Subject: Re: [NYCGA Internet] Site Technology assessment
From: "Dr.Ron Suarez" <>
Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2011 20:17:47 -0400

Chaz writes: "the website is just a site, what makes it work is immaterial so long as it can do what it needs to."

Where WordPress will serve us best is where we don't really know what the website needs to do. Thus, we need tools that many more people can use, so they themselves can easily make changes in the back end if need be.

Where Drupal will serve us best is where the Problem Space is already clearly understood.

Historically software development has the worst track record of almost any industry with respect to cost overruns and complete failures of projects. A major cause of these failures is directly related to jumping into the Solution Space before the Problem Space is completely  understood.

There is a usability software design pattern called Pave the Cowpaths:

It comes from a story about an architect who couldn’t get agreement on where to lay the paths between the buildings on new site. So he grassed everywhere, allowed people to form their own paths, and then came back and paved those. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t try and push people towards the behavior you expect – you should instead react to the way they use the space. An example of this is Twitter RTs and @replies, which were both created by users and later adopted in the platform.

So far, WordPress has enabled a large group of people to quickly begin producing results and we are forming our paths. Please don't try to stop us from forming our own paths. After we have formed a bunch of paths, maybe it may become appropriate to pave some of them with Drupal (a much more powerful and much less flexible system).

For those eager to learn more, read this book:


On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM, Sam Boyer <> wrote:
one quick response, inline:

On 10/14/11 4:08 PM, felipe ribeiro wrote:
> it seems to me we are at something of a crucial moment - we just won a
> big battle against the city, which means our support has reached a
> critical mass across sufficient portions of society. The big question
> (which is now bigger) is "what's next"? It would seem that the question
> of what we want our software to do is a reflection of what we want to
> accomplish as a movement. What kinds of online interactions are we going
> to enable? is the strategy/planning component to be relegated to working
> groups, or will there be an online component to this as well? If so,
> shouldn't this be a specific topic/location with input from all sides -
> facilitation, internet, FLO, direct action, in short - ANY group that
> wants to have a voice in what the next move is??
> I don't think this is an archaic discussion, it dovetails
> with/replicates the discussion(s) regarding what our next move is as a
> movement - how to grow the consensus model, how to act in accordance
> with principles of legitimated outcomes via transparent methods of
> negotiation, and through this process, EVENTUALLY, how to get to an
> analysis of what the problem is, and *possible* solutions. (all of this
> is, of course, my own analysis of what the next move is, your view may
> be different and just as valid/more informed than mine)
> In short, building the software is a way of encoding the values and
> objectives we have as a movement. If we accept that the first step is to
> agree upon what these values and objectives are, then we can look at the
> software implementation as the first "political" act. If so, then this
> conversation needs to be brought to a wider audience. It isn't
> appropriate for IRC, for instance. Most people have no idea what that is.
> I think a clear statement of intention is a good move, something to the
> effect of "we offer this application/CMS as a first draft, a rudimentary
> way of chronicling the movement, in hopes of registering the
> intention/wisdom/opinion of the whole group as much as possible, to then
> implement a tool that we truly feel, as a whole, is a better vehicle of
> aggregating our willpower, resources, and knowledge in a fashion that
> enables our goal of self governance." At the end of the day, there are
> three things you can do - resist the existing model, try to reform it
> from within, using whatever mechanisms exist for this purpose, or take
> the buckminster fuller approach, and build a better model, that makes
> the existing one obsolete.
> What is the best way to advance this view - that we need discussion,
> ASAP, from a large number of people about what the ideal CMS should
> enable (after this first iteration of MU WordPress)?
> I have ideas on this, but this isn't the channel to express them. Where
> are these discussions happening, outside of working group meetings that
> may or may not happen in accordance with what is publicly posted at the
> NYCGA website? Otherwise, can I create a parallel site? Would that be
> seen as forking this discussion and/or adding to the chaotic nature of
> the current moment, as opposed to being a constructive act?

i'd like to echo this question, as i'm having a *very* similar crisis of
conscience right now.

> Bottom line - important moment, important topics, and if they are being
> discussed already, this discussion should be VERY easy to find for
> anyone from "outside?
> felipe
> On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 3:32 PM, Chaz Cheadle <
> <>> wrote:
>     I'll let it rest but,
>     My point is that we aren't asking the public to develop site. Our
>     job is to provide a site that works for them with the appropriate
>     technologies. If the technology is complicated, that is of no
>     concern to the users. I don't believe the literacy argument is valid
>     because on the front face, the website is just a site, what makes it
>     work is immaterial so long as it can do what it needs to. Voters
>     don't need to know how Diebold machines or punchcards work, they
>     just need to use it. Our mission is to use the best technology to
>     support our cause. I realize lots of people blog with WordPress, and
>     if that is all we want this site to do, then that is fine and it is
>     an appropriate tool.
>     We have to keep the dialogue open in here amongst the IWG about
>     whatever we are working on. We are a team after all... perhaps even
>     the A-Team, and that makes me BA Baracas!
>     chaz
>     On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM, Evan Wagner <
>     <>> wrote:
>         We are building the permabank site (resource routing/sharing
>         platform) in Drupal, so we have the opportunity to let the
>         debate play-out in implementation.  Should be interesting!
>         Evan
>         On Oct 14, 2011, at 1:56 PM, "Dr.Ron Suarez"
>         < <>> wrote:
>>         Chaz,
>>         For many people using Drupal would be like having a literacy
>>         test before you can vote!
>>         I know Drupal is more powerful, but that power comes with the
>>         tradeoff in the ability to create flexibility for larger
>>         numbers of people to control not just their own content, but
>>         how they want to enter it and present it.
>>         I was wondering how long it would take for the Drupal vs.
>>         WordPress debate to rear its ugly head. We have created a
>>         multisite installation and special applications could be
>>         created in Drupal by those who want to use Drupal and reside
>>         at a subdomain. We are using Multisite WordPress that will
>>         enable our Groups within our BuddyPress social network to have
>>         their own site at their own subdomain. Having this in
>>         WordPress makes it much more accessible to the masses of
>>         people who want to be able to exercise more control over their
>>         own content and how it is presented.
>>         Drupal developers are much harder to find and much more
>>         expensive. Specialized projects might be very appropriate
>>         targets for Drupal development. Please don't force less
>>         technical people into a situation where only a much smaller
>>         number of  people can make changes. If you like Drupal, then
>>         you should build something useful with it.
>>         Around 24 Million people use WordPress to blog.
>>         @drron
>>         On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 12:23 PM, Ted Schulman
>>         <<>
>>         <>> wrote:
>>             Hi Chaz,
>>             I agree that we have to create a migration plan from the
>>             current wordpress site to a more dynamic cms. Internet and
>>             Open Source workgroups are currently setting up the
>>             hosting environment and toolset that will allow us to
>>             define a development and migration roadmap. Our
>>             methodology will include the 5D's:
>>             Discovery - who, what, where, why, when - these are some
>>             initial assessments.
>>             Define - what functionality is required
>>             Design - how the audience interacts with the system
>>             Develop -
>>             Deploy -
>>             We will be a more detailed methodology section to the FLO
>>             Open Source Workgroup webpage in the near future.
>>             Best,
>>             Ted
>>             On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 10:20 AM, Chaz
>>             <<>
>>             <>> wrote:
>>                   I would like to propose a serious consideration of
>>                 Drupal for the
>>                 website. I know that WordPress has been used to start
>>                 the site. If we
>>                 expect this site to grow in size and functionality we
>>                 should consider
>>                 the increased needs for features and content types. In
>>                 my opinion
>>                 WordPress is a very powerful blogging platform but I
>>                 think our needs
>>                 will outpace its capability in terms of required
>>                 content types and
>>                 features. Drupal, like WordPress is opensource with a
>>                 huge developer
>>                 network but also has a very strong enterprise level
>>                 architecture and
>>                 is used by extremely large and high-traffic websites.
>>                 I believe
>>                 Drupal's module system is more mature with a great
>>                 focus on
>>                 customization and security.
>>                   As I think our site is and should be more than a
>>                 blogging platform
>>                 we should consider a highly developed CMS system to
>>                 meet our future
>>                 needs. Since we still seem to be in an early
>>                 development stage of our
>>                 new website I strongly urge a discussion and a needs
>>                 assessment of the
>>                 website in terms of technology and future expansion.
>>                 Some of the needs addressed extremely well by Drupal*:
>>                 -Menu systems (programmable)
>>                 -Forms API (programmable API for creating and
>>                 processing simple/
>>                 complex forms (voting,surveys,creating custom
>>                 interfaces for
>>                 administrators, content data entry etc.)
>>                 -Taxonomy driven content processing (manage and
>>                 process content based
>>                 on vocabulary/hierarchy)
>>                 -Module support for other FLO technologies such as
>>                 OpenLayers
>>                 -Security and Access Control (Core level security and
>>                 access control
>>                 system for content and administration)
>>                 Internationalization (multilingual support for menus
>>                 and site content)
>>                 Calender/Events system (integrate date driven
>>                 events/calenders/email-
>>                 list notifications into any content type)
>>                 -Solid integration with Varnish/Pressflow (site
>>                 caching for quicker
>>                 page delivery for high traffic sites)
>>                 -Views (custom content processing and display for any
>>                 content type,
>>                 display/customize content based on configurable
>>                 filters- login,
>>                 location, date, etc.)
>>                 -CCK (create any content types beyond blogs/posts such
>>                 as; bios,
>>                 rotating articles, document library, company profiles,
>>                 maps, featured
>>                 events, etc etc etc.)
>>                 -Multisite (ability to host multiple subdomains/sites
>>                 with shared or
>>                 separate user databases, partially or completely
>>                 separate  subsections
>>                 for groups if desired)
>>                 Themes (global and user preference based site themes
>>                 Content publishing/unpublishing on any desired
>>                 schedule (repeated, one
>>                 time etc)
>>                   Drupal, like WordPress relies on the addition of
>>                 modules or plugins
>>                 to add features to a site; niether one will serve our
>>                 needs right out
>>                 of the box. I have had a hard time finding equivalent
>>                 plugins for some
>>                 of these features in WordPress which is why I would
>>                 like to ask for an
>>                 evaluation.
>>                   I would be willing to begin and share development
>>                 lead on this if
>>                 we feel Drupal is more appropriate solution for this
>>                 website's
>>                 architectural needs. Just like a WordPress version of
>>                 this site we
>>                 should have designers, content authors and developers
>>                 working
>>                 together. We should also keep the
>>                 architecture/management of any site
>>                 100% transparent so anyone looking for information on
>>                 the content
>>                 posting process or the technology behind it.
>>                 * Disclaimer: I am a Drupal developer. I create and
>>                 maintain Drupal
>>                 modules for site administration and content publishing
>>                 for a large,
>>                 multisite Drupal installation- so I am much more
>>                 familiar with its
>>                 architecture than with WordPress'.
>>                 I would not like to start an argument, but rather open
>>                 a dialogue for
>>                 an evaluation of the movement's web technology needs.
>>                 Thanks for reading.
>>                 chaz
>>         --
>>         Dr Ron Suarez
>>         <>
>>         <>
>>         President, Loud Feed (Ann Arbor + Brooklyn)
>>         +1 415-935-1321 <tel:%2B1%20415-935-1321>
>>         <>
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>>         <>
>>         Social networking site we built for the American Association
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>>         Our partner Toolshed promotes artists from the Beastie Boys to
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Dr Ron Suarez