LocalWiki Codes, Talks, Searches for Pilot Community

    by Philip Neustrom
    April 4, 2011

    Here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to for the past month or so at LocalWiki: coding, coding, coding, coding, talking, coding, talking, talking, coding, coding, coding. Occasionally we take breaks for sleep and nutritional intake purposes. Want more detail? Read on!

    Code, code, code, code & milestone


    We’ve been hard at work on the software side of the project. In the past month, we’ve:

    • begun serious work on our collaborative mapping system;
    • made the basic functions of our page editor work better;
    • and come up with a way to allow for plug-ins and dynamic content inside pages.

    We’re aiming to have something that our first pilot community can use to begin building content by May 1. It won’t be pretty or complete. Our goal is to allow our first pilot to start experimenting and providing feedback while using the software to start building something great in their community. This milestone will also be a good point for interested developers to jump in, as we’ll have something a little more polished and cohesive than we do now.


    Talk, talk, talk


    This month, we had a panel at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, titled “Too Small, Too Open: Correcting Wikipedia’s Local Failure.” It went really well, despite being at 9:30 am on a Saturday! I was joined by Phoebe Ayers of the Wikimedia Foundation and Michael Trice of the University of Leeds Centre for Digital Citizenship.

    In February, we were part of a roundtable at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, to discuss the unveiling of a paper they wrote with the Knight Foundation about local community information hubs. Their report praises the model we are developing. “Davis Wiki site offers almost everything the authors of the Informing Communities report hoped for when they drew up the seven key ingredients for any local online hub,” the authors wrote.

    A few weeks before that, we gave a talk at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight Digital Media Center on the Davis Wiki and a bit about our work on the LocalWiki project.

    Choosing our first pilot community

    Assuming all goes according to plan, we’ll choose our first pilot community to work with in six weeks. But we need your help. We’re looking for some particular characteristics for our first pilot community:

    • willingness to work with incomplete software;
    • ability to work fairly autonomously, at least at first;
    • preferably, a community where the media landscape is not already crowded;
    • patience and commitment — it will take time and effort;
    • and enthusiasm, curiosity and wonder!

    Know of some great people in a place that fits what we’re looking for? If so, please recommend a pilot community. We’ll be in contact with potential candidates for our first pilot in five weeks or so. Expect an Idea Lab update around that time.

    Tagged: berkeley davis wiki knight digital media center localwiki sxswi wikimedia foundation

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