|by Flemming Funch|
Here are some of the things I'm planning for the NCN software. This is just to give a hint of what I'm doing and what direction my mind is going in. And there are a lot of details, but these are some of the headings:
- Surveying and Polling
- Shared connections with other sites and networks
- A market place for services offered and unmet needs
- Specialized workspaces
- More personal organizer features
- More simple, intuitive layouts wherever possible
- Access for people speaking different languages than English
Surveying and Polling
There are several important purposes this is needed for. One thing is to have better profiles of people, so we can better know who's available for what. So, one would fill in more detailed choices on how one likes to interact with others, what kind of activity one is looking for, etc. Some people want to chat, some people just want to work with others in their own profession, etc. So, if we're clear on that, it is more painless to connect up.
And then we need some ways of gauging the public opinion here. What do people think about various kinds of issues and questions. What do we prefer. Probably the ability for anybody to add polls, either generally in the member area, or for specific purposes in workgroups. So, a bunch of people answer some multiple choice questions and we see the result in some kind of graph.
Also, somewhat related to that would be features for gathering support arround a certain initiative or resolution. I.e. a mechanism for people to sign themselves on to a certain statement of some kind.
Connections with other sites and networks
I'm continuously trying to work out ways of establishing some kind of win-win sharing with other sites and networks. I'm thinking along the lines of technical stuff, like being able to incorporate event listings from another site, or to show newslog postings in other places.
There are certain Internet standards which could make that relatively painless, but it kind of needs to be demonstrated in a convincing way for other sites to jump on to the idea
What has long been on my to-do list is mechanisms for offering services and for requesting services one needs. That might take various forms:
- Free services in a gift economy. Here it is mainly a matter of matching up the offers with the requests
- A local currency economy. I.e. people pay for each other's services with units that we make up on the spot and account for, like in Friendly Favors
- Offering one's services for sale, as in a yellow page directory, but with added features that might allow others to get commissions from sending you business.
See, I think it is important that we get our livelyhood involved in things here, so this isn't just a theoretical discussion we're having in our spare time.
Depending on what one is trying to accomplish, various kinds of specially configured spaces might make sense.
For example, some spaces are intended to get something done in, in a focused manner. I.e. it it supposed to lead to a result, and it might involve agreeing on a common plan, oulining some deliberables, and measuring one's progress towards a well-defined end. If that's the case, it would be useful with software that supports the group in staying on track and staying in agreement.
Other spaces have more divergent purposes, and might exist just to inspire creativity and brainstorming and lateral thinking and problem solving. That would require very different support from the software, such as ways of getting you to think in different patterns than you normally would.
So, the idea is that different virtual spaces inspire a certain behavior and makes certain outcomes more likely. Like, it isn't easy to get something actually done in a regular chat room, because the format tends to inspire people to go off in many different directions.
Personal Organizer Features
For it to be useful to hang out in a particular online environment it should be doing some of the things one often needs. So, features for keeping track of one's appointments, one's to-do list, one's contacts, etc. would probably come in handy.
That's easier said than done, but NCN is overdue for updates in terms of how things are laid out and how they look graphically. The public area of the site hasn't been updated much, and some of it is way out of date. And it is not clear how it relates to the member area.
Overall, it of course needs to be simple for anybody to see what is available and get access to it.
There is right now no good way of interfacing with NCN unless one speaks English. There ought to be at least a basic interface to the main features in several other common languages, such as Spanish. And it should be easier to find other people that speak your language.
And much more
There are many more things I'm working on or have in mind, but that are either too hard to explain, or that aren't clear yet. There are some things we definitely need some software solutions for, but those solutions haven't been invented yet.
Finally, let me clarify that these are things *I* am working on. I'm just one person. I'm very open to working with other programmers on this and more, and I'm open to incorporating pieces that others have that fit into this. I'm always open to suggestions and wish lists, and will accommodate them when at all possible. I'm *not* open to any committee forming that would try to decide what I should be working on instead. Might sound silly to even mention that, but it does happen once in a while.