The Digital Aims of The Ragged Project
The Ragged project uses available infrastructure and common technology to achieve its aims. The digital vision is a key part of this. The principle tenet of the Ragged project is to facilitate and build inclusive social capital.
Inclusive social capital is loosely situations where people choose to voluntarily associate with each other and where membership in that group serves as a free resource to those people. In short, Ragged aims to propagate community activities which are outward looking rather than exclusive and private clubs. Digital engagement and ownership is at the heart of Ragged Online and holds knowledge building through community support and development as its goal.
The Ragged project can afford to be dynamic by using the qualities of virtual space to be, like the web, in a decentralised way:
- Evolve a website which provides logistical support for Ragged events
- Curate a quality collection of open access learning and knowledge resources
- Act as a hub for the propagation of open community groups
- Utilise crowdfunding models to underpin community and creative enterprises
- To cement learning and incentivise skills development through tangible outcomes
- Create a self sustaining enterprise generating revenue through ecommerce
- Drive local economic regeneration by supporting independent businesses
1: Evolve a website which provides logistical support for Ragged events
The project aims to support a rhizomatic model to satellite out across the country and pivots around the axiom ‘use available infrastructure and common technology’. To keep costs low and logistics simple, rather than physical offices the overall project is managed and coordinated in virtual space. Here, centrally held documents can be openly accessed by anyone and downloaded to distribute the methodology. The events system and local pages will serve as the infrastructure to publicise Ragged community activities wherever they may happen.
2: Curate a quality collection of open access learning and knowledge resources
With the advances made possible by the development of the world wide web, connecting people to quality free online knowledge resources is something which facilitates learning (informal, lifelong, creative and academic) and is easily achieved. By highlighting lectures, pdf libraries, knowledge tools, online courses and peer led forums which are known for their quality and open access, the website can serve as a toolkit for autonomous self development.
3: Act as a hub for the propagation of open community groups
A key strategy is to realise cultural ‘dead stock’ in economic terms and take what is already there and build on it. Ragged seeks to identify cultural activities in the regions and actively promote them. With the events system all free and open community events being held by anyone can be publicised to benefit the life of a city. Simultaneously toolkits on how to promote events will be made available to other community based projects and articles invited from them to increase their digital footprint.
4: Utilise crowdfunding models to underpin community and creative enterprises
Crowdfunding describes collectivized efforts of individuals in networks who pool their money via the internet to support initiatives by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding platforms have now become established as ways of financing all sorts of project. The Ragged website will encourage autonomy through these innovations in funding by promoting them as a platform and helping local projects and creatives engage with them for finance. This will similarly be used to propagate Ragged groups. Indiegogo, one of the world’s largest and most successful crowdfunding sites, was developed to “fix the funding process by removing the middleman”. Now with the ability to embed the crowdfunding platforms and publicise work widely, social initiatives can florish.
5: To cement learning and incentivise skills development through tangible outcomes
As a virtual space the Ragged website can support the publishing of individuals, on the world wide web, in print and in ebook. This type of tangible outcome through production of artefact is an incentive to learning and can act to cement knowledge. The production of these artifacts (books, blogs, ebooks) leads into meaningful intellectual as well as economic activity. The website will be used to run competitions and campaigns which incentivise learning and production through fun theory.
6: Create a self sustaining enterprise generating revenue through ecommerce
The website will serve as a digital shopfront from which various products will eventually be sold. A significant proportion of sales have moved online globally through ecommerce. This is a cheap and effective way of selling good produced through the project such as books, stationary and T-shirts. Taking advantage of the new technologies which remove the bottleneck of old distribution networks, a revenue stream can be set up to make the Ragged project self sustaining.
7: Drive local economic regeneration by supporting independent businesses
There is a strong need to support independently owned businesses so that healthy local economies can pass on their benefits via positive externalities. Externalities are the costs or benefits to a party not involved in the primary activity such as beekeepers keeps bees for their honey but also pollination occurs of surrounding crops. Forging links with the business community and entrepreneurs the Ragged project will get people knowledge building, upskilling and generating linking social capital through sharing insights. The website will act support a reciprocal dynamic where businesses can gain from positive publicity as well as take advantage of the free market spaces set up in ‘Smiths Market’ (a proto commerce scheme). Enabling digital engagement amongst small and medium sized enterprises is a focus for the Ragged project.
Some of the aspirational thinking for Ragged Online raises intriguing questions. It is useful to generate as many potential questions as possible and use them as a starting point for going into the next stage of thinking. This problematising seems key to the forming of a solid digital base…