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[ba-ohs-talk] Fwd: [PORT-L] Project on Collaboratory Research

>Date:         Wed, 14 Nov 2001 08:17:22 -0800
>From: Mary Keeler <mkeeler@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
>Subject:      [PORT-L] Project on Collaboratory Research
>Comments: To: port-l@iupui.edu
>Bob Rosenberg sent me this URL for work going on at the University of
>Michigan, which was begun under the leadship of William Wulf, originator
>of the term "collaboratory."  Some good, short account of the concept and
>history of work to realize it, here.  --MK
>An Alliance to Advance the Understanding of Collaboratories
>The project is being driven by researchers at the University of Michigan,
>and Howard University, and is sponsored by the National Science
>Throughout history scientists and engineers have taken advantage of
>state-of-the-art communication technologies to facilitate long-distance
>collaborations. In the past few decades the need for collaboration has
>increased markedly as problems have required large multidisciplinary
>teams, complex instrumentation, or vast amounts of data from multiple
>sources. Fortunately, this same time period has seen a dramatic increase
>in the power and variety of communication and computational technologies
>available for long-distance collaboration. In 1989 William Wulf coined the
>term RcollaboratoryS to refer to the use of such technologies to support
>geographically dispersed collaborative research. For more than a decade a
>number of collaboratory projects have been carried out in a variety of
>scientific and engineering fields. Most collaboratories have been built as
>one-off, hand-crafted projects. We seek to change this. The Science of
>Collaboratories project is devoted to understanding the technical and
>behavioral principles that can lead to better, more successful design of
>collaboratories in the future.
>Learn about the Mission of SOC [Science of Collaboratories]
>         Our Mission
>         Science has always been a form of what we now call "distributed
>knowledge work." Scientists were among the first to recognize the
>potential of emerging information and communication technologies. For
>instance, electronic mail first became widespread within scientific
>subcommunities. As additional networked tools became available a more
>coherent vision has emerged of how technology-mediated science can be
>conducted. By the late 1980s the concept of a collaboratory was being
>discussed at places like the National Science Foundation and the National
>Research Council. Collaboratories were defined as a RIUcenter without
>walls,U in which the nationals researchers can perform their research
>without regard to geographical location [Wulf, 1989].S The vision was that
>scientists who are geographically dispersed could work together using
>appropriate technology to access each other, remote tools, databases, and
>instruments (National Research Council, 1993; Kouzes, Myers & Wulf, 1996;
>Finholt & Olson, 1997).
>Over the past decade there have been a series of collaboratory projects
>funded by NSF, DOE, NIH, and other agencies, some successful and some less
>so. These projects provide us with a base of experience from which we have
>begun to form generalizations about the conditions for success. These
>projects have demonstrated the promise of the vision. Indeed, it is
>feasible and useful to use networks to link teams of people, data, tools,
>and facilities to reduce the barriers of time and distance.
>However, the design, deployment, and adoption of new collaboratories
>remain difficult and uncertain processes. Each collaboratory has been
>built as an independent effort. Since these efforts involved complex
>responses to often idiosyncratic mixtures of social and technical factors,
>general lessons about collaboratory design remain elusive. The large
>effort required to produce the first prototype collaboratories has not
>allowed careful reflection about broader principles of collaboratory
>development. These principles are needed to expand collaboratory use
>beyond narrow application in a few scientific fields.
>We seek to change this. We aim to define, abstract, and codify the broad
>underlying technical and social elements that lead to successful
>collaboratories. We seek to synthesize the vocabulary, associated
>principles, design methods, and technical infrastructure for propagating
>and sustaining collaboratories across a wide range of circumstances. Our
>goal is for users with a need for collaboratory infrastructure to be able
>to create successful collaboratories on their own. An even more ambitious
>goal would be to have collaboration capabilities become integrated into
>the common infrastructure that any scientist could access simply by being
>a practicing member of a relevant community.
>Learn about the Activities of this project
>Science of Collaboratories Home
>         In our endeavor to define, abstract, and codify the broad
>underlying technical and social elements that lead to successful
>collaboratories, we will pursue a series of activities associated with
>several specific objectives:
>1.      The qualitative and quantitative study of collaboratory design and
>usage, examining Jboth technical and social aspectsof performance. We will
>convene a series of workshops with a broad spectrum of collaboratory
>developers/evaluators, and systematically explore their experiences to
>develop generalizations. We will also conduct comprehensive studies of a
>select few collaboratories which are underway or concluded in order to
>establish a detailed picture of collaboratory workings.
>2.      Creation and maintenance of a Collaboratory Knowledge Base.
>Drawing on the work in (1), we will create a Web-accessible archive of
>primary source material, summaries and abstracts, and relevant
>generalizations and principles, a database of collaboratory resources, and
>other related material.
>3.      The abstraction and codification of principles, heuristics, and
>frameworks to guide the rapid creation and deployment of successful
>collaboratories. We seek to understand the complex interplay of technical
>and social factors that can lead to principles of design or customization.
>Codification of these principles will reduce the dependence of scientific
>collaborators on specialized collaboratory developers for building and
>deploying such tools. We also seek deeper understanding of the
>sociotechnical processes involved with collaboratory construction and use,
>both as an element of improving collaboratories and as a basic research
>4.      The formulation of a components approach to collaboratory
>technology and guidelines for their use. Many collaborative technologies
>already exists, but not in a form that allows for easy configuration and
>customization by end users. We will develop technical specifications for
>such components, and work with commercial partners or open source
>developers to see that such components emerge. Our goal here is to lower
>the technical as well as the social barriers to participation in
>5.      The assessment of emerging collaboratory testbeds. To test our
>principles and methods, we will use new testbed projects to expand our
>knowledge of new technical capabilities and the social processes behind
>successful collaboration.
>Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work
>School of Information, University of Michigan    (01)