

By the way - did I mention that I'm running for president?


I think Obama's List is not going to be ideologically reliable enough (4.00 / 2)
for an Administration that is 50-70% composed of "center"(elite) people.  Giving us a seat at the table, and giving real weight to our input in exchange for getting real political strength from us, is just too risky a calculation for them, especially when they think they can get all they really want without us.  I mean, if the Admin fails to deliver anything, even in an honest political fight, it's going to be the progressive priorities that fail.  The center/elite priorities will all pass into law with 5 SenateGOP votes at least.  So they're gonna get all they want without any help from us.  Why risk bringing us to the dance?

(The only answer from their perspective is re-election, but I don't think they're too concerned with that.  At least not yet.)


[ Parent ]
First They Screw Up Royally (0.00 / 0)
(The only answer from their perspective is re-election, but I don't think they're too concerned with that.  At least not yet.)

Then they squeal to high heavens for us to save their bacon.

That's been the formula ever since they tossed out the McGovernites.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  But it's always the formula.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
OK - not sure what y'all are getting at - (4.00 / 1)
At any rate here's an update from my comment yesterday.

First paragraph, I said that some of the bloggers are looking toward organization. Today I - and probably y'all - got a blast e-mail from Jane Hamsher, asking for issue and project suggestions. So - looks like there's life in that group, after all. Point being that the motivation for taking texas dem's diary seriously is perhaps a-borning.

Then I mention the 'Obama campaign'. Lo and behold there's an e-mail from their latest incarnation, concerning support for the stimulus bill (which also fits into some other OpenLeft diaries from today). If you don't know, they want us grassroots types to get another house party going next week to discuss, feed back, and build support for the 'stimulus bill'. (Smart folks - they found another issue to rally the troops, just as the troops were beginning to wonder about their role.)

Last point - here's a diary from European Tribune today that seems to me to offer some more input on the software questions.
http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=di...

By the way - did I mention that I'm running for president?


[ Parent ]
I'm Not Sure What's To Come (0.00 / 0)
I only know that we're now in a totally different ball-game, a ball-game in which opposition to bad ideas, initiatives and policies remains important, but one where advancing and developing good ideas, initiatives and policies is at least an order of magnitude more important.

Given that, some sort of evolution along the lines you've sketched out here seems inevitable, if we're to realize the potential we now have.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


This is a stellar idea whose time has come (0.00 / 0)
1. Broadband needs to be the coverage of choice for areas that are still on dial up. I have been mentally working on how to bring it to rural areas for free. And now with stimulus money grants can be written to incorporate it with job training for installation. Is anyone interested in brainstorming with me? I have bounced my ideas off the father of the US barter network, Harold Rice, and he will help us get a package together when we get to that stage. Of course we should get paid for our work and Harold told me the way to do that is to write ourselves into the package not work for a fee. As soon as we tell them how to do it, they won't need us.

2. The other thing I feel passionate about is infant and early childhood daycare. This frees up the family. The model I want to see happen everywhere is the model in Hungary begun at the end of War II. Tried true and it delivers. It was permanent residential however until age 3 as parents were mostly absent for various reasons at that time. I guess you could have called it an orphanage, but such a fantastic one that if you could have put your baby in there you would have committed murder to do it. As Gandhi says "If you want to change the world, begin with the children."

At present I am working on a rural town activist model which if I can overcome the difficulties I am dealing with will report to you all later.


A related proposal (0.00 / 0)
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=...

Whosevoice.org  - A proposed website to create more and better Democrats

Purpose: Encourage Elected Official Two Way Communication by identifying Issue positions by various demographic groups and providing forums for Elected Officials and staff to communicate/persuade views on specific issues

How it works:

   * Issues based
         o

           Site analysis and discussion, linkfest for background
         o

           Survey on possible answers to specific issues
   *

     Elected Official oriented
         o

           Encourage Officials (staff) to interact and post positions
   *

     Multiple registration types
         o

           Open verified via email
         o

           Profiled (voter registration, income, zipcode, education, candidate contributions etc.) used for analysis but individual info not revealed.
         o

           Participants/ Editors/Administrators etc
   *

     Survey results by demographic group
         o

           By voter registration
         o

           By Contributed/Volunteered/$ categories
         o

           By age/education etc
         o

           By Constituent vs State, National etc.
         o

           By Whatever influences

What we need to get started - Team willing to work on it:

   *

     Issue analysts (people willing to do research and write up options)
   *

     Web site designer to design simple look and feel
   *

     Web site developers to build site (from Drupal ?)
   *

     SQL knowledgeable statistical analysts to build reports
   *

     Webmasters



Great Idea (4.00 / 2)
Yes, we need to harness the power of the netroots as an alternative to the centrist/elite/corrupt and rightwing power blocks. It would be great if a workroom like this could tap the energy of a lot of people and help us complete useful projects.

Your specific idea about how to rearrange a diary and comments page might work. Or it may be that something more elaborate is required to do this well.

Decision-making tool: I've also been wanting another product that would allow a group to make decisions more easily by comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of options. I wrote a paper (pdf) long ago -- based on an idea I found in the book Making Meetings Work -- in which you put the options side by side on a big piece of paper with the advantages and disadvantages (merits and drawbacks) listed below each one. This makes it easy to see that none of the options is perfect and none is completely worthless. It also lets everyone see why each option might be best and encourages combining parts of several options to come up with a new option that maximizes the advantages/merits and minimizes the disadvantages/drawbacks.

It seems like it would be relatively easy to create an on-line tool that could duplicate this process.


I've never used it, but there's a personal note-taking system called Tinderbox (0.00 / 0)
that prides itself on its flexibility, and ability to visually organize many notes according to whatever mental map you want.

If you were trying to do a complex compare-and-contrast diagram, with subordinate categories and lines of comparison crossing from one side to the other, I think it might be helpful.  Again, I've never actually used it, but I ran across it online while researching for this.

Here's the link.  Let me know if it's helpful!


[ Parent ]
Interesting Product (4.00 / 1)
But it runs only on Macintoshes (PCs soon), not on the internet. And it is pretty expensive ($229/copy). It looks like it can do all kinds of fancy stuff: links, etc. It is probably way more than is needed for what I'm envisioning and not especially focused on decision-making.

[ Parent ]
Some thoughts (4.00 / 1)
I get the idea that you're looking for software to stimulate options as to what sort of advanced collaboration can occur. That's fine, but I'd strongly suggest thinking deeply about what you and others would want from such software. In just about any software design methodology, documenting use case scenarios is essential. The user does A, the system does B in response, the user (or perhaps a different user) then can do C or D, etc. That sort of thing. With any luck, if you spell out what you want in such software, something already out there will allow you to do it with minimal configuration and/or programming.

The cadillac of collaborative software is probably Sharepoint, which allows you to make web sites (say, one per subject) without a programmer's help, with optional document libraries, calendars, discussion boards (i.e., forums), etc. o3spaces is a competitor that uses more open source software than Sharepoint, which is a Microsoft server technology. There must be others, though these two integrate with Microsoft Office products.

Thinking in Sharepoint terms, you could have an issue-oriented team site (= web site within a related collection of web sites) which features a relevant blog as it's central feature on the main page. IMO, a blog on an activist site should function partly to keep lurkers informed in a concise but eloquent way about what's going on, but also to whet the appetite of the lurkers to contribute in the nitty-gritty discussions and other work that pops up. On an activist web site, keeping other worker bees informed is important, but getting more worker bees makes for a big, happy hive! :-) There also should be a Gantt chart showing progress/phase, with links underneath it to the nodal parts of the discussion board that relate to the specific phases of progress (following your diagram, there would be 4 phases for the 'viral video on the drug war', viz. Brainstorming, Rough Concensus, Refining and Finishing, and Concluded.)

Additional links on the  team site home page would be to a documents library. I would recommend capturing online audio or audio/vidio meetings (or even conference calls) in a multimedia file, and posting them in the document library. While some meetings will be of little interest,  others will be quite interesting. E.g., I participated in a conference call on health care with pdamerica.org. That's how I found out that a big union has conflicts between it's local branches and it's head office on the issue of single payer health care. The head office had invested pension fund money in pharmaceutical company stocks!! So, they had a financial interest in opposing something that their own members would benefit from, certainly if they lost their jobs and were no longer in the union!

(BTW, pda does post some videos, but no audio of their meetings. That's a shame, IMO, because one of the main benefits of doing so is to help convert interested lurkers into participants. They are passing up an opportunity to do so.)

Another key feature that a collaboration sites should offer is a job/skillset database, and jobs posting lists. By "job", I am thinking that mostly of volunteer jobs, though I expect some people could get paid. People can enter skill sets that they have, which can be searched on by users of the team sites who need expertise in a certain area. Building up a stable of lawyers who will contribute some time, pro bono, seems like a no-brainer for a legislation-oriented collaboration portal. Likewise, domain experts, such as economists and experts in medical care. Although most participants at openleft.com are probably Americans, I'm sure that there would be tons of foreigners who would be generous with their time. E.g., health care administrators from France and Taiwan might feel sorry for us Americans who have been at the mercy of modern day robber barons, and can't afford our own health insurance. If they're really compassionate, their compassion will extend beyond their own countrymen.

I'd also like to throw out a suggestion regarding administration of individual team (issue-oriented) sites. Coordinating human and non-human assets to solve some sort of problem is what project managers do. So, having 1 project manager and at least 1 person who cares deeply about an issue co-adminster each team site seems to make sense. The project manager attends to the more technical side of things, while the activist/administrator has to attend to the more human side of things, including banning disruptors, 'inspiring' (for lack of a better word) participants to make useful efforts, maintaining the team site blog, running online meetings and conference calls, taking the lead in making contacts with people outside of the team site environment, and finding people to delegate work and admin privileges to.

On an earlier blog post, somebody had suggested govtrack. Another "WebPart" that can be added to a sharepoint web page should (and could, I believe) capture and display govtrack information.

I think I will create a public Sharepoint mockup site that encapsulates the technical ideas I mentioned above. I've been thinking about doing a Sharepoint/govtrack Webpart, anyway. When I do so, should I just create a diary entry, or are there some point people that I should contact? The fact that I'm asking this question shows, I believe, why just blogs + email is not a sufficient means of enabling online collaboration. In fact, one of the biggest selling points for Sharepoint and other document management software is that email collaboration is simply inferior to other means of sharing documents and implementing workflow, even if email has been, historically, a killer app for the internet. Since there seems to be serious interest in taking collaboration to a higher level at openleft, it's clear that some sort of online 'place' to keep related information is already needed. That place would have at least a discussion board (forum), and/or a sticky blog entry with contact information.

BTW, most of the above is very easy (not requiring a programmer), but the Sharepoint govtrack Webpart will require programming skills that I'm still learning (plus I need to study the govtrack API). So, don't expect anything fancy re GovTrack right away - probably just a webpart with a relevant link or links.

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Sharepoint/Collaboration software etc (0.00 / 0)
I'm with you on the use cases.  Before going forward with any collaboration site, I think it's important to develop a spec document to decide what the goals are too.
Sounds like so far you have:
1.  Blog
2. Document sharing
3. Administrator/user division. Robust user rights management.
4. Calendar
5. Discussion forum
6. Gantt chart
7. Skill/job list

So here is what I'd add:
1.  Task list
2.  Task assignment
3.  Rating
Task lists and assignment are pretty important, and do tie in with the Gantt chart.  The task lists are important because in online activism one thing that you need is to be able to efficiently organize the efforts of people.  If you can't have an efficient method of tracking who is doing what, it all falls down to one person to track it via email.  This tends to burn people out.  If you had a tracking and assignment system, this would let people
1) generate necessary tasks
You could do this collaboratively so that if one person missed something, others could fill it in.
2) assign tasks
This could either be done by the administrators or let people volunteer for things. I.e. put out a call for graphic artists, video editors etc.

There's always a legit concern about trolling.  One way to deal with that is to link the collaboration system with some kind of reputation management system. In other words, social networking.  That way the project leader[s] or other folks could easily check to see what a person's background is.

Rating is part of the social networking aspect-- you would want to have rating of how people had done on previous efforts.  

Sharepoint is definitely one way to go.  But, there are other ways of doing it too.  I would think that having a portal that integrates existing web tools might give more flexibility.  There are a number of open source content management systems that could serve as a platform.

Integrating social networking is really critical because you must be able to trust the people with whom you work.  Rather than build a social networking system from scratch, it would probably be better to integrate existing things like Facebook or Myspace.  This is because project organizers could easily use existing social networking sites to check out potential participants.  

Metamars, if you (or texas dem) or anyone else wants to talk about this in depth, I've got a lot more thoughts on this issue.  


[ Parent ]
I should have something up today (0.00 / 0)
Tomorrow at the latest. You can contact me through the site. I'll post a link on this thread. As far as I can see, we can't PM each other through this web site.

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[ Parent ]
Looks like I have to wait until Monday (0.00 / 0)
The host business office looks closed....

435 Dem Primaries 2012
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[ Parent ]
I'll get a sharepoint site late tonight (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
Make that Wednesday (0.00 / 0)
Which is already is on the East Coast. :-(

435 Dem Primaries 2012
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[ Parent ]
Status (0.00 / 0)
Still not done, and my eyes are bleary. The URL will be
http://democracyabc.mssharepoi... , but I don't think the host turned on public read-only access, yet, even though I requested it. Hopefully, it'll be available as such by tomorrow.

Following is the home page START HERE announcement, which lays out some structural details:

This website is to explore what a collaboration web site which seeks to track legislation would look and function like. It is made using Microsoft Sharepoint, with "out of the box" components. Some customized components would eventually be desirable, however it is not possible to deploy them using the current level of Sharepoint hosting.

A filtered subset of the structure of this 'Committee Legislation' Site Collection (i.e., collection of web sites) is basically as follows.

Committee Legislation Home Page
    Resume/Job Bank (just bare bones on Day 1)
    Legislation #1
         Blog
         Discussion Board
         Project Tasks (All Phases)
             Tasks for Phase 1 of Project
             Tasks for Phase 2 of Project
             Etc.
    Legislation #2
         Blog
         Discussion Board
         Project Tasks (All Phases)
             Tasks for Phase 1 of Project
             Tasks for Phase 2 of Project
             Etc.
    .
    .
    .
    Legislation #X

==========================

The Resume/Job bank is to try and match up workers with tasks that are required. Job listings will point to the specific tasks and discussion board threads which require them. The resume portion of this web site will not necessarily consist of formal resumes, though there's no good reason why the system could hold them.  On Day 1 ( 2/4/2009 ) this web site will be non-functional.

===========================

Legislation #X web site home pages will include:

   * A blog summary, with links to the actual blog posts
   * A Project Tasks List for all phases of the project, which displays a Gantt chart
   * Each item of the Project Tasks List will contain Links in it's Description field to the discussion board  and task list(s) specific to the item
   * Links to the Resume/Job bank web site
   * A GovTrack link
   * A User Tasks view, which allows users to view their aggregated tasks, across all of the Task Lists on all of the legislation specific web sites of the Site Collection

Other goodies can readily be added, like wikis and calendars.

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[ Parent ]
Not as elegant as I thought (0.00 / 0)
For some reason, while you can create a Sharepoint blog site, it doesn't seem possible to add a blog web part to a team site. Meanwhile, a blog site has its own set of limitations, such as not being able to add an announcements webpart. Creating a team site and a blog site for each subject/issue/legislation, and then linking them, is no problem, but not as elegant. I'll knock around to see if there is some easy way around this, but right now, I don't think so.

Also, the low end sharepoint hosting doesn't allow you to add your own home-grown Web parts.  

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
That's my concern (0.00 / 0)
...about Sharepoint, the ongoing licensing/hosting costs.  

[ Parent ]
You can do an awful with out of the box functionality (0.00 / 0)
You get something like 60 - 80 web parts to play with. The low end is also only about $25/ month, though I haven't at all looked into cost associated with reasonable bandwidth and storage demands.

o3spaces should be cheaper, as you can run it on Linux and a PostgreSql database, which are free. They also have 'Not for Profit' pricing, which may be essential, as they have a per seat pricing model for businesses which, I guess, would make it completely unacceptable for a non-profit which wants to get hundreds or thousands of volunteers participating.


435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Non-profit vs for profit (0.00 / 0)
That's the other question.  Often in the political arena people assume that an organization should be non-profit. That's an assumption that should not go unexamined.

Why would you choose to go non-profit?


[ Parent ]
I'm the wrong guy to ask (0.00 / 0)
I've no head for financial and legal matters. I had simply assumed this to be the case. For that matter, I've assumed OpenLeft is non-profit, though looking at the 'about & contact' page, I don't see such information posted.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Status (0.00 / 0)
This is a copy of a post I just made (see below), that got squashed because it's too indented. Hopefully the original copy will be removed. :-(

Still not done, and my eyes are bleary. The URL will be
http://democracyabc.mssharepoi... , but I don't think the host turned on public read-only access, yet, even though I requested it. Hopefully, it'll be available as such by tomorrow.

Following is the home page START HERE announcement, which lays out some structural details:

This website is to explore what a collaboration web site which seeks to track legislation would look and function like. It is made using Microsoft Sharepoint, with "out of the box" components. Some customized components would eventually be desirable, however it is not possible to deploy them using the current level of Sharepoint hosting.

A filtered subset of the structure of this 'Committee Legislation' Site Collection (i.e., collection of web sites) is basically as follows.

Committee Legislation Home Page
    Resume/Job Bank (just bare bones on Day 1)
    Legislation #1
         Blog
         Discussion Board
         Project Tasks (All Phases)
             Tasks for Phase 1 of Project
             Tasks for Phase 2 of Project
             Etc.
    Legislation #2
         Blog
         Discussion Board
         Project Tasks (All Phases)
             Tasks for Phase 1 of Project
             Tasks for Phase 2 of Project
             Etc.
    .
    .
    .
    Legislation #X

==========================

The Resume/Job bank is to try and match up workers with tasks that are required. Job listings will point to the specific tasks and discussion board threads which require them. The resume portion of this web site will not necessarily consist of formal resumes, though there's no good reason why the system could hold them.  On Day 1 ( 2/4/2009 ) this web site will be non-functional.

===========================

Legislation #X web site home pages will include:

   * A blog summary, with links to the actual blog posts
   * A Project Tasks List for all phases of the project, which displays a Gantt chart
   * Each item of the Project Tasks List will contain Links in it's Description field to the discussion board  and task list(s) specific to the item
   * Links to the Resume/Job bank web site
   * A GovTrack link
   * A User Tasks view, which allows users to view their aggregated tasks, across all of the Task Lists on all of the legislation specific web sites of the Site Collection

Other goodies can readily be added, like wikis and calendars.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Status (0.00 / 0)
My host is taking the server offline on an emergency basis in 30 minutes (it has a trojan), so even though I'm not bleary eyed, it'll be another day. Sorry for the delay.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Congress Matters? (0.00 / 0)
Chris and Natasha announced a new project recently in which the netroots would organize to systematically track, influence, push, and block legislation introduced into the new Congress this year.

Are you talking about Congress Matters or something else? Could you give a link to the announcement?


Wow, fascinating stuff. (0.00 / 0)
Do you know whether they've made any progress since then?

As for your own diary, I really like it but am too "typed out" to write much here (am about to buy a USB desktop keyboard to attach to my laptop, which I hope will be easier on my arms and wrists). If you want, send me an e-mail at alanfordean AT yahoo with your phone number and I'll give you a call.


[ Parent ]
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