December 9, 2013 / Libby Cole and Nina Bianchi

Visual Identities + AMP: An interview with Mike Medow

In October, The Work Department finished the new identity system for Allied Media Projects (AMP). Through the crucial research and ideation phases, we took a deep dive into what makes AMP unique and explored how to express these key values through a simple form. We think the process went very well and we love the end result. We asked Mike Medow, Director of Finance and Communications at AMP, a few questions about visual identities and his thoughts on the project.

November 18, 2013 / Nina Bianchi

Commotion Construction Kit launch

Since 2010, we've worked with OTI, in collaboration with the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, to build the Commotion Construction Kit (CCK). This project is a set of essential educational tools to show people how to plan, design, install and configure community wireless networks. Designed to be a living platform, the CCK is modular and open, utilizing a simple and accessible visual language. Through this approach, users are able to mix, remix and easily generate new materials that contribute to the kit. Our utilitarian approach to design also paves the way for multilingual translations. The CCK has been recently used to build community networks locally, nationally and internationally in Detroit and Brooklyn to India and Tunisia.

September 8, 2013 / Libby Cole and Michael Gregor

Helping Tour de Troit grow

Have you heard of Tour de Troit? Many locals know it as the annual massive bike ride that’s been taking place in Detroit for 12 years. The event is an incredible undertaking that has become very successful. It’s evolved into an organization that now produces multiple events focused on cycling and running while financially supporting non-motorized transportation projects.

July 1, 2013 / Michael Gregor

A new home for Excellent Schools Detroit

One of the most pressing topics in Detroit (and across the country) is the future of education. Many individuals, organizations, and governments are pitching their ideas to improve the experience that students and their families have in Detroit’s schools. One of those organizations is Excellent Schools Detroit — whose mission is to ensure an excellent education for every Detroit child. Much of the organization’s work is focused on teaching families about the education system and evaluating the effectiveness of Detroit’s schools.

March 5, 2013 / Nina Bianchi and Michael Gregor

What is your yellow holographic jumpsuit saying?

When you meet someone for the first time, there are a range of clues that inform you about the person’s daily life, personality, history, goals and dreams. You might ask yourself ‘Why is this person wearing a neon yellow holographic jumpsuit? Or a custom tailored suit? Why are they speaking loudly? What does it mean if they are wearing utility boots and holding a hammer?

February 21, 2013 / Benjamin Chodoroff

Scaling Up: An overview of large mesh networks

Wireless mesh networks are being used in a variety of ways around the world and each implementation offers an opportunity for us to learn. There are networks large and small that meet a variety of needs, from sharing Internet access to transmitting sensor data to serving as a neighborhood intranet. With the recent focus on resilient networking technology, a common question we get is, “How well do wireless mesh networks scale?” To answer this question, we’d like to offer an overview of community wireless mesh networks that have been particularly successful, with a focus on those that have scaled to large sizes.

January 24, 2013 / Doug Reith

Drupal Issue Queues: winter cleaning!

Here in the chilly midwest we have a tradition called "Spring Cleaning." Each spring, like bears emerging from hibernation, we emerge into the warm weather and spend a weekend restoring our homes to some state of cleanliness. However, it is currently January and we are enjoying (or enduring) the single digit temperatures (not including the wind-chill).

January 21, 2013 / James McMullen

Improving Commotion's source code documentation

Commotion is the result of an ongoing collaboration of many people, some working closely together, some working remotely and alone. Because it's an open-source project, everyone has an opportunity to contribute. This is fortunate because the software needs to function in lots of different environments and on many different devices. In this post, we share new standards for documenting Commotion's source code so that more people can effectively participate in developing the software.

December 20, 2012 / Michael Gregor

Telling the Commotion story

We recently launched two new pages that help explain how to interact with the project on a fundamental level. We’ve completed new infographics that describe how to Get Started and Get Involved with the project and the content is currently being developed by the Commotion team. Our intention was to offer simple text along with explanatory graphics that would demystify the process.

November 29, 2012 / Benjamin Chodoroff

Using XMPP for our internal chat network

As a company that supports free software and an open, decentralized Internet, we often find ourselves at odds with dominant Internet paradigms. While cloud services might have lower startup costs and less technological or usability barriers, we often compromise our ideals and our needs. For example, to fill a need for company-wide communication, we've had to augment our project management software with a combination of personal Google Talk accounts and text messaging to share our work status with each other. We wanted to figure out how to enhance our communication, and ended up with our own XMPP server.

October 29, 2012 / Michael Gregor

Building community with Detroit's good food entrepreneurs

People around the country are paying more attention to local food systems, entrepreneurship, and sustainability as our economy changes. This attention is well-deserved as organizers in our urban centers are exploring myriad ways to strengthen our connections to food and community. We recently began working with FoodLab Detroit, a part of this emerging movement, to help it plan for an online presence.

October 11, 2012 / Michael Gregor

A new home for Grito Productions

I get excited when I have the opportunity to work with creative people who have mastered their craft (and invested years doing so). So, I’ve really enjoyed completing our latest web project. We just launched the new online home of Grito Productions, which makes films that combine personal narratives with archival material to explore historical, political, and cultural themes. The company is the work of Pam Sporn, who has been telling stories through documentary film for over 25 years. She is based in New York City and grew up in Detroit.