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The sorry eduspaces saga rolls on

February 8th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The eduspaces closure (or not) saga rolls on. To bring new readers up to speed, just before Christmas Curverider,  the comany behind the popular elgg open source software, announced the closure of eduspaces, which describes itself as the “the world’s largest social networking site dedicated to education and educational technology.”

After several days rather fraught debate in the edublogosphere, Curverider rescinded the closure notice, saying that TakingITGlobal, a Canadian not for profit trust, would take over the service. Sighs of relief all round, albeit with some concerns over the lack of transparency regarding the transfer. And for a time all looked good with TakingITGlobal indicating their desire to establish an advisory board to help them run eduspaces. But, come January, things went quiet again. Then this week a new announcement appeared on the front page of the eduspaces site.
“As announced earlier TakingIT Global will continue hosting the eduspaces.net community. Please login to get redirected to a page where you can indicate if you would like to have your eduspaces.net account transferred to a new home on educatorcentral.org. This option will remain available until February 27th 2008.”

This has raised new doubts. As Josie Fraser says on the site forum:

“…it’s currently not possible to be logged on to the site and not select an option before carrying out any other activity – including referring back to this post to ask for further information. I’ve asked to be migrated across but I would have liked to be able to have given informed consent and understood what this means a little better. The transfer notice refers to another URL – does this mean that all existing links on site will be broken (again)? What happens to links between friends on this site who don’t opt in to joining the, in effect, new community? Was it not possible to come to an arrangement regarding the Eduspaces URL?”

Besides the issue of the domain name change, there now is some doubt over the future platform. Most of us had assumed the eduspaces would continue to be hosted on the elgg Open Source platform. But TakingITGlobal has previously used a proprietary platform for its networking activities. The lack of any communication must lead to speculation that they will in fact not use elgg but will transfer accounts to their own platform. And the educatorcentral domain name referred to in the transfer notice is not yet active. In effect edusapces is being shut down with TakingITGlobal offering a new service for those who previously were part of eduspaces.

So the sorry saga rolls on. As Terry says: “the community is the people, not the technology”. But it seems increasingly clear that eduspaces will no longer be a key part of that community.

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10 Responses to “The sorry eduspaces saga rolls on”

  1. A. T. Wyatt says:

    I have to say that I think my “communities” have been wounded unto death! I am currently piping my feed into eduspaces from edublogs. The first time we experienced the dislocation, it was a scramble (because we thought it was permanent, and there was little time to find a new home). Since then we have had a relatively long holding period– no visible action and no information. Recently, there seems to be a bit of action, but the communication aspect is still quite limited.

    For myself, eduspaces.net was a powerful example of ELGG. I would never have asked my institution to install ELGG had I not been able to “kick the tires” of a working instance of ELGG. I am sorry to see the demise of eduspaces in its original incarnation, but I suppose it should be no surprise. People have to pay the bills, and we/I have come to expect a lot from “free” services. Sometimes these services are not really “free” (i.e., Facebook/Beacon). Some are more “free”, (Moodle does pretty well with this). But any way you look at it, there has to be some kind of revenue production in order to sustain the product. I accept that, and as a user I either agree to it, or go elsewhere, or install my own, or purchase hosting.

    My main complaint with the eduspaces situation is the lack of communication with users. It takes a lot of effort (read: resources) to manage relationships well. Especially on-line relationships. I wish we had been favored with a little more effort with respect to dialog! : )

  2. Nigel Robertson says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your final comment, Graham, concerning the lack of communication surrounding the movement or demise of Eduspaces. Whatever the difficulties that the Curverider team may have had in maintaining the site, some simple emails out to users would make the world of difference. Communication is key to so much goodwill.

    Elgg.net (which became Eduspaces) really felt like a community when it started. I’ve made friends and even found work through it. I somehow feel that it will never be the same and that much of the community spirit will be diluted and disbursed.

  3. Emma says:

    Typical, I wrote a great long answer, and then the PC lost the connection when I tried to post it.

    I’ll try again.

    I agree with A.T. Wayatt, in that Eduspaces was an excellent example of an Elgg install, indeed, I had to get quite a lot of people to realise that there was Elgg beyond Eduspaces!

    I’ve just read an email from TakingItGlobal, confirming that they’re going to be using Elgg, which is a good thing I think. As Nigel says, the community in Eduspaces was good; I liked the fact that the majority of the users were educational technologists (using technology for education’s sake, not technology’s sake); that, added to the ability to have great granularity of post visibility (not that I ever used it, but it was nice to know that I could have), and the fact I could import external blog posts, all added up to a great system for me.

    I’m hoping that once it’s moved to TakingItGlobal (after all, we’ve already had one change of name), that the community continues and grows, and this is seen as a minor glitch.

  4. Graham Attwell says:

    Very glad to here that they will be using Elgg – haven’t got an email myself from TIG though.

  5. Terry says:

    I think this is, on the whole, very good news. It will be interesting to see in what ways the TIG elgg installation is developed and if any of it will be a contribution to the OS project. In fact, with the announcement of Elgg 1.0 and it rationale, the whole developmental trajectory of Elgg is may splinter into many individual hybrids of OS and customised elements. I hope that Elgg Classic does continue and becomes a robust system as many non-techies may need something simpler to install and run (I’m thinking of myself of course).

  6. Emma says:

    I got mine this morning; hope yours arrives!

  7. Graham Attwell says:

    Its an interesting one to call Terry. Am very pleased that TIG have stuck with Elgg. On one hand may see a splintering but on the other hand we may now begin to see a lot of opportunities for creativity in developing different forms of social networks. Yes, I think maintenance of Elgg classic is important – although of course we may get new OS applications based on the Elgg 1.0 code which can be installed out of the box.

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  1. […] was a worrying time. Several people were concerned that TIG may want to have used their own Social Networking Software, rather than Elgg, others about the differences in privacy / copyright policies between Eduspaces & […]

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