User Tools

Site Tools


Development summary

Developing and OpenRSA

These are opening thoughts from past discussions, plus entirely personal first suggestions on how development of an site, events, other tools and associated projects might develop. The main idea here is that development should tap the enthusiasm of members (1), meet their needs to develop discussion and projects, and also model and so influence the way that we hope RSA Networks might develop.

The early history and principles of OpenRSA are here. It was conceived as an open, flexible group to support development of the RSA and RSAN, engaging through the use of social media and occasional events.

Current thoughts are catalysed by the proposal for an site, but I’m assuming OpenRSA activities will not be confined to that site, and can continue even if the site is not developed as proposed.

This is a bit of brain-dump that needs a lot refinement. I hope it can be shorter. Please feel free to add/amend/delete. You need to join the wiki to do that - link at top of the page. First draft by David Wilcox November 1 2008 (2).

I hope that this note might help create a framework for a first virtual and/or face-to-face meeting to develop and OpenRSA as a whole. See suggested next steps below.

Summary, together with other online tools, events, and activities becomes the basis for an Innovation Lab that helps fast-track RSAN projects and evolve processes that will help build the wider network and engage external interests. It is a project developed by the OpenRSA group within RSAN that also has an outward-facing presence.

What is OpenRSA, what are we trying to achieve

  • An open group/network of RSA Fellows, and others interested in development of RSA, on the lines first set out here. While development will be led by Fellows/members, we warmly invite the involvement of RSA staff and Trustees.
  • A distributed, networked structure, not a hierarchy. Open to anyone to join - as above. Conducting activities openly.
  • Operating as an Innovation Lab, where people are encouraged to explore new ideas for the collaborative use of social media, and other methods, for social change.
  • A set of online places, events and activities with enough organisational structure to support these activities - but no more.
  • Broadly in line with the original RSAN vision, and aiming to assist development of RSAN through its examples of processes and projects.
  • Exploring governance and management structures and processes best suited to the emerging networked world.

Governance and management model

  • The governance and management model should be designed to suit the purpose of an Innovation Lab, where activities are distributed geographically, across different interest groups, using a number of different communication methods. So:
  • The site, if it can be developed, will act as the aggregator and hub of activities.. The core governance and management issues will be around that site. First proposals for a user-run site are here.
  • There will be no formal OpenRSA governing body. There will be appropriate governance and management for the site(s), events, and any innovation projects, operating within a broad set of OpenRSA principles. These principles will be evolved online and at events by members (1). We are not trying to set up an organisation within an organisation (the RSA).
  • The core organising of OpenRSA sites and events will be on a voluntary basis. See below for projects.


  • There are some first ideas on areas of activity in the proposal.
  • Projects will make their own arrangements for voluntary or paid-for resources, and will expect to be part of the wider RSAN community. We are not aiming to develop a set of projects outside RSAN, but rather fast-track open, collaborative social innovation projects that are particularly helpful to the wider development of RSAN.
  • We would expect some projects to be internally focussed - around development processes, communication, sites and events - and some be be externally focussed as part of the wider assembly of projects developed as part of RSAN.
  • Any OpenRSA projects - internal or external - will be open: that is, designed to share experience more widely, and engaging with external interests as well as RSA Fellows and staff. Where people feel this degree of openness is inappropriate to their RSAN project they can decide simply to share some, but not all, information through OpenRSA.

Sites and events

  • The main site will be Other sites, online spaces and tools - like the Virtual Coffee House - will be developed to meet the needs of members, support projects, and model possible innovations within the wider RSAN.
  • There will be a commitment in organising synchronous events - physically and online - to meet the needs of a geographically distributed community. Groups can form locally or regionally, or around interests.


  • One explicit project could be the process to develop OpenRSA: the sites, events, project guidance and wider engagement with RSAN. A core development process group could move this forward without aiming to “represent” members of OpenRSA. Their activities would be guided by others through interactions online and off.


  • Members can identify specific roles and activities they would like to occupy or support at the core or within projects. These might include site manager, technical support, events organiser, facilitator, project leader, etc. (3)

Engaging RSA and RSAN

  • While OpenRSA activities must have primary value in their own right for members (otherwise as volunteers they will not commit time and enthusiasm), one main purpose is to help with the evolution of RSA Networks as a whole.
  • In the first instance, we are asking RSA to agree to the proposal, by which the current propotype site becomes the hub for the Innovation Lab, with an invitation to those registered on the site to participate. This would then proceed in parallel with the new which is under development by Squiz as part of the main RSA site.
  • If we proceed as an Innovation Lab, we could invite RSA staff to be involved, and with them design some activities specifically to help development of RSAN. However project leaders have to be free to pursue their own objectives within a broad RSAN vision, and not be constrained by any current operating conditions. Otherwise this will cease to be an Innovation Lab.

Suggested next steps

  • Make these notes available to the OpenRSA Google group members, and invite immediate comments.
  • If broadly agreed, set up a development group to move the process forward and organise a first virtual and/or physical event.
  • Share these proposals with RSA staff and seek their advice on how best to further engage with RSA/RSAN on the proposals in the first instance.


(1) I’m using the term members to avoid distinction between Fellows, people who have applied to be Fellows, and others who wish to be associated with OpenRSA. The nature of membership, and roles within OpenRSA, is one issue to be discussed. DW
(2) I should declare a personal interest in sharing developments with other people interested in membership organisations, through the Membership Project which started at RSAN and is supported by RSA and NCVO. The Membership Project is an example of a project started within RSAN that now has its own site. My thinking on past RSAN development is documented here. DW
(3) If useful, I’ll commit to the role of social reporter which I’m exploring here. That would involve helping surface and summarise conversations, create a developing narrative, evolve online tools - and help others do the same. That way we would, hopefully, have a growing group of people helping animate the conversations online and face to face, providing reflection upon progress by the Lab. If people are interested, social reporting can be a project in its own right. DW

Back to RSA networks and engagement

development_summary.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/28 16:27 by admin