Fluid Project Summit

October 9, 2007

The week of September 24-28 was the first Fluid Summit, held at the University of Toronto. This brought together folks not only dedicated to the project, but other key members from the associated communities such as the Sakai Executive Director, Michael Korcuska, and fellow Sakai board member, Clay Fenlason. We also had volunteers from the larger community, such as Kathy Moore, a UI designer from Boston University. Of course, we also had a large contingent from the Fluid Project core team as well, making it a pretty large group of designers, developers, and managers.

One huge benefit of the Fluid Project is that it reaches across communities – uPortal, Sakai, Kuali Student, Moodle — and brings people together around real work. This real work is what keeps us all motivated and getting up in the morning. I was surprised to find in a discussion with Michael Korcuska that he wasn’t sure about just how concrete the Fluid contribution was going to be. The Summit revealed to him how committed the project is to getting real results (designs and code) into these community source products. Michael wrote a great blog entry about the Fluid and Sakai as a result of his attendance at the summit. One of his statements that was particularly heart-warming to me was this:

“Fluid is Sakai

Looking around the rooms at the Fluid Summit I saw a lot of familiar faces from places like UC Berkeley, Cambridge and Georgia Tech. These folks know Sakai inside and out and that knowledge will ensure that what gets worked on is relevant to Sakai. Of course Fluid is other things as well, including uPortal and Kuali Student and Moodle, which should benefit everyone. But I stopped thinking about Fluid as a project that is somehow separate or “in parallel to” Sakai.”

When we were working on the proposal for Fluid, we articulated that Fluid would never be successful if it was seen as being from “outside” the community/open source project it was working to improve. Being inside — and trusted — is a critical aspect of making an impact and contribution to open source projects. Thus, we talked about Fluid as being “embedded” in the core projects it was working on. Michael’s comment indicates to me that we were right on with this approach.

It is important to stress that Fluid is not a theoretical exercise or experiment. Efforts from its teams have already begun to be seen in implemented designs and code. The component and design pattern libraries will be be built and integrated “as we go,” we will not wait to achieve perfection or critical mass. Everything is open and available now. This includes access to decisions, methods, mock-ups, user research, code, html widgets, components, and more.

Look for the U-Camp to roll out for the JA-SIG Un-conference in New Brunswick on November 11-16 and the Newport Beach Sakai Conference on December 4-7. U-Camps are a place to learn, talk about, and do design. They include UX designers, training and support folks, faculty, and programmers. You can see some of the activities that took place in the Sakai Amsterdam conference U-Camp. The Newport beach U-Camp will be the third U-Camp for Sakai, and the fourth delivered over the past year. The Sakai programmer’s cafe and the U-Camp are exploring ways to bring together UX designers and developers — perhaps in some sort of sprint activity.

Before closing, I want to reiterate that projects that directly contribute to and impact production systems are the only type of project you will ever find the UC Berkeley Educational Technology Services unit involved in! While we may lust in our hearts after the pure innovation project, it is critical to our mission as a services unit that where we extend our effort has direct impact (hopefully for the good!) on our constituency. If you notice my eyes straying, just give me a nudge.

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2 Responses to “Fluid Project Summit”

  1. Ben Says:

    Time for another post! (also your title is in need of updating).

  2. marahancock Says:

    Done on both counts, Ben. I think I owe at least a dozen more posts to catch up. Thanks!


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