Need for an OSE Social Networking Site

Our goal is to build the world’s first replicable self sufficient post-industrial global village.

In support of that goal, we need people that can integrate research and design and build the necessary technology while collaborating with other people on-site or on-line. We assume that most scientific research has already been done and that we only need to integrate the information that is already out there so it can be formed into a replicable open source design and built.

The wiki is okay at documenting information and can help with integration and design. It isn’t as good for collaboration since the information is non-linear (you can add something new in the middle of old stuff).

So we need something that will facilitate in outreach to find people, and in collaborating on research and design. This would seem to be some kind of social networking site, like a forum.

We also need some form of funding coming in to facilitate building the technology. We assume that that funding will come from stakeholders interested in seeing the development of the Global Village Construction Set. Their willingness to donate is based on their judgment of whether progress is being made and how well their donations are being put to use.

This would seem to require some form of reporting, which could even be on a forum, but a news blog would probably be better. Actually a blog seems much like a forum on a main page but with one one set of people able to make threads that have the content visible to the forum list and anyone able to post comments inside the threads. Optimally the two could be combined, with all posts being on a forum with posts able to be made into blog entries.


  1. Linear time collaboration and discussion – forum.
  2. News updates.
  3. Possibly combine these functions.
  4. What else is needed?

Potential software to use

  • Drupal may meet these conditions. It requires a little fixing up but could work. It’s already set up at
  • Mahara may meet these conditions. It needs to be evaluated. We need an example Mahara site that has forums.

Any comments and suggestions?

I have also been updating the blog layout and we have been adding a lot of content and organization to the Wiki, and we might do some work on


  1. Manufaktur in Gründung

    Question: is there a need for a social network for open source goods?…

    Maybe to early for now but someday to discuss: is there a need for a (closed) social network dedicated to open source goods? That aims to help manufacturers find each other and connect. Or maybe specialized communities, for instance for electronic dev…

  2. Sepp Hasslberger

    Probably the most immediate and easy solution would be to make a group on Ning (like a sister of Global Swadeshi, but for those specifically interested in open source ecology).

    It’s not open source itself, but it’s free and you can configure it for whatever the needs are.

    I would use that one, until something better comes along.

  3. AndriusKulikauskas

    Hi Marcin, Franz and I talk a lot about related issues. He’s a fan of Ning. For Worknets, I think it will work best as a network for just those who are active in teams and are coordinate responses to help participants. But there are many venues – including email groups and our wiki – where most of the activity will take place. It’s look like the technology ideas are coming together. I’m interested to build interfaces that might link up our work in useful ways. I appreciate your response, what would be small steps which might serve both of our networks?

  4. chris

    definitely create a ning site/group. don’t waste your time/money/energy building something that is already built.

  5. burritoboy

    I think Crabgrass would work well for this

    There is a running instance at

    but eventually you’ll be able to run your own copy.

  6. Michael Koch

    First off, I agree that the wiki is good, but severely limited.

    Here at Oregon State we are in the midst of developing an Open Design site, that I think will take care of this issue. The site will be very robust as it will have the capability to utilize data from the VOICED project ( Similarly, it will include blogs, forums, wikis and other staples of social networks like Facebook. The basics should be up and running later this week.

    If you’re interested in getting involved or doing beta testing, let me know. kochm_at

  7. Marcin

    Mike, Mike, I looked at the wiki for FunctionCAD, and it’s not available in Linux. Is this open source?

    Tell me more about how the repository will work, and what FunctionCAD is.

    Are you actually doing tech development in VOICED?

    Please discuss the level of openness and access procedures for individuals who want to use the available designs.

  8. Michael Koch

    VOICED is an open source project, all the source code should be available. The tech development on VOICED is being mostly done by Missouri S&T, while I’m working on the ability of expanding it into a robust online social network, as I mentioned earlier.

    VOICED works by using the FunctionCAD models (functional models or very high level abstractions) of product designs and tying that with heuristic data on failure analysis which yields a report on where your design may fail in the future. Similarly, it creates conceptual designs based of these functional models. I believe I sent you the first proposal (in Google Docs) that can explain more in depth.

    Either way, the software is open source and the repository is completely open to the public, but is still in development so there are still some bugs to work out. As with the social network, we are using elgg (, and should have the software up and running by the end of the week here on Oregon State servers. Elgg is very robust, but takes some extra steps beyond something like Ning.

    Maybe I will write an article on the Open Design site for this blog one we have the site up?

    Some helpful links:

  9. leigh blackall

    It seems to me that you guys already have all the parts. You have a really valuable Youtube channel, this blog and the wiki… plus the twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Flickr makes for a pretty comprehensive social media and networking presence. Using RSS is a good way to bring all this together in each place, so that when a person who uses Facebook happens along your group, they will see all the other stuff feeding in by RSS.

    Their communication to you and your’s back to them will happen in what ever environment they at first prefer (such as my comment here on this blog) and you need to capture that (probably through RSS again, so that people in other areas can easily see it. Its a challenge, but centralising in something like Ning, or even this blog or the wiki would be a mistake I think. You should continue to spread and somehow think of the Internet as one platform, and accommodate through design the needs of those who struggle to move across the platforms as though they were on one.

    * (upload a video to multiple video sites in one go)
    *GoogleReader (bring in the RSS and share significant items back out in a single feed)
    * (do fancy stuff with data feeds to mashup on other sites)
    *The RSS extension for MediaWiki
    * (bookmark links to a tag work and use the RSS feed for that tag word)

    I am impressed with your efforts to document your work to date. The Youtube channel and this blog are especially strong. The wiki appears to be suffering from not enough contributors (as most wikis do) because we always look to Wikipedia as the measure. The Flickr seems to have stopped, but I doubt the photography of your work has. So where are the photos going? Have I lost the thread to them? (BTW you have an All Rights Reserved copyright license over all those Flickr images – just thought you’d want to know).

    In short, I think you need to continue the extra efforts you are making in documenting your work, and try and build the numbers of people doing the documenting in what ever format and what ever platform they prefer (preferably open data platforms first, and then feed that data into closed data platforms like FaceBook. If they like taking photos, ask them to load to flickr (loading directly from a mobile phone is handy) and Picasa Web Galleries as well. If they like to write, ask them to write to the wiki (FCK is a nice little add on to simplify that for people), and Open Office 3 exports to MediaWIki txt now. My point is that encouraging people to spread out on the Internet is a good thing – so long as you are aggregating that distributed presence as much as possible in each place. Aggregating feed on the wiki, a feed on the blog, a feed in the Facebook, etc. That way I think you are working with the diversity rather than asking everyone to use a Ning or what ever.

  10. Marcin

    We’ve got tons of unpublished photo and video. This requires a full time person to edit and publish. We would gladly share any footage with anyone interested. The challenge is transfering 20GB of media. Solutions?

  11. leigh blackall

    Videroa iPod converter will compress your finished video to MP4 at 320×240 saving you a wad of upload time and data. But the editing time is still there. is an open source web based video editing widget that works on MediaWiki. Basically it is wiki meets video editing so you can get help editing. Last I looked you couldn’t export a finished video from it though.. but it must be in the oven by now. I reckon get a Kaltura running, compress footage and upload it. Edit it web based. Export and then use to distribute it across youtube, and (with its cross loading to feature.

    Otherwise, talk to they might be able to help with the footage side of things.

  12. Jeremy

    Thanks for the suggestions Leigh! I’m attempting to implement them as time allows.

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