Interview: Brett Sirianni, BuddyPress Activity Plus Creator and Communications Coordinator at The Edge

This month saw the launch of our BuddyPress Activity Plus plugin, which was developed for The Edge in Queensland. Brett Sirianni from The Edge came to us looking for a way for BuddyPress users to be able to share media in their activity stream. On top of that he wanted to release the plugin to the WordPress and BuddyPress community for free! Of course, we couldn’t wait to get started on it as there’s nothing we love more than a new innovation and last week we launched the plugin.

view from roof
View from the Edge's roof

I spoke to Brett this week to find out more about The Edge, why they wanted to plugin developed and why they wanted to release it for free. Here’s what he had to say.

What is The Edge?

The Edge is an initiative of the State Library of Queensland. It is a place for young Queenslanders; a place for experimentation and creativity, giving contemporary tools to young people to allow them to explore critical ideas, green initiatives, new design practices and media making. The Edge was opened on 26 February 2010. It is a key platform of the Queensland Government’s arts culture + me Young People in Arts Action Plan 2008–2011 and cost $10.15 million to refurbish the existing State Library of Queensland auditorium and fit out The Edge.

What is a digital culture centre?

In The Edge’s case, it is a centre full of equipment like hardware and software for video and filmmaking, sound recording, and graphic design – plus open wireless internet, places to hold meetings or study, a coffee stop to recharge on snacks and fair trade coffee.

As well as equipment, The Edge also offers workshops to help people learn to use the gear on offer and develop other new skills.

Beyond the physical facilities, The Edge is the focal point for a virtual community of creators and innovators. The Edge hopes to grow its online community so that regional Queenslanders can contribute to workshops and discussions, as well as people from other parts of Australia and the rest of the world.

Band playing in The Edge's auditorium
Band playing in The Edge's auditorium

Who uses The Edge?

Its primary focus is young people aged 15 to 25 years; however, it is available for anyone who wants to organise or contribute to projects and other activities such as workshops, seminars, think tanks, gigs, screenings, and competitions. The Edge is coordinated by a small team of staff and Catalysts and Residents come and go on different days of the week.

Why do you use BuddyPress?

I believe that it is the next form of what a website needs to be, and creates some ownership for each user of a website.

How do you use BuddyPress?

I use BuddyPress as a social network, for users to share the content that they have created and to meet and connect with people to collaborate with.

How does your online community interact with your physical community at The Edge?

It digitally replicates what naturally happens at The Edge. People physically come here learn from each other, collaborate on projects and create with like minded people.
The online community will do the same through friendship connections, groups and some other features we are building in. The online community will also be able to reach further and cater for users across Queensland and across the world.

Why did you want the BuddyPress Activity Plus developed?

Because the people who use The Edge create content, and we wanted to provide a space for them to share that content with each other and beyond.

What do you think it will bring to your community?

Not only will it allow users to show off their creativity, they will also be able to learn from each other and collectively grow the profile of Art, Technology and Sustainability in Queensland, and mix it with the rest of the world

lab
One of The Edge's Labs

How did you find the development process? Did you enjoy working with WPMU DEV?

I worked on the brief for a long time, and once I was happy with it I pushed it out to the WordPress / BuddyPress development community. I contacted dozens of developers, but when I received a reply from WPMU DEV, their excitement and enthusiasm in the concept, and the fact that The Edge would release it free to the WP / BP community,matched, if not exceeded mine. This gave me confidence in handing over my design to them. The job was turned around in lightning fast time, and worked without a hitch. The communication was constant as well which made me enjoy working with WPMU DEV.

Why did you decide to release this plugin to the WordPress community?

The Edge is a free resource, a space where we provide bookable high end Macs, a recoding studio, auditorium, and work spaces with the best view of the river in Brisbane. We also provide free workshops and learning for our users, so if there is any way we can support creative people we will. Releasing this plugin to the community is doing exactly that.

Any more development plans for the future?

Plenty. We will be putting the community in the hands of our users, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with to firstly push The Edge community and also to better the wider WordPress / BuddyPress community.