Promoting Open Source, Open Innovation and Innovators in AEC - and Connecting Open Communities

edited November 17 in General

Hello Everyone,
I am new to this community. Thanks @Moult for referring me to this network. Since this is a community focused on open innovation, I would like to start by asking for your advice on the best open web systems that we can use for two of our communities.
AEC Hackathons - We have organized 46 AEC Hackathons since 2013 in 30 cities in 10 countries. Our AEC Hackathons are volunteer-organized, technology neutral, non-profit and very low costs (we use ticket and sponsorship revenues to cover venue, food and small prize costs). Here are over 200 videos from our past AEC Hackathons.
We have used Slack, Zoom and Teams for our events but want to add a persistent online community. I saw links to our AEC Hackathon at Bloxub in this forum as well as links to our AEC Hackathon at BLOXHUB (the world's largest co-working space focused on sustainability and innovation in the build environment) in Copenhagen on October 29th-31st - all presentations from that event are in this Youtube video. Another example, check out this open source hack "Learn Carbon"

I also want to move my Mass Timber Linkedin group with 2,900 members to an open online community. I organized an open Online Mass Timber event back in March with 37 speakers and shared all 33 video presentations from that event on Youtube. I am working with multiple wood and mass timber organizations in Europe and the US to help connect the industry - here is a post on linkedin with more info on that effort.

We are planning more AEC Hackathon and Mass Timber events in Europe, the US and Asia and want to help connect and grow our communities using open web systems. All advice appreciated. My expertise is mass timber digital fabrication and our small business in Oregon is extremely busy and we are building a new factory but I want to also help grow and connect the AEC innovation networks.

Here is my bio on Linkedin. I share a lot of content on linkedin and have for many years but I want this content to be public and searchable and not locked behind linked or any other walled garden.



  • I explore AEC focused Discord servers likethe Hypar community at
    And communities like Speckle
    And find people i know and great content but I am still exploring how to build a community that makes it easy for members to share projects, portfolios, rich media links and participate in public and private discussions = creator community meets real-time chat and forums

  • Fantastic that you're here @ideabuilder - I've been meaning to track down some people who were behind the AEC hackathon events. This is just a quick note from work because I'm excited to see your message ... more later.

  • Great to hear from you @duncan I was hoping to get some replies since our open communities seem to overlap in many ways. Because of Covid we had to slow down organizing our AEC Hackathons to only a few per year but we plan on picking up the pace again once the pandemic subsides. In the interim we want to build up our online activies and grow our network and connect it with other complementary AEC innovation communities like OSarch. We like to help connect networks to other networks and do so openly.
    I also just linked up wit the IFC.js community
    after noticing one of our AEC Hackathon teams in Copenhagen created a hack using IFC.js - team info here
    Too much open goodness going on to keep up.
    And yes it is time for a Discord channel for our AEC Hackathons and Mass Timber Networks. Plus more "community building and network connecting"


  • @ideabuilder one challenge is how to avoid fragmenting our communities. I'm no expert in forums/discussion systems but we have several times discussed creating separate forum for separate things and the argument for not doing that has so far always won. That argument is that the best way to stay in touch with with other people and projects are doing is to have the whole variety of topics in one forum and manage it with tags. For example here is all threads tagged with 'outreach' (I've just added that tag to this discussion)
    I would strongly suggest we find a way to keep this cross pollination alive. I will freely admit I don't know how. Jus off the top of my head, and assuming we're not willing to use the same forum, even just links at the top of the forum like "AECHackaton community: 5 new posts today" would be a great way to start.
    Can we brainstorm about this? Would also be a great hack for someone to work on - but it does run a bit counter to the incentives of the discussion software.
    @tetov any ideas for how we could achieve something like this?

  • I think we'll have more and more related, "local" events, communities in the future (like too). I remember the old prehistoric times when we made our websites part of "webrings", which was a kind of banner that would allow users to jump to the other sites of the same ring. Not sure why such an awesome idea got abandoned :) I'm dreaming of a kind of box with the 5 latest posts, that could be placed on other forums...
    Googling now for "federating vanilla forums" but not much to see :D

  • Webrings is exactly what's been inspiring my ideas!
    There are nice RSS feeds coming off the forum

  • Hi @duncan @tetov @yorik

    I remember web rings and really liked thst model. We are exploring Discord commumities like #Hypar and discourse communities like Speckle and and McNeel so we make rhe best decision on how to help build and connect our AEC hackathon and Mass Timber communities.

    We know there is no perfect "platform" for open communities that are great for "creator" communities like architecture with rich member profiles linked to company websites and individual bios (linkedin style) but also with real-time chat, videos and discussion forums/groups. But, platforms are evolving quickly for these creator communities and we want to choose the most open ones that are free to use for participants and open so we can integrate more functionlity over time as we grow and connect the communities.

  • We want to help build and connect open communities in AEC and not try to trap or xapture anyone, but simply to help connect - which is the most enjoyable and the biggest opportunity to support innovation and find business opportunities.

  • And we don' t want to become "professional" event or community organizers - see our AEC hackathons as an example of non-profit, volunteer-organized, technology and software and material neutral/agnostic events and community
    We want to continue to help grow and connect these communities with other open communities using the same or similar open platforms, ideally with a single sign on so users can easily join groups, forums, discussions, etc.and bring their bio/profile/poftfolio with them.

  • I will just warn that @Moult and I think also @tetov have said discourse is hard to configure and integrate. I might be worth chatting with him about that before you make a decision.
    I've also come round to the idea that projects like the Speckle Connect ( hi @teocomi ) conference and LibrePlanet might be the most appropriate way to get out to a wider audience. But we also need to get into "BIM Manager" conferences and academic conference like EEEC to really push inside the corporate and academic world. I'm just not sure how to do this other than asking our friends to talk about us and other communities and have a slide of names and logos. Thoughts?

  • edited December 1

    We are very supportive of open communities and open source but are in no way against proprietary software. We always work to keep our hackathons neutral or agnostic which really helps attract participants and keeps our events from becoming marketing events.

    We do encourage are hackers to make their hacks open source if they don't intend to continue working on them so the innovation has the potential to continue evolving. A very small percentage of our hackers want to leave their AEC day job and found a startup - or begin selling software, although we have had about 6 startups begin at our hackathons - which we celebrate.

    Regarding community platforms,
    I'm leaning toward discourse or circle. More research on communities here
    More discussion on communities here
    Choosing the right platforms is such a big decision for the communities we are helping build and because we want our open communities to be one click away (ideally) from other AEC and tech communities.

  • Choosing the right platforms is such a big decision for the communities we are helping build and because we want our open communities to be one click away (ideally) from other AEC and tech communities.

    That's where I've heard integration with discourse can be a problem. I'm working to find someone who can look into options for our forum.
    I look forward to reading the links :-)

  • edited December 2

    I also know the team behind this community and they may be able to advise
    They have a very large and active community and there is significant alignment in our missions.
    I bet there are many AEC innovation communities and networks that would see our efforts as complementary. @agviegas @dimitrie @teocomi @duncan

  • edited December 2

    Looking at emerging community tech like Bluesky
    More info here

    Part of our journey. As a lifelong builder, I learned decades ago that it is always smart to use the best tool for the job. And i want to focus on helping build and connect the open aec innovation community, not build the best tool/platform to do so (I'm not qualified to do so).
    Open and decentralized community building, but how?

  • Choosing the right platforms is such a big decision for the communities we are helping build and because we want our open communities to be one click away (ideally) from other AEC and tech communities.

    That's where I've heard integration with discourse can be a problem. I'm working to find someone who can look into options for our forum.
    I look forward to reading the links :-)
    Here's a related discussion about a portuege forum @yorik is working on:

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