Products and services

This page will provide a summary of ideas for products and services, developed by the core team as that is formed from collaborators. Ideas so far include:

See blog posts listed below, and more here about overall project development.

Case study: New technology, traditional approach

Rural services OnlineRural Services Online,, the new website for the "Rural Services Network" was launched last week. Although it is implemented in Joomla (open source, web 2.0 etc) it takes a very traditional approach. Non-members can only see the news from the last 7 days. After that, all but the headline and opening sentence disappear behind an ID and Password.

There's also an 'Analysis & Comment' section, a Forum and Document Store for members only. Anyone can read the events calendar.

The journalism is very good and is by Johann Tasker of Ruralcity Media but will this site help organisations part with the £400+ membership fee? What do you think?


CoP Facilitator Training

Please note: this session is for those who are getting started with facilitating a community of practice, or for those who are currently facilitating a community of practice and would like to learn more about facilitation.

This is a lively and interactive course where delegates will learn what a CoP is, the benefits for those involved, and to start them thinking about their role in running a successful community. This session includes a practical, hands-on experience in using the CoP collaboration platform, recommended ways to engage members and provides delegates to develop as a CoP facilitator from the purpose statement stage, providing them with the know-how to effectively run their CoP. This will enable them to plan their community’s life from launch to successful activity.


Course Overview:


Duration: six hours (including optional 30 mins for networking and discussion after course)

Time: 10.00 – 4.30pm

Cost: £500 per delegate


Developing the membership game

game workshopI've found that one of the most effective ways of helping organisations and groups understand how to bring social media into their communications mix is to play through their possible plans in a workshop game.

We did that at the Ruralnetonline event, and also at the Circuit Riders conference, shown here. More recently I ran a workshop for PR and communications staff who are working in housing associations, and I've put the presentation and game that I used on the social media wiki. As I reported earlier, it certainly brought out the challenges for association staff.

who and why matrixI think this version could be the basis for a game designed for membership organisations, because at the beginning I introduced a simple matrix to help participants think through who they are trying to help, in what way.

In this case the "who" was Board members, staff, residents or wider interests. The "why" covered getting information (consuming), communicating, collaborating. It's then possible to map on to the matrix what tools may be appropriate in what circumstances - as I did here on another occasion.

However, it is one things doing a rather abstract exercise of categorising tools people may not be familiar with - it is another helping people think about how those tools might be useful in their particular situation.

If people are "on site" we ask them to desribe the challenges facing their organisation. In a conference setting we ask people to invent an as-if scenario, and then work through what's needed from that.

Overall the game sequence I proposed at the housing conference was:

... although we didn't get time for the storytelling.

You can download everything from the wiki, and see examples of other games here. The next step in The Membership project will be to get together a group interested in piloting a further development of the game. Do get in touch or drop in a comment if you are interested. Meanwhile feel free to try out this version of the game yourself ... and let us here how it went. Like all games materials it is licensed under Creative Commons, so that you can use and develop for yourself.

Membership and relationships

Mock up or ruralnet|online v1Sorry I've not been more active over here but you'll see more of me now that the ruralnet|online co-design process is well underway.

This process has been really enlightening and, as usual with the open innovation process, we are not where we thought we'd be when we started!

We've hit a bit of a watershed and our findings are relevant to this project, I think, so here they are.

Drawing everything together and injecting Paul's and Duncan's excellent work this week with Wordpress MU the image to the left is an attempt to show the status of our current thinking. Click on it to see it full size (it's on Flickr).

A focus on relationships between people and organisations rather than 'information'. A focus on 'services' rather than 'content'.

In summary, it's a graphical RSS aggregator, maybe Google Apps For Your Domain(?), with WordPress (organisational websites and individual blogs), Drupal (Experts Online), Gmail (for those who want it) and other things sitting behind it.

Although we've been focussing on ruralnet|online here, the system could be replicated for other networks using the Networks Online philosophy.

This is an Aunt Sally for everyone to have a go at. I'll be really interested in any comments and feedback.

Key questions are: What's the business model? Do we need a forum facility? What about shared file storage?

New social networking site for social entrepreneurs

UnLtdWorldLast night Unltd, which provides support and funding for social entrepreneurs, launched their new online plaform UnLtdWorld. I've blogged a report with video here. The aim is not to create another walled garden, but to link with other online platforms.

Organising without organisations: schools

One of the themes of this project is how far the social web enables us to organise without - or in addition to - the social institutions we have developed in past centuries.

The School of Everything aims to do that by enabling people who want to learn to get in touch with people who can teach. It has recently developed from its UK base to go international.

Yesterday, at a workshop on Designing for the 21st Century, school co-founder Andy Gibson showed how they are also going the other way by enabling any group to become a school. As you can hear in the video, that's done by inviting people to carry out a post-it note exercise and then continue the match-making on a Freeschool micro-site. More details in my blog post here.


Products and services

One of the main ideas here is to develop a market place of products and services, as well as ideas. In an open, collaborative, spirit I think we need people to offer a mix of some paid-for and some free stuff. No heavy pitches - at least not without some good free take-aways! We'll also be encouaging people to put up product-sevices-project idea that could be developed with others. From this rich mix we should get some remixing, and ideas for funding bids. So - who has something to offer?

I'll certainly be developing a membership game, with Drew Mackie, on the lines of those shown at Useful games and played with Ruralnetonline

Other offers? Drop in a comment, or start a blog post tagged products, services, market as appropriate. We can retag etc later