The banyanTree Project
The banyanTree project is intended to be the central resource to bring volunteers (interested professionals, students, programmers, language translators, etc. or even end users) and FOSS projects together. The idea is very natural : a common meeting place for people new to FOSS, so that they can get to their project of interest easily. The interested person are assumed to have some skill so that they are looking to help in a particualr fied, but doesnt know which project/org needs such skill at the moment. Some may know which org to join and have some needed skills, but may need some other related help. It is also intended to become the central "guide" for the newcomer. Think of banyanTree as your tour guide : getting you around the city and describing the needed details.
Two years back when I was trying to get involved in a project related to Flash, I had to do a lot of roaming around. I found GPLFlash and many other projects, but it took time. The main reason for this is the fact that there isnt a single place where all interested organisations or projects come together and speak out their details regarding both development and usage of the software. I would like to term that as a "guide" to FOSS-world. I tried to think hard on implementing this, but for many reasons I could not. This year (2006), while I was applying for Google Summer of Code, I suddenly discovered a place to discuss my thoughts. Thus we now have banyanTree. The rest is what you see now.
What we are to do:
banyanTree is a combination of a website and other communition medium like IRC. A team of developers will have to build the site, and also maintain it. It is basically a community updates tracking system and a search engine which is specific for searching the depths of FOSS.
The updates tracking system : project maintainers, update their information regarding developers or volunteers required, project introduction and detail URLs, mentors available, sponsoring (if any), etc. The details will be kept in a central database, and also mirrored on the project's sites if needed. Any visitor has access to these details at any moment. The maintanance of the details is the most important part : keeping things up-to-date, notifying interested parties or individuals, keeping trac of related happenings in the industry which may benefit the volunteer/visitor. The key point is the distributed architecture allowing project maintainers, mentors to update information to central database.
The search engine : this allows extensive search of the information in the databases. It could also grow to become a FOSS specific search engine, which includes any FOSS related topic.
The name banyanTree:
The reason for the name come from a mixed feeling and can not be easily expressed in words, but I have tried to put it up in plain English here:
The banyan tree is a type of a large tree, with aerial roots which hang from the branches. The trees thus can spread very large areas. This type of tree is mostly found in Indian sub-continent. They grow together into a very wide tree. The banyan tree creates a very different feeling from that of any other tree I know of. It expresses the feelings of "spreading out" and "spreading deep". This is exactly what the project is intended to do. Also any tree in general provides shelter, and "Green is the color symbolizing earth, nature, and in a broader sense, life" : wikipedia.org.
We are working on initial roadmap, and plans. Also we are trying to build a team of initial programmers, maintainers. All interested human beings are welcome to join IRC channel #banyantree on freenode.
banyanTree QA Rounds on IRC
Another IRC session on country specific issues