Open Source Census

Let’s heed the call for an open source census with the open source discovery tool.

We’ve long been maintaining that open source technologies are in wide—and often unrecognized—use in many organizations. Now we have an initiative and a tool to help demonstrate that claim with real numbers.

I’ve submitted requests for the OSS Discovery tool to establish fingerprints to discover three open source technologies I’m involved with, Drupal, Sakai and Kuali, and I’ll call on those communities to help make sure those fingerprints become a part of the tool.

Open source technology solution providers and institutions implementing open source might also consider making a formal OSS discovery part of their readiness evaluation.

Comment/vote/collaborate on my tickets for the following fingerprints:

Reporting = Aggregation

The funniest monkey and driving force behind DrupalEd, Bill Fitzgerald, just posted about a new feed aggregation demo via Drupal:
http://groups.drupal.org/node/7271

Bill’s post got me thinking about a problem I’ve been ruminating on from a related arena: the world of academic eportfolios. The issue: How to enable a high degree of independence for individuals in the stewardship of their eportfolios, but at the same time facilitate the use of material from those eportfolios for collective (aggregated) goals, such as academic course, career, program and/or institutional assessment?

Most systems that provide approaches to this issue err on the side of centralization. But one problem they face is scalability: How do you provide a good user interface to a centralized tool that reports on (aggregates) say, 25,000 user eportfolios? Another problem they face is standardization: The collectivity likes information in trees and boxes while the individual (and their learning pathways) often produce a much looser collection of stuff.

Bill’s demo started me thinking that the more elegant (only workable?) solution to this issue is a far looser coupling of the individual eportfolio and the central reporting (aggregating) function. Let the individual create willy-nilly, but when it matters, tag with care. Let the collectivity build more sophisticated aggregators of tagged user creations rather than trying to box and prune them from the outset.

The six hours Bill spent building his demo were enough to let me envision not so many hours more spent to extend his work to model a better solution to this eportfolio conundrum. A solution where the individual has their cake and the collectivity eats (aggregates) it too.

Nate Moves On

After 5 years as Portland State’s Director for Web Communications, I’ve moved on to work for The rSmart Group, a commercial provider of open source technologies working mostly in the education sector with Sakai, OSP and Kuali.

To extend my engagement at Portland State with open source communities like Sakai/OSP and Drupal, I’m looking forward to a fulltime focus on open source at rSmart, as well as the mandate to expand my thinking beyond local, institutional concerns.

With this move from public to private, I’m happy to still be connected to education. There’s much work to be done to help make open source technologies the obvious choice to support educational missions. rSmart’s definitely part of that work. And rSmart’s attitude toward its clients and open source communities aligns closely with my own. In many ways, my drive to do good feels more empowered in this for-profit company than it did in public education.

Although rSmart’s based in Phoenix, AZ, I’ll still be in Portland, OR. I’m not yet ready to trade the rain for the heat.

Look for much more activity here as I start to spread out in my new role.

UC-Davis University CMS Survey

UC-Davis just published results from a well-designed survey on university web content management system usage.

Over 60% of respondents were using a web CMS and homegrown/open source systems were more common than proprietary systems.  Plone/Zope combined was the most common, followed closely by Homegrown, and then Drupal.

Today, the Requirements and Evaluation committee of the UC Davis Web CMS initiative posted results from an online survey of campuses completed last month.

The survey was conducted to collect comprehensive data about the adoption and use of Web content management systems among institutions of higher education, and to make this information available to communicators, webmasters, technologists and other key campus personnel. Our goal was to learn about the experiences – both positive and negative – of other universities in the adoption of Web CMS, and to share this information with those who may currently be considering the same.

Read the summary, and view and discuss the survey results at:
http://pubcomm-29.ucdavis.edu/?p=35

What’s up with the pictures?

Update

Read my latest post on my image header for how I ended up carrying out this idea.

People have been asking what the deal is with the images in my site header.

I’ve been experimenting with loading random background images from my collection using Drupal’s integrated jQuery tools.

I’ve been thinking about trying to work on having the images feed from a flickr stream, perhaps using the Drupal flickr module, yet be automatically sized/cropped for the site header. More on that if I get to it.

Many of the pictures are of people in my family, or shots I’ve taken around our home or Portland.

Now Blogging with PHP 5/MySQL 5

Thanks to quick work by my host Liquidweb (thanks Siena!), this site is now delivered by the three fives: Drupal 5, PHP 5 and MySQL 5. Still waiting for Linux 5 and Apache 5 ;)

One of my goals here is to demonstrate/evaluate how this technology will operate on a forward-looking platform. Ever since Rasmus Lerdorf himself suggested dropping PHP 4 for the good of all at OSCMS 2007, I figure we better get ready for the future.

Check my blog recipe for platform details.