As I look around this online space I see potential that reminds me of childhood visits to the new homes of my many uncles and aunties. I adored my uncles. In my eyes they were big, strong, fun-filled heroes to whom nothing was impossible. When their cars broke down (as, in those days, cars frequently did) they fixed them. If their new home didn't have a bathroom, they put one in. If a door was in the wrong place they moved it - the same with cupboards and walls and windows. They transformed poky little sculleries into shiny kitchens. They made magic.
A visit to one of their new homes was an exercise in imagination - a guided tour filled with enthusiasm for the potential of the place and how it would be when they had finished working on it. So it is here when I come to Dadamac.net I am similarly full of enthusiasm for the potential of this online space. I see it gradully developing and in my mind I see how it will be when everything is in place, working properly, looking good, easy to use, and with people using it and enjoying what it provides.
Seeing what's not there yet
When I show any of my contacts round the website I am like one of my Uncles giving the guided tour.
- You see those pages with loads of text? Well they are just temporary - I'll be ripping out all those words and getting a few new ones with lots of photos instead.
- See the project list? Well it's hardly started - I brought in what I could when I arrived but I've lots more outside - it all depends what help I get - and then when it's all here I'll need to arrange everything properly.
- This profile form? it's the start of an area where I'm going to help people meet each other.
- You know those other people I said I'd introduce you to - well, I'll start to do introductions here instead of through personal emails, and then afterwards we'll leave information here about who's who - it will be much easier for people to meet people, without waiting for me to do introductions.
- This is where the virtual offices are going.
- You know that project I told you about - the one we got started on a couple of years ago and had to put aside until we'd got some more resources? Well, we're going to start having some meetings about it again here at dadamac.net
- We'll put the agendas and reference documents and things in a kind of virtual office here. You'll be able to see what we're doing about the project and if you think it looks interesting to you then tell me and I'll see about getting you invited along to the online meetings.
- We will have more virtual offices for all our other projects as well - but I want to do a couple of offices for new (or renewed) projects first. I want to know the new offices suit people well before I try to move anything over that is already working okay elsewhere.
- This is the discussion area - it's a bit quiet at the moment (because most of my discussions with people are still happening all over the place) and it's still rather unstructured. AsI bring more people in (even if it's just to show them around) I'll get a better feeling for how the discussion area should be arranged (and how people will want to find their way to it and through it).
- The entrance will be different soon - it's static at present, but as more of the team start to add content so we will change the static home page to a dynamic one.
It's for people rather than for information
The thing is that, in setting up this site, my focus is largely the people I know (and will know, and will bring here) rather than any information that I know (and will know and will bring here). I want to make a useful online space for them. I am concerned with bringing people together to rub minds, to share and create new information, and to collaborate. The heart of this site will be the people I am already working with (online and face to face) and newcomers who choose to access dadamac.net and influence its development - i.e. the growing dadamac community.
The reality of the dadamac online community
I am encouraged about the reality of "growing the dadamac community" here thanks to an email Vijay sent me today. I asked him if he'd have time to blog about it - or if I should just share teh email as it was. He said to share it. (You can learn more about Vijay through his blog posts.) It was a reply after I had thanked him for feedback about aspects of developing dadamac.net
He wrote "It's my pleasure. It's strange, but I feel that Dadamac has become a part of my system, even though I have never done anything consciously to make that happen. A lot of that feeling probably stems from the fact that you make everybody feel comfortable and happy (I attach a lot importance to the comfort factor and happy workplaces). Work has to be an enjoyable experience besides offering a reasonably good remuneration. The first part has been taken care of by you. The optimist in me likes to believe that the second part will also become a reality in the near future."
A trail blazer and remuneration
Vijay is a trail blazer. He is the first person who has come to the dadamac community through working with me at dadamac.net rather than in any other way, so I am delighted at his feelings about being here.
Regarding "the second part" (remuneration) I share his optimism. I know that Dadamac's networks and ways of collaborating are valuable. If I didn't value all of this, then I wouldn't do wath I do, and I certainly wouldn't be investing so much of myself in making all that we do more visible and effective. I know that we have worth while ways of learning, of sharing knowledge and organising projects. I hope we will develop more effectivel strategies for raising money to support the voluntary projects that need resources (thorugh Dadamac Foundation). I also share Vijay's optimism that, once we get known, people who are not contributing in other ways will pay a fair price (through Dadamac limited) to get help from the Dadamac community.