Statement of Purpose
General: Online network software that includes people, groups, events, resources (a.k.a. files), schools – and several less useful things (email lists, campaigns). Users submit information and then control it. Features include: geocoding (both US and international), mapping, total syndication using web-services (the software is separated into server and client parts), international language support, interconnections (people can be connected to groups, that can be connected to issues, that can be connected to resources and so on), and more.
Specific: Targets the needs of activists (including people new to activism, part-time activists, and full-time organizers). Particularly useful for grassroots organizations with limited resources.
I'm getting up to speed on Drupal. I read the only published book on it, which is a good introduction to the subject but is entirely lacking on the advanced stuff (there is a more advanced book coming out in mid-2007). I've read through most of the documentation in the Drupal online handbook - which has been more insightful, though parts of it are in need of editing. I'm impressed at the list of modules and thus functionality that is possible with Drupal.
While I've been following Drupal/CivicSpace for about two years, this new found interest is because I'm planning to do some Drupal consulting work to pay the bills and because I hope to convert the Campus Activism / Activism Network software into a Drupal module to make it more appealing for organizations to use as part of their website.
My forum had a massive increase in spam, so I installed the
anti-spam bot mod which got rid of (so far) all the spam.
It asks users a skill-testing question before they register. For instance, "how many red lines are in this picture". The one downside is that it will inconvenience blind users - however they can always email me to be registered manually.
SpeakerOutNow.org did a good job updating their website and made their speaker database searchable. You can search by Name or by Topic. I believe they have the largest database of progressive speakers in the US.
What's missing is things like geography and cost. Also their list of topics misses out on basic Activism 101/202 type workshops (campaign strategy, anti-oppression, how to start a group, etc). My guess is that they're intentionally targetting the speaker market as opposed to the trainer one. Maybe the speaker market is a lot bigger because you can get several hundred to a thousand people to attend (and thus it is easier to justify the $1000 cost of getting someone), but workshops have smaller audiences.
I've been having an on-going problem for the past several months where the site page load times (that use web services) are occasionally 12 seconds, whereas they should only be 2-3 seconds.
For instance, you will see this on a Display Event page, but not on the homepage because that is cached.
The problem is sporadic. So I now run a cron job once an hour to load nine pages using the CURL extension of PHP. Then I can file better complaints to my webhost support. I've been complaining/filing tickets for a long time on this, but they have been either blaming me or not seeing the problem.
As people spend more of their time online and as search engines try to store more content and provide more accurate ways of searching, our online lives and thus our actual lives, are becoming increasingly exposed.
As I store people's contact information on my website, I often run into people who, after publishing their information online, develop a new need for privacy and want it taken down ASAP. Sometimes people send me nasty first-emails (eg the initial request to take it down is nasty, they don't even wait a couple days for me to take action) which is probably indicative of how important privacy is. I respond to the requests, but there is only so much I can do.
I'm dramatically increasing the number of releases for the Activism Network project. I'm now averaging one release every two weeks.
Ok, the US Senate Race for Virginia:
According to CNN (8:50pm or so)
Allen 672,282 50%
Webb 661,955 49%
Parker 14,819 1%
According to VA Election Boards (8:50pm)
Allen Republican 679,127 50.33%
Webb Democratic 653,942 48.46%
Parker Independent Green 14,957 1.11%
Write Ins 1,303 0.10%
How can Allen have 7000 more votes at the VA Election board results (that have tended to be more updated than the CNN ones) and Webb have 8000 less votes???
I figure CNN would be getting the results after the VA election board, in which case you wouldn't expect that a canidate's vote count would drop...
Yesterday I saw the Front Line (PBS) documentary that covered Kiva whose approach to economic development is to use a website to match first world individuals as lenders with third world entrepreneurs who need micro-credit (aka small loans, ex. $500).
It would be far better if we could match first world donors with third world social change organizations. So people would donate the money instead of loaning it (note: this might be a downside to participation as Kiva was claiming a zero default rate at the time of the Frontline documentary, so the people lending money weren't actually donating it). Also it'd be for social change, so a lot more rewarding than having someone running a successful fruit stand.
I'm working on optimizing the page load time for this website, particularly for the homepage, and am achieving great things!
Converting Dynamic Pages to Static
If this is possible, I highly recommend doing it. I converted 20 pages into static html, which is generated once per day (I kept the original copies of the pages in PHP so that people who install this software can automatically customize them -- though on second thought, that wasn't completely necessary).
Conditional Use of Caching
While I cannot always use a cached version of the homepage, since someone migth log-in,