Making the pieces fit

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/28/2004 - 13:43.

<>There are many taxonomy, site structure, technology and implementation issues all at play now and growing in complexity as REALNEO scopes up and we see broader deployment issues and opportunities ahead. For example, you created this "book" and we already have several books and forums on related topics, like "REALNEO Development Plan" (which has important source documents going back to the launch of this project) and "Technology, System Design and User Interface", "Website Taxonomy" and even "Help", "Virtual Communities" and "FIRST" - all those books/forums should be embedded in one taxonomy and tree of related books and forums, and none of this should be included in the REALNEO "Category/COIL" taxonomy (e.g. we now have 7 "virtual community" categories that are now listed as "Community of Interest Links - COILs" for economic development (e.g. creating a "virtual community industry") but actually focus on general interests - categories/COILs should be for NEO economic development issues and opportunities (e.g. "Medical" is for medical economic development, or medical issues impacting economic development, like access to healthcare and impact of lead on early child development). Even all that said, the lines are hard to draw.

As your taxonomy tree illustrates, we're forking in too many directions with too many tools, without using any of them to their full and right potentials. We don't have policies, structures and strategies on how we use forums  vs. books, vs. blogs - don't use stories at all - need to standardize on each of these terms/capabilities and their uses. Also, we need to standardize and define how we use image galleries, better structure the content of the user profiles, and specify what categories are appopriate for the current  REALNEO site (e.g. hobbies), vs. might be nice later features for a more "sociable" virtual community (in which case, we become very much like Tribe, and have communities for every band, artists, hobby, movie, book, etc. that any group of people want to collaborate/communicate on). For now, let's keep all that out of the REALNEO world, and focus on hard core economic development and entrepreneurship - no unrelated, just for the fun of it forks at all.

The categories/COILS should be economic development and entrepreneurship communities of demonstrated, known shared interest, with an involved outside "Champion" interested to develop the COIL - e.g. Jeff Buster for Wind Power, Roberta Waxman for Eary Childhood Development, Alfred Miller for East Cleveland 2010 - no REALNEO internal development issues and terms - e.g. virtual community category terms should not exist here, unless as a potential industry for NEO (e.g. developing a global "Supply Chain Community in NEO"  - and all the internal IT terms and discussions should be kept in a well defined "support" book.

More confusing, we have sub-regional development issues - e.g. Fairfax, Shaker Heights, East Cleveland, which have their own communities of interests yet each are interested in other COILS, like Historic Development, Computer Recycling, Wifi Mesh, Workforce development - e.g. overall and specifically in East Cleveland. Again, Tribe has a good approach to this by allowing you to focus your community perspectives and search on a physical zone - in their case based on miles from zip-code... could also be defined by "City" if we choose.

Within the next few days, we will need to work through the whole REALNEO site and clean it up - recategorize everything and restructure the nodes into more appropriate alignments, and establish new sites for new COILS and link them together - we really need to do all that at once. Unfortunately, this is even more complex than it sounds, and there are no "experts" to help make it easier - I do not believe anyone alive has a good holistic perspective on local ED, and I know no one here has any real understanding of related social networking opportunities - it is up to us to become the subject experts... no one else is going to do any of this for us.

I below insert some other related thoughts and I suggest the best model I've ever seen in dealing with these issues at every level is Tribe - before we try to reinvent this wheel anyone involved in the dialogue must review that site in detail and consider how they have approached moving the virtual world forward - they've invested $ millions in lots of talented people doing great work and they offer many important lessons to learn

Further, from an email I sent Ted Takacs:


We need to rework the list and taxonomy – this is one of the most important next
steps. Within the REALNEO site we need a high level and fairly short list of
categories and then link to COILS for each category, which have their deeper
links to many other sub-categories.

taxonomy side will be tricky but more complex is the technical challenge – how
do we structure the COILS for one REALNEO log in and community wide searching
but with various permissions by COIL and sub-category (e.g. sustainability, wind
power, turbine manufacturing), and separate “buddies� for each? Tribe seems to
have the best implementation of this overall structure of communities within
communities, organized as tribes within categories, where users have an overall
family of buddies and also may join tribes, which then have sub-memberships,
forming unrelated additional buddy-networks (e.g. I have my friends because I
invite them to tribe and then I have other friends because we share an
interest/tribe … you don’t have to be buddies to be members of the same tribe.
This also allows distribution of announcements/email to all your personal
buddies, or to all members of a tribe.


From a related follow-up email to Ted:

seem to have a few levels of taxonomies at play – some are REALNEO “Plan and technology�
related, some are “virtual community and information technology field� related,
some are REALNEO “help and support� related, and some are Northeast Ohio
“economic development and entrepreneurship� related. I believe what we need to
do is separate REALNEO into our development site – REALinks, with “Plan and
technology� and “help and support� taxonomies, and REALinks SOIL for “virtual
community and information technology field� taxonomy, and REANEO for overall
“economic development and entrepreneurship� taxonomy. Then, each “economic
development and entrepreneurship� community of interest (COIL) will have unique
taxonomies, perhaps sharing some trees and branches. All these taxonomies must
be region-neutral, as most of what works for REALinks and REALNEO must be
transportable to other regions, with some change-up on COILS (e.g. Northern
Indiana may not care about polymers, but have interest in microprocessors).

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