[OH-Publicity] Improving open source comes to campus websites
asheesh at asheesh.org
Wed Feb 6 02:22:19 UTC 2013
Hi Publicity peeps,
Michael Stone and I were chatting a few weeks ago about making websites
really encourage action -- in the case of e.g. harvard.openhatch.org, they
should encourage signups.
I wanted to invite Michael to, if he has time, try his hand at a redesign
of the harvard.openhatch.org site that is more sales-y. It'd be a huge
help; we can work from those design changes as we advertise future events.
The page he was really impressing me with was:
http://nathanbarry.com/webapps/ (which is a single-page advertisement for
a book about how to make engaging web apps) -- in particular, the page
really grabs the attention and retains until you ask yourself, "How do I
For Michael, if you want to give it a go:
https://github.com/shaunagm/oh-events-harvard is the source to the site.
Note that it uses an awful homebrew framework I hacked together 2.5 years
ago; you'll be able to figure it out if you start by reading the Makefile.
You'll probabl need to do this to make it run:
sudo apt-get install php5-cli
If you want to port it to some other framework that permits generating
static HTML files, I'd be a huge fan, but I don't consider that essential.
Also, if you want to just run 'make' and hack the outputted HTML rather
than deal with the framework, that's fine too.
The action we want to encourage people to take is attending the event.
A sample bit of email-able text that gives you a sense of what we're
trying to say:
On Saturday, February 16th, OpenHatch and Harvard Women in CS group are
inviting you to a day-long open source software immersion event.
In the morning, open source contributors from various projects will teach
you about open source licensing, collaboration tools, and how free
software projects are organized. In the afternoon, they'll help you make
contributions to open source projects. And throughout the day, they'll
feed you, get to know you, and talk with you about opportunities for
students in open source.
Open source software -- software that is shared freely and available to
build upon -- is a great way to apply your programming skills to
real-world projects and social causes. This event specially welcomes
newcomers to that style of development, and the day begins with teaching
workshops that anyone can follow.
Open source participation is one way to gain real-world skills and make
connections that will last you through your career. Volunteer staff will
include professionals and academics who use open source daily, from
entities like Red Hat and Harvard Biology.
The event is open to all Harvard students. Learn more, and sign up, here:
As context, I'll summarize the bits from
I think we should add to our announcements:
* We should emphasize that open source software is used by lots of social
causes, and in general is a great way to take learning programming and
apply it in ways that matter. (I adjusted the above text with that in
* We should emphasize that the event is not just for experienced people,
but a good way to get started on a journey into open source. (I adjusted
the above text with that in mind.)
* The event (and open source) are the entry point to relationships with
professionals that lead to mentorship and career advancement.
We should also, as I think about it, be tracking click-through rates, and
get a sense of where people stop reading. Google Analytics and Piwik, I
believe, should be able to help with that.
So, Michael -- penny for your thoughts!
(And Shauna, or anyone else: if you want to give it a shot too/instead,
feel free to! Just say so here so people know.)
More information about the Publicity