The community and the website

My reply to Vijay.

Hi Vijay

I am glad you feel you are getting a good idea of who we are and what we do.  You explained what you have already learned about us through the website. I liked the way you expressed it, saying  "the Dadamac community links up to the Fantsuam Foundation in a partnership that could open new vistas in collaboration and knowledge networks".

Also I want to thank you for sticking with us despite the techie glitches and teething troubles we had when we started to try and introduce this idea of open letters. I don't know what you know about how we are using Drupal here, and the way Drupal works (Ryan is the one who really understands it). I suggested Drupal for our web presence, because I had the impression that Drupal is good to use if you are involved with managing online communities (which we are) and it is also suitable for creating a website (which we need). Fortunately Ryan is willing and able to cross the communication barrier between techno-speak and someone like me. What I know is that Drupal is open source and your build it up a bit like a lego collection, i.e. you start with the basic kit and then get extra bits. We started off with what was needed to build a static website with Drupal. (There is still a long way to go with the website, but the basics are there - enough for a newcomer like you to start to get an idea of who we are. With your help it will improve.)

Now you (a new member of the Dadamac community) have joined me here, and we are working together within the space. This means we have moved beyond simply creating a website, and we have started the next stage - the stage of using Drupal to manage and develop our community. Getting the open letters to work is the start of making this space - - the online home of the dadamac community.

It may seem a little strange to you that you are a newcomer to the dadamac community and yet I am asking you to try things out. Why not ask people who are already part of Dadamac? The answer is that people who are already part of the dadamac Uk-Nigeria team are working in "the usual way" - the way we did things before we started to set up To them, at present, is simply a website, not a meeting place. They are busy with their work on the ground and settled in with their usual communication mixture of emails. instant messaging, google groups, google docs, skype conferences, and "Moodle offices". Why ask them to move to something new that is not working smoothly yet? No. I want everyone to be able to carry on as they are doing, until I can offer something better. When becomes "a good place to work" then I will invite them over.

Of course, if you and I are trying new things at as part of our learning experience, then it is different. We are doing research and development for the site, and we can afford to meet glitches and then help to make the path smooth for others to use later. That is why is it you and I trying out this idea of open letters - not people already involved in other work. I am taking you seriously when you say "I would love to take part in shaping the roadmap along with ... your team..... "

You also said you "think that a lot of action on Dadamac will be driven by audio, image and video posts (we will have to make sure that their weight doesn't clog the site). This will make the site livelier, but it will require a lot of moderation on the part of the webmaster." I agree. At present there is much too much text - it is more "a shopping list of what needs to on the site" rather than the best way to share the message.

I am glad you are thinking about the issues that surround mixed media, such as clogging the site and moderating the content. We do want to get that right. Plenty of mixed media: relevant content, easy to find, good to see and hear. I am glad you have a mixed media background. I am hoping that the way Andy and I plan to develop the community aspect of will mean that various quality issues get resolved without needing to rely on a webmaster tasked with moderating all the content. Finding the best way to do all these things will be part of our learning experience.

Thank you for pointing me to that news item about Professor Sugata Mitra. I was fortunate to hear him describe his Hole in the Wall project when he was in London before taking up his post at Newcastle University. 

I like the way you are looking for people to collaborate with us - but have to admit that, at present, I can't see how our interests overlap enough to make it an attractive win-win proposal for him. Maybe, I have missed seeing something you have in mind, or maybe we should wait until when things have developed in ways that more obviously overlap his interests.

You also mention getting to know better what we are doing in Dadamac Learners. You will have a double opportunity to learn more during the coming months. You and I, working together, will be trail-blazers for people working together and learning by doing here at We will also be preparing for the next dadamac day - which is the reunion for dadamac learners of the past five years. i hope you will be at the celebration.

Looking forward to your next letter.

Open Letters: