Zimfest IT Meeting Minutes, October 2013

October 30th, 2013, 6:30-8:15 pm PT via Skype

A discussion about the Zimbabwean Music Festival’s web sites, email, and other information technology.

Present: David Simon (facilitating), Claire Jones, Alex Weeks, Gretel Baumgartner, Larry Israel

Identify all elements of the Zimfest online presence, an “owner” of each, and brief descriptions.

  1. Registration system development: Alex is in charge (with help from others TBD).

  2. Registration system requirements and project management: Gretel (at least initially, perhaps not later on). This person acts as the main communication link/liaison between festival organizers and registration system developers.

  3. Exploration of alternative registration systems: Alex and someone else TBD (important!). Investigation of off-the-shelf registration system options, which could be either a hosted solution (web site/company), or an installable open-source software package. External tech support is a desired feature. We hope to start looking soon, but implementation will probably come later, not for the 2014 festival.

  4. Zimfest.org website maintenance: Larry maintains this web site.

  5. Google Drive maintenance: Gretel manages this festival document repository, and provides access and support to board members and other users.

  6. Zimfest mailing list maintenance: Gretel manages various email address lists, sends all Zimfest.org email, and is working to improve both the lists and the system so that others will be able to send email to the mailing lists.

  7. Mail server: Alex is in charge of this. He reports that the system (postfix) needs improvement; says we need MLM (mailing list management) software, ideally with an API that allows the registration system to send email. Gretel knows of a possible solution. Constant Contact was also mentioned as worth considering. We didn’t go into further details. Task for the future: conduct a review of email system alternatives.

  8. ZA blog maintenance: Larry maintains format, features, and some content areas (“pages”). Claire moderates comments. Larry, Claire and perhaps others will post. (Posts are displayed on the blog’s home page.)

  9. Domain names: Larry maintains the zimfest.org registration. Alex maintains DNS entries (via Rackspace).

  10. Zimfest.org email addresses: Gretel maintains these via Google Apps.

  11. Facebook: Gretel primarily maintains the Zimfest Facebook presence. Claire can also post. We removed some other admins.

  12. Annual festival web site (the portion of the annual festival site that is not part of the registration system): Alex. This is problematic because Alex doesn’t have time to create and maintain this, but the current system — Django’s auto-generated admin tool for “flat pages” — is not suited for less-technical users. A savvy, development-oriented person who knows HTML could use it. Maybe we can find someone like that, but it hasn’t worked in the past for festival organizers to use this system. We need a better (WYSIWYG) admin tool/interface. WordPress (or similar) might be a solution, if it could be integrated with the registration web site.

Who else in the community might we recruit if additional assistance is required? Several individuals were identified as potential web development recruits. We also need a graphic designer to spearhead visual design.

Formal process for registration system modifications. This agenda item was postponed.

2013 workshop evaluations. Claire needs these to be compiled. An online method that collates the results is not usable right now and not worth fixing. Claire will find someone in Seattle to do it by hand, in Excel.

Zimfest 2013 housing registration. Claire needs the numbers. Alex has them.

Structure and purpose of the blog. What do we want to use the blog for? Is there a risk of overloading it with too many goals? Should we use it for volunteer coordination, festival communication, or festival organizing committee activities? … The blog is mainly a way to communicate with the public. It won’t be used for (internal) communication amongst the organizing committee. We can move content around or add items to the main navigation, if needed.

Lisa McKerlick’s letter seeking volunteers. We discussed details of the letter. Gretel will send the letter to email lists, and Larry will post it to the ZA blog. (Claire also has a letter asking for organizing committee help, to be sent later.)

Next IT meeting. We will plan a time later (via email) for another meeting or two.

Minutes by Larry Israel