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Greetings!

We are going to review all the links provided by your planning team over the next few days, as well as begin setting individual one-on-one phone calls with board members and additional stakeholders.

Your first assignment: Would you please post under this thread those things you consider to be accomplishments, successes and assets that PlanetMath already enjoys.

Once we have digested what you have already accomplished, expect a more challenging assignment by mid-next week.

It is an honor to be working with you!

Onward to increasing your capacity!

Thanks. best, m! and Carl


Along those lines, I would like to take the opportunity to remind
everyone of the initaitve Chi Woo has been leading:

http://planetx.cc.vt.edu/AsteroidMeta/Community_Guidelines

So far, mostly Chi, Joe and I have been involved, but we can't
speak for everybody else, nor nor would we pretend to do so! So
please, if you consider yourself part of the PM community,
participate to the extent your availability and concern permit.
Even just reading over what we are writing and leaving a simple
comment to the effect that you have looked at it and agree or
disagree would be helpful.

To further this initiative as well as to discuss other issues
of interest to members of the community such as perhaps fundraising
or relation of PM to PP or Summer of Code, there will be a community
meeting by telephone conference on Monday. Since the fora have
been busy and the original announcement has scrolled off the bottom
of the screen, I reproduce it below:

There will be a community discussion by telephone conference
call this coming Monday, 9 April, at 7:30 pm Pacific time
(which is 10:30 pm Eastern time). All members of the PM community
are invited to participate.

The way the conference call works is as follows:
Dial (218) 862-6100 to access the bridge.
When prompted, type 2 to enter a conference.
When asked for the conference number, dial 2718281828#
That connects you to the conference.

It would be possible to solve problems for some people by
creating two front-ends to the same back-end.

Or even better, have a modular interface to which any front-end
which understands a particular protocol for interaction could
be attached.

While not exactly the "homework assignment", I think this is very relevant for the strategic planning process and the formation of governance:

http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/murdockint.html

apk

On related news:
* http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20070312#future

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If you are trying to warn against the same problems of large scale development "design by committee" problems, I would comment that PlanetMath doesn't seem to "design by committee" it actually seems to "design by ignoring committee."

If someone adds an article that compels a large reaction from other users as to the quality/worthiness of the article, the poster rarely responds by modifying the article -- so the "committee's" comments are completely ignored, even snubbed in rather impish battles. But the upside is that we don't seem to stop the development of the encyclopedia -- new entries continue to be added, of various quality.

What makes PM rather different is that the entries with controversy get long attached comments detailing for all the internal development process -- including corrections and comments. I've never come across similar documentation when running my linux platform. We also allow for multiple entries on the same topic, where as, in an OS, you cannot have two independent soundcard drivers running at the same time. So comprimise for PM is less necessary (I don't know if that is a good thing).

So we don't have the same model here and so parallels with governance of a project like Debian should be viewed with some context to the PM model.

Really big projects have really big troubles.

It's just the way it is.

They talk about "strong leadership" there, and I think
that's an example of a generally good idea, maybe we can
call it "strong participation." Strong participants can be
"emergent" or "local" leaders. Too much idle democracy
will go nowhere -- but a despot would also wreck things up
pretty bad. My sense is that governance structures can
themselves emerge from the normal day-to-day interactions
of people with or through the resource. If the people are
empowered by using the resource, then the community will
thrive. If not, it will suffer and die. Leadership in
the traditional sense is only one way in which (some)
people can be empowered. I think it would be wise to look
at a rising tide metaphor -- how *are* people empowered,
how can they become more empowered? "Leadership" can
mean helping answer these questions about other people,
but it should certainly be asked and answered of oneself...

> My sense is that governance structures can
> themselves emerge from the normal day-to-day interactions
> of people with or through the resource. If the people are
> empowered by using the resource, then the community will
> thrive. If not, it will suffer and die. Leadership in
> the traditional sense is only one way in which (some)
> people can be empowered. I think it would be wise to look
> at a rising tide metaphor -- how *are* people empowered,
> how can they become more empowered?

Right! That's exactly how I feel... we should "see" what emerges so that we aren't imposing some governance structure on the community that won't work. Of course, this is not an automatic process; we must reflect on our experiences, the rest of the world, and "introspect" as a community, which we are starting to do now.

And of course, we should leave the door opened to evolution of the governance structure, so that as the community changes and the world changes, we can adapt. It will also be impossible to fully solve all these problems and answer all the questions right now, in a finite capacity-building interval.

apk

I think we are largely in agreement, and I think you have hit on the strengths of our open production process.

My invoking the linked interview was more to provide some backdrop for thinking about the nonprofit organization governance. When it comes to issues of spending and decisions for the main web site and organizational vision, it is not possible to solve contention by "forking" (well, in a sense it is, but one would like to reserve this for instances where it is truly necessitated).

apk

and of course:
http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-dist1.html
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