Hear Ye!: An introduction

02 Jan 2021 - Genevieve Clifford

I have recently undertaken some preliminary research of Ruby and Rails (in the form of Black and Leo’s The Well Grounded-Rubyist and Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial, respectively). The reason for this research, is to investigate web frameworks, and to find a suitable one on which to implement my MSc Project.

One of the core aims of my MSc Project (Rural Pervasive Displays) is to create a system for displaying what I would describe as “community updates” (i.e. what would traditionally be advertised by flyer - church fête, coffee morning, etc.) using inexpensive and readily available hardware in rural settings. This is akin to advertising displays (that display graphics on large screens) which are commonly found in large cities.

The difference is, however, stakeholders in the community have wholesale control over the system. They decide what content is allowed on the system, and they themselves create such content for the display system.

This work, in part, is similar to the previous work of my supervisor, Stuart Nicholson, in his “Showboater” project. In that project, the aims were much the same as this one, however, analysis of outcomes from the project suggest that content was uploaded to the system by only one person. Stuart suggested that this lead to “burnout” on the part of the content provider.

In “Hear ye!”, I aim to improve uptake in the community through the creation of a simple to use web interface for the system - design of which will be informed by user study with the communities where Showboater is currently deployed. In addition, Stuart and I are keen to make this current project fully open source - I am currently considering the GNU Leser GPL (v3.0) license for this project.

My intent for the project is that a potential stakeholder in a rural community should be able to deploy the “Hear ye!” software on a suitable web service (like Heroku), and will be able to distribute upkeep and maintenance amongst other stakeholders in the community. In essence, the software will continue to be developed by me, but actual implementations will be handled by representatives from a community, who should be able to follow a “how-to” guide to bring about the creation of an instance of the software. Full documentation will form the majority of the content for the dissertation.

I hope to have a minimum working example of the project available by mid-July, with the project being finished completely by August 2021.