Shrewd Mammal

Elgg, OpenMicroBlogger, Jisko and ministry applications

Posted on: September 26, 2008

The Social Network thing it seems has been done to death, you have social networks for teenagers (bebo), flirty-thirties (facebook) and wishing-I-was-still-30’s (myspace).

I know that there are a myriad of others and there are loads of what I call hyper-networks like Ning (Commercial – ad free or ads everywhere with the free version!) and Barnraiser (A high quality Open Source alternative).

The Open Source movement is a player in these areas with products like People Aggregator (A lot in there, maybe too much?), Laconica (Not the easiest of things to install if you are on a tight time budget but some bloggers has made a brave effort to help), Dolphin (Interesting…), PHPizabi etc but I wanted to chat about three products that I am developing on for specific niche ministry needs.

If you have not heard of Elgg, you will soon. Elgg has been a player in the Social/Education arena for some time but the chaps over at Curverider have just released (well ok a month ago) a new version of Elgg (named after a small Swiss town!) which has been completely re-written from the ground up. It has a unique approach to modularised development and user-data streaming that should enable the developer (with sufficient time) to delve into and modify, adapt and develop a solution to most needs.

I am planning to use Elgg for my ministry site as a niche SN for a specific crowd, but one of the powers of Elgg is it’s interoperability with a hyper-network. For our purposes we are using it as a fenced community within which we have sub-cultures defined by groups. Elgg has most things you would expect to find and, it has a vibrant and VERY helpful user and developer community.

Although currently lacking in the documentation front (perhaps it could benefit from a few more how-to’s based on hacking the core system, maybe a few examples of hacking it about) it is going to go a long way and I give kudos to Curverider for creating something that will be big, helpful and quite possibly could change the landscape of Social Networks for the next few years.

Another project I am involved in makes use of an element of micro-blogging and I am currently working on version two of the site. I am playing with two engines to determine which one will work best for me and which can be extended significantly beyond the core – these are OpenMicroBlogger and Jisko. (Yes, I DID consider using Elgg to power the other project but it is too big for what I need)

Both OMB and Jisko are PHP/MySQL based and both are looking good so it is gonna be a tough decision. OMB is a new-ish player that is currently (ATTOGTP) about to release version 0.2 which I am looking forward too A LOT. Although the twitter/pownce/jaiku market is well crowded, there is always room for niche/innovative uses of a delivery mechanism such as micro-blogging. OMB has a lot of potential and I am kind of leaning towards it at the moment but have put it to one side to play with Jisko, to check out the possibilities.

Jisko is very similar to OMB and again is well implemented IMHO. If you are English and you want to use this tool you will need either this or this but seriously it is well worth a look at.

Both OMB and Jisko are well written and well implemented, Jisko has Jabber/Bot capability as well as twitter integration which is a plus.

I will keep you updated on the Elgg development and will let you know when I go live, I am waiting for the next version to come out to see what fixes and/or enhancements have been made but I am looking at late November for the new site at

As far as OMB/Jisko goes, again I aim to make a decision in the next two weeks – I am going to wait until version 0.2 of OMB is out before I decide. For the record these applications are being tested on a Fedora Core 8, PHP 5 and MySQL 5.



3 Responses to "Elgg, OpenMicroBlogger, Jisko and ministry applications"

Barnraisers AROUNDMe is a free software project. The author of this article writes it so that Barnraiser is in the same category as Ning. Ning is a commercial service and Barnraiser is a free software development project, in other words they are very different!

rocking. elgg is very cool and i have personally engaged with it and tested the waters. i would definitely be interested in learning more about your venture… and keep up the good work!

@Tom – a fair comment and I have amended the post to include a note about Barnraiser being Open Source. 🙂 You are correct and I should have pointed it out. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

@human3rror – I will keep you posted via Gospelr 😉

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