Well Ann, engineering.com has a large site which over the years has become somewhat unwieldy. There are a large number of forums and it looks like it has become so large as to be problematic. This info is passed along since the Design News idea is a good idea but may suffer from similar woes as it grows.
One way of getting around any unwieldiness would be to create a collaborative App around some of the more enlightening contributions to the DESIGN iDEAS which could be accessed by the Design fraternity.
Imagine an App for "Problems & Solutions in Aircraft Manufacturing" or the "A-Z of Battery Manufacturing" gleaned from the collaborative effort of numerous engineers and designers.
Imagine an App around the fascinating "Sherlock Ohms" series.etc.
Imagine a cross polliation to EDN and other sister publications........
There are a number of ways to create specific Design Engineering Apps...particularly with respect to the devils that reside in the details. I'll use the "A-Z of Battery Manufacturing" as an example. Mallory's (now Duracell) startup in Ontario had lots of gung-ho very smart and savvy people who knew next to nothing about alkaline primary cells. The Plant Manager mandated that Product Engineering (us) come up with a fast track means by which EVERYONE could get to know what these little powerhouses were all about. This led to the "A-Z" series. It was a handwritten notebook to begin with using A to Z tabs on the pages with entries such as ANODES and a discourse on what just could go wrong with that particular electrode. The language was kept as simple as possible without losing the intent of the content which was by no means an easy task and to keep the purists happy aspects which required elaboration were highlighted and detailed in an appendix at the end of the notebook. It was eventually formalized as a quasi operational manual for the Canadian operation and the feedback was quite remarkable leading to an expansion of various aspects, which we creditted to the person who brought up the information. Later it was transferred to a PDA, then notebooks and netbooks and now is located in my Blackberry Playbook, fundamentally in its original form.
This page in Design News has somewhat an embryo of a similar methodology which may be applied to a decicated App.The search block at the top of the page does a good job in leading the reader to particular items which expand background knowledge. If I knew how to construct an App the first thing I'd do is create a "Design News Search Nomenclature" containing popular design terms, slang, buzzwords etc which would have the reader zero in on a specific universal word or phrase leading to a discourse on the subject. Bombardier with its bi-lingual complications spent quite some time creating nomenclature for the Anglo-Franch aspects of its aerospace divisions and it sure made a big difference when everybody spoke the same lingo!
I like the idea of subdivided categories so to speak. That way automotive concepts would be in one area while aeronautical might be in another category. This would make it easier for people to submit ideas in one area of expertise while allowing those with that area of expertise to focus on what they know.
Ann, An interesting discussion platform that's growing in popularity among larger websites is www.disqus.com. The goal is to use create participation using a variety of formats including breaking news, hot discussions, live events and even video content.
Ann, as many commenters have already suggested, it is much easier to evolve a community than it is to design a community. Creating something simple with the core abilities to post and share information would be a great launch point from which to develop best practices and things that work. Since an Online Design Ideas Forum does not require tons of bricks and mortar, it is very easy to start out simple, see how folks react to and utilize it, redesign, expand what works, and fix what does not. Sort of like the venerable method of laying new sod, encouraging the college students to create their own paths, and then laying sidewalks over the paths...
William, I think some people are getting very creative themselves and letting their imaginations run wild. Which is fine: it's fun to read. And I entirely agree with everything you said. Except that, as I mentioned before, neither DN nor I are suggesting creating an entire community.
I agree, those that read DN are already a community it doesn't need to be created. However, as I understand the request DN is looking to create a forum that will allow people to submit concepts/designs to a forum in an organized way that will allow others within this community to view and possibly make comments or suggestions.
At that point I would like to see a way that the original submitter be allowed to send messages to an individual who has made such a suggestion that was helpful in an offline matter. That would allow them to contain any intellectual properties between them. Perhaps both parties could profit and DN could be the forum in which a new creation came about.
Often ideas are the very core of a new or significantly changed product - eminently patentable and valuable. A means needs be created to enable to discuss such matters in private as already mentioned, but additionally a means needs to be created, stronger than NDAs, to protect the idea-person's rights.
Perhaps a way for those submitting their ideas to contact those with comments or suggestions in a private offline way through DN. I wouldn't want to post my email contact info on line per se. However if I commented on someone's design and they wanted to send me a note inquiring on further details I would not mind DN forwarding a message from the original author to me. This would allow the author and myself to continue our discussion offline through email or other means of communication.
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