Lullabot Interview

Jeff Robbins of Lullabot posted a podcast interview of me here. I babble on for an hour or so about the Dean Campaign, DeanSpace, and CivicSpace.

Drupal Camp SF Report Back

A few weeks ago we held our first ever "Drupal Camp" in San Francisco at Compumentor's office. I blogged about this previously when we were hashing out the idea. Today I posted a pretty lengthy report back about it on

Ruby on Rails

Yes, conceivably within a few years Ruby on Rails could emerge as a dominant web application development environment. But I am betting strongly against it. Why all the hype then? True innovation, great presentation, lots of screencasts & brilliant marketing. But in the end, RoR is fighting an uphill battle. E.G. LISP has a much greater market share than Ruby (.721% vs .2%).

Programming language market share numbers are taken from this study. It covers the languages in general and is not specific to web application development. If anyone has any better analysis please let me know.

*Update*: There is a great blogpost from a Ruby on Rails devotee here that comes away with much the same conclusion but instead of just numbers he provides a well reasoned argument.

Starting a new job It's basically going to make a billion dollars.

Magic Groups - A ScreenCast

Consider this:

  • My job is to focused around developing web applications that help communities collaborate yet the majority of the day to day collaborative work I am personally involved in is faciliated by standard mailman mailing lists, not community focused web applications. Mailing lists are functionaly no different than they were more than twenty years ago when they were invented.
  • Without a doubt the most pervasive and powerful organizing tool the Dean campaign grassroots groups used beyond Meetup to self organize was Yahoo groups. Yahoo's business is centered around "user produced content" and community. YahooGroups (formerly eGroups) with 50M registered users is their #1 community tool. Yet the toolset has barely changed in the 6+ years since eGroups was bought and made a part of Yahoo.
  • In my experience as a community organizer (DeanSpace, PeopleFinder) I have found that there are only two indespensable tools: wiki's and mailinglists. With both in place 85%+ of your web app needs are covered and groups are more than capable of self-organizing effectively.

So given all this, why does CivicSpace still not ship with working YahooGroups-like mailinglists and wiki support? Good freaking questions. Thankfully, I believe we are finally getting close to an adequate answer....

My first screecast (37 megs 10 min):

This sandbox runs on Drupal 4.7 beta 5. Modules I am using on this site:

  • Og - to create and manage the groups. Thank you Moshe!
  • og2list - to send out mail to group members
  • og_forum - to sync a forum w/ each group
  • og_mandatory_group (4.7 port included below) - to auto-join site registrants with the main group
  • og_intro (in zip below) - to send notices to the main group when users join and new groups are formed
  • Tabs - to draw the fancy ajax tabbed pages on the og nodes. Thanks nedjo!
  • Node Relativity - to handle 'sub groups'
  • Freelinking - to handle wiki-link -> node edit forms and [[wiki link]] fiters
  • Masquerade - to let me test the site as a non-admin user
  • Mailhandler - to post mail to my site off of og email lists (reads a catchall for the domain)
  • Mail Stuffer (in zip below) - my hacky helper module that associates mail sent in to mailinglists
  • Wikipage (in zip below)- to create wiki node types and manage permissions
  • Bookmark - to let users save pages in their bookmarks block

I would highly recommend waiting until og2list is fully baked and until I have a chance to clean up my code before you use this. But if you must I have included all my new modules, slightly hacked modules (ported og2list to 4.7 and added tags support to mailhandler) and my theme .tpl files. This stuff will all make it into cvs some time next week if all goes well.

Bill Gates the Bootstrapper

We need microformats and to get people to agree on them. It is going to bootstrap exchanging data on the Web……we need them for things like contact cards, events, directions…

Amen! More on the microformats blog

(via Christmes)

A true story

April 2008 in Bangalore India, amongst the sparkling new out-sourced call center office parks, a unassuming new company is formed; "Personal Business Services Group". Their business? outsourced personal assistant services for American / European Fortune 1000's. For a reasonable rate of $200 a month* per employee their highly fluent and capable staff will time-shift their internal clocks and diligintly perform the following duties:

* *Call screening*: simply route your SIP phone through their severs and they will pre-screen all of your calls.
* *Scheduling*: Simply cc them on all your scheduling email threads and they will massage meetings into your calendar without you having to even think.
* *Note taking*: Call them up over Skype during meetings and they will listen in and take notes that will later be posted on your companies wiki.
* *Proof reading*: Send over any documents and they will sanity check, proof fread, and even edit your writing.

Within a year they have forged an entire new industry. New hire C level managers now think of personal assitant services a standard job benifit. Competing firms sprout up and tackle entirely new verticals such as stressed out soccer moms and small business owners.

*The catch*

Entreprenurial employees in India now sit in on every business meeting, every decision, and every interaction in every company in America. As the routinely disruptive dynamics of the information economy meet the inevitable finality of true globalization, the gates to our corporate american kingdom are pried open from the inside. Our personal assitants become our equals and our penchant for out-sourcing work becomes the blue print for our replacement.

* $3 an hour X 3 hours a day per employee = $9 a day / $45 a week / $180 a month

*Note:* I wrote this post while burning an hour before the 11PM showing of V for Vendetta. Make of that what you will.

CivicSpace is almost here

I've poured almost three of my life in to CivicSpace waving my hands and willing it into existance. We have a lot to show for it: 30 major software releases, two thousands CivicSpace powered websites, a vibrant and quickly growing user community, and a network of 25+ vendors occupying a solid slice of the marketplace of advocacy / non-profit web technology services. But what we haven't had so far is a solid user facing product - something I can show my mom...

Ten minutes ago I sent a note to our mailinglists announcing that we will shortly begin alpha testing a hosted CivicSpace service and are looking for testers. Three minutes later four people signed up.

The CivicSpace hosted service is almost here and I couldn't be more excited.

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