Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Systems 001

Here's a rough visualisation of some functional areas of the organisation that we might want to see in place, suggesting how they might overlap with each other and how their operations might interact with other groups. It is of course only a starting point for discussion.

Does it make sense? What is missing? Which parts are priorities, which are unnecessary or undesirable? How will interactions actually work? Which require a critical mass of staff and product before they are useful, and which can immediately start producing useful output with only one or a handful of volunteers?

This thread is intended to host discussion of the systems we need to put in place, from a functional point of view, rather than a detailed examination of the technologies involved. I'd suggest we need to be thinking especially about integration: it should be possible to share data and possibly software between these functional areas, and to extend them or refactor the way they are organised without having to start again from scratch.

We need to be getting some idea of process flows within and between areas, of inputs and outputs. I'd suggest we need to think of each functional area in terms of one or more products it generates. Any work put in by members ought to generate some kind of product which can be used in open-ended ways.

This is especially relevant, it seems to me, in the area of policy discussion. (A seperate thread is available for detailed discussion.) Setting up general discussion boards for people to mull over topics is one thing, but if we are going to used our resources to develop a policy development system we need to maximise the productiveness and usability of contributions to it. Where a process of refinement has taken place, for example, we might ideally like to be able to track it or at least a summary of the reasoning behind it, the information adduced for and against, etc., and to be able to cross-reference these with any other relevant information we may have.

Data is valuable: all of our products will contain it, and we need to ensure it is not only retained but easily interrogable. Data that is disorganised, fragmented or swamped by ineesential 'chatter' soon becomes impossible to retrieve in any usable form - and to the extent that happens, the data becomes useless. All these are of course just initial thoughts and suggestions, to get the ball rolling...

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