JISC and the Emerge team recently barricaded themselves into a room for two days to drill down on project wide issues, with an eye to the forthcoming year and to taking the project forward. You may have seen George's recent postings - including his Topic Map overview of Emerge and his mini-series on what the Emerge community is all about. One of the important points that was reiterated during the meeting is that the Emerge project team are themselves a project within the JISC's Users and Innovation Programme. Sure, we're a funny shaped project, and our remit is to support the other projects, but that doesn't make us any less accountable in terms of our users needs and benefits. If anything - it makes the need for us to model great practice in this area even more important.
One of the issues I was keen to see on the table is the Emerge communities relationship to our central platform & own social networking service - to this site. Where are we going? What is our collective vision for this space? And what are our ground rules?
One of the reasons we used a social networking site as our primary home, as opposed to a more traditional and less democratic web site, was the understanding that the Emerge community, whatever shape it took, would not be homogeneous. It would be made up of many groups, networks and communities. Individual projects, and individual members, would themselves belong to many, sometimes overlapping, circles (and some weird, asymmetrical shapes) of connections.
The use of this site, where any member could set up their own groups, import and export relevant information, and make connections with other people who shared interests, was a deliberate attempt to support the kinds of shifting, adhoc and more permanent communities and networks we all belong to. My personal vision and hope for the site was that it would become home to cutting edge projects of national and international importance and interest, and that we would see groups and communities form and flourish around the topics and technologies we are investigating.
From the outset, our 'border policy' - who is able to take up residence here, make themselves at home, or just drop in, has been a semi-permeable and pragmatic one. The time seems right however to revisit this approach and to ask ourselves questions about where we are wanting to go with the platform, who we want to be able to make use of it, and how it can best serve our multiple interests as individuals, as project members, and as people who operate within a mesh of different allegiances, responsibilities and preferences.
So I'm pleased to announce that as part of our ongoing User & Development activities, we will be holding a community meeting during our upcoming online conference. The session will be between 1-2pm on Wednesday 23rd April, following George Siemens Keynote at 11-12pm Please do come along and help us collectively plot the course for the Emerge platform membership and nail our vision for the future of our social networking service.