The Definition: The wrapper role can be taken on by a project participant who summarizes everything going on in the project, making the project comprehensible to participants who haven’t been following all of the details.
The Problem: Joining the project that is already going can feel like trying to get aboard a rapidly moving vehicle. If you’ve joined and then taken time off, you may feel like things have moved on so far that it’s impossible to catch up. In a very active project, it can be effectively impossible to stay up to date with all of the details.
The Solution: Charlie Danoff suggested that someone take on the “wrapper role” – do a weekly pre/post wrap, so that new (and existing) users would know the status the project is at any given point in time. The project’s landing page also serves as another sort of “wrapper”, telling people what they can expect to find.
Objectives: In fulfilling the wrapper role, we must check the public summaries of the project from time to time to make sure that they accurately represent the facts on the ground.
Examples: In the first year of the Peeragogy project, the “Weekly Roundup” by Christopher Tillman Neal served to engage and re-engage members. Peeragogues began to eager watched for the weekly reports to see if our teams or our names had been mentioned. When there was a holiday or break, Chris would announce the hiatus, to keep the flow going. In the second year of the project, we didn’t routinely publish summaries of progress, and instead, we’ve assumed that interested parties will stay tuned on Google+. Nevertheless, we maintain internal and external summaries, ranging from agendas to press releases to quick-start guides. Regular meetings provide an alternative way to stay up to date: see the Heartbeat pattern.
Challenges: According to the theory proposed by Yochai Benkler, for free/open “commons-based” projects to work, it is vital to have both (1) the ability to contribute small pieces; (2) something that stitches those pieces together . The wrapper performs this integrative function, which is often much more challenging than the job of breaking things down into pieces or just doing one of the small pieces.
What’s Next: We’re maintaining a Landing Page for the Peeragogy Accelerator, but people have said that they find the “backstage” information about the Accelerator confusing. We need practices of wrapping things up at various levels.
- Benkler, Y. (2002). Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm, Yale Law Journal 112, pp. 369-446.
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