[CSG Winter 2010] Collaborative Platforms, pt. 2

Leveraging Social Networking Within Universities – Bruce Vincent – Stanford

Tools driving very rich but less formal collaborations. Often the meeting place for researchers of similar interests. Accelerating interdisciplinary opportunities. Sharing of grant or professional opportunities. Example of a researcher using Facebook for soliciting grant collaborators and working through research issues. A broad phenomenon. PIs are free agents in a public marketplace of ideas. Becoming a way of getting known within a field.

Some professors at Stanford are using Facebook, Ning, Google Apps to supplement their in-class discussions, project collaboration. Competing with functionality in CMS. There are risks – faculty are not blind to risks, and may be looking for help with managing risks. Professor has access control, can add non-enrolled members.

Part of our job is getting terms and conditions with suppliers right, understanding the risks, managing them to the extent they can be managed.

Business Processes Leveraging Social Networking
– Jive in central IT at Stanford (knowledge management for department support contract staff)
– Sharepoint and Confluence moving toward SN functions and business processes/workflow and department websites. Bill Clebsch – putting distributed desktop support people on a social network platform has had dramatic productivity benefits.

Open Social
– Open APIs for exposing and displaying web content and web applications Based on Javascript, HTML, and XML. Expose a web app to be exposed in a portal or other page.
– New-ish spec, yet gaining rapid adoption (google, yahoo, myspace, ning, confluence, jira, linkedin, more coming).
– Basis for more flexible options web portals
– Very low development overhead to get going
Stanford testing to see if they can have web apps living in open social containers and keep the security.
Shows an example of adding the Stanford time/leave reporting widget into iGoogle and Ning.

Bernie Gulachek – Adobe Connect at U Minnesota
They (central IT) manage Connect – have since 2004 when it was Breeze. Users authenticate with x.500. Available to everyone on campus – all fac/staff can present, students can attend. Don’t know what the uses are for (courses vs. meetings). 600 meetings in 2004, 14,000 last year. Part of their Common Good bundle. If they had to decide today, not sure that they’d host it on campus. It’s a self-service product – they have training materials people can view. There is a claim that there are 4-5 support people working on the product.

At Michigan State they rely on Connect heavily for online instruction. They configured it for an instructional setting that worked well as self-service, but that was bad for meetings. They’re working on a separate default for meetings. There are issues with training people for online etiquette (mute your microphone, etc).

CIC schools working on a federated Sharepoint. IU and Illinois shibbolized Sharepoint and run an instance for the CIC activities. Access is managed within the instance. (half-domesticated). Access management is within a separate database, not Active Directory.

Some discussion of extending the LMS. Paul Bergen (Harvard) talks about the idea of narrowing the LMS to be an administrative app for document sharing, and then leveraging blogs, wikis, etc for collaboration. Chad (Chicago) notes that people like to use the LMS for internal processes like tenure and promotion review, where they can manage access and then see whether people have read (or at least downloaded) the materials. Tim (Virginia) notes that they exclude their Sakai instance from HIPAA use, but it’s used a lot for promotion and tenure.


[CSG Winter 2010] Collaborative Platforms workshop

UC San Diego is hosting CSG for the first time.

Ken Klingenstein (Internet2)
Agenda for the morning:

Use Cases: LIGO, iPlant, and Bamboo
Basic generic build issues/COmanage
Basic outsource issues/Google offerings
The social networking angle
Connect/Sharepoint experiences

Federated Identity – reducing the authentication barriers to collaboration, note that sometimes the IdP is not the enterprise but the VO or other org.

Multiple levels of assurance, depending on use.

A new word: Domestication of Applications – about refactoring applications to use the emergent identity services infrastructure. Make an external call.
Begins with federated identity and authentication, but gains a lot from group management for access control, etc.
Lots of different flavors.

COmanage – the Dutch have done amazing things
Commercial offerings – Sharepoint, Adobe Connect, Google Sites, Wave, Google Apps
Repurposed LMS – Sakai, Croquet

Dutch National Collaboration Infrastructure – serving a million users
Domesticated tools – Adobe Connect; Alfresco; Foodle; Filesender; Confluence, Drupal, etc. Google Apps; My Experiement.org.
Done both grid integration and workflow.

Key issues:
Extent of application domestication
Appliance, service, cloud offering
Waiting for other technologies to happen – interfederation, discovery, metadata tagging, etc.
We’re early in understanding the UI
Domain applications/ science portal – can I use my groups for getting to grid application?

Collaborations and Virtual Organizations
– Move from a tool-based identity world to a collaboration-centric space

Roles, schema, and attributes

Big Science Collaborations
LIGO (ligo.org)
The single largest VO funded by NSF – does high energy physics.
Complex internal access issues – lots of internal competitive proposals requiring complex access control
A small number of very large files

iPlan – http://www.iplantcollaborative.org
NSF leading with cyberinfrastructure for the plant biology community
Broad outreach, education and training components – rich external access issues.
A very large number of small files

Needs of Big Science Researchers
Access to collaboration tools
No modifications to existing domain science apps – in some cases jobs run for years.
Command line tools – an interesting challenge
Internation capabilities
Multiple levels of assurance
Roles, attributes, metadata, and ontologies

Chad Kainz (U Chicago) – Humanities Research – A View from the Bamboo
Google is a big humanities project 🙂
Tow facets of collaboration – substantive and methodological – Methodological is a common goal. Substantive is uncommon – “I’ve got my thing and I want to unleash it on the world”. Strong desire to shift towards methodological.

Scholarly Networking is not the same as Social Networking

Social networking is focused on individual trying to connect with known group (friends, colleagues, family)
Scholarly Networking – Individual is seeking different connections that cross disciplines or engage other individuals with similar interests elsewhere.

What is emerging are invisible colleges of like-minded individuals who work at different institutions.

Pub problem – Neet to be in the right pub at the right time to make the right connection. “The most expensive dating service we have on campus is the VP of Research”

Five things came out of Bamboo workshops:
– Enable the discovery of scholars and their work at scholar-scholar level. Requires contextual metadata about projects, content, services, etc. Manual entry of metadata will fail (duh).
– Enable the creation of scholar profiles from data sources at institutions and create mechanisms to mine the data across institutions. Creates tension among institutions, scholars, and scholarly societies (academic “stars”).
– Organize – enable groups to organize outside of normal boundaries.
– Engage – enable a variety of scholars and institutions to engage in the network even if they don’t have organized data.
– Market – create a participatory market to promote greater SME interaction.

Ken – In LHC crowd, “discovery” is finding 2,000 processors they can use. In humanities it’s “is there a piece of software out there anywhere that can do…?” Distinction of provenance – in big science it’s store data so experiments can be repeated in the future. In the humanities it’s about giving proper credit – building arguments on arguments, so need to be able to work your way back through the subjective views. If an assertion is made by a grad student, who’s the advisor of that grad student?

A Middleware Unified Field Theory – Mike Gettes (MIT)
This is about Internet2’s COmanage.
We want inter-enterprise workgroup collaborations (or CO – Collaborative Organizations)
Identity, groups, federation, and applications.
Give control to community members – stop making people come to central IT.
Integrate with existing higher ed infrastructure.
Shib is federating technology. Group management. LDAP-PC publishes to LDAP, apps talk to LDAP.

Foodle – A federated Doodle.

Google Wave – Chris Hubing (Penn State)
Use cases: collaborative authoring of student documetns – teacher can play back wave and watch evolution of document; wavelets for discussion generation – hard to in google docs
Federation steup “like email” dns srv records; uses x.509 certs between wave servers; wave fed protocol is an extension of XMPP protocol.
Wave Fed prototype server – plugs into XEP-0114 Extension.
Wave providers right now or FedOne and Ruby on Sails (written by a high school student!)

Federation only works with wavesandbox.com – main google wave site doesn’t do federation yet
only trusts StartSSL certs – a little questionable on business practices
no web ui for fedone prototype server
if you use google apps for edu you need to disable chat service, because of name service collisions.

More on defining collaboration

Is it mere coincidence that all three of the comments on the Defining Collaboration post were from guys named Jim? I think not! Two of the comments wanted to stress that collaboration can (and often does) take place within the context of formal organizational structures and activities. That’s definitely a good point. I didn’t mean to … Continue reading “More on defining collaboration”

Is it mere coincidence that all three of the comments on the Defining Collaboration post were from guys named Jim? I think not!

Two of the comments wanted to stress that collaboration can (and often does) take place within the context of formal organizational structures and activities. That’s definitely a good point. I didn’t mean to imply in the definition that it didn’t. 
What I was trying to distinguish is the difference between the activity of collaboration, which I think of as being free flowing, creative, and non-deterministic, from a traditional command-and-control kind of activity, where someone in authority directs and coordinates the work of others and where repeatable processes are executed in well understood ways. 
The reason I want to make that distinction is that I think it’s at least likely that the two different kinds of work require, or at least can best benefit from, different kinds of tools. So while tools like traditional project management software, forms-processing, and workflow engines are good for the hierarchical structured kind of work, tools like wikis and group task lists are perhaps more useful for collaborative activities. 
I’ll have to think about how to make that clearer in the definition. Thanks, Jims!