Helping people take good care of their stories.

Rakontu's wish list

These are some of the things I (Cynthia Kurtz) think would help Rakontu most in the future, in order from easiest to hardest.

Note that as of mid 2010 Rakontu 1.0 is no longer under active development. I've left this page up mainly to provide information on what Rakontu might be in the future if it enters a new phase of development.


If you are a graphic artist, we'd love to have you clean up Rakontu's look and feel. We are using the silk open source icon set. While it is a great set, it is not necessarily stylistically perfect for Rakontu. So, if you want to create some custom icons, please do! The only condition is that they need to be under the same license as Rakontu (the GPL).


The more we get people talking about Rakontu, the more people will use it, and the more people will help with it. Tell people about Rakontu! If you know somebody who might benefit from it, ask them to try it out!


Rakontu has been written to be relatively easy to translate to any number of languages. Once a translator has edited the texts in seven files, the entire system should work in any language. Once this set of language-specific is created, Rakontu installers should be able to change a parameter in one file and the whole site should appear in the chosen language. (Sadly you can only set the language at the site level, not the Rakontu level, so you can only have one language per installation.) Our dream is to have 20 or more languages available in any installation. If you know English and another language well, consider doing a translation.

To find out the scope of effort required, visit the Rakontu Google Code site. Click the Source tab. Navigate through the directory list in this way: svn: trunk: Rakontu: config: english. The files in that directory are the files that require translation.


Rakontu has almost no Javascript. While that may be great for people with older computers and browsers, it also makes the software a bit awkward to use for people on the cutting edge. Specifically, you can't just click things; you usually have to click and then find a button to press. And the numbers of things are usually set in stone, because there is no Javascript button that says "add another choice" or some such thing. If any Javascript mavens would like to improve that part of things (under the GPL), Rakontu would be eternally grateful.


The original design document for Rakontu (out of date but still available at the Google Code site - look for "deprecated" downloads) called for a Graphical User Interface with lots of mouse-driven bells and whistles. This version of Rakontu has put all that aside in order to get something out there. However, the funky GUI is still something Rakontu longs for. If you know Flash you may be interested in figuring out how to add a cool Flash version of the Rakontu timelines to it. Not a small job, but worth doing.

Book printing tie-in

Somebody suggested linking Rakontu to a site like lulu.com so that people could select some stories and have a nice glossy printed book of stories sent to them. I have no idea how to do this, but it sounds very cool.

Sharing data

Right now what is in one Rakontu stays there and can't easily leave. It would be great to have a way for "neighboring" Rakontus (in space, subject matter, views) to share some or all of their data. There are many ways this could be done - via import/export, sharing URL links, logging on to more than one Rakontu at a time, and so on. This would all need to be thought out well.

Porting off GAE

Rakontu ended up on the Google App Engine mainly in the hopes that this would create a very low entry barrier for people who wanted to set up Rakontu sites (free, easy, etc). The jury is still out on whether that barrier will turn out to be as low as I had hoped. However, GAE has some limitations and difficulties that mean Rakontu may not want to live there, or live only there, forever. Help porting Rakontu onto (say) straight django would help Rakontu's jitters calm down.

Synchronous storytelling and sensemaking exercises

The most important addition to Rakontu would like to make in the future is support for synchronous online generative (storytelling) and integrative (sensemaking) group workshops, at least of the types outlined in the book Working with Stories. This would bring Rakontu closer to its dream of helping people work with their stories in a more dynamic way. And it would be a real boon for many groups who are talking over large distances. However it is not clear how such a thing would play out within the Google App Engine environment. It might require a PC-based client application that talked to the web site as a mediator to be fully synchronous. That would probably be a major body of work. Possibly one could start with the simplest exercise and move up. On the other hand, it might be possible to implement this inside GAE, at least for small numbers of people.

Have any more bright ideas?

If you want to suggest something to add to this wish list, send a note to cfkurtz at cfkurtz.com.