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Appropedia:Strategy

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Cover sheet

Appropedia.org - strategy as of November 2007

Principals

  • Lonny Grafman - Instructor in Appropriate Technology & Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University (HSU); Executive Editor of International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering (IJSLE); Initial Founder of Appropedia.org website. Fluent in Spanish. Member, Board of Directors, The Appropedia Foundation.
  • Chris Watkins - MEngSc in Water and Sanitation, Fluent in Indonesian. Member, Board of Directors, The Appropedia Foundation.
  • Curt Beckmann - BS Physics, MBA. Filed Articles of Incorporation, Tax exemption for The Appropedia Foundation. Member, Board of Directors, The Appropedia Foundation
  • Ryan Legg - BS in Civil Engineering, Program Manager at the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise
  • Vinay Gupta - Founder of Hexayurt, STAR-TIDES (Vinay can augment this obviously)
  • Steve McCrosky - Masters in Science of Nursing, experience in public health, appropriate health technology, wheelchair construction and community development.

Mission

We at Appropedia passionately believe in the ability to easily share and find information so that each of us can focus our time and energy where it will have the most impact. Appropedia takes on the administration of collaboratively organizing information, project examples, best practices, how tos and authors, allowing Sustainability, Appropriate Technology, and International Development organizations and individuals to focus on what they do best. (From Appropedia:Mission)

Executive summary

Who, what, where, why, when how, how much. Short paragraphs with objectives - basically a thesis statement of the rest of the doc. Should be written after everything else.

In a nutshell

Mostly taken from Appropedia submission for BFI prize.

The need

Efforts in sustainability and development technology, like many other technical fields, are often developed in relatively closed environments. Historically, documenting and sharing solutions involved costly and time-consuming publication with little benefit to the author. Difficulties in tracking down existing solutions to appropriate technology problems has led to engineers and fieldworkers wasting time, energy, and resources solving the same problems over and over again. A single shared infrastructure is needed so that the existing disjoint community of appropriate technologists can more easily and openly collaborate on their projects.

For example, collaborative service learning projects (which combines community service, internship and instruction) such as appropriate technology courses and labs at universities, are bountiful sources of new ideas in the field. Such programs create effective change agents through leadership opportunities, civic engagement, practical design experience and immersion in diverse contexts of design projects that few other teaching methods allow. Service learning is particularly focused on developing Appropriate Solutions. But service learning wisdom and related valuable content is rarely published in an accessible form, and is created and lost every academic year. A mechanism is needed to capture the knowledge developed in service learning programs.

Indeed, all appropriate technologists should be able to collaborate with others they may already know, who can extend a solution’s reach to meet different conditions such as climate, culture, materials, weather, geology, crops and animal species. We envision a world where people around the world work together to solve problems and share solutions, internationally and multilingually. The complexity of sharing has been a barrier; an established infrastructure will enable a cultural shift toward more sharing and collaboration, leading to widespread adoption of the most successful sustainable behaviors, lifestyles and tools.

How we fill it

Our vision, called Appropedia, is built upon the remarkable success of wiki-based infrastructures. Whereas existing wikis (Wikipedia is perhaps the most widely known) have focused on the power of collaborative web-based information centralization and developing collaboration policies to make that information solid, referenced and reliable for capturing what is well-established, Appropedia is expanding this concept to include collaborative research, development and problem-solving by incorporating real-world experiences of both amateurs and experts backed by policies that enable critiques, commentary and scoring of solutions.

The "trimtab" concept of maximum results from minimum effort is engendered in Appropedia by the leverage that can be achieved by sharing of information at zero cost to the authors or readers, and by enabling the spontaneous development of problem solving teams of willing collaborators. This is key! The Wikipedias of the world, which focus more on well established facts, will tend to encourage a culture of “let’s just ask the Internet.” By contrast, Appropedia will have a counter tendency of encouraging “I wonder if I can improve on this solution.” This is the state that Appropedia seeks to achieve.

The implementation of Appropedia is already underway, thanks to the efforts of a large team of dedicated volunteers working on an ad-hoc, part-time basis. Appropedia is an online, wiki-based clearinghouse for ideas, projects, questions, and designs in the domain of sustainability and development work. All content on Appropedia is released under an open license, enabling people to extend, share, translate, and use it freely and at no charge. Independent experts like George Dappilly in India are able use Appropedia as a homepage for their projects at no charge.. George has transferred his documentation on mosquito abatement methods to Appropedia and he expands and updates that information regularly. Users post questions and are able to reach George through his user pages and contact info.

Appropedia benefits service learning by acting as a repository for appropriate technologies, systems, and policies, and as a clearing house for collaborations. Appropedia is already helping to preserve this knowledge; old projects and research are being leveraged for more ambitious projects and research each year. Educators such as Joshua Pearce (see below) and Lonny Grafman (see below) are able to use Appropedia as the platform on which students construct assignments, and in the process create valuable resources on sustainability. Appropedia is also used for project development and write-up, allowing students to learn from and build upon previous work.

Organizational plan

Summary description

  • mission (projecting short- and long-term goals)
  • business model (describe your company's model and why it is unique to your industry)
  • strategy (give an overview of the strategy, focusing on short- and long-term objectives)
  • strategic relationships (tell about any existing strategic relationships)
  • SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that your company will face, both internal and external)

Products and services provided

What things do we offer? How? To whom? For how much? In other words, where is the value created?

IP and licensing

Stuff about open licenses here.

Location

Hosting details, costs, what services and software we're using and how future expansion will/could happen.

Legal structure

The Appropedia Foundation is a nonprofit California Corporation with California 23701(d) and, very recently, Federal 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

(Nonprofit incorporated where? By whom? Why? Who is legally responsible for things?)

Management

How is it structured? Who makes decisions? How? What is the Board of Directors, how are people chosen for it, what are the terms, are there regular meetings (monthly chats, whatever)?

Personnel

Is anyone going to be hired (paid)? To do what? How many people? What qualifications? How much? What is the projected future need for "employees" and how will you take care of that?

Marketing

Overview and goals

The most important thing with marketing is to keep the cart before the horse; any publicity we seek will be directly aimed towards a concrete result or action resulting in the implementation of appropriate technology itself. Becoming more famous, shiny-looking, and better-known will do us absolutely no good if we have no actions to direct the newfound attention towards.

Users we serve

Usually known as "customers." Appropriate technology groups? Curious kids? Backyard tinkerers? Fieldworkers in developing nations? How will these different user groups grow and change in the next few years (DIY as a rising trend, etc...)

Competition

Who else is doing this? Who used to be doing this and then merged with you? How will you deal with competition? (Would they make good potential partners instead?) How are you different?

Advertising strategies

Do you do press releases? Ads? Get yourself featured in partner sites? Where and on what? How much do you want to toot your own horn? (In the blog, or otherwise.)

Networking

How do you find and get to know people? What people? Who does this?

Implementation

Are you doing all your own marketing and graphic design and branding? Do you have people you can ask to chip in a site design, help writing articles, a logo, edit help for press releases?

Finances

Past spending

How much have you spent on hosting, etc? Where did this money come from?

Current needs

What will you need for the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?

Future needs

Do you think this number will change much in the future? 3 years is the usual projection.

Current 4-month cycle (Nov 2007 - Mar 2008)

Goal: Double the number of hosted projects by April 2008.

Make it easier for newcomers to contribute

  • easy project creation templates (a-la-wikihow)
  • make a separate Participate page - see the one on the OLPC wiki(.laptop.org)
  • spark up a welcoming crew that can help appropriate technologists through the "getting online" process
  • contact and invite at least 100 appropriate technology projects to join us
  • throw open a call for new recruits - advertise unpaid internships for students who want to be matched with appropriate tech groups; the student gets contacts and exposure to that group, the group gets their project placed in appropedia along with a feature article in the appropedia media.

Cultivate wikitalent via discussion on non-wiki forums

  • build in ways to encourage and migrate and participation in non-wiki forums to trickle into the wiki itself
  • Launch the blog with a "Global Debate Series" of 5 posts alternating with 5 featured projects. Have the first 2 debates completed, and the remaining 3 lined up, before posting the first one. Basically, get some good writers to do feature articles on conversation-sparking topics, including interviews, "ask the expert" events where audience members write in with interview questions in advance, debates between two people that belong to different active large appropriate tech groups so that members of those groups will be compelled to discuss on the forums, etc. Try to get this series featured in treehugger or worldchanging or something.

Rebuild tech infrastructure & interface

Build a more user-friendly interface and infrastructure that can handle the increased load, but also be more immediately obvious and accessible to the general public.

  • forums
  • blog
  • integration between forums and wiki and blog - wikilinking of course, but also shared logins between forums & wiki & blog comments
  • wikilinking bot
  • get in the habit of writing software specs and finding volunteer programmers to implement them
  • faster connection - even if it's a temporary "for one month, let's move to a dedicated fast server, so when Earth Day comes it it'll be speedy"
  • reskinning - get volunteer web designers to come in and make everything leaner, meaner, sleeker, faster-loading
  • information architecture: review site layout, is information really easily organized?

Get celebrities to formally endorse us in a public forum

  • Al Gore
  • BFI
  • At least 50 college professors
  • At least 1 major print publication (and lots of green, permaculture & appropriate technology publications)
  • Earth day a good possible excuse for all this

[[Category:About Appropedia|Strategy