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Quick and Flexible Research Networks

Collection Date: January 5, 2009
Scholar #1 Info:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Institution/Organization:
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor:

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Geoffrey Rockwell, Stan Ruecker, Maureen Engel
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Institution/Organization:

Notes on Methodology:

Collected via the Workshop III Needs Statement Activity



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What: Quick and Flexible Research Networks

I will often try to set up a a working group around an idea or project with a few grad students and colleagues. The colleagues might be at other institutions. These working groups are for new ideas for which we don't have grant funding to travel or pay for infrastructure to be set up. We need a mix of ways to communicate, share files, collaborate on writing grants. We need to be able to meet online regularly. We need to be able to set these up quickly and to be able to add communication tools as we need them. We need to be able to do this with a minimum of bureaucracy. We need to be able to close them down and archive stuff. Sometimes when we move we need to actually move the hair ball to another university.

How: Iterative scaling of a group research project

i. I meet Jean at a conference and we decide (over tea) that it would be neat to try a project together on X. She mentions she has a couple grad students who might be interested and I have a colleague.

ii. I get back and remembering the neat idea I e-mail her.

iii. We agree to look for funding and to do that we need to flesh out the idea. We bring on board the grad students. I ask for a discussion list to be set up. She creates a Google Document.

iv. We start iteratively writing the idea out.

v. We agree that we need to talk. Jean and I Skype, but then we can't include others. We can't afford to fly to meet so we decide to try some conferencing technology the campus is pushing. It is Elluminate this month. We book the room, get the account, figure it out. We use some online meeting organizer to find a common time. On the date I find that the local setup has been changed so Elluminate doesn't work because the Java libraries aren't right. My grad student e-mails the others while I try to find a technician. We find one and they fix the problem. The meeting is now late. But it sort of works.

vi. We agree that we need to give the project a name and a web presence especially since we got a little bit of money to run a half-day conference. I apply for an account on a research web server so my grad student can put up a simple web site.

Helps: Now I will do a number of things. I will apply for a discussion list (takes about 2 days to get permission and one set up.) I might apply to let people (at other universities) onto a wiki I have access to if we need shared writing space. Increasingly I have used Google Docs for shared documents. I have tried setting up a Ning group and that didn't work. I have also used Skype for one 2 one voice conferencing and Elluminate to try to do group to group conferencing. Skype works, but doesn't scale to groups. Elluminate with echo-canceling microphones sort of worked, but took a lot of support from staff. Access grid technology was beyond me.

Need: What I think I need is integration, better conferencing, and lower bureaucracy. I would like something a bit like Ning, but with Google Docs features and Skype-like conferencing. I would also like it to be simpler with the ability to turn things on as we go. (And to have no ads.)

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