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NICA ONLINE Analysis

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Introduction

This analysis is part of the NICA ONLINE project.

This WILL BE the first draft of an analysis which Craig Ragland proposed to the NICA Board at its October meeting, which approved the project. It is being produced within this wiki space to encourage feedback and interaction with key stakeholders. ONCE THE FIRST DRAFT IS COMPLETE, you will be invited to insert questions or issues in the body of this page and we will figure out the best plan for next steps.

Pre-project Conditions

Prior to this project, NICA's online activities consisted of an infrequently maintained website and the exchange of emails. This describes the status of these resources prior to the start of this project, with some mention of the minor changes that have been made during the project.

NICA Website Features

  • NICA Homepage
    • Running Log of what's new or what happened recently
    • During the course of this project, different events have been announced and documented (when past) on the homepage
    • the intent is to convert it to just a few upcoming and/or recently past events and more current information.
  • About NICA - one page, which includes out-of-date information
    • Mission Statement
    • Description of Activities
    • History
    • Membership information (out-of-date)
  • Resources - dozens of pages, including many verbose articles
    • 10 sections of multiple pages each
    • Out-of-date, many broken links
    • Poor formating for screen display, many of the "pages" were long articles intended for use in print
    • Some of these pages are dead-ends, others have had the NICA Website header added to the page to enable peole who link directly to those pages to discover the NICA website.
  • Communities - one page of links into the FIC Directory
    • Prior to this project, this page made up of maps and static links to community websites
  • Communities Seeking Members - listings from communities looking for people
    • Some of these are out-of-date
    • Has been maintained by posting info sent to NICA by email

NICA Email

  • NICA Board (exchange of personal email between members or prospective members of the NICA board)
    • Board Meeting notices
    • Board Meeting minutes
    • Board Issues - there have been some one-to-one and one-to-many discussions of Board issues
  • General Inquires (emails sent to nica@ic.org)
    • The email address "nica@ic.org" has been publically displayed on the NICA website for several years
    • It is currently forwarded from the ic.org email server to the account "Craig@songaia.com", which is, in turn, forwarded to a gmail address. The vast majority of the mail (20-30 per day) hitting the address was spam, which is filtered by the spam filters, leaving valid mails of about one per week. Unfotunately, this address was untended for many months.
  • Community Broadcasts (emails sent to nwcommunities@riseup.net)
    • The listser, nwcommunities@riseup.net is a very low-volume list, with a few mails sent out to the 200 users. It has not been promoted significantly, although there is a link to it from the About NICA page.

Analysis & Findings

Organizational Identity

  • NICA wants to maintain and build an independent online identity, rather than collapse into a broader organization, such as the FIC
  • NICA's Identity graphic does not speak well to its mission

Ongoing Labor

  • NICA does not currently have the volunteer or financial resources to support professional software development on a ongoing basis
  • NICA's online presence has been limited by the amount of volunteer labor from technically sophisticated volunteers
  • To date, NICA has not been effective at publishing web content using web publishing tools, despite the involvement of book authors and prolific content creators. A lot of content has been published, but it is hard to access due to the site structure. It also requires FTP access from people with permission.
  • Investments should focus on creating externally maintained systems which enable any authorized person to easily post NICA-sanctioned and NICA-supported content.

NICA ONLINE Activities

  • The NICA leadership is a small group of communitarians who support communities and want to help other people connect with community
  • Their online labor should focus on activity which builds a community of communitarians
    • Traditional websites do a poor job of this, as the model is one-to-many publishing
    • Access to online profiles which individuals can develop

Collaboration

  • NICA should focus its energy on leveraging the online work of other related organizations, especially NW communities, NW community organizations, and National community organizations
    • NICA should not re-invent content or maintain databases, unless specific to NICA's internal needs, e.g. NICA contributors
    • NICA should focus on links to other websites or providing filtered views of content from other sources
    • NICA should push most of its information into open, pulic forums, such as wikis
    • NICA should work with FIC and NW Communities to define a taxonomy of community topics

Distributed Presence

NICA consituents (people interested in community in the NW) use many different websites. NW community-related content is similarly scattered all over the internet, they either need to be attracted to the NICA website, which would attempt to replace

    • Website hosted by FIC
    • Mailing Lists
      • Alternatives to Riseup should be considered
        • ic.org?
    • Bulletin board hosted by tribe
    • Wiki

Prior to this project, NICA has not used other "venues" for making online announcements. There are now several relevant methods, including:

  • FIC Event Calender
  • Tribe Events
  • Meetup


NICA People

  • Board members - defined leaders, mostly people living in NW communities
  • Financial Contributors - people who have donated money to NICA, mostly this has been board members
  • NICA Website Manager
    • Has always been a single person, who has passed the hat from one to the next.
    • Currently this is Craig Ragland
  • People on NICA Mailing Lists
    • about 200 on the NWcommunities listserv
    • about XX on the privately maintained lists
  • Partners -
  • Key Contributors - people who have done work on content
  • NICA is ??? – today, online, it is 95% Craig

NICA Website

Role of the website is to provide access to NICA resources, which are mostly distributed elsewhere on the web. Website provides effective, NICA-specific links and views of resources that people can interact with elsewhere.

Proposal & Work Items

This section provides a requirements for how NICA will evolve its online presence. It is intended to facilitate dialog amongst different contributors.

Increase Traffic

  • Work with FIC
    • Prominent links on FIC website
    • Links from within communities records claiming affiliation
  • Optimize content for search engine prominence

New graphic identity for NICA

  • NICA Board should brainstorm on what images designed
    • Tie-in with NW, bioregional?
    • Community-related - showing a group of people vs. houses?

Website Properties (Overall)

  • Top Level navigation - section headers remain constant
  • User can always see where they are
  • Stronger visual style

NICA Homepage

  • Page Content
    • Upcoming NW Community Events
      • Next scheduled Board Meeting
      • All scheduled NICA Events
      • Events from any NW Community
      • Community-focused events from other organizations
      • Link to view of ALL NW Community events
    • Featured NW Community
      • Headline - Name of Community with tagline, e.g. Songaia Community; Intentional Cohousing
      • Nice picture - one that is not obvious on the community homepage
      • A few sentences describing something interesting the community
      • Link(s) to More Info
        • At Minimumn: Link to FIC Directory Listing
        • Link to Community website, if available
  • Page Links
    • About NICA
    • NW Communities
    • Community Resources

NW Communities

  • Page Content
    • Visually rich views, including maps, providing access to information from communities
    • Search Results
    • Information on interacting with NW Communities
    • NICA Tribe?
    • NICA Board

Links to Past Events

  • FIC Directory Links and views

What about communities that don’t list? Links to NICA from NW Communities? Sponsor FIC Directory Listing Campaign Proactively seek unlisted communities


Event Calendar

Meeting Minutes – FIC-hosted Website Communities Directory – FIC Directory Communities Resources – FIC-hosted wiki

About NICA

FIC-hosted website Networking People - tribe


Financial Support

  • Annual hosting partnership, $250/year

Website Enhancements Specific to NICA

  • Site Redesign

Enhancements to website Add wiki Add NICA views of: Directory Event REACH REACH enhancements Enforce community links Directory enhancements Mapping

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