Tue, 1 Nov 1994 17:03:48 +0800
I agree with Mike Prince. Until there is some sort of organization this
is all just hot air.
I think there should be an emphasis on letting people do projects alone.
In view of the type of connection we have with each other and the time
constraints everyone has, I don't think that we can have much closer
collaboration than that on projects. However, some things need to
be done together.
Just to throw out some ideas, how about this:
Two fixed central positions: secretary and coordinator.
The secretary would be a sort of chair to moderate discussion. It
would be the responsibility of the secretary to control discussion
about major topics and projects. Once some agreement has been reached
and a sort of specification has been hammered out, the secretary could
hand the project over to the coordinator. The secretary would be
the one to call for votes and discussion on topics. If someone has
any ideas or proposals for a project, that person should hand it off
to the secretary.
The coordinator would coordinate projects. S/he would gather the specs
and monitor ongoing projects as closely as possible. Part of this
monitoring would be to make sure that the project is going in the
direction that everyone else thinks it is and that it is moving along.
The coordinator should bring big changes to the secretary for a general
I think that is is psychologically important to have the two positions
be separate. The coordinator is to some extent an overseer and as
such should be divorced from the actual decision making. This should
reduce tension a bit.
Perhaps a librarian would be good, but I think that the secretary can
do that as well.
Other positions would be filled purely on a volunteer basis. The
secretary would solicit votes and discussion on a proposed project
and when it was decided, solicit volunteers. There are going to
be some things more popular than others and the secretary will have
to deal with cajoling people to work on their second choice. The
day to day/week to week project work will be followed by the
coordinator. People can certainly be involved with more than one
project. However, I think they should be primarily involved with
one or at most two. It is far too easy to spread yourself thin.
I think the secretary would act as an important central point for
things like argument summaries etc. It helps no one to read the
same argument four times in four different ways. Obviously the
secretary could be partisan, so perhaps the secretary shouldn't
get a vote.
The positions of secretary and coordinator should rotate or be
up for election relatively often. Both positions would be a lot
of work and I can't imagine that people would be really interested
in doing only that.
For each project, we should have a clear statement of goals and
what kinds of things we expect to get from it. If it is a coding
project, we want code back from it and some sort of documentation
telling the rest of the people how to use it. A project might
be just research in which case some sort of report would be the
deliverable. People within a project would have pretty much
total control over how and what they did as long as it meets
the initial goals set up for the project. The coordinator can
act as a sounding board to make sure that the project stays
aimed at the target everyone agreed on. This does mean that goals
will have to be made such that implementation is left up to the
people working on the project so that they have as much freedom
as is possible.
This sounds pretty draconian compared to what we have now (total
anarchy), but some sort of center is needed to both handle discussion
and day to day project work. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't really.
People would not be told to go do something against their will, there
must be a lot of discussion so that everyone has their viewpoint
put forth and understood by all. Think of it as a committee with
subcommittees doing projects. Then again, in view of how people react
to committees in government in the US, perhaps I should use a
different term :-)
Initially, I think we should first concentrate on how to organize
people. Then, we can concentrate on the ideas and try to get some
sort of spec for MOOSE TUNES. That spec should be something like
a list of projects for people to dig into. Probably the first set
of projects should be researching existing work. There is a lot out
there and we would be foolish to reinvent the wheel all the time.
Tech reports, theses etc. are great sources of ideas. People have
tried to implement a lot of the things I have seen discussed on
this list. I think we should try to find out some results before
just jumping into design. A lot of seemingly good ideas turn sour
near the end of design or even coding.
I hope this stimulates some discussion on this topic. My personal
experience with Internet projects is that without some clear form
of organization nothing happens. Perhaps I have just been unlucky,
but I have yet to talk to anyone that has had a different experience.