Scholarly Networking Working Group Discussion Notes (10/17/08)

Joan Getman, Massimo Riva, Joan Getman, Tricia Heffernan, Arno Bose, Chris Mackie, Sasha Woolson, John Wallace, Lisa Wymore, Robin Valenza, Jared Johnson, Lisa Schiff, Alex Wirth-Cauchon, Elizabeth Edwards, Katie Hayne, Harry Bruce, Charles Blair

Joan:  Facilitator; Robin:  Notetaker

Joan:  Goals
What we hope the network will accomplish?
    Functionality
    Characteristics
What will people get out of it?  and How will the thing work?

Elizabeth:  Heavy user of Facebook.  Most exciting thing is discovery aspect:  bump into virtual information about friends, acquaintances, people who haven't seen and can reconnect with; can be translated to discovery of resources, other people's research, other people's questions.

Background in library school focused on social networks.  Important feature is exchange of social support and social capital.  Bamboo as a network could provide social support in ways of label of advocacy.  

Challenges of social-network-like approach:  stigma of things like Facebook, but we could frame to accentuate positive aspects of networks we already have.

Robin:  Could you define social capital?

Elizabeth: Social capital:  things that are exchanged through the network; emotional support, social support, opportunities.  Social capital is something that you build up through exchange of network.

Massimo:  Not closing entirely the door to the social factor here.  Yes, we are talking about scholarly networks, but clearly we live in a time of socialization fo knwoeldge.  In my experience, I tried in my project to build communities of scholars around practices.  Text tagging, digital editions, etc.  Now I understand how you can shape practices around networks.

I see Bamboo contribution as an intellectual cyberinfrastructure, rather than service.

That piece (the intellectual one) is really important.  The possibilities between reconceptualization of research in social phenomenon.

Lisa Wymore:  This is the area where Bamboo could really succeed, have strength.
Goal - to become amazingly aesthetically pleasing, beautifully crafted example.  Why not be the gold standard of what this can exemplify?  Images, liveness.  Live aspect of networking.  So we can share stuff:  videos, live consultation and collaboration, why not try to BE that exemplary model of that way of networking.

Lisa Schiff: Look @ what networks are already in place, what needs they're meeting well.  Social Networks predate web technology.  Need to recognize that.  People are tired of joining yet another network.  Fatigue of these kinds of sites.

Joan:  That's a risk.  

Lisa Schiff: Duplicating.

Joan:  Network be open to the team members who came to this.  Don't want segregated conversations:  academic here, support there.  "I'm in it with you."  Librarians, information scientists, computer scientists.

Robin:  The word Scholarly was an effort to avoid stigma of Social, not to prevent openness.  Better name?  Academics don't want to be alone in this!

Sasha:  Combining Scholarly w/Education?

Elizabeth:  Allowing grads & undergrads access.  How to get started w/research.

Tricia:  Mentoring of younger research students w/in a community; students can learn from profs in their field; should feel free to join.

Joan:  Ability to watch a discussion, conversation develop.
She might think of a solution that a researcher hadn't thought about.

Elizabeth:  Discovery.

Lisca Schiff: Openness.

Lisa Wymore:  Overall design can easily impact how sharing can happen.  Organized and structured so you don't have to do a lot of fishing through, spend a lot of time.  Lots of filtering.

John:  How many things are we talking about, and who creates them?  Can't just be one social network or one design theme that will satisfy all the networks?

Sasha:  This as a HUB, not a  totally new thing to learn.  Access point.  Creating a new platform:  we don't have time.  I would say goodbye.  Important for it to be well-articulated, precise links and movement.

Lisa Wymore:  Hub w/all spokes going away; that takes a lot of time, too.  Hub itself has to be able to get things organized.

Sasha:  Centralized.

Massimo: Do we want something that people contribute to, or do we want something that distributes?  I'm thinking about the first.  It's a resource built by communities of scholars.  That's the idea of a hub, rather than a centralized distributed center.

Chris:  Interesting that engineering rather than organic metaphors being used.  Successful communities always evolve, limited communications capacity @ the beginning.  Top-down is always unsuccessful.  The simplest technology possible.  Not a design thing, but talk about what kinds of pieces we pull together.

John:  They come & go.

Joan:  This is our vision part.

Lisa Wymore:  I don't want something that will disintegrate.

Chris:  Ideally you don't have to choose; your Facebook presence can be integrated, but you don't necessarily have to join.

Joan:  So we're moving into functionality.

Elizabeth:  Goal:  whatever this is - social or technological manifestation, that it draw on the existing networks.  Scholarly societies, editorial boards → things that are existing structures.  We can begin w/our overlap w/them.  Allow info to disseminate out.

Charles:  If a scholar is looking to solve a problem, sympathetic librarians & IT folk can pose potential solutions:  pointing to other resources, human resources. Some of it is sharing, learning.  Some of it is saying:  I have this need, someone else saying....Like a matchmaking service.

Joan: Connecting needs & resources.
Goal is something like vision.  Next area:  What you want to do?  That gets us towards what you want it to look like?
Something v. powerful in Facebook.
    Groups:  Ability to form & break up groups.  Pull from big community & find/search a group.
    Levels of access:  To privatize or choose.  Access to self, access to work.  People who choose to join can decide how exposed they want to be.

John:  Visually attractive, intriguing

Lisa Wymore:  High quality streaming, teleconferencing.  Teleimmersion

Lisa Schiff:  I use Facebook & Linkedin.  Helps me find people in specific areas, help me find a path to them.   Draws you nice paths from person to person.  For job searching, etc.  Visualizes your network.  Can also do full-text searching of people's profiles.

I wanted to find a way to get to someone who works at Exploratorium.

Linkedin---professional network, similar to Facebook.  When you have your contacts from work, then go onto the new job, don't have to send out that email:  keep up with me.

Charles:  Corporate.

Joan:  New media consortium is using it.

Massimo:  Various typologies out there.  Can capitalize on them for different needs.  Integrating & translating.

Chris:  ACLS talk on building academic networks.  He has a picture w/six core functions

Sharing, Presence, Relationships, Identity, Groups, Conversations, Reputation.  Identity is, of course, in the middle.   None of the networks do all of them; none do all of them well.  

Bamboo has the potential to do all of them well given quantity of resources, focused on needs of scholars:  what are those needs?  Which are priorities.

Lisa Wymore:  That's two ideas.  Either Bamboo is a connector, or it is itself its own network.

Chris:  Those aren't necessarily exclusive.

Lisa Wymore:  She's more into the idea of its becoming its own version of LinkedIn or Facebook.

Massimo:  Scholarly world really diversified.  Way of building intellectual capital through social capital.  That variety of social capital can be intellectual capital.

Joan:  I'm confused.  It has to be easy.  @ the same time, I'm having trouble figuring out if it's links to your presence in other places?   OR, I start building my capital in this entity that is Bamboo.

Lisa Wymore:  Right.

Sasha:  It can evolve.  Have to establish connections to currently operating networks.

Chris:  Most of the currently operating ones are commercial.  Like roach-motels:  you check in; they don't want you to check out.  Integrate info to the degree that commercial sites allow you to do so.

Lisa Wymore.  That's what I'm interested in.

Joan:  You could then do both.  Doesn't want to have to go to each of your places.  

Chris:  Power in not feeling need to own everyone's identity as commercial sites do.  Commercial sites need you to do that.  Linkedin/Facebook want you to spend all your time with them.  If you don't require everyone spend all their time w/Bamboo, but give tools for discovery, then people are free to build the way they want to build.  Provide organic tools and let them evolve.

John:  Does it really get all the scholars in those disciplines to coalesce?

Chris:  Example:  Sunoikisis.  Virtual classics dept.  27 Appalachian colleges have come together to merge classics departments.  Small liberal arts colleges w/too few faculty (1, 2, 3) to offer majors or certificates.  Pooling technology to promote 1.  effective graduate preparation and 2. fieldwork.  Since late 1990s.  Mellon supported initially.  High costs b/c they were pioneering.  Now hears there are efforts to start it elsewhere.  Collectively, one of the largest classics departments in the country.

Alex:  It's currently part of NITLE.  

Arno:  That's an odd case.  

John:  Almost a distance learning model.

Arno:  Is there an example of people who have abundant resources already?

Chris:  Most of those examples come from sciences.

Lisa Schiff:  What about the TEI (Text and Coding Initiative - in digital humanities) list.  Just a listserve; people are developing the standard, helping each other to implement it. Works well judging from activity on list and the stability of TEI.

Arno:  Many academic mailing lists have been around for a long time.  I joined this group b/c I'm skeptical of this.  I think point about social capital is impt; relatively easy to make in Facebook.  Units easily made:  photos, comments, hugathons, bits of flair.  Given to you on a platter.

Chris:  Teenagers.

Arno:  I disagree.  It would work with my grandmother if she were on it as well.  It's brief, discrete, atomized interactions w/people who aren't in your neighborhood or class.  You're happy and glad to do it.  If I were to go to faculty and say, "What's the value proposition?"  It's definitely there:  advice, hints, guides, but all this takes time.  And the discovery is much harder b/c now you're searching on meaning  & interpretations.

Joan:  So that a risk.

Lisa Wymore:  Dance Studies Working Group in Bay Area.  Uses Berkeley's BSpace.  Not v. much learning.  Has tabs where you can put websites, visual streaming, attach files, create a forum, respond to forum, mail tool.  Easier than the Bamboo wiki.

Katie:  Nobody's really using wiki's current abilities.

Lisa Wymore & Arno:  The Bamboo wiki oddly organized.

Arno:  A wiki:  you can do anything to any part of it; you can't do that in BSpace.

Joan:  Value proposition:  is there a value to scholars?  

Alex:  Great publishing, more difficult in humanities.  To what extent is this a window into that kind of a space.  What kinds of functions would make that a safer place for humanists to share research b/f peer review process?

Elizabeth:  A way to expose institutional repositories as part of work-in-process.  

Massimo:  Resource for emerging scholars.  They're eager for contacts.  That's a clear target.  

Chris:  Need for it to appeal to senior scholars; not a ghetto to senior scholars.

Lisa Wymore:  More structure.

Sasha:  This wiki has been put together by IT people.

Arno:  This wiki not designed to be a social site; designed to be a structured DOCUMENT.  There are powerful things about it.

Lisa Wymore:  We can't ignore that.  Diverse people.  

Joan:  Last part is the tool.

John: What scholars want it to do:  put up work, find other scholars, vetting - paper of the week, announcements.  If we go through that list of how we want it to work.

Robin:  Senior scholars who've joined FAcebook.  Either they know someone who encourages them to do it (junior, IT), or they know someone else who's had a great discovery through it, and they don't want to be left out.

Massimo:  And there's a coolness factor.

Chris:  Structured serendipity.  
    
Joan:  Includes whoever is working w/humanists.

Harry:  Other disciplines that have been working in this way for a long time.  Not only w/in disciplines, also beyond those disciplines.  Facilitating w/in scholarly network, engage w/other scholarly networks.  That's the value added.  How do arts & humanities scholars set about doing their creative work, research?  How can that be facilitated, promoted?  Impact augmented.  Network scholars will want to enter & engage w/:  it'll make their work better or more interesting.  Allows people to think better w/things they're engaged with.  This is the motivation.  Second, mimicking what's happening elsewhere.  Interdisciplinary activity.  Network about bringing people together who would not naturally fall together.

Arno:  How strange a project this is for your average senior faculty member.  I will call a colleague to find out what someone things.  I won't join a group that has undergraduates.  I'll have to wade through 52 things that are patently wrong or uninteresting; that level of noise not appealing.  Filtering out noise important.  That happens w/powerful institutional filters.  Brick walls really.  Now you're saying:  let's go back into the world where anyone can challenge you. 

What can happen (bad) w/Facebook?  But my high social capital could be at risk w/possibility of really making an ass of myself?  What is the benefit if you're already so great?

John:  Not work for everyone.

Arno:  So we need levels.

Lisa Wymore:  Listing of what level your membership is.  You can say, "I want feedback from this level....."

Chris:  Reputation.

Tricia:  What are expectations of research students if their own academic isn't participating?

Arno:  May not need that senior faculty; they've written them off.

Chris:  Or students have value as a bridge.

Sasha:  Earlier conversation idea of centralized platform.  I'd prefer spiderweb, or circular.  Two disciplines might not necessarily interact in a centralized matter. 

Elizabeth:  You'd like to see it grow organically to meet needs of community.  Adding or removing functionality b/c it makes sense.

Alex:  Challenges:  there are a lot of these efforts being spun on small scales in many places.

Chris:  Multidisciplinarity of Bamboo as opposed to gov't-funded agencies that have pre-determined community served (e.g., atmospheric science, plant science, or genomics); so boundaries are reified.  In sciences, tied to particular sets of research needs, data.  (E.g. Arctic measurements, telescopic data) Not quite disciplines, but boundaries are going to stay.  If we do this right, opportunity for things to grow and die.  Increasing complexity or entropy.  Light, ad hoc transient network @ least as valuable.

Arno:  Way you can just have a little widget in one space in some of existing sites.  Like a little tendril growing out of central thing.

Joan:  Debate about direction.  Direction name reflects some thought:  Scholarly Network. 

John:  Word community. 

Joan:  We're mulling over a name so not just for community scholars.

Name of direction or of the thing itself?

Massimo:  Network v. networking.

Alex.  Networks.

John:  But they're really communities.

Arno:  Intellectual....

Lisa Wymore:  Don't really have to be a scholar w/intellectual.  I like intellectual.

Joan:  Online communities is our direction/creation.

Harry:  I like the active name:  Networking scholars

Joan:  Not the name for the thing, just of our working direction.  Networking scholars and scholarship.

Elizabeth:  & scholarship.

Joan:  Rewards?

John:  Mentoring.

Lisa S.: Discovery. 

Chris:  Serendipity.

Harry: possibility of Internetworking w/other networks;  value added here.

Arno:  Suggestion to Bamboo people:  brainstorming sessions loosely aligned around disciplines.  Six art historians might have a sense of what they might get out of it.

Elizabeth:  Bridge back to previous discussions.  Theme groups.  Rewards tie back to the theme groups:  discovery, aggregation, engagement, sharing in publishing.  We hit most of the themes.  We didn't hit annotation or preserving. 

Alex:  Education.

Joan:  Is this expected to be a space where you work, or just make connections?

Massimo:  It can evolve.

Elizabeth:  Depending on needs.

John:  You'll see capability of living in space full time as the technology builds.

Sasha:  Will negotiate w/problems of copyright, etc.

Katie:  Copyright, intellectual property.  People may not want  to post.

Chris:  You have to provide different degrees of safety.

Lisa S.:  I think what Bamboo is hoping to achieve:  providing tools and resources for scholarly community to evolve.  Allow scholars to do their work.

Joan:  Risks.
       
Group:  Too hard, risking reputation, expectations w/respect to mixed levels (ugrads), safe w/respect to copyright, reinventing the wheel, tool light to get anything to grow.

Katie:  I like mailing lists.

Joan:  I like places I can pose a problem.  To ask, "Is there anyone out there working on this?"

Joan from Report-out
Direction name reflects our interest in inclusion of partners who work w/scholars
Want networking - active.  Word community.  Overarching theme:  EVOLVING.  What would be out of scope would be inventing something new.

Rewards: 
Discovery - other scholars, solutions, opportunities, resources & tools
        Organic Evolution
    Connecting networks - not creating a competing, segregated group
Hub.  Starting light.  Safe space.  Network of networks.  Maybe not a working space @ first, but that could be accommodated.  Visual & text-based both accommodated.
Scope:  opt-in @ different levels.
Enable mentoring

Risk: 
    Risking reputation.
    Must have value in it.
    Reinventing wheel.
    Ensuring relevance.