MN Collaboration tools

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Maker Nexus uses a variety of tools to facilitate communication, collaboration, and dissemination of information inside and outside the organization. Some of these are self-hosted and administered by members (e.g. this wiki and our badge system), while others are provided to Maker Nexus as a hosted service (e.g. #Slack and #Google Workspace). Although tools, techniques, and technologies are always changing, the following list is what we currently rely on, and encourage members to use as well. If you are interested in testing out new software tools, you can create a group of like-minded people and pitch the idea on Slack.

Note that as of January 2022 we are working to consolidate many of our disparate systems into one. Craig Colvin is leading that effort; contact him to get involved.

Website

The Maker Nexus homepage is the public-facing entry portal to our organization. It has the most current information about the Maker Nexus organization. Website content is overseen and managed by the Executive Director. As of October 2021, Eric Hess is managing a project to update our current web site; contact him to get involved in the project.

Slack

Slack (corp site) is a popular, proprietary group chat platform used by many enterprises and organizations. Discussions are organized into "channels" based on topic and function like many other online chat systems such as Matrix, Discord, or IRC. Slack is the primary way to engage in low-latency, ephemeral communication with other members and staff and is great for things such as arranging for training, asking questions about machines, suggesting ideas, and sharing pictures of project progress or your pets.

Google Workspace

Google workspace provides a large collection of the tools that we use regularly, including email, documents, spreadsheets, calendars, manage documents, and time. Each Maker Nexus member is provided a Google Workspace account in the form of firstname.lastname@makernexus.org

Team Drives in Google Drive

  • MN Members: Where the vast majority of documents live. You must access this using your @makernexus.org Google account.
  • Steering Committee: A group of people who volunteer a significant amount of time to keep the makerspace running. The few docs here are about making id badges, policies under discussion but don't have agreement from the steering committee yet, draft versions of the monthly report to members, etc.
  • Donation Processing: Our donor's personal information is kept private. This team drive supports those few people in the organization who are working on donation programs.
  • Finance: A few people who work on accounting tasks have access to this.
  • Operations: A few documents pertaining to the operations staff at MN. Things like personnel scheduling, vacations, etc.
  • Board of Directors: Only available to official board members. Being an open organization, we try to keep very few documents here. However, some information must be tightly held. For example, personnel docs, contracts with strict NDAs, working documents that the board has not gotten to the point of sharing the proposal with others, etc. If you want to know what's here, ask a board member.
  • IT Backups: Only available to a few people. It holds backups of our systems and share drives.
  • Events: Unsure of the plan for this drive.

Wiki

This wiki is a repository of public information. Here we try to document more factual things, after they have been hammered out by a group. This wiki is public. Anyone can read what is here. Anyone can contribute. You can sign up for a wiki account in the upper right corner of this screen. This wiki contains information about Maker Nexus. It also serves as a knowledge base for the larger community of makers around the world - you can see that on the home page of the wiki.

Email

info@makernexus.org Someone monitors this email daily. If you need something or have some question, don't hesitate to send in an email. Please try to put something descriptive in the subject line.

Each member also receives an email that is your Google Workspace user to access our team drives. Your email is in the form of firstname.lastname@makernexus.org If you have trouble accessing your Google Workspace account, please email info@makernexus.org

EZ Facility

Our CRM. It keeps track of account information, personal training records, and is used to manage equipment and room reservations. Members can access it through the Self Service Portal.

Activity Hero

Activity Hero is used for class registration. To sign up for a class you need to create a user on the Activity Hero site.

Public Share

Documents in the Public Share are available for the world to view. They often have a link to them from a page in this wiki.

Anyone can view this share drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1OVtDCs4H-r3UAqqseN0YeRGuM22ZraeF?usp=sharing

An Example

As an example of how these all might work... Someone thinks we need a privacy statement (good idea!). On Slack the start a new #privacystmt channel and posts in the #general channel their interest and ask people to join them in the new channel. After some lively discussion the group realizes that this is going to take some group work and longer term focus. They chat in Slack and decide to create a new folder in our GDrive to capture their ideas. They gather some existing privacy statements from other places on the web. They create a new Google Doc and begin assembling a privacy statement. They involve the steering committee, since this policy will need executive approval. Eventually we have a privacy statement we can all support. It's added to this wiki to document it. That new wiki page is locked to prevent random editing. A link to the wiki page is added to the website. The folder on the GDrive is Archived.

All that could have been done in a day by one person without any of these tools. However, if the issue is contentious or very complex, the tools help the team converge on a solution.

Tools We Are Testing

Trello

We have a few people using Trello for To-Do list management. Ask and you can be added to the group.

Tools We Do Not Use To Manage the Makerspace

This is a list of tools we have considered and decided for some reason to not use. We don't mean to say that these are not excellent tools in their own right. We don't mean to discourage you from using these in your own projects or teams. But not everyone in our domain is technical enough to handle a dozen tools that do essentially the same thing but in slightly different ways. For these reasons we are cautious before introducing a new tool to our entire staff and membership.

We specifically avoid the use of desktop files that are emailed to each other. If you've ever done this before, and who hasn't, you know how easy it is for those to get out of sync and suddenly no one knows who has the latest version - and sometimes the document forks and you have a mess on your hands.

BaseCamp

We tried BaseCamp but found that it did not add a lot of value. It had poor integration with G-Drive. It hid too much information from users.

Asana

It is only free for 10 users. We need tools that can be used by the entire organization for free - or very, very, very low cost.

One Drive

We want to limit our toolset and One Drive duplicates GDrive.

Drop Box

We want to limit our toolset and Drop Box duplicates GDrive.

Microsoft Office

We have GSuite from Google for free to all members. We want all our documents in native GDoc formats for easy collaboration. If you originate a document in a Microsoft format, please import it to a native GDoc format when you add it to our GDrive.