My name is Joe Meersman, I was hired on at the end of last year by the Open Media Foundation (OMF) in Denver to start work on a new incarnation of the Open Media Project (OMP). As many of you know, the history of the OMP is full of successes and failures. My ultimate goal with the Drupal 7 version, is to get rid of as many of the failures as we can, and make the things that worked well work better. Easier said than done, I know, but where would we be without the evolutionary process?
I know there are several other people out there who have updated the modules from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, and several public access and media centers who are installing and using the new versions. I believe Kevin Reynen is responsible for getting these up and running, and for helping the stations that are using them install and setup the system. The Community Media Project really has been successful overall, from what I hear, and I would love to open up discussion on what is working well there, and also what is not.
I believe we are taking this project in a different direction than what Community Media Project is doing. I am a newcomer to public access, and really Drupal in general, but have been making software and websites for quite some time. From what I understand, the two major failures of OMP were:
1) It required either a developer on staff at the station to install, maintain, and update the system, or required OMF’s developers to try and maintain many sites across the country, which obviously did not work. Too much work, not enough time or resources.
2) The previous system required serious network and hardware setup at the local stations. Developers from OMF were traveling to station to setup these systems. Our developers are not hardware specialists, and were unable to travel back if problems arose with the system they installed.
3) The overall design and user experience of the system was severely flawed. The system was never really designed in a way to be easily usable by station staff and admin, let alone the, for the most part, non-technically savvy communities the software was built to cater to.
The new vision this post is all about should really fix these three issues. To address problems 1 and 2, we are hoping to build something that is following the software as a service model. We hope to have something built that is deployable for many organizations. Updates to the system would be pushed through to all the sites, and we would also hopefully have a “golden build” that we could fall back to, if something gets majorly messed up for a station (which it inevitably will). The software would be configurable, at a basic level, to fit the needs and goals of each organization that signs on. The hardware would be “in the cloud”, and therefore would eliminate any need for OMF developers to be delving into the hardware realm.
To address problem 2, we have hired an experienced UX designer to help us make this software less “Drupally” and to make the user experience simple, clean, and hopefully enjoyable. We want the interfaces and forms to be clean, and intuitive.
We know we have a lot of work to do to accomplish these things, and we also have to update and create new modules that are going to handle all of the myriad tasks the original OMP could do, plus more. To tackle all of these issues, we have partnered with Warecorp, to increase our development power. They have a team of developers, and the Warecorp partner, Chris Dystra, also runs The Uptake, a citizen fueled news organization, who has interest in using the OMP as well.
I know this is a long post, so I will stop here and let this all sink in. Please feel free to respond with questions, concerns, comments, and ideas. We are really trying to make this thing work, and want to foster collaboration in both the Drupal and public access communities. We know that the previous version of OMP, while ambitious and functional, was not the best solution for all stations, and the new incarnation also may not meet everyone’s needs, but we hope it works for those who adopt it, and we hope it works well. I, for one, will be committed to making the best software I can, and hope to see several stations on board and using it come the middle of summer.