[drn-discuss] kforge and organising tools

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Wed Mar 30 21:55:35 PST 2005

hello list,

i've been trying to bear kforge in mind when i think about building
organising tools. i have a longstanding plan to bootstrap london's
semantic web via dodgy media arts projects. i am being paid to do it now!

this may all seem tangential, but the thrust is to be using
different simple, specialised info management services - event
calendaring, wiki spatial annotation, foaf profiles, resource sharing
etc, which have feeds; networking them together at the edges.
i see a task sharing, sinister AI masquerading as groupware thread.

last week i was at a workshop with a set of people who are mostly
euro media activist types. they are doing some syndication via RSS of
media content and making very heavy use of drupal. though drupal is a
bit of a shitty CMS there are some nice packages based on it, like
http://civicspacelabs.org/ . but php is a big turnoff. drupal seems to
work pretty well and is easy to extend in trivial ways, but it is
pretty nasty inside.

the main use case they have for the semweb, is that from a FOAFish
profile annotating people and orgs and topics with URLs, someone just
setting up a new, empty drupal would be able to go to that graph 
and add themselves to it, and install a 'zooosh!' plugin which would
automatically populate bits of their site with content 'near' to them.
also people ask about 'contacts management'.

advokit + civicspace etc are providing campaign tools, communications
management. whereas kforge seems pitched at some platonic Total
Knowledge Management. i saw an interesting project with this nature in
slovenia, a crazy postgres database with a XUL ui that knew a lot
about the system it was running on.

so i wonder in the light of all this what kforge is for, in terms of
our goals and of prospective users' goals. as a user, what i've found 
okfn's services useful for; 
- a bit of web space with ostensible gravitas (a good neutral url) 
- a wiki space that appears to make sense
- mailing list handling

i reflect that i'm off on two tracks; one is about DRN networking
tools, presenting an integral picture if not an integral organisation
of who is working in digital rights / open information UK and caring 
about what; the other is about kforge as a service and what value
it provides; the ambiguity resides in okfn's provision of
tools/resources to campaigning projects like our geodata one. perhaps
that also informs, how kforge projects could feed into / make use of a
bigger information network, and delegate some functions to other tools. 

i'm sorry this has come out as such a ramble.



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