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Re: SquishDot

Roger has raised the crucial issues. I hope I can add a few points.

Roger Dingledine wrote:

> Both sides have good points, on this one. I agree that squishdot looks kind
> of neat, but I'm also hesitant to jump into the 'portal' fray just because
> some ceo said companies would have to consider portals or face death within
> the next six years. I am also scared to death of Bruno's phrase up there,
> 'if I understand correctly, each niche will need its own "portal".'
> And I know I'm reacting to your phrasing and not what you meant, so I'll
> leave that point alone.

If one is serious about truly changing the current proprietary software structure
in schools, one has to think in terms of a large number of people. For example,
getting say Dr GEO used in 100 schools isn't going to do anything in terms of
changing the system. One has to think in terms of many thousands. The user issues
alone would swamp the current mailing list. It will need it's own user discussion
list. Also the current mailing list is inappropriate for the average teacher who is
concerned about using software, not its development.

> I totally agree that we need to be prepared at some point for more
> participation from a wider range of volunteers. But preparing the
> infrastructure is one thing -- actually having an idea of what you
> want out of them, and how they can provide it, is a much more crucial, and
> much more difficult, task.
> You're hoping that a bunch of people will show up, find a very easy and
> convenient way of posting their idea, and they'll do it. Each of them will
> post something, and then they'll read the other posts, and suddenly there
> will be a lot of brilliant information at everybody's fingertips.

This is precisely the problem with a bottom up approach that is currently in place.
This is why it should be done from the top down. Define a goal (mission statement)
and develop a strategic plan to implement it. Roger, I agree with what you have
said in the past that one can over plan something until nothing gets done. On the
other hand having some vague plan and hoping that something will happen is just as
bad. We need to fall somewhere in the middle. I believe that the information
disseminated needs to be collected and placed on the web site so that people can
see it and act on it. I have started working on this but am seeing little interest
in it. Since it is a lot of work, I have been reflecting on, "What is really
important?" I believe this topic is one of the critical ones. I also want to push
Promath (Odile willing) as I see it as a stepping stone to achieving my own agenda.

> I don't know how to put this nicely, so I'll try blunt. The problem here
> is that just about everybody is wrong. Slashdot is a bunch of folks
> yammering at each other, and nearly every one of them is wrong.
> I'm not saying that slashdot (or a slashdot-like forum) is totally useless --
> I'm just saying that a clean, polished, accurate, and fair document is not
> generated simply by making it easier for everybody to post.
> In the couple of years that seul has been around, there have been several
> times when we had a huge number of posts. Look in the Jan 1998 archives of
> the seul-project list, for instance:
> http://www.seul.org/archives/seul/project/Jan-1998/threads.html
> 556 messages. And we couldn't do much with most of them, and eventually we
> ended up killing most of the threads because everybody was talking and
> nobody was doing. (So don't brush off the 'maintenance work' required to
> keep people focused and on track -- it's extremely difficult under even
> the best of circumstances.)
> Is it really going to be different, if it's squishdot rather than majordomo?
> Is a new flashy web gizmo going to fix this fundamental problem?
> If you want a massive non-realtime chat room, sure, but what about
> generating documents or applications?
> The reason I don't read slashdot anymore is because nobody actually *does*
> anything. Nothing gets accomplished.

To get something done, somebody has to lay it out. Here's where we are at  Here's
what we need to do. How can we get it done, etc.

> And maybe I'm missing the point.
> What is seul-edu really about?

This is the right question. It is the seul-edu mission statement question. It is
the first thing that should be done. Define what it is that one is trying to
accomplish. I know we go round and round on it, but never get it done. It needs to
be put on the seul-edu home page so that customers (visitors) can see it. Do we
have anyone left to take care of the home page. If not, then the task is to find

> --Roger