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Hadassah’s projects: Community Web presence and Art aggregator

Project 1: Femme Collective / Femme Conference Web Presence

Project 2: Activist Art Aggregator

PROJECT 1: Conference Web Presence: Femme Collective/Femme Conference Web Presence

GOALS for Project:

Create a completely new, modernized web presence for a bi-annual LGBTQ conference. The site must hold information about this and future conferences, so as to reduce the need to recreate structure for future conferences. Ideally, the web presence will also have an easy-to-remember name.

The hub of the presence will ideally be a web site which can be easily maintained, updated and changed year-to-year by individuals of medium-to-strong web production capabilities. Using web platforms which inspire rather than deter collaboration and participation, produce and maintain the site and web presence by a group of eight asynchronous volunteers. Thus, agility and accessibility are a material concerns. Updates to the site should be easy for “nontech” folks to execute, to distribute the power in information sharing among many members of the producing collective.

The users of the site will come from a range of backgrounds, from experienced digital 30-somethings, to youth who primarily use the internet on their phones, to older folks who aren’t necessarily comfortable putting their credit card info online. Thus, use of the site must be accessible to “nontech” users – the information architecture needs to be intuitive and easy to understand. The navigation of the site needs to be extremely clear, especially to find registration, submissions, and donation pages.

That said, the marketing draw of the site is also important, as the main goal of the site is to drive attendance to the conference via presenters and registration. Therefore a clean and modernized design will help reinforce a sense of expertise and capacity, and will encourage web-savvy folks to attend.

As well, the multichannel aspects of the web presence should be clear: the facebook, you tube and twitter accounts should be clearly noticeable and should drive users of these services [web traffic] to the site even as they drive users of the site to these additional web presences.

PROBLEMS/Solutions-in-Training:

From 2005-2011, the web presence was created, developed, designed, maintained, and owned by one person who is no longer working on the project and who is recalcitrant to share the original domain name of the project [femmecollective.com] or the original email lists gathered from the project. Thus, an additional goal of this project is to create a collaborative and horizontal web presence which is decentralized and which many people have access to and control[s] over, while maintaining the safety of personal data [email addresses etc] that are collected via listservs, mailing lists, registration forms, et al.

Members have requested a rideboard and housing-share board for the site. Questions about need for monitoring and safety have come up, so these boards should involve some kind of login or user-creation to avoid spam and lurking, while remaining easy-to-use for a range of users.

PERSONAS

  •  Janelle: Urban 31yo gay-identified artist and woman of color who works part time at a clothing store and part time at an after-school arts program. She lives in Baltimore in a rented rowhouse with her partner, and is from Demoine. à volunteer
  • Cherry: urban late 20s burlesque performer who works for a NPO in communications and leads a queer burlesque troupe. She used to be a Radical Cheerleader and politics are very important to her. à submit a proposal
  • Mary: Suburban lesbian 50yo who lives in Cleveland with her 2 kids and butch domestic partner. She used to be on ButchFemme.com but since that site is down, uses the internet more for recipies, to facebook-keep-up with friends, and to find out what her kids are engaging with. She donates annually to the HRC. à register
  • Dylan: Midcity urban gay man 40yo who supports the arts, and works at an art gallery as an administrator. He lives in DC and visits NYC, Philly, and Baltimore frequently for arts and cultural events. à attend performances and keynotes
  •  Billy: 35yo Butch dyke from Atlanta whose partners’ other girlfriend’s partner works on the conference. Billy works in development for an NGO and attends the Butch Conference. Billy wants to support all the femmes in her life any way she can, and has watched the Ivan Coyote “Poem To A Femme” video more than once with a few tears in her eyes. à attend as an ally and donate
  • Mia: 20yo transgender QPOC who volunteers with several political organizations, works part time at a café, and lives in a collective house in Philly. She is underemployed and has very little time or money for anything that does not directly address global liberation and ending capitalism. à apply for financial aid
  • Shimmer: 28yo genderqueer from the PNW who lived as a F2M for most of the last decade and is exploring hir’s identity and cultural space as a being who embodies many genders. They host a monthly poetry slam in their hometown of Portland, and are working on a zine about ending gender oppression. à submit a proposal

USE CASE SCENARIO EXPERIENCE

  • Janelle finds the website via an email a friend forwards her and is excited that this event is going to be in her town, and wants to get involved with the arts aspect of it. She finds the call for support page on the site and emails to à volunteer
  •  Cherry sees the event on Facebook and via several Tumblr posts and realizes that this is a great performance opportunity because the mentions of past performances include so many names she is familiar with! She gathers her girl gang at their weekly meeting and they decide to à submit a performance proposal via the online form on the website
  •  Mary: Hears about the event by a forwarded email and a flyer, goes to the website, and sees that there are femmes of all ages at this event. She’s inspired by the work that’s being done and  uses the links on the website to à register
  • Dylan’s lesbian friend sends him an email about the keynote at this conference, a performer who he loved in many cabarets, so he buys tickets for the show and à attend performances and keynotes
  • Billy knows about the conference because of her chosen family talking about it, and gets an email about the Honor A Femme Campaign and is inspired to à donate. She also sees on the website that allies are welcome to the conference, so she à registers to attend as an ally
  •  Mia sees the conference on #twitter and Tumblr and thinks she can’t afford to go, but the outreach team keeps sending #tweets about the financial aid and political activity in the conference, so she goes onto the site and à apply for financial aid
  • Shimmer has some concerns that this conference is not for hir, but keeps going to the site since there are new blog posts about identity and organizing going up. After reading one by a fellow genderqueer individual, they are inspired to à submit a workshop proposal via the form on the site.

Inspirational sites:

–       Allied Media Conference

–       Butch Voices

FULL DEVELOPMENT

  • –       Site: WordPress with a customized/child theme
  • –       Documentation: Wiki
  • –       Forums & Community Interaction: BuddyPress
  • –       Social Media: Facebook, Twitter – loaded as widgets onto site
  • –       Logistics: Google maps API shows location and can provide directions
  • –       Managing audience: MailChimp email, HootSuite
  • –       Documentation: YouTube channel, Flickr photo galleries on the site that draw on tags

TIME to complete: 80 hours

  • Coding/production: 40 hours
  • Design: 5-10 hours
  • Initial content creation: 20 hours
  •  How-tos/Training: 10 hours
  • Maintenance & content updates: 4 hours/week

AGILE/MINIMUM DEVELOPMENT

  • –       Site: WordPress with an out of the box theme
  • –       Documentation: Google docs
  • –       Forums & Community Interaction: bbForums [the software that comes with DreamHost]
  • –       Social Media: Facebook, Twitter,
  • –       Managing audience: MailChimp email, HootSuite
  • –       Documentation: YouTube channel, Facebook galleries

TIME to complete: 50 hours

  • –       Coding/production: 25 hours
  • –       Initial content creation: 20 hours
  • –       How-tos/Training: 5 hours
  • –       Maintenance & content updates: 2 hours/week

 

PROJECT #2: Activist Art Aggregator

GOALS of Project

The goal of this project is to create a site where I can aggregate the political and activist art I stumble upon and dig up over the course of my Masters’ thesis research in 2012. Since there is no way I would be able to comprehensively talk about or reference all the activist art made in the digital age, yet since I’ll be looking for and going through so much cultural production, I want to find a way to collect [hoard?] the work of research in the first place.

The pedagogical goal of the site is pedagogy-through-praxis: to use the strategy of “show-not-tell” to leverage the emotional rhetoric of political/activist art. An additional goal is to make space to describe some of the theories I am working with, from, and developing. Lastly, this site will use aggregator and database technologies to showcase new/current art works — designated by parameters that are continually being developed over the course of my research — that is being produced, by pulling new content into the site regularly. Folks who come to the site can search terms of their choosing and all the content that relates to that term would be made available, making this archive relevant, searchable, and could be suited to any user’s pedagogical or populist interests

The site should include multiple feeds, developed via aggregators, widgets and APIs, of various kinds of media that update without my actively adding content on the site. This may include drawing from Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Vimeo, Google Scholar, a news and media aggregator, metasearch engine outputs; and more assets to be researched.

The goal of using feed technology will be to create the site as a kind of showcase of databases, to collect images, videos, documentation and writing on activist art that is not fully driven by me. The development of the tags, metatags, research terms, and categories will develop over the course of my research, but would ideally also be augmented by blog tags and categories as the site continues to be a place where I catalog activist art and artists via interviews.

The interactivity of ever-growing tag base will make the site different each time a visitor comes to it—including me. The site itself will be researching and collecting data on activist art/artists using database technology. [Lev Manovich/databases and archives]. The final outcome will be a “planet site” or “metasearch engine” creating a virtual database customized to include public content under my interests.

An additional element of this site is to showcase video interviews of activist/artists I plan on doing in April, July, August and later. Thus the site should have a prominent window on the front page, which highlights the video content.

Lastly, as part of the proof of concept, the site will collect art I create for a 10-day period in April under the moniker IMGSRC and place on the distributed sites which will feed into a “test” project. These pieces will be tagged so as to be aggregated by the RSS/API formats onto the site. Doing this will give me information about if and how well my API and feeds are finding online data. The theory behind the use of IMGSRC is that digital instances require a Uniform Resource Locator – a hard definition of what and where exactly a media lies. However, in most other instances of language, “where” something is remains clouded in slippage, decentralized understandings, and critical theories of naming, language, and subjective definitions. That an item can be a source, a certain referent, is rare. History gives us traces we can reveal through hard archive research – this project aims to use digital databases to trace referents in the same manner. Suggested URL: imgsrc.[domain-to-be-determined].com

SAMPLE Sites:

–       thisissignified.com [design, video features]

–       http://www.veniceartscouncil.org/drupal/aggregator/sources/9 [aggregation in Drupal]

USERS

  • –       Chuck is a 38yo white, straight hacker dude, has a Redmine, Wikipedia, and Twitter handle, and who finds the site because he has a google alert set up for all of his projects, and notices that several were pinged to this site.
  • –       Jaya is a 29yo mixed-race transgender internet nerd and hardware specialist who understands the relationship of databases to radical horizontalist networks. Jaya finds the site via facebook, since it is set up to make a daily post via the linked Twitter feed that comes out of the site.
  • –       Jack is a 35yo queer, latino technology producer and activist who hears about the site at a conference and starts showing it to people as an example of FLOSS production and political art.
  • –       Smoot is a 28yo white cisgendered female participatory artist and professional Teaching Artist who finds the site via a Tumblr post, and uses it to look up feminist art for inspiration for her practice.
  • –       Jen is a 24yo African-american graduate student in art history who blogs regularly and finds the site through a series of linkbacks in the sites’ blog posts about artists she is studying. She uses the search function on the site to look up specific artists, and finds herself discovering artists she hadn’t heard of yet in the process.

USE CASE SCENARIOS

  • Chuck interacts with site once as a coding accomplishment, researching it for hacktivist information, and then links to it on his blog.
  • Jaya interact with site as a political project, #tweets about it and shows it to her internet nerd friends via an email sent out during the workday.
  • Jack interacts with the site several times, and views it as an activist art project and repository that has valuable content worth sharing with others
  •  Smoot interacts with site for art inspiration, subscribes to the RSS the site puts out, visits it twice, and posts a link to it on Facebook.
  • Jen uses the site for research in looking into finding new or supplementary sources. She cites it in a paper.

FULL DEVELOPMENT

  • A technology goal of this site is to learn a new coding or development language to produce it. My initial thought is to create it in Drupal, which has a database back-end and aggregator modules [http://drupal.org/documentation/modules/aggregator].
  • Include a code package made available via Github or Subversion that others could pick up and, using their own search terms, create their own instances of such a media-heavy aggregator.
  • Perhaps include [or become?] a Planet aggregator:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_aggregator //
  •  Include art/images research, include flickr, google images, Wikipedia commons images,more to be researched:
  • digital media art aggregator: http://maa.codeplex.com/
  •  Use some widget functionality: http://www.w3.org/2008/webapps/wiki/WidgetSpecs
  • Sites to begin my meta-search for data: http://www.dmoz.org/Computers/Internet/Searching/Metasearch/
  • Include a video window in the front page of the site for interviews I conduct,
  • make videos searchable on the site and use same hashtags and search terms for videos as well as aggregators
  • Include twitter & tumblr widgets drawing in from hashtags and search terms
  •  Include an RSS feed and automated Twitter feed out
  • Searchability is for all the content that is drawn into the site.
  •  Dream Franco Moretti-like element: big-picture data collection creative interventions onto the data could include:
  •  use a software like Processing to collect the values of kinds of data output by the API/Feeds and create a moving meta-image that shows the amount of media with certain tags or content parameters, be it text, hashtags, etc.
  • To use Max/MSP/Jitter to produce a video/audio component http://cycling74.com/products/sdk/

Full development: Time to Complete: 85+ hours

  • Drupal research/learning curve: 15 hours
  • Drupal development: 20 hours
  •  API and aggregator research/learning curve: 15 hours
  •  API/aggregator development: 20 hours
  • Development of search parameters: 5-8 hours
  • Graphic design: 5 hours
  • Initial content development: 4 hours
  • Ongoing Content development: 2 hours/week
  • Creative database interventions:
  • Processing: 20hours
  • Max/MSP/Jitter: 20 hours

AGILE/LIGHT DEVELOPMENT

  • Develop site in WordPress or HTML5: The heavy use of aggregators, widgets, and APIs in the site might mean that development in WP or HTML5 will suffice for the design element as the majority of the databases will be maintained offsite. Since I already understand WP, this option is less attractive but would be more achievable.
  • Pay someone else to build widgets and APIs for me: example: http://www.widgetbox.com/overview/
  • Include pre-built or lightly-customized twitter, flickr, tumblr widgets as a sidebar
  • Include one central window for all content, aggregated and blogged posts.
  • Searchability limited to content created by site, not aggregated in

Agile development: Time to Complete: 60 hours

  • WP research/learning curve: 5 hours
  • WP development: 15 hours
  • API and aggregator research/learning curve: 15 hours
  • API/aggregator development: 10 hours
  • Development of search parameters: 5 hours
  • Graphic design: 5 hours
  • Initial content development: 4 hours
  •  Ongoing Content development: 2 hours/week

Posted in Assignment.

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3 Responses

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  1. mandiberg says

    This is an excellent series of reflections. It is great that your realized you didn’t need all of BP so you backed up and just installed a forum. Smart.

    I am going to repeat myself and ask you what the goal of the site/project is? Do you want to get/aggregate information for your thesis? Do you want to archive your research in a public way? Do you want to create a space where other people can create an archive with you? Do you really want to build a community? (It is ***MUCH*** harder than it seems). Do you want to build a tool to do these things? Are you willing to use a tool that already exists?

    I know you want to keep learning and building thing, but sometimes it is better and easier to use someone else’s tool and keep it simple. A couple versions of that:

    1. Create a tag on Flickr and ask people to use it
    2. Create a pool on Flickr and ask people to submit their photos to it (most people do)
    3. Archive all of your research on delicious or some similar service, and pull in an xml feed onto your website
    4. Do some of all of this and pull it in via xml to your site. Maybe filter it w/ pipes.

    KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid!… of course i’m not calling you stupid! LOL. But seriously, the saying is there for a reason. We make things more complicated than they have to be! Seriously!!!

  2. Hadassah Damien says

    Oh., and I re-themed and built out the website for the conference using a WordPress theme that works with BuddyPress. I also installed BP and realized that actually, I only need forums right now, so figured out how to deinstall BP and put on bbPress instead. Which is not formatted but, hey, I figured it out!

  3. Hadassah Damien says

    What I learned in class was to reduce the scope of my idea for a proof-of-concept, and the scope that was suggested was to just try building a Flickr API with some specific tags [street art, protest, TBD] and putting it on a site, no Drupal needed. Just to make sure I really learn something new I’ll put the site in HTML5 and also see if I can’t test the potential to up the collaboration-contribution element by community-sourcing submissions to the site via a Tubmlr output with a “submission” button [acknowledging that an outreach strategy should go along with the community-source, and that for a proof-of-concept project I won’t have time to develop one, and wresting politically with not being prefigurative and “asking everyone to the table” if I’m setting a table at all].

    Michael also suggested yahoo pipes and … my mind is more blown than ever. Who knew all this data functionality was possible? http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/

    During class, I was thinking that I missed the mark on collaboration and could have been thinking much more creatively about users, especially after Michael asked who would use the site? I originally thought of my users and case scenarios in terms of people who were going to “come to the site” as “consumer-users” via marketing & word-of-mouth tactics, but I didn’t really think about co-builder-users, who are the people I actually want to be working with to make my projects interesting and viable. I’m having trouble thinking about how to get user/collaborators, perhaps because I’ve worked at promotions [a unidirectional-ish field] for so long. I think the answer is: ask. Have a POC/MVP ready, and just…ask. ***Are other folks thinking about who will work with or participate in their site or am I the lone person worried about community participation and marketing?***

    Another possible solution to this potentially lonely situation is the additional element of allowing people to both search the site and — in doing so — adding search terms to the scope of the site, thus actually constructing/curating the content. [Without spam ruining my life/project.] This aspect of storing input and then automating this input directly into the terms of API/aggregation that’s been set up must be possible…but might actually just be WAY out of achievability scope.

    Mostly, I’m thinking about “release early and release often” and what the magical balance is between having a viable POC together so that potential collaborators know that I have a viable idea, and moving the project so far along that people don’t feel that they have buy-in or that their ideas will have somewhere uncolonized to land.



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