This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.
In a post that I wrote not too long ago, I talked about a website where people with disabilities could discover and collaborate on creative projects. The idea is that there are people with disabilities who spend a lot of time alone and who have skills that, combined with others’ skills, could be used to make or do some pretty cool things.
Enough introduction. Down to the point: I’ve started building a site which I’m calling “We Hate Stairs.” I see We Hate Stairs as being a place where people with disabilities aren’t treated so much like people with disabilities. I’m not going to be cramming disability-related advertising down people’s throats. In fact, besides the name, there’s really no reason that a user needs to be disabled. Ah… the sound of inclusion.
So as things are getting off the ground, I’ve found myself thinking and rethinking the purpose of the site. At first, I envisioned it as a place to discover projects and collaborate on them. But this vision is too large in scope and will end up forcing me to reinvent the wheel. What We Hate Stairs should really be about is the discovery of projects and opportunities to collaborate. The actual nitty gritty collaboration is not what We Hate Stairs should be about. There are plenty of great solutions for collaboration over the web1, and honestly I don’t see how I could create anything better. What I want to do is facilitate the discovery of projects. I want to connect people with different skills together so that they can create things or do things better than they could make or do own their own. To that end, I am going to focus my efforts on discovery and leave the collaboration up to the user.
I see the site working something like this: There are Members, who can create Projects. Members can add other Members to their Projects as Contributors. Each Project has its own page, describing what the Project is about. That page will also show a list of Contributors, and, if the Project admins mark the Project as “open,” the Members can ask to join the Project as Contributors. The Project page will also contain links to any external websites (a project blog on WordPress, perhaps, or a Twitter account about the project).
That is the core of the site. But I also want Members to have a way of following projects without necessarily having to visit any external sites. I also want to avoid dozens of people asking to join a project as a contributor just because that is the only way the site allows members to interact with projects they like. So I’m thinking of giving members a way to “fan” projects they like and perhaps creating a basic “status wall” system for project teams to keep their fans up to date within the We Hate Stairs site. I will probably look into ways to integrate RSS feeds from blogs or latest Twitter updates into project pages, but that might be a feature that gets added after the initial launch.
So, please, let me know what you think. This is the perfect time for ideas. The project is still soft, moldable clay waiting to be transformed into something great. And I can’t do that all by myself.
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