Your website can - and probably should - be a key part of your organisation's social web strategy.

How well does your website take advantage of social media?

Can you use your website, your permanent home on the web, to share aspects of your organisation's life, decisions and thinking?

Planning
Your new website has to serve your objectives as an organisation. We begin with the details of your situation and use this understanding to present you with a clear specification for a social media website.

You have control
We build your website in a way which allows you to retain control and allows you and your team to manage your content. We loathe the practice of locking clients into bespoke proprietary systems, as practised by some companies you may have encountered. Your long-term freedom is important to us!

Visual design
We manage the project to completion and handpick graphic designers and visual brand experts who can help communicate your organisation's values in milliseconds.

WordPress
WordPress is our favoured content management system and is the basis for the majority of websites we build, the main reasons for this choice being that it is capable, flexible and gives you freedom.

If you'd like to know more, please chat to us.

Ar Waith Ar Daith: inside NativeHQ’s digital artistry for WMC #Awen2015

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During August 2015 the iconic Wales Millennium Centre celebrated its tenth anniversary with help from Walk the Plank, NativeHQ and other contributors.

As a prelude to the public show in Cardiff Bay on 12th September we sent the Awen Bus on an epic tour of Wales to encounter musicians, poets, visual artists, actors and other talented performers.

Members of the public walking through the foyer of WMC in August were enchanted by these diverse performances – emerging from the smoke and broth of the Cauldron of Inspiration.

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Occasionally they would have a surprise conversation with a ghostly apparition of somebody elsewhere in Wales!

Over one hundred videos were also posted on the web. The videos embedded in this post are just a sample.

To enjoy further encounters with performers, artists and others, go to the Ar Waith Ar Daith website and navigate the map or search for the #Awen2015 tag.

We’re particularly chuffed at the website map, where you can browse the tour and see the artistic encounters at any location. For example the National Eisteddfod tour location includes performances by Gwyneth Glyn, Benjamin Zephaniah, Plu, Band Pres Llareggub, Guto Dafydd and many others. The bilingual website was created by our friends and collaborators Proper Design.

I’ll elaborate on the work in detail, for those who are curious.

Almost a year ago NativeHQ was commissioned as digital artist on the Ar Waith Ar Daith project.

When a lighting designer, say, is booked for a theatre show the conventions and expectations tend to be known – but not so in digital work.

Once Walk the Plank, the outdoor events company working on behalf of WMC, had contracted NativeHQ we admitted we didn’t really know the meaning of the job title ‘digital artist’. Maybe they assumed we were joking.

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From our experience of theatrical collaborations, we find that it does help to be open-ended about our involvement, while the possibilities and scale of ambition are still being worked out. There is currently no convention for the role of digital media in the creative aspect of such a project, unlike the lighting and other more traditional elements. We simply don’t know if and how digital media will be used creatively. Our remit here is way beyond sales and promotion of the show. Hence the initial period of work was to understand the story and aims of the project – and then scope possible platforms, content ideas, personnel, hardware, software, budgets and schedules.

From the start we knew that the finale celebration would be based on the medieval Welsh legend of Ceridwen, her cauldron and the ineffable poetic inspiration that is awen – referenced in Gwyneth Lewis’ poem on the face of WMC.

It became clear that digital media platforms and the idea of a bus tour offered opportunities for WMC to have a pan-Wales project, to work with diverse artists wherever they live, and meet the centre’s aspiration to showcase the best of Wales to the world.

We intended for our work to have lasting effects, to connect artists – to each other and to fans. Artists would want to accrue fans beyond the tour, with a view to future gigs and performances, selling artworks, releasing music, offering crowdfunding and the like.

Once the plan was written, refined and approved, the Awen Bus was fitted with a stage, window blinds, rudimentary furniture and storage, electricity supply, modest kitchen, and some much needed access security.

The bus team did a sterling job of sharing the performances through video, Periscope live streams and other social media posts. It became apparent that video editing should be kept to a minimum if we were to reach a maximum number of artists in the time available.

One essential requirement was to render a permanent onscreen credit to each artist in each video – along with a link to become a fan where possible, e.g. the artist’s Twitter account or website. That and the ongoing persistence of the video on YouTube would lead to maximum benefit for the artist.

Each artist had the option of releasing the resulting video under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence to encourage re-use and adaptations. Alternatively they could take a more traditional licensing option to offer the video for use by the Ar Waith Ar Daith project and reserve other rights.

Connectivity was a major challenge, especially in some rural areas, and despite valiant efforts with a BRCK WiFi hotspot and two mobile data plans we struggled to upload videos from all the tour locations. Instead we had to opt for occasional café access and shuttle trips to reliable home broadband.

ar-waith-ar-daith-engagement-globeExample of Ar Waith Ar Daith conversation analytics from Pulsar Platform

We obtained useful data analytics and tour conversation insights from a paid service with Pulsar Platform – although for a smaller projects the level of detail offered might be overkill.

Our aim was for the Cauldron of Inspiration to feel authentic and avoid any associations with computers. According to the writer Arthur C. Clarke, ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’, which conveys the kind of result we desired.

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At this point I can reveal that the Cauldron of Inspiration was powered by two computers. Inside the chassis was a Raspberry Pi computer connected to proximity sensors, motion sensors, and activation effects: fog, furnace lights and sounds. The other computer was a Mac Mini creating the apparitions of artists, achieved with a remotely-curated Dropbox playlist of fresh performance videos, a darkened panel and foggers.

This Mac Mini was also connected to a webcam for live conversation with the bus team. We deliberately limited the input devices on the cauldron to just the sensors, with no graphical interface or notifications. The live conversations would appear ad hoc without warning, between recent videos.

As a brand new design of a one-off piece of hardware we often had to intervene directly in the cauldron to fix problems and ensure maximum levels of awen. We could also access the two computers remotely, from our phones if necessary. Software tools and platforms included VDMX, Dropbox, WebRTC, Python, Node.js and other libraries.

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Penblwydd hapus WMC! I think we broke new ground, not just for ourselves as a team but in an artistic sense. We are enormously grateful to the following people for their ideas and valuable work.

Diolch o galon i:

  • All artists and performers who took part, each of whom is credited in their video.
  • Liz Pugh, John Wassell, Sarah Cole and the Walk the Plank team
  • Wales Millennium Centre
  • The hardworking Awen Bus team members: Greg Byatt, Louise Carey, Mair Ifans, Gwennan Mair Jones, Glyn Morgan, Mike Regan, Lowri Wynn
  • Henry Widdicombe for booking and curation
  • Proper Design for graphic design, cauldron envisagement, software development and for the website
  • Sarah Edmonds for illustration
  • Wild Creations for cauldron design and construction work
  • Kazimier for kitting out the bus
  • John Rea for music

Ar Waith Ar Daith: celfyddyd ddigidol NativeHQ ar gyfer Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru #Awen2015

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Yn ystod Awst 2015 dathlodd Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru ei ddegfed pen-blwydd gyda chymorth Walk the Plank, NativeHQ a chyfranwyr eraill.

Fel preliwd i’r sioe gyhoeddus ym Mae Caerdydd ar 12 Medi, anfonwyd y Bws Awen ar daith epig o Gymru i gwrdd â cherddorion, beirdd, artistiaid gweledol, actorion a pherfformwyr talentog eraill.

Roedd aelodau cyhoedd a oedd yn cerdded trwy gyntedd Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru ym mis Awst yn cael eu swyno gan berfformiadau amrywiol – yn deillio o’r mwg a hylif y Pair Awen.

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O bryd i’w gilydd byddai hi’n syndod iddynt gynnal sgwrs gyda rhith o rywun yn rhywle arall yng Nghymru!

Cafodd dros gant o fideos eu postio ar y we hefyd. Detholiad bach yw’r fideos yn y cofnod hwn.

Ewch i’r map ar wefan Ar Waith Ar Daith i fwynhau rhagor o fideos gyda pherfformwyr, artistiaid ac eraill, neu chwiliwch am yr hashnod #Awen2015.

Rydym yn bles iawn fod y map ar y wefan, lle gallwch bori’r daith a gwylio’r fideos mewn unrhyw leoliad. Er enghraifft, mae lleoliad taith Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn cynnwys perfformiadau gan Gwyneth Glyn, Benjamin Zephaniah, Plu, Band Pres Llareggub, Guto Dafydd a llawer eraill. Cafodd y wefan ddwyieithog ei chreu gan ein ffrindiau a chydweithwyr Proper Design.

Byddaf yn ymhelaethu ar y gwaith yn fanwl, i’r rhai sy’n chwilfrydig.

Bron i flwyddyn yn ôl cafodd NativeHQ ei gomisiynu fel artist digidol ar brosiect Ar Waith Ar Daith.

Pan mae dylunydd goleuo, dyweder, yn cael ei gomisiynu/chomisiynu ar gyfer sioe theatr mae’r arferion a disgwyliadau yn weddol amlwg fel arfer – ond nid felly mewn gwaith digidol.

Ar ôl i gwmni digwyddiadau awyr agored Walk the Plank ein comisiynu ar ran Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru, roeddem yn cyfaddef nad oeddem yn wir yn gwybod ystyr y teitl ‘artist digidol’. Efallai roedden nhw yn meddwl taw jôc oedd hi.

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O’n profiad o gydweithrediadau theatrig, rydym yn meddwl fod hi’n helpu i fod yn benagored am ein cyfranogiad, tra ein bod yn ansicr am y posibiliadau ac union naws y prosiect. Ar hyn o bryd nid oes templed ar gyfer rôl y cyfryngau digidol yn yr agwedd greadigol mewn prosiect o’r fath, yn wahanol i’r golau ac elfennau traddodiadol eraill. Yn syml, dydyn ni ddim yn gwybod os a sut fydd y cyfryngau digidol yn cael eu defnyddio yn greadigol. Rydym yn meddwl tu hwnt i werthiannau a chyhoeddusrwydd y sioe. Felly roedd y cyfnod cychwynnol o waith am ddeall y stori ac amcanion y prosiect – ac yna sgopio platfformau posibil, syniadau cynnwys, personél, caledwedd, meddalwedd, cyllidebau ac amserlenni.

O’r dechrau roeddem yn gwybod y byddai’r dathliad terfynol yn seiliedig ar stori Ceridwen, ei phair ac awen – y cyfeirir atynt yn y gerdd Gwyneth Lewis ar wyneb Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru.

Daeth yn amlwg bod platfformau cyfryngau digidol a’r syniad o daith bws yn cynnig cyfleoedd i’r Ganolfan gael prosiect Cymru gyfan, i weithio gydag artistiaid amrywiol ble bynnag maent yn byw, ac yn mynegi dyhead y ganolfan i arddangos y gorau o Gymru i’r byd.

Roeddem yn bwriadu cael effaith parhaol trwy’r gwaith, i gysylltu artistiaid – i’w gilydd ac i’w ffans. Byddai artistiaid eisiau casglu cefnogwyr ar ôl y daith, ystyried gigs a pherfformiadau yn y dyfodol, gwerthu gweithiau celf, rhyddhau cerddoriaeth, cynnig ariannu torfol ac yn y blaen.

Unwaith yr ysgrifennwyd a datblygwyd y cynllun, cafodd y Bws Awen ei gyfaddasu gyda llwyfan, bleindiau ffenestri, dodrefn a storfa syml, cyflenwad trydan, cegin gymedrol, a diogelwch.

Gwnaeth y tîm bws gwaith gwych o rannu’r perfformiadau drwy fideo, ffrydiau Periscope a chofnodion eraill ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol. Daeth yn amlwg y dylid lleihau ar waith golygu fideo pe baem yn cwrdd a gymaint o artistiaid sy’n bosibl yn yr amser.

Un o’r gofynion hanfodol oedd i roi priodoledd parhaol ar y sgrin i bob artist ym mhob fideo – ynghyd â dolen i ddod yn ffan lle bo hynny’n bosibl, e.e. cyfrif Twitter yr artist neu wefan. Byddai hynny a fideo parhaus ar YouTube yn arwain at y budd mwyaf i’r artist.

Roedd gan bob artist yr opsiwn o ryddhau’r fideo o dan drwydded Comin Creu Priodoledd-‘ShareAlike’ i annog ailddefnydd ac addasiadau. Fel arall, gallent wedi dewis opsiwn trwyddedu mwy traddodiadol i brosiect Ar Waith Ar Daith ddefnyddio’r fideo a chadw hawliau eraill.

Roedd cysylltedd yn her fawr, yn enwedig mewn rhai ardaloedd gwledig, ac er gwaethaf ymdrechion gyda dyfais di-wifr BRCK a dau gynllun data symudol roeddem yn straffaglu i lanlwytho fideos o’r holl leoliadau daith. Yn hytrach roedd rhaid i ni ddefnyddio caffis yn achlysurol a thethiau gwennol i fand eang dibynadwy gartref.

ar-waith-ar-daith-engagement-globeEnghraifft o ystadegau sgwrs Ar Waith Ar Daith oddi ar Pulsar Platform

Cawsom ystadegau defnyddiol a mewnwelediadau i sgyrsiau taith o wasanaeth Pulsar Platform am ffi – ond ar brosiectau llai gallai’r manylder a gynigir fod yn ormodol.

Ein nod oedd i greu Pair Awen go iawn ac osgoi unrhyw awgrym o gyfrifiaduron. Yn ôl yr awdur Arthur C. Clarke, ‘nid oes modd gwahaniaethu rhwng unrhyw dechnoleg sy’n digon datblygedig – a hud’, sy’n cyfleu y math o ganlyniad roeddem eisiau.

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Erbyn hyn gallaf ddatgelu bod dau gyfrifiadur o fewn y Pair Awen. Y tu mewn i’r ffrâm oedd gyfrifiadur Raspberry Pi yn gysylltiedig â synwyryddion agosrwydd, synwyryddion symudiad, ac effeithiau: niwl, goleuadau ffwrnais a seiniau. Mac Mini oedd y cyfrifiadur arall, yn creu’r delweddau o artistiaid, trwy rhestr chwarae Dropbox o fideos perfformiadol newydd, panel tywyll ac unedau niwl.

Roedd y Mac Mini hefyd yn gysylltiedig â gwe-gamera ar gyfer sgwrs fyw gyda’r tîm bws. Yn fwriadol roeddem yn cyfyngu’r dyfeisiau mewnbwn ar y pair i dim ond y synwyryddion, heb unrhyw rhyngwyneb graffigol na negeseuon ar y sgrin. Felly byddai’r sgyrsiau byw yn ymddangos yn sydyn heb rybudd, rhwng fideos diweddar.

Fel dyluniad newydd sbon o galedwedd yn aml roedd rhaid i ni ymyrryd yn uniongyrchol yn y pair i ddatrys problemau a sicrhau’r lefelau gorau o awen! Roedd modd i ni gael mynediad i’r ddau gyfrifiadur o bell, o’n ffonau os oedd angen. Roedd offer a phlatfformau meddalwedd yn cynnwys VDMX, Dropbox, WebRTC, Python, Node.js a llyfrgelloedd eraill.

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Penblwydd hapus i’r Ganolfan! Rwy’n credu ein bod wedi torri tir newydd, nid yn unig fel tîm ond yn yr ystyr artistig. Rydym yn ddiolchgar iawn i’r bobl ganlynol am eu syniadau a mewnbwn gwerthfawr.

Diolch o galon i:

  • Yr holl artistiaid a pherfformwyr a gymerodd ran – mae pob un ohonynt yn cael priodoledd yn ei fideo.
  • Liz Pugh, John Wassell, Sarah Cole a thîm Walk the Plank
  • Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru
  • Aelodau tîm gweithgar yr Awen Bws: Greg Byatt, Louise Carey, Mair Ifans, Gwennan Mair Jones, Glyn Morgan, Mike Regan, Lowri Wynn
  • Henry Widdicombe am fwcio a churadu
  • Proper Design am ddylunio graffeg, gwaith ar y pair, datblygu meddalwedd ac am y wefan
  • Sarah Edmonds am ddarlunio
  • Wild Creations am ddylunio ac adeiladu’r pair
  • Kazimier am gyfaddasu’r bws
  • John Rea am gerddoriaeth

WordPress i Bawb: selecting plugins and themes for Welsh translation

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Fersiwn Cymraeg o’r cofnod hwn

NativeHQ and Nico Translation are beginning a large project called WordPress i Bawb (WordPress for Everyone) in which we will release useful components of the WordPress content management system in the Welsh language over several months.

Although the main WordPress system has been available in Welsh for many years (thanks to Rhos Prys, Iwan Standley and others) there remain swathes of good plugins and themes which are not.

There are hundreds of such plugins and themes for WordPress, authored by professionals around the world. Our main question is, which ones are the most useful for website managers who wish to provide content and services in Welsh? Obviously we have a good idea of what we’d like to see from our experience of building and running websites and of training people in how to use them.

But now we are giving the opportunity for you to influence our decisions and suggest plugins and themes for the final list. We are asking publicly in order to learn, and help others learn, about useful WordPress functionality.

We are focusing on the following four types of website:

  1. local news blogs / papurau bro
  2. small ecommerce ventures
  3. personal blogs
  4. online communities and social networks

We’ll also consider the following criteria:

  • Purpose
  • Relevance to Welsh language users
  • Number of terms
  • Reliability
  • Popularity

Do you run, or are you looking to run, a Welsh-language or multilingual website in one of these categories? Which plugins and themes would you like to see translated into Welsh? Why? Please leave a comment below. If you really don’t want to comment, you can email carl@nativehq.com instead.

All work will be released under the GPL licence to support and encourage freedom of re-use. There is the potential that wordpress.com and other blogging services will use our translations too.

Please note that we cannot promise to accept your suggestions.

This work is supported by a grant from Welsh Government’s Welsh Language Technology and Digital Media Fund.

The above photo is of the WordCamp Cardiff 2009 t-shirt.

WordPress i Bawb: dethol ategion a themâu i’w cyfieithu

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English language version of this post

Mae NativeHQ a chwmni Nico yn dechrau ar brosiect mawr o’r enw WordPress i Bawb lle byddwn yn rhyddhau cydrannau defnyddiol ar gyfer system rheoli cynnwys WordPress yn Gymraeg dros gyfnod o sawl mis.

Er bod prif system WordPress ar gael yn Gymraeg ers blynyddoedd (diolch i Rhos Prys, Iwan Standley ac eraill) mae dal i fod llwythi o ategion a themâu da sydd ddim ar gael yn Gymraeg eto.

Mae cannoedd o ategion a themâu ar gyfer WordPress, a ddatblygwyd gan arbenigwyr o gwmpas y byd. Y prif gwestiwn yw, pa rai sydd fwyaf defnyddiol i reolwyr gwefannau sydd eisiau darparu cynnwys a gwasanaethau yn Gymraeg? Yn amlwg rydym yn gwybod eisoes pa rai rydym eisiau eu gweld o’n profiad ni o adeiladu a rhedeg gwefannau a hyfforddi pobl i’w defnyddio nhw.

Ond nawr rydym yn rhoi’r cyfle i chi ddylanwadu ar ein penderfyniadau ac awgrymu ategion a themâu ar gyfer y rhestr derfynol. Rydym yn gofyn yn gyhoeddus er mwyn dysgu, a hwyluso dysgu ymhlith eraill, am nodweddion WordPress defnyddiol.

Rydym yn canolbwyntio ar y pedwar math o wefan isod:

  1. blogiau newyddion lleol / papurau bro
  2. mentrau efasnach bach
  3. blogiau personol
  4. cymunedau ar-lein a rhwydweithiau cymdeithasol

Rydym yn ystyried y meini prawf isod:

  • Pwrpas
  • Perthnasedd i ddefnyddwyr Cymraeg
  • Nifer y termau
  • Dibynadwyedd
  • Poblogrwydd

Ydych chi’n rhedeg, neu’n bwriadu rhedeg, gwefan Gymraeg neu amlieithog o dan un o’r categorïau? Pa ategion a themâu yr hoffech chi eu gweld yn cael eu cyfieithu i’r Gymraeg? Pam? Gadewch sylw isod os gwelwch yn dda. Os nad ydych chi eisiau gadael sylw, gallech e-bostio carl@nativehq.com yn lle.

Byddwn ni’n rhyddhau popeth o dan drwydded GPL er mwyn cefnogi ac annog ailddefnyddio rhydd. Mae potensial y bydd wordpress.com a gwasanaethau blogio eraill yn defnyddio ein cyfieithiadau hefyd.

Nodir nad oes modd addo y byddwn ni’n derbyn eich awgrymiadau.

Cefnogir y gwaith trwy grant oddi wrth Gronfa Technoleg a Chyfryngau Digidol Cymraeg Llywodraeth Cymru.

Llun o’r crys-t WordCamp Caerdydd 2009

Theatre Café’s website: Text Library and multilingualism

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Company of Angels is a theatre company based in London, England which produces plays for and about young people. I received a phone call from them a few months ago asking if NativeHQ could build a custom website for Theatre Café, a pan-European festival where new texts and their translations are performed script-in-hand.

This website is now live at www.theatrecafe.eu.

There were several aims for this website. It had last for years to come and be extensible enough to serve events in Leeds, Berlin, Frankfurt and Amsterdam in 2014 and 2015 as well as subsequent events. An event is an opportunity for anybody to preview the work of new emerging playwrights and translators. Theatre practitioners use it to find collaborators and texts for future productions. Hence an events calendar was vital. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is a Texts Library for browsing the available scripts, navigable by title, country, languages in which the text is available, and number of cast members. On top of all this the interface had to be available in four languages: English, German, Dutch and Norwegian although the variety of languages represented by the texts is far greater.

Like many of our projects Theatre Café’s website was built in WordPress, which continues to be a reliable and flexible content management system capable of handling these unorthodox features. Importantly the client retains freedom to maintain the website in the future in any way they choose, without software licence fees. This could be regarded as the ‘If you love somebody set them free’ principle of free and open source software.

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If you’re wondering how the Texts Library was achieved, it makes heavy use of custom post types which is a very useful WordPress feature for when posts or pages are insufficient. On the dashboard there are now dedicated post types for texts and for authors. Texts can be viewed singly. Alternatively the text library, an author or language is then automatically rendered to the visitor according to a template using user search criteria and interface language choice. We are very pleased with the result and would like to credit Marc Heatley Design for partnering with NativeHQ on this unusual project.

Gwefan Theatre Café: Llyfrgell Destunau ac amlieithrwydd

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Company of Angels ydy cwmni theatr yn Llundain, Lloegr sydd yn cynhyrchu dramâu am ac i bobl ifanc. Derbyniais alwad ffôn oddi wrthynt ychydig fisoedd yn ôl yn gofyn os allai NativeHQ adeiladu gwefan ar gyfer Theatre Café, gŵyl ar draws Ewrop lle mae testunau newydd a’i cyfieithiadau yn cael eu perfformio sgript-mewn-llaw.

Mae’r wefan bellach yn fyw ar www.theatrecafe.eu.

Roedd sawl amcan ar gyfer y wefan. Roedd rhaid iddi hi barhau am flynyddoedd i ddod a bod yn ddigon estynadwy er mwyn gwasanaethu digwyddiadau yn Leeds, Berlin, Frankfurt ac Amsterdam yn 2014 a 2015 yn ogystal â digwyddiadau wedyn. Digwyddiad ydy cyfle i unrhyw un i ragweld gwaith dramodwyr a chyfieithwyr newydd. Mae ymarferwyr theatr yn ei ddefnyddio er mwyn canfod cyd-weithwyr a thestunau ar gyfer cynhyrchiadau yn y dyfodol. Felly roedd calendr o ddigwyddiadau yn hanfodol. Y nodwedd fwyaf trawiadol efallai yw’r Llyfrgell Destunau ar gyfer pori’r sgriptiau sydd ar gael, sy’n chwiliadwy ar sail teitl, gwlad, ieithoedd sydd ar gael a nifer o aelodau o’r cast. Yn ogystal roedd rhaid i ni gynnig y rhyngwyneb mewn pedair iaith: Saesneg, Almaeneg, Iseldireg a Norwyeg ond mae amrywiaeth ehangach o ieithoedd yn y testunau.

Fel llawer o ein prosiectau adeiladwyd gwefan Theatre Café yn WordPress sydd dal yn ddibynadwy a hygyrch fel system rheoli cynnwys sy’n ddigon galluog i ddarparu’r nodweddion arferol yma. Mae’n bwysig bod y client yn cadw’r rhyddid i gynnal a chadw’r wefan yn y dyfodol mewn unrhyw ffordd maent yn ei ddewis, heb ffioedd trwydded meddalwedd. Gall ddweud taw hynny yw’r egwyddor ‘Os ydych chi’n caru rhywun gadewch iddo fod yn rhydd’ yn y maes meddalwedd rydd a chod agored.

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Os ydych chi’n pendroni sut wnaethon ni adeiladu’r Llyfrgell Destunau, mae hi’n defnyddio mathau o gofnodion wedi’i addasu (byddai term gwell yn handi) – nodwedd WordPress defnyddio pan mae cofnodion neu dudalennau yn anaddas. Ar y bwrdd gwaith mae mathau penodol o gofnod ar gyfer testunau ac awduron. Gall weld unrhyw destun penodol. Fel arall mae’r Llyfrgell, awdur neu iaith yn cael ei rendro yn awtomatig i’r ymwelydd yn ôl templed ar sail meini prawf chwilio a dewis iaith ryngwyneb. Rydym yn hapus iawn gyda’r canlyniad ac eisiau cydnabod Marc Heatley Design am bartneru gyda NativeHQ ar y prosiect anarferol hwn.

Scratchr: towards an ‘open source’ for live performance

For a few months we have been designing, developing and growing an online platform and community called Scratchr in close collaboration with the team at Battersea Arts Centre, London.

Do watch the above video as it explains more about the scratch process the BAC team have been refining for several years, in which an artist has the valuable opportunity to try out work with an audience of participants who then help shape it. As a means of making art, the scratch process is more like a conversation than a one-way broadcast. If you know NativeHQ then you’ll have guessed that this mentality of conversation-not-broadcast and process-as-product twigged our interest straightaway! The brief which led to the nascent Scratchr software platform and community started out as a question: how do we take the offline scratch process into online? In other words how can we reimagine and support the outworking of the scratch process using digital technology?

It’s still very early in the life of Scratchr. Like the artistic process, it’s a co-creation with the community of people that is forming there. I like the idea of giving people a broad description ‘it’s a platform for artistic collaboration and idea development’ and letting them work it out in wonderful ways. We do need some guidelines on what features are intended for what purpose. But we don’t want to prescribe exactly how it’s used. One never prescribes to an artist.

Check out the Scratch Blog for a couple of recent highlights. See also: the Digital R&D Fund blog post about Scratchr.

A friend recently asked us if we could have done something similar with Facebook or a pre-existing platform. I would say ‘no’. It would have been very difficult to change people’s perceptions of such a general-purpose platform and also bend the software to our will. That’s why we took the decision to build using WordPress multi-site and BuddyPress. We are not tied as a company to this software other than the fact we like it and know it to be flexible. Still, it has taken a lot of coaxing to have it perform exactly as we want it and it would be rash to say that’s it’s all there even now (the beta test group is testament to this). The decision to take this more difficult route wasn’t about picking up more development work – if we could have picked a platform which allowed us to begin even more rapidly then we would have! But we felt that the requirements of Scratchr were unique. (Thanks go to Marc Heatley for invaluable work with us on this.)

WordPress and BuddyPress are released under the GPL which is a free software licence – in other words, the software gives us freedom to copy it, modify it and use it for any purpose, independently of the software developers. The principles and licence underlying the software itself are also happily in keeping with our aim of being unrestrictive to BAC as a client and to embrace the results of good collaboration around the globe. I mean, it would seem odd to pick proprietary restrictive software for a project that celebrates collaboration, freedom and openness.

If you’ll permit I’m going to offer some half-developed thoughts that have resulted from this project – and grown from previous work we’ve done with theatre and live performance.

Many people would agree that another valid term for free software is ‘open source’. Now, there is something in the way the artists are using Scratchr which could be described as ‘open source theatre’ or ‘open source art’. In other words, they are sharing the process, they are inviting collaboration, they are not as ‘closed’ as theatre and live performance can sometimes be. Maybe some of them wouldn’t mind if you borrowed their ideas and adapted them (but that’s a tentative observation rather than a piece of advice). But I’m still trying to resolve what it means to use the term ‘open source’ in this context.

As I’ve alluded above, the discussion as relates to software is very well advanced. For example there are four specific freedoms associated with the GPL and such licences have allowed for a galaxy of innovation from GNU/Linux to Firefox to Raspberry Pi to cloud computing. In the world of content such as text, video and images there is a parallel in Creative Commons and GFDL licences which enable reuse with conditions – leading to amazing projects like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap.

But software and content are very different from live performance and its various offspring. In the world of theatre and live performance the conventions and rules of play for ‘open source’ are still being worked out. Sure, you could share a script or a planning document under Creative Commons BY-SA and many artists have done. But that doesn’t feel to me as if the potential for widespread collaboration has been fully realised. I appreciate that the original principle behind free software was user freedom but I think that this also changes the culture in the field and in the industry; it changes the way people and companies create.

A hallmark of success could be new forms of work that have never been seen before. We see this happening in other fields. Journalists are grappling with what the internet can do to improve their work to make reporting and analysis more collaborative – and to better serve society (hopefully). Businesses, filmmakers, musicians and other content creators are experimenting with crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter which promise to give us a wider variety of products and innovations.

What then is open source theatre? What would be the Firefox or the Wikipedia of live performance? I’m not necessarily referring to the scale of Wikipedia but to the fact that it’s living proof of newer forms of collaboration. If we believe that such a thing as open source theatre is possible and opens up new opportunities for more people to participate, what would that look like?

Background to the NativeHQ website rejig

Tom and I have been busy rejigging the NativeHQ website of late. We’re still working on some aspects of the content but decided to follow the Cult of Done philosophy and just get it online.

I wanted to blog about how relatively painless this process has been from a system point of view. This is the kind of long-term freedom from pain we like to offer clients of our website development services too.

Since the beginning of NativeHQ around three years ago our website has run on the WordPress system and this is turning out to have been a wise decision. One huge advantage of WordPress is the freedom we get from its open source licence (the WordPress code is licensed under a licence known as GPL). In other words, we are independent of any other company and completely free to change bits of it. We are certainly not locked in to any suppliers, licence costs, ‘bespoke’ systems and so on.

In the case of our own website we kept the core system and the old posts. We mainly needed to work on the cosmetic level of the visual theme: we got rid of the old theme and developed a new theme in keeping with our visual identity.

There are some functional changes as well. For example we wanted each service page to begin with an introduction and have a live portfolio of related projects underneath. If you visit, say, Social media strategy or Multiplatform design, you’ll see what I mean. The list of links in each case is generated automatically from the blog maintained by Tom and me, based on categories.

Again these functional changes are modular – just a matter of patching in a new template or two, not a serious overhaul.

Something is seriously wrong if you have to spend loads of money to overhaul your entire website including the core CMS just to give it a fresh look and emphasis every three or so years. But some website suppliers can force you to do this by making you rely on their bespoke, proprietary systems. As a rough analogy, it wouldn’t make sense to put your body under general anaesthetic and have surgery every time you simply want to change your outfit or make-up.

Rydyn ni wrthi’n datblygu’r ochr Cymraeg o ein gwefan ni. Bydd y cynnwys yn wahanol i’r Saesneg i fanteisio ar y cyfle i siarad am y we Gymraeg a phethau sydd yn addas i ein cymuned sydd yn defnyddio Cymraeg. Gawn ni weld. Mae’r ddwy iaith gyda statws cyfartal ond mae modd gwneud pethau unigryw i’r Gymraeg hefyd er mwyn cryfhau’r gronfa o sgyrsiau sydd ar gael yn yr iaith hon. Mae’n broses dysgu hefyd. Mae mwy nag un ffordd i wneud pethau a dyma’r ffordd rydyn ni’n bwriadu dewis. Fyddan ni ddim eisiau cyfieithu yn uniongyrchol rhwng y ddwy iaith.

Os wyt ti’n chwilfrydig, rydyn ni’n defnyddio ategyn WordPress o’r enw WPML er mwyn rhedeg system ddwyieithog. Mae rhaid gosod tri neu mwy o gyfieithiadau: system graidd WordPress, y thema, y cynnwys ac ambell i ategyn. Dyw WPML ddim yn berffaith ond dw i wedi trio sawl ategyn ac mae’n well na’r gweddill sydd ar gael ar hyn o bryd – yn fy marn i.

Gyda llaw dw i’n casáu ymddiheuriadau am ddiffyg darpariaeth Cymraeg ar wefannau ond nawr dw i’n wneud yr un peth. Cymraeg yw fy ail iaith ac mae’r iaith ysgrifenedig yn her fach i fi felly diolch am fod yn amyneddgar.

The Safe Foundation website

NativeHQ present the Safe Foundation’s new website. Built on WordPress, the site gives the charity the capacity to operate online.

The Safe Foundation are a Cardiff-based charity that raises funds for small community projects overseas. They organise fundraising balls, parties and other events in the UK, getting contributions from their networks for communities they connect with directly.

Their new website provides them with a platform for operating online:

  • A latest news blog with RSS feed
  • Profiles of the projects they work with
  • An events calender for their fundraising events
  • A donation page where you can donate via PayPal, using Chipin
  • A Flickr group gallery for their photos
  • A cideo channel

The site is built in WordPress, giving the Foundation an awesome open source platform that is infinitely extendable.

You can also connect to the Safe Foundation team on Twitter:

For their first online fundraising effort, the Safe ladies are raising money to send a Flip Camcorder to the kids they work with in Sierra Leone. They only need $125 (about $90), so why not give them a big welcome to the web by Chipping into their fund?

UPDATE: It took then 1.5 hours to raise $125! So the Safe Foundation are going to raise another $450 for Flip cams for the kids they work with in India, Ghana and Uganda too!