Columbia Exchange Circle
Hey, sorry, forgot about this page! The CEC has morphed substantially into a totally different thing. I wrote that page months and months ago when I was still cultivating interest.
Much has happened since and the system is active. We are looking to garner task forces to get out the word, to get folks orientated and involved. Check out "Outreach" and "Publicity" sections for more info on how you can get involved.
Here is an idea of what its all about in its latest stage:
Last Updated - --Richard 16:33, 1 March 2009 (PST)
Vince Foley has taken on a lot of programming work lately, adapting OSCurrency, developed by the Austin Time Exchange, to our uses. It is based on the Insoshi Social Networking platform, which somewhat resembles a simple version of facebook (they are always adding features though!). Vince has put in a lot of effort adding and tweaking features, sprucing up the interface and working on content. Its looking very nice and has been launched as of yesterday. Check it out at http://www.comoexchange.org . Please only sign up if you are in the Columbia, MO area.. In the future we intend to possibly find ways to extend this software to other nearby regions and bridge our exchanges. Because it is built in ruby-on rails, on-the-fly changes and tweaks will be easier to implement. There are some features we look forward to adding down the road, but what we have currently is pretty robust to start with.
Here you select a name, upload a photograph (you can have a few), input a secure email address as your login, and select skills from a list that will go into the skillbank. We hope to add neighborhood networks to profiles as well. You also have lots of room for a description of whatever length you desire. When folks or you visit your profile they can see all this info (except the email), and also what offers and requests you have that are active. There is no adding or removing friends here, we are all friends automatically! Also, there is an area to post comments.
Balance and Activity
Also, listed is your balance and total activity. This is instrumental in gauging how balanced a user is at any point you view their profile. For example, if they have 300 marbles in total activity, and they are at -40, then you know that where they stand is fine for the system. However, you can obviously tell that someone who is at -50 and has 50 in activity has some 'splainin to do. Users can self monitor the system and ask hey, what have you to offer? ' it might just be that they are looking for the right request or are shy about their skills. This is where we can encourage and foster our community's ability to find ways to help eachother out. You can see what skills they have to offer and say: Hey, I've always wanted to learn how to bake bread! and suddenly, that person in 'commitment' has learned of a way to give back to the system. As this functions, no one is ever in debt. Vince makes this apparent on the website among the explanatory content.
Each is a main tab wherein you can explore all of what has been recently offered or requested on the system (everything is transparent here!). It displays a list with an image and name, title of offer or request, and a foreshortened description. When you click on the title, it takes you to the offer or request page, with a unique url, and there you can make bids on the offer or request.
Creating an Offer or Request Going to the offer or request page, all you need to do is click a button and start creating a request or offer. You can make these as simple or fancy if you want. You can set a date for how long it is available for, give a cost estimate, and accept multiple bids. You can also re-edit or deactivate and then reactivate if you like as well.
Offer/Request bidding and exchange function So when you post an offer or request, folks can bid on the item. If the poster accepts, then a few confirmations happen on both sides to ensure the transaction is mutual. During the last two confirmations the amount cannot change.
Reccomendations For every transaction that happens, there is the ability for the bidder to give a thumbs up for the good or service with a short description why. This we hope will give people plenty of room to establish repor among users in the system. These will all be reviewable on the profile as long as the offer is active.
Gift Exchange or Direct Transfer With this, all you have to do is visit someones profile and click 'Transfer Gift Marbles'. You can send them credits with a short description. This can be used for many things, such as adjusting a past exchange (that jam was a lot tastier than i imagined! +1), making an informal exchange (+10 for CRT monitor, +10 for 8 hay bales), or just for a gift.
Other Useful Features
Skills Base Here, a list of parent categories with subcategories is displayed. When you click on a subcategory, all the skillholders (all folks who list that skill or good in their profile) are displayed, as well as recent offer and request activity in that subcategory. This has a lot of use for everyone regardless of how active they are in the system.
Messaging An inbox, sent messages, and trashcan, the ability to send messages from peoples profiles all exists. We figure that this is useful for negotiating and for exchanging information about scheduling and locations. Also, people may be able to use this for direct bartering.
Events Here, anyone can create an event with a short description, read about events that are going on, even click on a calendar which shows whats going on that day. You can set dates and times, and list yourself as attending or not attending. All events are displayed. We hope to use this feature for informal markets, orientations, potlucks, workshops, etc. This could become a very useful tool for the community who uses CEC to bring people together to exchange skills, marbles, and to enjoy time together and meet folks in their area.
Activity A list on the side of the page under most tabs displays all posts, events, transfers, comments, new categories created, forum posts, etc. This way people can easily see whats going been going on lately. It gives them a chance to catch the hot mustard before it runs out or help organize a potluck.
Forum This we intend to somehow connect to the knowledge exchange that we will discuss at OSN mid missouri - tools to thrive. For now, you can create topics, and post beneath them. The propensity to create multiple topic categories is implicit as well. For now, we will use this to get feedback, to see what ideas and questions people have, and to exchange knowledge and discuss topics of interest in general.
Neighborhood/Area - based Management and Outreach
(last updated: --Richard 16:33, 1 March 2009 (PST))
We are interested in cultivating interest by outreach efforts within the community. A proposed idea is to have neighborhood/area task forces of 3 to 6 people that get people involved, show them the ropes, ensure that they are keeping appropriately balanced and help them to become good members. From this level of organization, neighborhood familiarity and interdependence can be built via events and exchanges. The neighborhood task forces can gather for larger meetings and deliberations on new features, system functionality and guidelines. Message me on CEC if you are interested in starting or joining one of these groups.
A possibility is that we could create and distributed packets of fliers, information and ideas for folks who are interested in starting one of these. More information is coming soon!
We hope to get the largest cross-section of the community involved as possible. The more diversified users are, the more they will have to offer eachother and the more it will offer towards building community. This gives a unique opportunity to build these important bonds in a time when it matters most.
There also exists the propensity to involve columbia's neighborhood associations in the CEC as well. This could be very important in establishing CEC's presence within the community.
We need folks to help us to get the word out via fliers, stickers, posters to encourage folks to sign up and attend orientations, as well as organize other CEC related events. Vince is working on a flier right now, actually. Also, we could use some help with media relations. I have been successful in doing some of this but its not easy. Below is a link to a radio show I did two months ago on KOPN. There are plenty of journalists and radio hosts in town chomping at the bit for this kind of stuff, so why not reel them in? If done the right way, this could spread activity and support for CEC and related endeavours easily.
Also, PSAs, Press Releases, social networking activity as well as informal or social marketing are important to. Nothings better than a little word of mouth in this town.
Insoshi - Open Source, Ruby on Rails Based Social Networking Platform OSCurrency - A project to bring community currency features to Insoshi initiated by: Austin Time Exchange - The first system to implement OSCurrency Columbia Exchange Circle - Thats us! Thanks Vince for hosting!