Posted by: Mike Grenville | 5 December 2009

Web Project Update

Ed Mitchell, Transition Network: Web Co-ordinator explains what they are up to with the web platform, a high level view of the services it supports , and an idea of times for everyone.

Since the presentation of the web project recommendations at the conference and board approval to proceed, we have been putting the necessary pieces in place for a sustainable web project that reflects the needs of the Transition movement. We have gathered a pool of ‘Transition Technologists’ to do the technical work on the web platform, the right hardware and software, and are now underway…
There is plenty of information and diagrams about this which you are welcome to read in the about page and resources pages of this blog, or get in touch via our contact form if your questions are not answered.
At the basic level, the web platform covers these services:

  • Transition Network website (about us, how to contact us etc.)
  • Initiatives directory (each initiative has a profile page)
  • Initiatives community websites (like the current wiki but better)
  • People directory (each individual has a profile page)
  • Projects directory (each project has a profile page)

A bit more details on these services:

Initiatives: a searchable directory for all:

Every initiative will have a profile page in a handy searchable initiative directory. This profile page is the ‘property’ of the initiative itself – ie someone from each initiative will be able to easily edit the profile information, add extra details etc. This will cover the basic information about the initiative and can be searched by location or name. It will provide a vital opportunity for others to find initiatives in specific areas, connect with them and join them.

We will be starting the directory with some core information about the official initiatives, and then, in late January, inviting the official points of contact for each initiative to come and have a look, update the profile information and generally make the most of this chance to have a public page.
Mulling initiatives will also feature in the directory, but we don’t have so much information about them, so, once the profile page system is up and running, we’ll be in touch with those we have contact details for and asking them to register and start their new pages with all the relevant information.

Transition Technologists

nearly all of the Transition Technologists

Initiatives: community websites for those that need it:

It looks like approximately half of the official initiatives are hosting their own websites, and half are using the Transition Network wiki as their website. On the whole, we feel it is best for initiatives to have their own websites as this gives them control over what they have, how they manage it, how it looks and what it does.

However, we are happy to provide a relatively simple offer to initiatives who don’t have the resources to set up their own site, and need some support. This will take some time and involve some changes, so we ask everyone to bear with us as we feel our way onto the new web platform together…
At a high level, we see three main patterns of how initiatives are using the web in in general and the existing wiki in particular:

  1. Initiatives who have their own websites who just want some profile information in the directory (including a link to their site)
  2. Initiatives who are using the wiki as their website with a few pages
  3. Initiatives who are using the wiki as their website with a lot of pages

Each of these groups will need different support to get them started which will start in January.
Group 1 will need the least support, and only need to think about their ‘profile page’ (see above). The other groups will need a little bit more support…
For those who do not want to host their own website, and need to use the Transition Network platform for this (groups 2 and 3), we can set up miniature community websites with some handy tools to enable initiatives to have:

  • Information pages
  • Initiative logo
  • News ‘blog’
  • Newsletter to members who subscribe
  • Events calendars

This is a great development as these new tools will simplify managing a few simple information pages, and announcing news and events. Those initiatives with a lot of pages (group c) we will contact directly as this change will be significant and will need a little bit of consultation before we do anything.
We are aware that it is a change from using the wiki, and will take some time, so we are going to take it slowly, and help those that need it over February and March. You will hear more detail about this in January.

People: a searchable people directory for all:

Every individual can have a personal profile page in a handy searchable directory. This profile page is the ‘property’ of the individual and that person alone can easily edit the information, add extra information, make it public or private, link themselves to specific initiatives etc. We have longer term plans for the development of this service, but want to start simple so everyone can settle in and start using the service gently.
Our main source of information for this directory is those people who have registered for the Transition Network newsletter, so we will start with this list.
The personal information will be imported into the new web platform and kept absolutely private – no-one apart from the individuals themselves will be able to see anything in the first instance. We will make sure that the subscriptions to the newsletter is maintained. We will then invite the individuals to come and have a look at their profile pages, update the information as they wish, and if they want, to enable others to see their profiles in the directory (recommended). At no time will anyone be able to see anyone else’s contact details unless that is specifically set by the individual.

Jon Walker (projects pilot maestro) and Gary Alexander (core team web project)

Jon Walker (projects pilot maestro) and Gary Alexander (core team web project)

Projects: a searchable project directory for all:

Another vital key to the Transition web platform is supporting knowledge sharing about projects. We are all up to an amazing range of projects in our communities, and are very keen on sharing lessons learnt with eachother. The projects directory is a tool for Transitioners to upload information about their projects in order to share knowledge with others in the movement.
We have piloted and ‘beta-trialled’ a project directory call Transition Food. The beta trial has been a success – people have uploaded projects to it, discussed things on it, had problems and successes with it, and let us know what is good and what needs improving about it.

We will be setting up the projects directory with the food projects information we have collected in the beta. We started with food as it is close to all our hearts, but we intend to open this up to projects in all of the Transition themes gradually. This will give us all a chance to get used to it and expand it slowly and meaningfully.

So what’s going to happen and when?

December:
We have begun with the framework of the web platform with work on a ‘skeleton’ site. This gives us a working model to consider and improve. We are also analysing all the data about initiatives and individuals, and working out how to help everyone with the forthcoming change over.

January:
Work will continue on refining the ‘skeleton site’ to bring it to a working model of what we want. We will be adding content from the current Transition Network wiki, and setting up the navigation and the community website software.
Having done our data analysis in December, we will start the careful business of importing the information about individuals and initiatives into the directories.
When we have imported the information about individuals and initiatives, we will be contacting Transitioners with their new profile pages and asking everyone to come and have a look around, edit their information, add more information, give us feedback, and generally settle in. More on this below.

Our aim is to have the main Transition Network website up and running by the end of January. This will include the basic profile information about individuals and initiatives, but we don’t expect everyone to be fully settled straightaway…
February and March:
During these months, we will work with initiatives who need help to set their own pages up, and introduce them to the new tools gradually.

That covers the basics, and I hope it is clear enough – as I said, we will be helping people in more detail from January.

All the best,

Ed Mitchell (web co-ordinator) and Ben Brangwyn (Transition Network co-founder and chief alligator wrestler)

Ed and Ben (in hotter days)

Ed and Ben (in hotter days)

Article by Ed Mitchell, Transition Network: Web Co-ordinator


Responses

  1. Sounds great folks!

    One thing I don’t see mentioned – will this be international, or UK-only? Just asking because the food projects beta was UK-only, and I’d really like to see us be able to share information worldwide in one place.

    Thanks for all your hard work

    Kevin
    Powell River, BC, Canada

  2. Hi I would like transition towns to be ever aware of my community currency hosted web site service. Mutual credit currencies are a slightly more radical alternative to all these local ‘pound’ schemes, whose efficacy I have yet to be convinced of!

  3. Hi Matthew,

    that looks very interesting indeed. We aren’t at delivering any currency/barter/timebanking/other exchange format on the platform yet, but it’s on the roadmap.

    Could you drop me a line from our contact form ( http://transitiontowns.org/webprojectblog/contact/ ) and we’ll take this conversation into email?

    thanks,
    Ed (web co-ordinator)

  4. Hello,

    As I already emailed Ed, as a whole, the revamping of the website looks fine, and there are many CMS to do so. I noticed that you chose wordpress, I am testing myself wordpress mu and buddyspress and although I am not an expert by far, the installation seems pretty easy and the networking site looks quite user friend and egalitarian.

    For Transition Network, I would like a website which reflects the non-hierarchical principles of the original movement -we must not forget that the concept of transition comes from permaculture-.Every node, or user, has the same importance and can share information with other nodes, users, in a de-centralized way. So far I know, wordpress mu is perfect for that. As it includes the SSO protocol, users can join as many subdomains as they want, with a single sing on.

  5. What about language support. Will it be available in other languages? French Villes en transition are awaiting the new platform to see if it will fit their need.

  6. This is great! Our Transition group is quite new, and we have’nt a website yet, so this will be of great value to us getting more potential members to find us.
    We are on the Network newsletter mailing list so having our initiatives profile and projects available for potential new members to see will be useful.
    Having access to a source of tried and tested projects nationwide, and a way of easily contacting them will help support our own project development.
    I can’t wait!


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