Backpack and Digitalme

Today we had the first meeting of the Backpack Workgroup. It is a very welcoming news for us in Digitalme as we have been working hard to keep the Backpack alive for the last few years.

I haven’t been involved with the Backpack for long enough to tell the story, but Doug’s blog covers it. Instead, in my words, I will try to talk a little about what Digitalme have been doing with the Backpack and why.

We believed in what Backpack represents and when it didn’t get the attention that it deserved we took it on. So far we have;

  • Revamped the user interface and made it mobile friendly.
  • Migrated Persona to in-house authentication system.
  • Fixed the Connect API .
  • As well as fixing many other issues reported by the community.

Most importantly we now have an active code review process in place and we are ready to accept contributions from the technical members of the community on Github.

Digitalme does not have a vision of owning the Backpack. In fact, the beauty of the Backpack is that it is not owned by a business and is built for the public. It can be successful only if it is backed and used by the community. Purely out of passion, Digitalme with support from Mozilla have looked after this cool product while it was not well maintained. We believe that it still has potential. But we now need a helping hand.

I am a technical person, so I am not good at putting future visions forward. Jason’s Credential Switch Guarantee is one way forward and many of us have varios ideas about where the Backpack should head. Today, the general consensus was that we don’t want to build a feature-heavy Backpack to the point that it competes with other badge issuer and displayer platforms. Instead, it can be the glue that connects these platforms together. Emphasizing what features are available in each issuer and displayer; guiding the badge earner in the direction that helps their badge journey be smoother. Developments such as multiple email support, compliancy with Open Badges 2.0 and badge registry can be some of the first steps in this direction.

The key point is that the future of the Backpack should be shaped and supported by the badge community in the way that everyone finds it useful.