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ArchNet
 
Resources on ArchNet
Even though ArchNet is still over a year away from full development, users can begin to get an idea of how the site will work. What are some of the features members would like to see on ArchNet? How about content? And, finally, are members happy with the direction the site is taking? This is an old question which I would like members to re-visit and I would like to ask once again for members to post feedback and criticisms. The image is of the newly designed ArchNet logo.
Shiraz Allibhai
Responses
 
Response to Resources on ArchNet
Shiraz, this is a wonderful question. It implies a participatory democratic process for developing a reference site shared by all. The following is not only my personal view, but it is of my colleagues and students at MIU, Al Azhar, some colleagues in Cairo and Ain Shams Universities, Egypt .

I believe users of archnet would like to see exemplars of professional and academic projects, visionary papers and researches, reports on the current status of architecture and urbanism in different parts of the developing world, research findings on people-environments interactions, course syllabi and curriculum materials of different architecture schools, and many other things...All in all, they want to see what other people doing.

For the content, it is believed that keeping the balance is important, meaning having as much as possible the same amount of infromation on different subject areas: history of islamic architecture; contemporary architecture, environment-behavior studies, conservation of cultural heritage, design methodology, housing and urban renewal, infromation technology..etc. Many of my senior students say: we learned a lot about Western experiences in studios and theory courses but what about our counterparts in the developing world, including Africa and the Middle East, South East Asia, and Latin America?

I would say that the site is comprehensive in several respects. A week ago we have developed a working session at MIU on the featureas of Archnet and how to use the site. My colleagues and students are really happy with the direction the site is taking. However, they can't wait until the site is completely developed. Many of them say the site is well structured, simple, clear, direct, and easy to maneuver through. Yes, they are right and I definately agree with them. However, I want to add one additonal feature that is: putting in the site a section for Important Links (links to schools of architecture world wide (classified by regions), links to other research organizations of interest, links to other search engines, links to architectural publishers and libraries, etc,

Many of us here in Egypt believe that this site will after its completion be an excellent reference for scholars interested in the architecture and urbanism of the developing world.

Ashraf Salama
Ashraf Salama
Response to Resources on ArchNet
ArchNet is shaping up nicely. At present it has the form of a library, which, is perhaps an important institution of community paces.

Now we might be looking forward to generating more interaction amongst the members. Archnet already has the structure and connections in place to institute more activities which would generate varied interactions.

ArchNet is envisaged to be of academic nature. Metaphorically it would then evolve into a university. A large learning place. Archnet already has sufficient resource (human and digital) to offer workshops and courses. This would allow all the members the possibility of interacting directly and share experience and information purposefully.
Nitin Raje
Response to Resources on ArchNet
As a member, I'm content with ArchNet, and I'm confident that by the time of its full development, it will be a basic source of enlightment. But, strategic promotion and advertisement are urgently recommended in order to be known and used by everyone like many other enternet sites.
Heba Safey Eldeen
Response to Resources on ArchNet
I am a *very* new member, and am happily impressed by what I have seen thus far. I will eventually present an introduction and question in another area, but for now I have just a couple of observations about the interface and the help system.

First, the intended distinction is unclear to me between (a) image files that might be uploaded to one's "portfolio" and (b) files that might be part of an "image collection." It might be good to offer some explicit guidance in that area. (Please bear in mind that I come here from the field of evaluation possessed of a tangential but sincere interest in design. Folks like me might need help with field-specific jargon.)

Second, where someone has gone to the bother of uploading images, I have to dig quite deeply to find them (unless there's a quick way that I haven't yet seen). It would be nice if the directory of member names were tagged somehow to indicate who among us maintains a collection of images.

Finally, the discussion board has a rather stiff feel to it. I realize that's a rather subjective pronouncement, but I find the Question => Answer#1 => Answer#2 =>... format to be rather standoffish and inhibiting to dialog. Is it supposed to be that way? Most of the other discussion board formats I've used have a more fluid feel; they feature an easy way to quote the various postings so one's reply might be focused sharply on a particular bit of the correspondent's original post.

Hope this is useful!

Cheers,

Bob Briggs
Westport, MA
Robert Briggs
Response to Resources on ArchNet
Robert,

Thank you for your detailed and helpful response. I hope that you continue to be an active member and point out any other ways to make the site more efficient. We plan to get rid of the portfolio space as it has created some confusion. It is a leftover from previous specs which I was not even aware was working. Thanks again.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Please continue to post your suggestions, criticisms, and comments in this forum.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Congratulations on the site and the generosity of its ideals! I have been enjoying the discussions, the information which often can not been found in such a clear manner on other sites. I would support the suggestion to enrich the link collection and the interactivity of the site. I would like to find more connections to associations, schools and magazines addressing specifically the Archnet issues. I think a list discussion would allow to maintain a more continuous tonus in the interactive debates. I have contributed to some topics but have been frustrated because the reaction is slow and limited. A email list discussion allows real time debates and more participative stimuli! The topics will appear in a more dynamic way and the self-regulating capacities of the list will take care of a balanced and riched production of ideas and dialectics. It will be easier to get familiar with other list members and it will generate cultural synergies beneficial and enlightening for all the participants... I would also suggest to develop the visual library including a maximum of recent material also. For example I was looking for Geoffrey Bawa picture material without success despite the fact that Geoffrey Bawa has been associated on several occasions with the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture. It would also be interesting to have more systematic visual archives on historical architecture and vernacular architecture worldwide. There are a lot of existing collections which can be linked to but I feel that Archnet should have a very comprehensive collection for itself. I am particularly interested in contemporary architecture which stands on a refreshed and humanistic reevaluation of traditional principles and precedents, in a sense demonstrated by Hassan Fathy, Abdel Wahed El Wakil, Geoffrey Bawa and others. My first instinctive and rational move is to turn to the Archnet Archives! I would be very happy to get to know more on contemporary traditional architects in Islamic countries. Does Archnet have updated material on this? By the way this would be a fabulous doctoral research work with good publication potential and it would help to reassess some alternatives of cultural identity and emulation beyond a western-centric modernism!
Lucien Steil
Resources on ArchNet
Lucien, thank you for your comments and suggestions. I can tell you that in 2002 ArchNet will place online a collection of the works of Sinan and of Geoffrey Bawa.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I've found ArchNet to be an absolutely invaluable academic tool. As I've often said, just having the Muqarnas articles online alone makes the site invaluable for those of us researching the art and architecture of the Islamic world. You've saved many of us long hours at the photocopier! Any of the many other academic journals devoted to Islamic architecture/art would be welcome additions. I've found two other features very useful: First, the ability to upload files and images, therefore giving yourself access to them from wherever you can access the internet. This was a lifesaver when I recently presented a paper at a conference abroad. Though I brought my slides, I could also have uploaded all the images and used them (and any of the images in the Digital Library) in a PowerPoint presentation. Second, the group workspace feature has made collaborating with colleagues abroad easy and well-organized. What I most appreciate about ArchNet, though, having been at an institution as an undergraduate that had absolutely no resources related to Islamic architecture, is that ArchNet provides a reliable and rich source of information to those who would not otherwise have access.
Glaire Anderson
Resources on ArchNet
I would like to add to the suggestion that has already been made. Archnet community, being as diverse as it should be able to link to other quality sites depending on the individual's area of interest: Islamic Architecture, Urban planning etc. It would be beneficial if the content could be organized in such a way that users can better navigate through these sections. I would like to suggest some sites such as www.architectureweek.com, which has provided some very good coverage to projects like Low income housing in Maharastra, India (by Charles Correa) and Experience the Music project in Seattle by Frank Gehry. Another site is www.greatbuildings.com which users might also find interesting. Secondly, the digital calender could be enhanced to include current news including new technologies, and new laws that impact Architecture in different countries. Thirdly, a feature can be added to the digital library, whereby users can add their reviews. Some of the publications are over 50MB and it would be helpful to get an expert commentary before you download. Hope this helps.
Shehzad Bhayani
Resources on ArchNet
Shehzad, thank you for your comments. In the Reference section of the Digital Library, a place for all members to place links to architecture related websites exists. It is called the Resource Directory. There already exists links to over 100 sites. The function which allows all members to add new links is currently not functioning, but will be fixed soon. Any member will be able to add a description and link to any informative website. Also, in the Reference section is the Academic Directory. This space allows all ArchNet members the ability to post information about architecture and planning programmes around the world. We have already begun to add schools, institutions, and research programmes, however, we can not cover them all and would like to urge those members with academic affiliations to check to see if their programmes are represented, If not please add them to the directory. If they already exist in the directory, please verify the information and let us know if there are any changes to be made. It would be an important tool for all of our members if this section had wide coverage. All of the publications are presented as a whole and also broken up into individual chapters in order to limit the size of the PDF's. I know that the files are large, but we hope that technology and broadband is on our side. If there is a news items that is of benefit to the ArchNet community, all members have the ability to suggest an article which appears on the ArchNet log-in page. The site is meant to be completely interactive and relies on the user to contribute to it. If that has not been clear, the ArchNet Editorial team will try harder to make members aware of all the options available to them. This is why your comments are so helpful. Thanks again.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
it is a great ideea and a very professional site! i`m realy impressed: good information, good illustration, and a lot of other good etc. i`m very interesting in your archieves. i would like to have the entire text of some lectures, i don`t know if is possible: 1. coroline williams : "david roberts and francis frith: artists and photographers in 19th century", (it was on 18th october, 1999) 2. afaf lutfi al-sayyid marsot: "woman and property in 18th century in egypt" 3."an autentic city for a modern world: cairo in 19th century (was in 29th october, 1999, in barkley campus, california, usa). thank you for your existance! i wish you a long and excellent life on net!
Ina Cazan
Resources on ArchNet
Hi, As a student, one feature of ArchNet that I find very useful is the digital library. I've enjoyed browsing through the historical monuments as well as the inclusion of contemporary works that have been submitted for the Agha Khan awards. Beyond the images and the notes that accompany these, the articles in PDF have been very useful. And here comes my suggestion. There are very good databases for architectural journals in the West but as far as I know, there's no equivalent resource that brings together articles on architecture in Islamic countries. I'd love to see articles in Turkish, Arabic, Persian linked to monuments in the Digital database that have been taken from historic and architectural journals in the respective countries. While this may be beyond ArchNet's immediate realm of affordability, charges can be introduced for some services (things institutions or individuals would regularly expect to pay for, such as a large group workspace or extra bytes of storage) that can be channeled into special projects such as this one. In this way (or in many other ways that one can possibly imagine) ArchNet maybe make its English-only site more accessible to people (including academicians) who only speak their local language. It may also move beyond the limited amount of scholarly work on Islamic architecture (or even contemporary architecture in Islamic countries) that is available in English. We can begin, more modestly, by moving the internet links to a more visible place in the main menu and adding a category for online publications in architecture and urban planning.
Ozgur Basak Alkan
Resources on ArchNet
Shehzad, the ability to post web links in the Resource Directory (in the Reference section of the Digital Library) is now working. Your suggestion to add a link to Architecture Week has been carried out.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Hi, I think it would be really nice if the Search utility would start working... Thanks!
Sumbul Ahmad
Resources on ArchNet
Sumbul, we had a Search feature in the past, however, it did not function very well. We have designed a new Search engine that will hopefully deliver to you the contents of the site in an appropriate and logical manner. It will be implemented in the next few weeks and should be on the site before the end of June. The Help Section and Course Syllabi section are also being re-vamped. In the past few weeks perhaps you have noticed the small graphic changes which have made the site more user friendly.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Shiraz, i really admire the amount of effort put into making this kind information available on the net, i wonder though if it is possible to have the copies of books/magazines in the publication section in color, or in thier original format. the quality of copies in some of the publications i saw were not clear. i hope you put that in mind for future uploads. also, it would really be great if there was a section for architectural competetions or ongoing projects in the islamic world, providing information on the project: its location, the programme, client..ect. other than that i agree with robert briggs concerning his seggustions.
Talal Almodhayan
Resources on ArchNet
Talal, I too wish that the publications were in colour, espacially Mimar. However, given the file sizes associated with scanning in colour, download times, and the cost involved, it was decided to go with black and white. We have added some new features over the past few months and will have a better help section soon. The search function is almost complete and will make ArchNet a better tool for teaching and studying architecture.

While we are happy with the progress we have made on the site and now have nearly 5000 members (without much promotion), I am concerned that we have as yet created a community. The aim of ArchNet is to get people to share there knowledge, experience and resources for the strength and benefit of the overall community. I would like to see more representatives of departments of architecture and planning apply for an ArchNet Institutional Workspace in order to share the work and research of their students and faculty; I would like to have more frank and open discussions take place in these forums; I would like to see more collaboration amongst students from around the world in the Group Workspaces. ArchNet is a tool for the community to use as well as contribute to. When this begins to happen, we can then congratulate ourselves for a successful site.

Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I came across archnet purely by accident. I was searching for details on foreign universitites & used to waste a lot of time with the search engines & then one fine day a colleague of mine, who's doing his master's from Oxford asked me to check out your website & believe me the contents of your site were a wonderful surprise to me. The plus points about your website are: #1. Thanks for being low on graphics, your web page loads faster than a lot of other sites. #2. Archives section provides a lot of useful information be it in the form of the drawing files, pictures,etc. #3. The discussion forum which is like a bulletin board is pretty helpful too. #3. The web-links & jobs features are also good. #4. It's probably the only website for architects that I know of, where they can interact with others of their own fraternity from all corners of the globe. The weak link would most probably be your groups, where access is restricted to only the members. Please keep this open to non-participants too so that the not so privileged too can share knowledge with others who are more fortunate. It's sounds like you want to segregate designers on the lines of G-7 & G-77. I have worked as a faculty member for a while and felt that the more open a session is, it's better for people to share views and information than in an environment which is restricted. Let there be a system where the participants carry on with their work undisturbed, but at the same time let the non-participants be like spectators and get to know about what's happening. The suggestions that I would like to make are; #1. Try to have chat sessions where members could interact with others based on their subject of liking. #2. Try to include links about television features too like "Voyager" on BBC, "People & places" on the National geographic & "Lonely planet" & "Journeys to the ends of the world" on the Discovery channel; these programs provide a lot of details about archaeology, history, architecture, culture & traditions of different places. #3. Please include the works of students from different schools that have won commendations. #4. It would be useful if you could carry profiles or interviews of famous architects as a monthly feature.
Mansoor Ali
Resources on ArchNet
Mansoor, thank you for your compliments and criticisms, both are valued. Regarding the Group Workspaces, the group administrators themselves decide the privacy settings of the Group Workpace. Some are open access while others are restricted. Groups are not formed by the ArchNet office, but rather by individuals getting together who want to focus upon a specific topic or studio project. Anyone can apply, the only condition is that there be more than two members. These spaces are for ArchNet members and they have full control.

In regards to the suggestions about links, the Web Links Directory is there for our members to add links. This is not something that the ArchNet office has to do. Any member can contribute a link to this directory. Once again, I state that ArchNet is for the user to contribute to and help build.

Student work and faculty research can be displayed in the Institutional Workspace. It is not the responsibility of ArchNet to seek out this work, but rather the responsibility of the institutions and students to make best use of ArchNet for this purpose. ArchNet is completely interactive, but it will only be as good and useful as the members who contribute to it. You did a good thing by adding some nice images and informing the community. Members with image collections can now be browsed from Member Profiles.

Just so you know and to inform other who read this comment. ArchNet members can 1). add web links 2). add information about academic programs 3). add events to the calendar 4). add items to the News and Lobby section 5). create their own image and file collections 6). maintain a personal calender and address book 7) apply for a Group Workspace (3 or more members necessary) 8). apply for an Institutional Workspace 9). submit course syllabi. 10). submit career postings or their own cv's,

All of these can be done from the front page on your Workspace.

Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I would like to re-visit this thread in light of the more recent developments on ArchNet. I am very excited about the resources now available in the Digital Library both visual and textual. The Discussion Forum is now more invigorated and the level of debate is encouraging. The Course Syllabi section is growing on a monthly basis (please send us your syllabi if you teach at a university). And, we are in the process of re-designing the Group Workspaces to allow for greater flexibility when working on colaborative projects. The New Group Workspace will be a very useful tool especially for teachers to structure their classes and to give their lectures directly from ArchNet. We are testing new modules which allow for recording audio lectures and presentations, shared drawing spaces, and instant messaging in a virtual classroom setting. We have over +27'000 images and 13'000 members. Not bad for a specialised website.

Now the bad news. The Institutional Spaces are not being subscribed to as planned. Thus, the works of students and research of faculty from around the world is not being shared for the benefit of a global community. Members are not as active in contributing their own images with captions to their personal collections so that all members would have a bigger pool of images to draw from. If every member uploaded their personal architecture collections and work, ArchNet would be an indespensible resource. Our community is growing in size but not in responsibility,

Finally, is ArchNet a useful tool? Do members use the Digital Library when doing research? If ArchNet cannot show that it truly is a community of people contributing their resources, experience, and knowledge for the benefit of the entire community, is it a failed experiment?

Your thoughts, comments, criticisms will be helpful.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Thanks Mr Allibhai for re-introducing this topic after a lot of development over the past few years. I will answer your questions first then present some comments and suggestions.


- ANSWERS:

1. Definitely, Archnet is a useful tool.

2. My personal experience--in Egypt and the US-- suggests that the digital library is used heavily by students and scholars of architecture when conducting research or gathering information, especially on the developing world. However, it is not used as intended by faculty members and practitioners.

3. Archnet as a true community of members (individuals or institutions) is a challenge that remains to be seen.

4. Course syllabi, digital calendar, careers are all useful resources and indispensable.

5. Archnet is a very successful experiment that I believe will continue for decades until a new technology emerges.

6. Simply, Archnet is pioneering project. However, I believe it has reached the mountain and now is the time to do more to climb it confidently.



- Comments and Suggestions:

1. The digital library is a great resource and the new interface looks more appealing, it is a true library. I second your view; it needs a lot of work from the members side to contribute their resources to enahnce the library and the personal workspaces. I think it needs more contemporary projects, and this will occur when the community gets involved seriously.

2. I believe that the reason that institutions are not actively participating is that--now many have their own websites, and would like to keep the information in their own sites. When we were developing MIU site, it was a limited effort from very few dedicated faculy, assistants, and students. People--in general-- were not interested in contributing their reources, and it took them ages to digitize an article or an image collection to give it to us for posting in the institutional workspace. I believe as time goes by people will realize the value of online contributions.

3. The level of discussion in the forum is getting a lot better, especially when thoughtful members started to contribute. Still, I envision a need for breaking up the forum into two sections: One would be in a question/answer format, where people in need of specific information on projects, images, or building materials, post their questions. The second would be a true discussion and debate.

4. As Archnet is a leader in developing collaborative online design studios and joint design charrettes, it would be very useful to introduce other collaborative mechanisms that will attract more members and enhance the resources. These mechanisms can take a wide variety of forms.



- Mechansims for Active Involvement:

In order to develop a more and deep involvement, the true sense of community needs to be enhanced. To do so, community members need to share a number of values important to all. To imbibe the concept of value sharing, members need to be engaged intellectually in group and collaborative activities. I realize that there is always a difficulty inherited in any group effort. however, there are some mechanisms that foster the development of an active community:

- Online conferences "e-conferences" that became a posiitive trend recently. Many organizations started to recognize this need. This would involve the regular procedures for organizing conferences, including call for papers, submission of abstracts and full papers, reviews and evaluation, final paper submission, and presentations. Two e-conferences can be organized annualy. The result is conference proceedings/publication that will be an integral part of the digital library.

- Online Journal for publising ciritcal analysis articles and/or research papers. The journal may include two sections: referreed section where submissions are evaluated, and non-referreed section that represents views of the authors. The Journal can be a quarterly publication, and part of the digital library.

- Collaborative research projects, where a topic is announced, then members start to either contribute resources they already have, or take some "short term" assignments to develop new resources.

By imbibing the concepts of sharing and engagement through Archnet activities, members will move forward from consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge.

I believe it's about time to delegate some of these tasks to some members who are able and willing to contribute their time, effort, energy for the benefit of members of the community.


I seize this opportunity to thank you for your continuous effort together with the Administration team. I congratulate you for this great achievement.

My best,
Ashraf Salama
Resources on ArchNet
Dear Mr. Shiraz:

First, I'd like to inform all archnet members that once I needed some images to go with an article in an architectural journal, I contacted archnet to ask for permission for publication, the reply was instantly and positive, but unfortunately images on archnet are only 72dpi. I recontacted archnet, and I found GREATEST help, which ended up after a few days by receiving a CD BY MAIL, with high resolution images.

So the resources on archnet are not only what is stored. It is the belief in the concept of (an architectural community).

Second, my personal experience over archnet has grown over the years, and now Archnet is

1. my source of images.
2. a vital source of publications and research.
3. my source of news, events, etc...
4. my meeting room with my colleagues, professors, to share and exchange thoughts and ideas.
5. it has also penetrated my job, in MIU, through its virtual competition.
6. and many others pertaining to personal future hopes.

I chose this personal/non academic viewpoint to emphasize the role of archnet in a typical architect's life. And I believe there are lots of members who agree with me about their pivotal transformations (before and after archnet) ....

Warmly,
Heba
Heba Safey Eldeen
Resources on ArchNet
very nice architectural portal shaping into a informative/sharing community ,very happy to be part of emmerging e-world.
Dushyant Nathwani
Resources on ArchNet
Ashraf and Heba, thank you for your detailed suggestions, all of which I will take into account when we re-design ArchNet. I am very grateful to see that you placed the responsibility of developing ArchNet on the shoulders of the members and participating institutions. We at ArchNet are indeed overstretched and cannot create a community. All we can do is to create a space where a community can thrive.

Thank you both for your active participation and your continued support. I look forward to seeing comments from other members. This will really help in making ArchNet better.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Let me answer simply by saying that I am addicted to ArchNet!

Why?

This needs a few extra lines:

First of all the idea of being able to interact with architects from all over the world is very 'arousing'. The fact that one can get such diverse responses and opinions makes one want to interact here. Its a great learning experience to be discussing ideas with professors, practicing architects and engineers, writers, students and people from all walks of life and from all over the world.

ArchNet has really evolved into a global community of architects.

ArchNet also allows us to make lots of contacts, friends and acquaintances from our profession. I have learnt a lot from my discussions with Dr. Salama, Professor Chauhan and many other contributors.

Dr. Salama's article is published in a Pakistani newspaper, as we got introduced on ArchNet. I never knew that Rizvi College in Mumbai holds an annual convention on habitat. Having interacted with Prof. Chauhan, I may attend one of those conventions. In this regard, ArchNet is playing a very important role in letting people know about other countries, their architects, the common problems and issues faced by some or all communities or groups.

I would have browsed the net for days if I needed to search for a topic or a picture. But now its all here. As they say, a one-window operation!

Coming to suggestions, I would list a few:

1. Maybe an extra counter can be added to every thread which counts the number of times its been read (visited). It would show the interest of users in a particular topic. I'm sure if 100 people read a post, only 5 reply and we never get to know how many people are reading whats being discussed or how many are actually browsing ArchNet.

2. All new topics should pass through the editor so that he makes sure that the topic question is properly structured and is comprehensible, instead of having to tell the poster AFTER the posting that he should be more articulate or clearer! Im sure a lot of people lose interest when they see a new topic titled simply "DESIGN" or "MOSQUE". Frankly I never want to interact in such vague, loose topics that seem as if they have been posted just for the heck of it. So I suggest some control over whats posted and whether its properly structured to keep the contributors' interest alive.

3. I second Dr. Salama's suggestion no. 3 that the discussion forum can be divided into two categories. One for genuine questions and queries and the other for discussion topics

4. ArchNet should do occasional polls on different topics where all users can participate and post results can be then posted by the editor. This will add interest.

5. ArchNet should make a notice board where architectural events are posted, like ARCHVISION 2003 in Islamabad or an international competition somewhere or a forthcoming exhibition. We usually have to mention it in some thread, where most people dont get to see it. Similarly there should be a BULLETIN BOARD as well where announcements or greetings can be pasted. Prof Chauhan has greeted everyone on World Architecture Day in the 'famous architects' thread. I wonder how many people read that?

6. There should be a category where essays and articles can be posted, which need not necessarily be discussed. But the option of discussing them should also be provided. This will encourage people to write on architecture-related topics. The present discussion forum is structured for questions, not for statements or views in the form of long articles.

That should be enough from my side I think or I wont ever stop!

I hope some of these suggestions can be taken up slowly.

As my concluding remarks, I would say that Im happy to be associated with ArchNet. I hope to learn more, contribute more and make new friends here.

Best wishes to Shiraz, Chikako-San and rest of the ArchNet team.

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Resources on ArchNet
I am sure friendships and mutual intellectual interaction are and will be the result of this. Mr. Husain, your suggestions sound great. I like your expression of "Addicted".

Difinitely, it is a "life-long learning experience" interaction, discussion, agreements and disagreements are all healthy phenomena. It is nice to make new friends here, get to interact with old friends. The way in which Archnet is designed in my view is that it instils in people the sense of belonging, and the sense of the responsibility too.

My best,
Ashraf Salama
Resources on ArchNet
Thank you Dr. Salama. Aren't we all addicted to ArchNet? Infact this could be an interesting poll. How many of us open the ArchNet site the first thing when we logon. Im sure this would show that most of us are addicted!

I would like to add two more suggestions here that escaped my mind yesterday:

1. Each new topic should be rated by contributors. Perhaps a scale of 1-5 can be provided in one corner of the posting where it says RATE THIS. This will prevent people from posting stuff just for the heck of it.

2. There is a major problem in the discussion forum: More often than not, one is responding to the last post or one of the last few, rather than to the original one, but when the CONTRIBUTE A RESPONSE window opens, it displays the original post only.

I suggest that the interface should be structured in a way where EVERY 'response' has these little icons in one corner, where one of them saying RATE THIS and one says CONTRIBUTE A RESPONSE. This way when one clicks the resonse button, THAT particular post is displayed in the RESPONSE window AND is also shown inside the MESSAGE window as well, so that one can respond to certain sentences or paragraphs one by one by simple cutting pasting.

(Ofcourse these two (or more) icons should be there with the original topic as well as the initial posts are always in rersponse to the original topic, its only later that the discussion develops)

Actually some of these options are available in Chowk.com and forum.Japantoday.com and are very user-friendly.

3. In the same breath I would also suggest that the size of the response window be increased! I understand that it may have been kept small to limit the size of responses, but its not preventing us from writing long responses.

When mountaineers are asked 'Why do you want to climb that treacherous mountain" they usually reply "Because its there"

So we are all at ArchNet, "Because its there!!"

Regards,
Hammad Husain
Resources on ArchNet
Hammad,

All good points that you raise. I will try and address them one by one.
1. The counter idea is a good one and I will ask Patrick, ArchNet programmer, if it is possible. We have asked him to do so much lately that he may blow a fuse.

2. Having an editor review all of the questions will probably not be possible and not a model that I would like to start. The community should try and moderate itself. If start to decide what questions are appropriate, that will lead us down a slippery slope. Questions that are not clear will not be answered and will eventually disappear in the archive.

3. The two category idea is a good one. I will try and structure this soon.

4. We are planning an online questionairre where your feedback and research interests can be collated. It will also allow us to see what is being searched for and downloaded. It will also let us know what is not being found. This will help us serve the community better.

5. The Digital Calendar is precisely for this purpose. Perhaps you mean something less formal. We are planning to have instant messaging board for those members that are logged on. This will allow for an informal discussion to take place.

6. Essays and articles can be posted in a members personal workspace under My Collections and pointed to from the Discussion Forum.

7. Regarding the new suggestions, I am not sure how I feel about the rating system. I will have to share this with the ArchNet Advisory Committee and get their feedback. I still feel that questions that are not of interest will not be answered and will disappear soon enough.

8. I second this complaint. I had to open two windows in order to respond to your post. This is another one for Patrick's task list. Hopefully this will be available soon.

9. I bigger window has been tried before, but it will require a lot of programming. It would seem to be an easy task, but I have been told that it is not. This too, is on Patricks list.

Thank you for the comments and for your regular contributions to ArchNet. Now that I have heard from the usual suspects. I would like to hear from others.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I have created two new categories in the Discussion Forum:Topics for Debate, and Seeking Guidance. We will soon have the Discussion Forum divided into these two categories. Thanks again for the suggestions.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I have noticed them, thank you very much for this. Now, members will see the heading and the nature of the subject.

My best,
Ashraf Salama
Resources on ArchNet
As an artist, I would like to throw something out there: is there any way to have an offshoot of this web-site that focuses on art - islamic art: paintings, calligraphy, miniatures?
I completely understand the logistical issues but what do you think?
Mariam Alsikafi
Resources on ArchNet
This was discussed when ArchNet was set-up however, museums are not quick to allow copyright material to sit on a public free website that is meant to distribute resources. I think ArchNet will have to move in this direction one day because it is impossible to discuss historic Islamic architecture without discussing the ornamental arts. I would also like to expand to showcase and display contemporary artists from the Muslim world. It is through music and art that the openess, plurality, diversity, and imagination of the Muslim world is currently being expressed.
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
Shiraz, then what would the next steps be for expanding in that direction? Do you have a time-line in mind? Is there a way to get involved with it (I would love to help!)?
Mariam Alsikafi
Resources on ArchNet
No plans yet, just an idea. Any thoughts on ArchNet from other members?
Shiraz Allibhai
Resources on ArchNet
I appreciate the motivation behind such an exquisite web site, however I��d like to contribute a suggestion in order to enhance the Archnet Site vast information available for everyone. It has been noticed that Views, discussions and debates are conducted mostly on thesis or a subject, which has vast and deep meanings, explanation, however technical issues are rarely resolved. Can we have a setup for resolving technical Issues, a guideline and information for new Architects who join the profession are good in design concept but lack the detailing and require technical guidance from seniors. I hope you include this part and update Archnet with new information.
Maneer Khan
Resources on ArchNet
Discussion Forum
Mirjana Devetakovic Radojevic
Resources on ArchNet
Agree with Mirjana 100%.
Heba Safey Eldeen
Resources on ArchNet
Egyptian Pioneer Architects
Mirjana Devetakovic Radojevic
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