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IT workgroup

Page history last edited by George Farebrother 12 years, 2 months ago

I have pasted into this page  George's summary of recent emails about IT.

I have edited them slightly to indicate how we might conduct discussion on wiki pages.

If it works (with some adaptation) it could become a standard for how conference members discuss and plan projects (one 'project page' per project, with a list of projects on the front page)

KM 7.9.09


This is a 'project page' for the project 'IT workgroup'.



Conventions used on this page


Disucssion of the page topic takes place at the bottom of the page in the form of 'comments' which can be made in two ways:-

In view mode you can comment by typing into  the 'Add a comment' box,  which is below the bottom of the page, then clicking  'Add comment' button underneath.  The wiki will automatically stamp your comment with the date and your name (or the ID under which you logged in).


In edit mode, you can  insert a comment anywhere (but mostly it makes sense to do so under the Discussion heading at the bottom of the page, and keep them in chronological order,).   Please add your name and the date you made your  comment. Please ensure that a  horizontal line is inserted above and below  every comment (there's a button for that, to the right of the Font and Size boxes in the tool bar above).


Which way is better? We probably won't know until we have experimented for a while.  The commnent box facility keeps comments in chronologcial order, ensures they are signed and dated, and may be easier for inexperienced wiki users to use (Julian says that more users are willing to 'comment' than to 'edit').   Doing it the other way is more like how it is done in wikipedia. A comment can be inserted in the middle of someone else's comment. [But I think that will confuse people - particularly the person who is supposed to summarise.  It would be hard for them to know if they'd missed any comments. KM]


A 'summary' of the discussion to date  is inserted above the 'Discussion' heading  and updated from time to date.   'Summarising' the discussion is something any project member may do,  (but soemone should take responsibility for ensuring it does happen).   For a project planning page, 'summarising'  would usually mean updating sandard sections such as a do-list and a list of decisions made.  There is probably no need to precis the whole  discussion.


When your name is at the start of a line, this indicates that the sentence / paragraph is addressed to you (or that a do-list item is for you to do).  If there is a 'do BY' date, this should appear after the name, at the front of the line. It helps if the name and 'do BY' date are in red text.


A name at the end of a line or paragraph indicates who wrote it (may be followed by the date  when they wrote it).  Author's names need only be appended to 'comments'  not to 'page content' (see below).


Unsigned page content  should be 'neutral' (i.e. statements of fact, or neutral summaries of discussion). If it is incorect or  not neutral, others may edit it. You don't edit other people's signed comments (but you can reply to them, with your own signed comment).



Project Aims

[First draft by KM. Feel free to edit]


(1) URGENTLY to discuss possible relationship with mySociety  (because deadline of their call for proposals is 15th Sept 2009).


(2) to satisfy conference members' immediate IT needs (set up the IT basics they need,  to plan conference follow-up online - whether what they are planning is  IT-related or not)


(3) to co-ordinate  longer-term IT projects (which may  become separate projects with their own project pages and teams).


Project members

[assuming all willing]



George (convenor)




Decisions made

[To be confirmed by teleconference. Weird Quaker habit: we draft the minutes before the meting. KM]



This wiki will be, to start with,  our main means of discussion. We will experiment with using this wiki instead of emails, assess how well that works,  and set up alternative / additional methods of online discussion if that seems helpful.


Name: this wiki will be renamed www.NETLAP.pbworks.com.  NETLAP stands for Network for Law, Accountability and Peace: the loose confederation of individuals and organisations involved in the conference convened by INLAP (Institute for Law, Accountability and Peace).  This is subject to confirmation also at an INLAP meeting. The other names that have been suggested can be used for specific projects arising from the network. Each project would have its own pages on this wiki (until it flies off - if it does - to a web-site of its own).







To-do list


See the IT workgroup section on the  page which contains all the do-lists.






Comparison of types of online discussion & collaboration


Comparison of types of online discussion and collaboration (yahoo groups, facebook groups, google docs etc - anything that might be better than this wiki in some respects). 


Political web resources


Information about political web resources (websites that do specific things useful for activists, not just generally support discussion / collaboration).


14 September 2009 Discussion on mySociety Proposal


First steps for new IT workgroup


(The items below were pasted in by Kitty  from emails circulated by George, as an example of what discussion on a wiki page might look like. But I think it would be better to use the comment box facility for discussion and the page body for summarising only.  KM 8/9/09  )

I agree with this.  The method I used for the material below is something I often do when there's a torrent of emails.  I do this on a Word file to make sure it's tidy and spell-checke and can then copy it onto the Wiki.  I've just discovered that the above and below horizonatl lines have to be set up BEFORE making the comment. GF 9/9/09

 ANDREW wrote  on **/**/**:

… I am away for a week, set up a yahoo group for those at the conference to discuss it and work through resolving what is required. I also want to make sure that someone else is not already doing that.

Here is an example of a yahoo group: http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/MayanSchool/

What I need is a name for the group eg "And they still don't listen", but a shorter name would be better.

A number of people's email address who will be able to accept request's to join and send invitations to people to join the group. Called administrators.

Once this is done You can send an email to everyone, and ask them to Subscribe by emailing;



And any administrator (you or me and others) can send people invitations to join.

Incidentally put my name into any search engine, and you will find that my web space comes at the top of the list. I explained, at the conference, how I helped bring that about. But if you glance my website it is not smart and good looking.


GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


 I’ve tried this but whichever link I try to follow it comes up with “The website declined to show this webpage”.

ANDREW wrote on **/**/**


I think campaigning on a law against acts of aggression would be a good local campaign, which I would like to get grass roots support for. Though my main focus remains empowerment of people - but I don't mean Nimbyism.

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**

Yes, this is coming through clearly through several responses I’ve had so far.  I also agree entirely – people simply doing the work, and learning from it, is a good in itself. 


ANDREW wrote on **/**/**

I just had a look and potentially a name for a discussion group could be: "WorldCourtProject" as that does not seem to be used. If you phone please also email some names to start, they can all be moderators once they accept hence they can invite and accept more members, particularly whilst I am away. I am inclined to group it in the first one of the following;

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


“World Court Project” is an umbrella organisation and is already in use both at a national and an international level. 


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


I love Andew's lets-do-it-now enthusiasm, in offering to set up a yahoo group before going away tomorrow.   Maybe we need both a wiki and  such a group (and other types of group as well).

However, there was some tentative agreement (for what that's worth) at the conference that we'd start with a wiki (the one we've already got)  and work out from there.  The particular usefulness of a wiki for working through the conference results is that it enables people to organise and summarise the various threads of discussion, not just to continue the conversation.  

Having announced the wiki as our next step,  I'd like us to stick with that.   Especially as Julian has already been adding to the wiki (during the conference - another quick worker!).  

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


I ‘phoned Andrew and we agreed that it is better to go along with the Wiki for the moment as that is up and running.


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


I will set up a page on the wiki (unless somene beats me to it) for discussing how we could  make use of additional technologies (eg  yahoo groups, facebook groups etc).


GEORGE wrote on **/**/**

Yes, I would be very enthusiastic if you did that.  

KITTY wrote on **/**/** 


Would you guys be willing to use that page as the  place in which to explain what each type of group is good at?   


We also need  pages for other things that need early resolution (eg the choice of a co-ordinated set of  names for the various whatsits we set up).   I think my changing the wiki's  internal title to 'I hope this was helpful'   during the conference was not very bright and I hope it did not offend  Ashley (it was meant as a friendly gesture but may have looked like a hostile takeoever).


The wiki  still has, for now,  the URL:  www.yourmpandwar.pbworks.com.   You  (and people you invite) are all  welcome to edit it, set up additional pages, and generally use it for organising the  conference  output into useful shape for taking action.

I am about to register Andrew and Ashley's email addresses, so you will all have 'write' permission.  Your invitees can get permission by attempting to edit any page, which triggers an email to me.  Or you could send me the email addresses of people you'd like to invite.

But may I ask you a favour - for the time being, please only invite people whom you trust to participate sensibly.  Later, we can throw it wide open (but please let's find some editor/moderators first, willing to take responsibility for keeping a range of pages tidy, and removing political rants to appropriate places).


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


George - I'm assuming you will post onto the wiki the conference notes which you are collating, from various note-takers.


GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


I’ve done that now, at least in a raw form.  Tidying up will come later.   Kitty – do you think it would be a good idea to delete that pre-planning material now?  I have it all on file anyway.  If you agree, could you do this?



KITTY wrote on **/**/**

I will  post  the notes from discussion group 4 in their raw state, and see if they 'organise themselves' as others come on board. 

And maybe someone will have tidied the front page which I messed up during the conference.

One can always hope.

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**

I’ve done a bit of tidying up – but see above. 


Unless we actually name an entry (e.g. George 09/09) it’s not easy to see who has actually made it. 



JULIAN wrote on **/**/**

I think the wiki can be made to produce an automatic email every time

someone edits it.  (Maybe he can help.)  This will produce the same or

better effect as there will not be discussions about "shall we put

this on the wiki" or "please respond to what I've put on the wiki".


GEORGE wrote on **/**/**

I think this may be the answer – although Kitty pointed out earlier that this means that we get notified every time someone adds a comma.  I’m inclined to accept the automatic update idea as long as it can be switched of temporarily for minor alterations.


KITTY wrote on **/**/**

Have put it on do-list


ANDREW wrote on **/**/**


I am in the public library in Tunbridge Wells, my home. I'll set up if you say so, as the two things don't actually conflict. But just emailing everyone like replying this email also works. If I find a job locally I may make more comitment, but that may not happen. The benfit of the group is that anyone can joining latter then look back at prior messages, and it's quite easy to do, you don't need me. Just follow the link below.

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


And the same is true of the Wiki isn’t it?  We would need to know whether the Yahoo Group has any additional advantages.  I’m rather against having to remember to make two updates every time something happens.   




KITTY wrote on **/**/**


What do you think of  'NetLAP' (Network for Law, Accountability and Peace) as an umbrella  name under which to carry this forward?

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**

Excellent – the answer to much head-scratching which I have been doing. 


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


NetLAP would be 'serviced by' INLAP, whose role would be to provide the benign scaffolding on which autonomous projects can co-evolve, and not to micro-manage. Oh, and to hold the money and dispense it to deserving projects meeting specific criteria.


GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


That would be fine.  INLAP is a registered charity, I’m the treasurer, and we’re used to money passing through it.  Of course, one important issue is:  where would the money be coming from?


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


WCP might perhaps become as 'one of the network of projects serviced by INLAP' if you are looking for a re-jigging. Would that  keep the donors?

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


I think that would be OK.  WCP originally grew out of INLAP and there is a strong overlap of people and subject matter.  INLAP has members who are supposed to pay subs.  WCP does not have members.  It has “contacts”.  This is because it was originally an umbrella organisation but we could easily ask WCP people to pay regularly by bankers order. 

What is coming through very clearly is that INLAP and WCP should retain their separate identities.  We’ll need an early joint INLAP/WCP meeting to provide authority for anything we do.

KITTY wrote on **/**/**


INLAP's trustees would be few and carefully  recruited as Rowntree's are (and as recommended in  John Carver's book 'Boards that make a difference' - with which new trustees would be locked up, sans biscuits, until they've read it).

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


INLAP, as a Charity, already has trustees – five of them.  Of these, Christine Titmus, myself  and Vijay are hands-on.


KITTY wrote on **/**/**


They'd also have to read  'Built to Last'  (or a precis which I'll produce one of these days)  about the need for two mechanisms in tension: one to 'stimulate progress' (that's the network) and one to 'preserve the core' (which would be INLAP's board of governance, revamped Carver style).

People who understand  what 'true networks' are, would gently ensure that NetLAP becomes a proper one (which Network for Peace is not, but let's not upset them by saying so).


Enough for now.  But be aware my Machiavellian plotting continues.

GEORGE wrote on **/**/**


Kitty:  could you try drafting a definite proposal for the relationship between INLAP, WCP and NETLAP, bearing in mind that other organisations may well be linked to it as autonomous organisations?  We could then present this to INLAP and WCP. 


ASHLEY wrote on **/**/**

Running around before I catch the eurostar. Suggest we have an initial debrief before running ahead. Available for a conf call as of monday.

GEORGE wrote on **/**/*

I agree.  We badly need this. 

KITTY wrote on 7/9/09


I have amended the front page and to-do  lists to suit 'post' rather than 'pre' conference.

The old versions reamain in the wiki eternally.


KITTY wrote on 8/9/09


I have put it on  do list to write paper, as George requested, for INLAP / WCP meeting.

Comments (6)

George Farebrother said

at 10:05 am on Sep 8, 2009

I have disabled the conference website as this is now out of date. It can very easily be resurrected and I'm now familiar with this software.

George Farebrother said

at 10:32 am on Sep 8, 2009

Having tried comments both ways I'm still anxious to have a method of being alerted to when people make comments and where they are in the Wiki

KM said

at 7:20 am on Sep 12, 2009

So we are both anxious. You are anxious that people be kept updated and I am anxious that no-one should feel pestered. I will investigate RSS feeds, which are ways in which people can 'opt in' to receive notifications when this wiki's pages (or any other web-pages) change. Then if they feel pestered they'll know its their own choice (which they can change) and not send me emails asking why they are receiving emails. For the time being can you manage by looking (daily?) at the list of 'recent changes' which appears on the front page near the bottom right? If you experiment with clicking on all the clickable bits you'll see that it is very good at telling you exactly who made edits or comments or uploaded files etc, and when they did it, and exactly what changes they made.

KM said

at 7:25 am on Sep 12, 2009

Sorry, it's called 'Recent Activity' and does not appear near the bottom of the page but at the bottom of the right-hand side-bar (which may be shorter than the page). It appears on all pages, not just front page, when in View mode. Incidentally, that side-bar is something we can change if we wish.

KM said

at 7:35 am on Sep 12, 2009

George inserted this comment into the page body above: "Summarising the discussion" is someting I'd be willing to do from time to time, if only to get my mind around it all, but I'd like Kitty to do some of this as well. For my own benefit I've set up an email nickname for the IT Group. GF 9/9/09

Yes, I'll summarise. Now that we are starting to use this commnent facility it is becoming clear to me that it makes more sense than inserting comments into the page body. So: my first act of summarisng (or page tidying or 'gardening' as I've recently heard it called) is moving that comment of George's from above to here. Ooh the power is going to my head.

KM said

at 7:39 am on Sep 12, 2009

George asked if there's a spell-checker on the wiki. Yes, it is on the top line of the tool bar when in edit mode. The symbol is a square containing the letters ABC and a tick.

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