Forum .LRN Q&A: Response to Request for Comment: dotLRN Technology Governance


I appreciate your contributions to the discussion, yet I do have the feeling that there is a serious misunderstanding here.

I would like you to try to place yourself in our position in Heidelberg for a moment so that you understand why we are so supportive of Al's proposal and feel it is beneficial to both OpenACS and dotLRN.

I am a member of a university that is the oldest and probably one of the most well know learning institutions on German soil. Some main goals of my university is the spread of knowledge and information, the creation of an environment for learning, and the promotion and support of innovative research and projects.

This makes it easy to understand why dotLRN is a project that fits very well into the focus of our university. My belief in this is one of the main reasons I have been pushing and promoting dotLRN with such energy here in Heidelberg (idependtly of OpenACS).

This push has paid off. I have the green light on funding to implement dotLRN in Heidelberg.

Okay... what do we need to make dotLRN happen in Heidelberg?

A German version.

What are our options?

  1. Start translating the UI elements of dotLRN and start using it.
  2. Talk to people in the community to see if there are others with common goals. Start a discussion, collect feedback, become part of the community, find out what needs to be done in order to make it happen right. Find out who wants to do it with us. Make sure that other languages can be added quickly an easily (I would really love to see a Greek version of dotLRN). Make it happen.

It is clear to me that 2 is the way to go, but the way everything is set up at the moment it makes it hard for us to bundle financial resources of different parties in order to get this done together (in fact the way things are right now it would probably be easier to try to make this happen alone).

It is obvious to me that dotLRN is just an application built on top of OpenACS and that we need the internationalisation work to go into OpenACS. It is also obvious to me that without support of the OpenACS gatekeepers it can not go into OpenACS (this is regardless of how much money we invest in it or who is in the dotLRN Consortium).

I would like to emphasize how we would see our role in the dotLRN Consortium.

  1. To help outline mutual goals
  2. To help provide structures to consolidate energy and funds of diverse groups, so that we may reach common goals quickly and efficiently.
  3. To insure dotLRN user representation and communication with coders
  4. To support and promote dotLRN as an application and OpenACS as a platform
  5. To find funds for projects that are of mutual benefit (to both dotLRN and OpenACS)
  6. Push all general functionality that could be useful to more than just learning communities back into the OpenACS toolkit where it can grow and become more that it already is.

Another Example:

A consortium would make it easier to fund things that may not (at this point) be specific to our needs in Heidelberg or the needs at MIT, but are clearly beneficial and necessary in the future (for both OpenACS and dotLRN). Supporting a tclDOM replacement for ns_xml seems like a strategic move that makes sense (just as supporting a XML-based service contract model does). If you or someone else from the OpenACS project convinced the TAB of dotLRN that this is something we need, as a single university I am going to have difficulty finding money from Heidelberg to help you make this happen (even if both the gatekeepers of dotLRN and OpenACS say "WE NEED THIS"). These are "itches" that my university would have problems giving money to "scratch" (because they presently do not feel them). The Consortium would allow a pool of money for this kind of thing (it would also be more sensitive to these kind of itches).


I can see a lot of reasons for you being upset. I also understand your fears (we had the liberty to fly to Boston to talk with a lot of people to clear up some of the communication problems by personally meeting people involved). Lacking transparency is a problem that all parties are aware of (everyone has been so busy they have neglected it) . I have been told that it is going to a major priority in the future.

Online communication is difficult, because a large amount of language is lost between our bodies and the keyboard. I ask you to PLEASE reconsider you decision. I really want to avoid you being referred to as cannon fodder in the future, because your commitments make you a very important person for OpenACS (and dotLRN) at this point (not to mention the fact that we we would love to have your input and help on the internationalization work).

Sincerely, Carl