The Spring Network is an open platform for community and voluntary groups, which provides a medium for new or existing sites to connect, to find each other, share information and services and is quickly extended as new ways of communicating are developed in the future.
It is designed as a microcosm of the Internet, taking advantage of its architecture as a decentralised platform with distributed services, but in a more local and relevant way by reflecting the regions of where the groups and information resides. A site connects to a regional network (e.g. spring://esusx.uk) and becomes an active member of that network, it can then be found on the network at its address (e.g. spring://example.esusx.uk) and it can use various Network Services to communicate in specific ways with other groups on the network, even securely for sensitive information.
As an example — a group can broadcast service information from their website on the bulletin service and this can be seen automatically and up-to-date on all relevant websites who are connected; the propagation of the information is handled with the communication protocols of the network. We can then point our website to spring://esusx.uk/bulletin and this will automatically show us all unfiltered bulletin information being broadcast in East Sussex on the bulletin service — a user on any site connected is able to access this same information. We can point it to spring://example.esusx.uk/bulletin and get the information broadcast from that particular group.
This is just the start of potential useful services and we wish the platform to evolve around the people using it, to be as useful as possible and adapt to their needs and requirements. It is not only limited to how we (as maintainers) develop the system through consultation — being an open platform, groups who have access to web-based development also have the option to independently develop their own ways of communicating on the network, and in the future even sharing those services with everyone else if they feel they would be useful.
The software powering the network is Libre Software. It is being built in various forms so you can easily join the network by running it off the back of your website; working with the most basic of web hosting packages, the barrier to connect is as low as possible, while still retaining the full spectrum of network services. The platform is also being designed to be integrated as seamlessly as possible with the organisation’s current setup through the provision of plugins for common website systems — currently we have one for WordPress and one for Drupal 7.x, with more in the works.
A WordPress site is an easy way to connect to the network using the SpringNet plugin. The guide will show you how to join.
A Drupal site is another easy way to connect to the network using the SpringNet plugin. The guide will show you how to join.
We’ve taken the demonstration offline. We can bring it up again quite quickly if you wish to see it — please contact us at the above address