Status Report - What I've Been Up To

I've got a huge backlog of things I've been meaning to blog about, so to hopefully kick things off, here's a short list of things I've been up to in the last few months:

P2PU Development Sprint

I spent a few days in Barcelona (before the Drumbeat festival) working with some very talented developers on a development sprint for the P2PU Website. We split our time between fixing bugs in the existing Drupal code base and working on (as well as deciding) the redevelopment of the site on a new platform. After some refreshingly practical debate, we decided to build on batucada, the Drumbeat.org rewrite I've been leading. Being on the same code base and of course the same platform (Django) means the two teams will be able to share code fairly easily, which is really exciting.

The sprint was a huge success. We had a great venue which we affectionately referred to as the "Hacker Dungeon" (there were no windows!). We fixed some major problems on the current website and left knowing that P2PU has a great core development team and it's really exciting that the batucada and lernanta (codename for the new P2PU code base) teams are going to get to work so closely together (particularly great for me, as I'm on both teams!).

Drumbeat Festival

The Drumbeat Festival, also in Barcelona, was scheduled immediately after the P2PU development sprint. This was a massive event, and I'm incredibly proud to work with the people who helped pull it all together. It was a 3 day event with over 400 participants from over 40 countries in 3 different venues and somehow, it all worked. People self-organized into fairly focused groups, all working on different projects. It was very unconference style, but my sense was that most people stuck with the same group rather than cross-pollinating. The theme this year was Learning, Freedom and the Web. Attendants were from all over, but could roughly be categorized into hackers and educators. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised to walk away with more new technical contacts than I get at most technical conferences. I also had a few people approach me about volunteering their web development skills for Drumbeat, which was fantastic.

I spent nearly all of my time working in the Badge Lab. Dan Mills, Joshua Gay, a wonderful group of volunteers and myself found a corner to hide in and worked on a functional demo of a federated badge system. More on that below!

Badge Backpack

Thanks to a great group of folks working with us, we were successful in creating a functional demo of a federated badge system. The system uses HTML5 postMessage to enable cross-origin site communication. Badges can be issued by any site, stored in a "backpack" (which simply stores the badge data in localStorage) and consumer sites can show badges stored in the backpack with just a few lines of Javascript. We're continuing development on the idea, and have a couple of Github repositories (here, and here) and of course a mailing list. Thanks to Carlo Frinolli, Johan Bichel, Ana Carvalho and others (so sorry if I didn't catch your name) for joining the code sprint and helping us out!

Batucada / Drumbeat.org

Batucada development is coming along nicely. We've got some new folks contributing code and are laser focused on delivering an initial production release by the end of the year. We're working with a designer to finalize the interface, and are really excited to get this thing going. The existing Drupal based site will be kept available for some time, albeit at a different URL, so people will be able to access it at least even after we launch the new version (signups will be disabled though).

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