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Introduction. History of NCF and the Board NCF’s Offerings: 1) Access; 2) Community How members make use of NCF today Donations and the renewal process Roles with a Governance Board. NCF Mantra.

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    1. Introduction • History of NCF and the Board • NCF’s Offerings: 1) Access; 2) Community • How members make use of NCF today • Donations and the renewal process • Roles with a Governance Board

    2. NCF Mantra NCF is a large group of people joining together to share costs, doing something good for themselves and their community NCF facilitates Vibrant Community Interactions NCF: People helping people NCF: Ottawa’s online Public Commons NCF helps make the National Capital region a better place to live

    3. History of NCF NCF surfs the wave of internet success (but falls off in 1995 and then treads water)

    4. Started in 1991, Underway in Late 1992 • The National Capital Freenet project was started in November 1991 when George Frajkor and Jay Weston of the Carleton University School of Journalism approached Dave Sutherland, Director of Carleton's Computing and Communications Services with information about the Cleveland FreeNet. • The founding National Capital Freenet Organizing Committee was comprised of: Dave Sutherland, June Hacker, Tambrae Knapp, George Frajkor, Jay Weston, Warren Thorngate, Ross Mutton, Robin Allardyce of Carleton University and Richard Mount of Mount, Yemensky, Daigle, Barristers and Solicitors.

    5. Based on FreeNet software by “FreePort” Details are fuzzy, but apparently: • FreeNet menu system software was developed by University of Toronto co-op students for Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio • “FreePort” was incorporated in the US as a company to hold the property rights to the FreeNet software and to control the product and name • NCF purchased the FreeNet menu system software for US$600 and installed it on UNIX machines • NCF organized itself to use (not develop) FreeNet community network software • Warren Thorngate (Carleton psych prof) ran weekly classes to teach people how to be “information providers” (menu builders) • Staffing plans included project administrator, a systems administrator and five part-time personnel: two subscription and operation assistants, a writer/trainer, a researcher and an accountant

    6. Remember back in 1993? • DOS, Windows 3.1, and 486 processors • Windows 95 was two years away • Email limited to academics and hi-tech workers • 2400 baud modems were common, and 9600 modems were ‘high speed’ • No “ISPs” back then; “internet, what’s that?”

    7. Catching the Wave (1993) 15000 * 14000 * 13000 * 12000 * 11000 * 10000 * 9000 * 8000 * 7000 * 6000 * 5000 * 4000 * 3000 * 2000 * 1000 * _________________________________________________________ jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec jan feb (1993) (1994) Accounts

    8. Catching the Wave (cont’d) • 2400/9600 (“high speed”) modems • FreeNet was a miniature, self-contained version of the modern-day internet • Content organized into categories by the ‘Main Menu’ (now Yahoo does that for the modern internet) • Organizational content in FreePort “menus” (now organizations have content in web sites) • Publicized by Ottawa Citizen (for free) • Funded by start-up grants • Hands-on board (founders), with no staff • High-skill volunteers (eg., s/w development) • 15,000 accounts by end of 1993

    9. Surfing the Wave: Heady Times (1994) • 9600/14.4K modems • Publicized by Ottawa Citizen (for free) • Staff: Executive director, Office manager, Fund-raiser • Grants and donation drives • Interest groups stake claims in this New World • Will every city, town, and village run its own FreeNet? • Language rights, gay rights, commercial rights, privacy rights • Jostling for menu position (today, jostling over domain name) • Policies developed with eye toward national/global significance • FreePort threatens NCF with a lawsuit over use of FreeNet name • 60,000 (?) accounts by end of 1994 • ED brings in Boardwalk board development seminar; Board sees logic of governance model (but still operating as ‘management by committee’ with 15 bosses). No matter, it’s hard to fail in this phase!

    10. Wipe-out! WWW & ISPs Arrive (1995-96) • 14.4K/28.8K modems • Arrival of Windows 95, WWW browsers, and PPP • “World wide web” and “internet” become household words • But NCF is text-based FreePort menus • City-based comnets not seen as the future; global, Yahoo • Ottawa Citizen leaves NCF; starts its own site and ISP • NCF’s easy ride on the “wave of success” is over • NCF fails to catch the next wave (PPP, WWW) • FreeNets failing across the country • Web-based comnets are soaring (“TheGlobe.com” hits $600M) • NCF faces shortfalls • Membership levels decline • Grants dry up; fund-raiser (a.k.a. grant getter) let go

    11. Survival (1997-2000) • 14.4K/33.6K modems • NCF belatedly adds PPP access service and Lynx (text web browser) • Account renewal program averts funding disaster • Insufficient resources to keep up with the times • NCF no longer trendy; NCF never organized to do development • Volunteers dry up • Tough times test management’s skill to even keep NCF afloat • Membership levels decline steadily • Shortfalls loom; to avoid lay-offs leading to a death spiral, NCF seeks contract revenue (but further reducing NCF’s ability to keep up with internet services) • Cleveland FreeNet packs it in; FreePort corporation is long gone • Communication problems lead to crisis (Oct-Dec 2000) • Surprise termination of Executive Director contract • Split board, each calling for resignation of other

    12. Reorganization (2001) • Board strengthened substantially at March 2000 AGM; governance model begins functioning after ED on-board • Core staff in place (ED, system admin, office admin) • Membership levels begin to steady at 7,000 (but at half of sustainability level) • Contracts with potential synergies pursued: • HRDC thin client • SmartCapital webmail, extended access, thin client • NCF still has a good reputation (from the 1994 days) in certain camps • Tens of thousands of departed members may disagree • Points awarded for survival, longevity, and good intentions

    13. History of Revenue, Weekly Usage, Staff Not shown: Value of many non-cash donations Exec Director 1995: WWW, ISPs 1996: FreePlan, PPP 1997: Renewal program Lisa Chris Ian Fundraiser Gordon Sys Admin (amortization in ‘other’) (unique users excl Mitel?) Ian Roy Yannick Andre Admin Coord/Mgr Kyla Sheila

    14. NCF’s Offerings Dial-up Access Online Community Internet Services

    15. NCF’s Access Offerings NCF offers dial-up access (text or PPP) Access is valuable, and is the foundation of NCF’s ability to earn donations.

    16. Use of Text Access is Fading Dec 1996 Dec 2001

    17. Characteristics of NCF’s Dial-up Service (theory) (Marketing story) “NCF's dial-up features: • access to all the usual PPP-based internet services, plus special text services ('FreePort') not offered elsewhere • generally 33.6K baud rate • generally available (busy signals may be encountered occasionally, requiring a few redials to get service) • no connection limit, unless there is congestion, in which case, guaranteed at least 2 peak hours per day and unlimited non-peak hours • people to answer questions online, and (limited) help by phone “Thousands of people find NCF's 33.6K modems quite adequate for their everyday email and web browsing.”

    18. Characteristics of NCF’s Dial-up Service (reality) (Problems need to be corrected) • You can dial the same number and get different (confusing) responses (depending on which terminal server answers) • … if you can get a response at all (busy or endless ring) • 14.4K (OK for email) to 28.8K (adequate for browsing?) • Modem-sharing system isn’t functioning for all ports • NCF has a modem-testing system to obtain service quality data • Flakey (see modem test results) • “Your experience may vary” • People using NCF and accustomed to its quirks obviously find it tolerable, but it’s a barrier for new members and contributes to attrition

    19. Recent Modem Test Results (520-9013)

    20. Recent Modem Test Results (520-1135)

    21. NCF’s Online Community Offerings At NCF, ‘community interaction’ is still limited to the text world (five years after the world went WWW, NCF still has no web-based online community services software). NCF needs to buy and install web-based Online Community software. Refer to http://builder.cnet.com/webbuilding/pages/Authoring/CommunityTools/ for a short, readable overview of what’s available and widely used.

    22. Online Community Software: Make or Buy? • In 1992, FreePort online community software package was purchased and then enhanced by a few industrial-strength software development volunteers (NCF had attraction power in 1994). Enhancements may be why NCF survived while other FreePort-based FreeNets failed. • Recommend doing the same now (but don’t count on help) • Find a package that is: • Full-featured as can be afforded (community is a big part of NCF’s purpose) • If it’s based on low/no-cost open technologies easily installed at home (eg., Apache, MySQL/Postgress, PHP), more likely to attract enhancement by volunteer developers • Don’t contract development of homebrews (life-cycle cost is too expensive)

    23. How people use NCF today 7,000 members Useful, low-cost ISP Pockets of ‘community interaction’

    24. Usage: FreePort community services Items in the period 2002 Feb27-Mar6, ranked by number of users All Guest --Registered Users-- ----Uses---- Uses Uses Users Ratio Admin Item/Service----- 30320 (32%) 1% 99% 2754 10.9 1% Service: FreePort+PPP 20195 (21%) 0% 100% 1849 10.9 0% Service: PPP-login 10125 (11%) 2% 98% 1126 8.8 1% Service: FreePort-menu-system 7691 (8%) 0% 100% 848 9.1 0% Service: mail-mr 20446 (21%) 1% 99% 601 33.7 1% Service: nr/mgnr-newsreader 2881 (3%) 6% 94% 433 6.3 1% menu.main 844 (1%) 0% 100% 218 3.9 1% Service: mail-send 548 (1%) 1% 99% 155 3.5 4% Service: lynx-web-browser 629 (1%) 4% 96% 94 6.4 1% Service: who 248 (0%) 3% 97% 60 4.0 0% Service: time-remaining 468 (0%) 0% 100% 54 8.6 9% Service: mail-BBelm 173 (0%) 2% 98% 32 5.3 3% Service: telnet-other 87 (0%) 8% 92% 30 2.7 13% Service: userInfo--get-from-name 98 (0%) 5% 95% 29 3.2 7% Service: userInfo--get-from-ID 81 (0%) 0% 100% 25 3.2 0% Service: irc 178 (0%) 0% 100% 21 8.5 5% Service: mail-from 27 (0%) 30% 70% 14 1.4 0% Service: help-menu 179 (0%) 3% 97% 12 14.5 0% Service: telnet-anywhere 122 (0%) 0% 100% 11 11.1 0% Service: telnet-comnet

    25. Usage: FreePort, what’s first First selection on Tuesday, March 05: 823 55% Service: mail-mr 127 8% FreePort-menu-system-exit 78 5% Communications Centre SEEN_MOTD Read your favourite newsgroups (FavList) 42 3% NCF and Usenet Newsgroups SEEN_MOTD Read your favourite newsgroups (FavList) 42 3% Service: mail-BBelm 36 2% E-Mail See who your new e-mail is from 34 2% Service: lynx-web-browser 30 2% Service: mail-send 22 1% Service: mail-from 20 1% Buy and Sell area Computing buy & sell (ott.forsale.computing) >>> 14 1% World Wide Web (WWW) NCF launch pad to the web using LYNX 2.5FM-ncf browser 14 1% NCF and Usenet Newsgroups Read the newsgroup of your choice <?> 14 1% Service: telnet-anywhere 8 1% FreeMail: Internet e-mail on NCF MOVE your FreeMail into your mailbox (deletes it from FreeMail)

    26. Usage: Newsgroups served by NCF Count Newsgroup 1 3162 ott.forsale.computing 2 2010 soc.culture.scottish 3 1306 ott.jobs 4 1168 ott.general 5 1077 rec.video.desktop 6 942 ott.forsale.other 7 812 soc.genealogy.britain 8 663 ncf.sigs.religion.christian 9 611 ncf.agm2002.general 10 605 alt.obituaries 11 603 comp.unix.solaris 12 600 ncf.general 13 576 soc.culture.indian 14 569 rec.video.production 15 535 comp.sys.mac.system 16 523 comp.lang.perl.misc 17 474 soc.men 18 434 rec.travel.europe 19 412 ncf.admin 20 400 alt.gossip.celebrities March 5, 2002 (to all users of NNTP)

    27. Web Pages Hosted By NCF • Three types: NCF itself, Personal, and Organizational • NCF’s popular pages are personal pages • NCF itself • Portal page, office pages, AGM and Board pages, etc • NCF-specific Help pages (non-specific help elsewhere) • Personal • Approximately 10% of members have web pages (“home pages”) • Most are less than 250K bytes • Largest is 43M bytes • Some ‘personal’ pages are businesses run by the member • Organizational • One or two hundred?

    28. NCF Portal Page

    29. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 1st Contact address is in Florida

    30. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 2nd “This site contains stories in which you will find depictions of violence and explicit sexual content” - Andrew Nellis (a former NCF board member)

    31. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 3rd Richard Webb’s directory of local businesses

    32. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 4th All about sharks!

    33. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 5th Film reviews, film facts

    34. NCF’s Most-served Homepages: 6th “weblog” of Mark Woods of Perth

    35. Sample Organizational Page

    36. Sample Organizational Page: 2nd

    37. Sample Organizational Page: 3rd

    38. Internet Congestion at Carleton Max’ed out, meaning unacceptably poor response time for users waiting for web pages Acceptable during summer and when Carleton students are on holiday.

    39. Donations and renewals Keeping NCF afloat, and independent

    40. How Donations & Renewal Work • NCF issues annual guidance to members about what would be a reasonable donation, explaining: • Enough to cover expected expenses • Plus some extra to cover people who find NCF difficult to afford • If there is an impending shortfall, NCF issues an appeal for special donations (members have always risen to the occasion) • Each year, members are asked to renew their account, because • NCF needs to know if people are no longer interested (for housekeeping) • It is a way to trigger awareness of NCF’s need for donations • Front-end loaded (Jan-Jun). Expect a big drop in Jul-Dec. • NCF must always do things to earn donor support • Good deeds • Good services • … and then must ask for support (donations don’t just happen)

    41. Why Donations are the Way to Go Less wasted administrative expenses Attracts sponsors Differentiates NCF (eg., from ISPs) Resonates with NCF’s mission and raison d’etre Dignified accommodation of low-income people Simple and it works Low-risk? Members have always come to NCF’s aid Downsides • Some donors are offended by freeloaders (“I pull my weight”) • Some people are offended by ambiguous/disingenuous messaging (“Free to use, not free to run”; “Free”Net)

    42. NCF Donation Guidance in Context Per year $275 Sympatico dial-up (100 hrs/month max) $522 Sympatico DSL modem $621 Rogers Cable modem $600 Typical Bell phone ($305 base rate) $237 The Ottawa Citizen $453 Typical cable TV ($232 base rate) Compared with NCF’s donation guidance of $60/year

    43. Donations in 2001 + Jan/Feb 2002 Recommended donation is $60. Average (of those ~50% who donate) is $53 65% of the 2778 users last week were donors in the last year 48% of the 3691 donors last year used the system last week (20% FreePort, 28% PPP) PPP users: Average donation = $57 (max $550), sum = $59K FreePort: Average donation = $59 (max $380), sum = $44K Non-users: Average donation = $49 (max $280), sum = $94K

    44. Average Donation by Age Group 0x and 9x groups have insignificant number of members

    45. Average Donation by Age Group 0x and 9x groups have insignificant number of members

    46. Age of NCF Members

    47. Renewal Received & Processed (vs target date) The arrows indicate when renewal request letters are sent (target date is day zero) Nov 1997

    48. Expenses • 24-hour physical security and monitoring; disk back-ups • Climate-controlled fire-protected computer room • Office space (though not ideal) • Some donations are included as ‘amortized expenses’ • Software development, board members, office help, etc (volunteers) Much that is donated does not appear in the financial statements:

    49. Revenue History after Renewal Program Shift from fund-raising & donor drives to renewal program Note shortfall in 1998 and donation appeal, then on target in later years. Organization becomes more independent and efficient.

    50. “Sweet Spot” (sustainable operation) • Minimum operational functions: • System Administration (technical skills) • Office Administration (organizational & mgmt skills) • Executive Director (mgmt & partnership skills) • It is presumed that: • These functions are best filled by three different people • Contracting (for ‘fractional people’) is non-optimal • Thus minimum staff is three people • At existing donation levels per person, it takes at least ~12,000 people to support three staff (currently ~7,000 people) • Therefore NCF must arrange to support 12,000+ members