Springofcode was set-up to move towards solving the problem of geek culture – that geeks build tools for them selves – and that these tools are unusable by the majority of normal people – thus leading all geek focused social change software to sterility and failer and to the seeping failer of the open internet it self.
We had been failing to develop the core tools for visionontv by both normal and alternative means and were falling back into the normal geek development roots which inevitability would fail and waist our limited investment funds. Springofcode was actively setup to try and stop this happening:
* a open space for geek social change projects
* a place to shape and experiment in ways of guiding such projects out of this limited geek mental/social/usability ghetto.
* a open way to “sieve” the flow of projects into a small supported “core” of outreaching tech projects and a peer to peer periphery of unworkable geek on geek and arty wannabe tech projects.
* a way to find the core tech crew for our OMN project and actually start to build it, the only way to find if you can work with people is to do it, and springofcode was a place to bring this “serendipity” into play.
The springofcode website was built in such a way that it used open process tools, wikis and activity flows. It was built on a clear rejection of the fashionable/corporate and transitory tools of the moment. This was important as it was the first “sieve” against fahernisters and art emptiness that would inevitably be dominant in our open outreach approach. That this majoraty would wont to use tools that were current and on the edge, tools that would flower and then vanish when the next must use tool came along/company bought up and commercialised into dysfunction.
The Open process would dissuade the conspiracy nutters and the paranoid encryption and activist client server control freaks from being at the core and it would push the function of letting “serendipity” flow – you could easily see who was constructively working and who was just talking or just criticising at a glance on each visit to the site.
The project started well with open meetings and active projects. But quickly fell into dysfunction due to a lack of focus in the core crew which directly lead to the dominant mainstream of geek culture spreading and smothering the hard to define core value in the project. This was done not out of malice but out of a lack of wider appreciation of the problems and issues the project was set-up to attempt to address.
The open process was abandoned and the activity tracking undermined by influx of the very fashionable tools that we were trying to reject. The arty fashionable of the periphery was pushed to the empty core as it proved to be both slow and difficult to build open core projects, the tools we had to use were part of the very problem we were trying to solve. The experiments, which understandably were difficult, that were core, were pushed aside to be replaced by the normal failer of geek culture/priority and a narrowing centralisation/closing of open process.
Agen, a stop should have been called to it, it should have been refocused and pushed back into the needed direction, but this agen proved to be impossible. the Limited Energy/focus and funding continued to be pushed into this now pointless fading copycat project. The was an attempt to re-boot springofcode by merging it into the opening up of the liferay user group creation, which actually worked well upto a point were we had actually had something going in the right direction – but we didn’t have a strong anufe core crew to sustain pushing this to keep it from falling back into the normal geek mold.
Neither the geeks or the normal people/open tool users wont to cross the divide we keep trying to bridge in springofcode and our wider projects so we learned agen that with out a strong, resourced, resilient core crew this bridge cannot be kept in place long anufe for a new cross over path to settle in place and become a norm.
Lots of good things came out of springofcode, the most important was probably the partnership with the London java community who were on a parallel path to what we were trying and failing to achieve. And then the UK Liferay user group battle and victory was a good example of how easy it was to push the virticalists aside to open up open process, but sadly not how to sustain and nurture this open process when needed.
To try and save the very real value built in this I outlined a Eastern European tech meetup/hackthon project to take the victory's from the springofcode and refocus them. This involved visiting a number of prominent Eastern university's and lead to the agreement from two vice chancellors for space and resources to kick this off. The project was to use the carrot of mentership of the proment members of the London java community and liferay user group to mentor the best aspiring East Europe programmers to build the tools for the openweb. A win/win form all directions – traditional corporate company’s would get access to talented programmers – poor, young, educated and success hungry East European programmers would get direct access to good job prospects in the UK and in this process we would actually get open internet tools built.
But understandably the was no energy left in the fading core crew we had, to make this outline project real. Spring is coming round agen (: am now looking at rebooting the core springofcode project off the activisttech am doing at fracking protest camps this summer. As we keep learning, with out a strong common crew with shared core understandings, a clear and active commitment to open process and a hard and aggressive attack on incroching vertilists we are unlikely to be able to build/play a part in building the bridges that the open internet needs.
A small and determined cry for HELP!