Monday, June 22, 2009

Boston Sakai Conference Dine Arounds

For some non-virtual social networking consider the informal “dine arounds.” You’ll join a group of fellow conference attendees for dinner at a local restaurant. There is a sign up sheet on the conference wiki ( and a dinner facilitator will help coordinate travel to destinations. Each attendee is responsible for their own bill and gratuity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Proposed Sakai Development Model

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a webinar session given by Michael Korcuska, the Sakai Foundation Executive Director, on the proposed development model for Sakai. First, I want to say that even though there were some hiccups (gotta have them!), this was one of the most beneficial forums for communication and engagement that I’ve experienced in Sakai in a long time.

One of the things I liked about the proposal was that Sakai as a product is defined. I think a lack of vision has been a major hurdle these past few years. I see this a positive step forward but the devil is in the details. Before I dive into critique, I want to be clear that I don't think these are things that can't be worked through. They just happen to be points that need careful consideration and detail before we all drink the kool aid.

To begin with, the largest hurdle is going to be communication. Let's all be honest, we're all really bad at this for a multitude of reasons! The proposal adds complexity and without clear definition of who is to do what and how we're going to end up less coordinated. In addition, I have a few simple requests: I want it to be consistent, reliable and simple. Please, please don't make me read lengthy messages where I need to analyze every word for hidden meaning.

Also, I feel *strongly* that the product council should not include members of the board. The board should be visionary and assist in laying out a broad strategy for community execution (like the current proposal!). Once those members become bogged down in the day to day operational details, they will become less effective as the visionary leaders they have been elected to be. This isn't to say that there aren't members that wouldn't be a good fit on the council - they should just be one or the other.

Lastly, it seems that the product council is not only tasked with being the gatekeepers and shepherds but also the group that defines the standards. Performing as gatekeepers and shepherds requires quite a different skill set and temperament than defining the standards. I'd advocate that a short term task force that was charged with initially defining said standards that the council could use. I think that approach could result in a much faster implementation of this process as well as garner a wider breadth of knowledge. Something that will be *key* in ensuring we have appropriate standards/criteria. Future looking, when the standards/criteria need revisiting, the council could recommend the community assemble a new task force.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Unsubscribe me!

If you haven't seen your Sakai mail for the past few days, you're going to see that about 1/2 the email on the lists are pleas from former subscribers to be removed from the list. At first they were comical but I have to admit they are starting to grate on my nerves!

If you are still in need of unsubscription, Seth Theriault posted options for unsubscribing that can be found at

Some suggestions to the foundation for any future changes to systems that are critical
1) Tell us exactly what is going to happen and with sufficient notice. I'd suggest at least a 24 hour lead time. With this notice you'd be able to get volunteers to assist in confirmation that things are working swell.
2) Please don't make changes at 10am on a weekday. I know this is a global project but 10am is a time that impacts a large portion of our community. When thing go awry (and we all know they often do), it'd be better to impact a smaller population
3) When there is a problem, have someone from the foundation tell us you know there is a problem, what it is, ect . .

That said, I'm sincerely happy that something was done to address the problems we were having with the lists on collab. As a community we had been crippled and are now able to communicate to make progress in an open manner. Further, the messages are now nicely tagged by audience.