Open Borders: Open as open minded, not as open spaced

29 11 2007

Some time ago this blog was started and allready the limitations of the whole blogconcept give rise to some new questions and problems. As stated in the About-page, the aim of this space is to be open and public for everyone, to be free to act and think with the same possibilities for all. Litteraly, this means that actually everybody should be able to be administrator of this site, or nobody should be. But after figuring out how the whole blogging-system works here, there still seems to be an unequal initial position for the current administrator.

The admin seems to become some kind of little god of this virtual mirco-universe, able to manage  and control the action around here. Unwillingly the admin gains a certain power that he wasn’t looking for in the first place. On the contrary, he actually wished to open up (or better: derange) some limiting boundaries between people, places and practices and offering a space where they could be presented and represented equally. The plan aimed to open the space and let it live it’s own life through the strength of the interested participants and contributors, idealistically even without having to sing up for the blog.

But look here at the result and see that it’s not so easy to try to go public all the way at once. The ‘public’ seems to be necessarily constructed within the limitations of the game of the private administrator. The public dimension of this initiative only seems to stand with the grace and goodwill of the administrator. Isn’t there a way to escape this process of creating unequal standards and positions within this initiative??? Maybe it’s due to the limited knowledge of the possibilities within cyberspace or my bassal computerskills, or does a public dimensions always needs a tension of inequality to appear?

This reflection gives rise to a 2sided call:

1) Are there other possibilities or platforms to accomplish in a better way, that what was attempted here through this blog? (without having to pay for it or to possess a huge amount of serverspace?)

2) If there is no alternative: PLEASE, BECOME AN ADIMISTRATOR OF THIS BLOG YOURSELF!!!

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4 responses

30 11 2007
bill

Yeah, the email stunt was a little annoying. As for platforms, try a wiki — pbwiki, or wikispaces. You can set those up so that everyone has equal access. Another idea you might find useful: put your own research here (or on the wiki, wherever), with a clear and unambiguous license (I like CC-BY, myself). Then people will have a better sense of what it is you’re trying to learn, and trying to do.

30 11 2007
orcmid

I agree that a wiki would be very useful here. I also support CC-BY and I find the MediaWiki structure particularly useful for deliberative activities.

I think the tension need not be one of inequality. That is a prejudgment of what happens when leadership moves around in a group sharing a common purpose. It might be more useful to consider that leadership is emergent and fills a need at hand, rapidly moving among the participants as different needs arise.

There are psychological factors that have some not give themselves permission to speak (or feel they are denied such permission), and I won’t go there.

If you look at open-source projects and many other collaborative activities composed of volunteers, you will see common patterns in how leadership is conferred and how it moves around. Sometimes a project is held too closely and others do not feel welcome. (I probably am guilty of that.)

I also recommend “Open Space” activities (not about geographical and political boundaries but about a way of group self-creation and topic selection for short-term focused activities). I am about to participate in my third Internet Identity Workshop. You can see that a Wiki is used for that. For photographs of the last one and a sense for the Open Space process used, see this Flickr set.

By the way, even wikis need administrators, mostly to cull out spam, defuse disputes (revision wars), and hold the connected structure together. But volunteer editors and contributors can do much to create the appropriate social environment and focus on progress.

30 11 2007
orcmid

By the way, I was led here by the announcement that you submitted to the BOAI Forum list. I have posted it to my blog as well.

I do think that a wiki is the way to go and if it is a MediaWiki (which I find highly versatile and it is the wiki text notation I already know and love) I would be happy to participate as a contributor, although I am pretty tangential to the focus (but keen to support it).

It is the case that the early organizers of projects create a structure that affords the participation of others. It is a common experience on open-source projects, for example, that until there is some running software and some concreteness to the vision, others don’t know how to chime in.

Your struggle to spark a body of participants seems entirely appropriate. I say the contribution you are making by calling attention to this, being a gatekeeper of a long list of links, etc., is exactly what is called for.

2 12 2007
S

Hello!

I got here because of an email myself.
Personally I think the email is more clear than the blog, and it might be useful to actually include bits of it somewhere on the opening page (I am not an expert in blogs, it was just an idea).
And as far as the links go, there are so many more things that can be added… Just that the internet is limitless, and it is virtually impossible to have all the relevant links on one webpage/blog only.
To mention just one link, try http://oxcheps.new.ox.ac.uk.
It open up to so many more links, which in turn lead to other links and so on…

Looking forward to an update!

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