OHSWG news

From: Peter Nuernberg (pnuern_at_daimi.aau.dk)
Date: Mon 29 Jun 1998 - 08:57:07 CDT

Howdy all-

   This mail gives an overview of the proceedings of the OHS 4 workshop and the HT 98 conference, including a description of the OHSWG demonstration, possible plans for increasing the exposure of the OHSWG at the HT conferences, and a description of some work on the plate for our group. Even if you went to the workshop and/or conference, you may find it useful to browse this mail.

OHS 4 workshop

   The OHS workshop was again a successful one. The opening talk by Doug Engelbart described his vision of (networked) improvement communities, or (N)IC's, and gave the OHSWG the challenge to become a NIC. We exchanged thoughts and ideas on lessons learned from the interoperability demo, collaboration support, and renewed the call for scenarios (see below for details on many of these topics). Copies of the accepted position statements are available off of the main workshop page located at "http://www.aue.auc.dk/~kock/OHS-HT98/". A compilation of the position statements is available as a tech report from Aalborg University Esbjerg Department of Computer Science - contact Uffe Wiil for details (ukwiil_at_aue.auc.dk).

HT 98

   The HT conference was also quite a success. Kaj Grønbæk and Elli Mylonas (HT 98 PC chairs) have told me the conference evaluations completed by the attendees showed that many people were very happy with the technical program. John Leggett and Stuart Moulthrop gave enjoyable keynotes that both (in their own ways) called for a broader, more integrated approach to research done in this field (John's call for a "civilization" and Stuart's call for "radical" research). I believe our group ("camp") can see these calls collectively as a challenge to use our technology and experience as a basis for helping to bring together the various threads of research at the HT conferences. John also called for our community to generate a truly useful "digital library" of our written record that uses the ideas and technologies generated by our community (i.e., more than the ACM DL). For us, perhaps this may mean we could use past HT conference proceedings, videos, etc. (instead of, e.g., JPEG's from movie trailers :-) as a testbed for our demos and prototypes.

interoperability demo

   The interoperability demo was a great success. We received much positive feedback during and after the demo sessions. I think at least as important as the demo of the actual technology itself was the demo of our ability as a group to work together. Much of the feedback I received revolved around the perception of maturity of our work that a successful standardization effort brings. Special thanks to Dave Millard, Lennert Sloth, and Uffe Wiil who manned the demo station for the majority of the demo sessions. These guys also slung most of the code to make this happen. We should publicly acknowledge that this work was more than simply implementing a specification - for example, all of the cross-server and collaborative features demonstrated were not a part of the specification - these were largely the results of the above three people going beyond our specifications.

OHSWG future work plans

   A new subgroup was formed specifically to follow the W3C standardization efforts, especially XLink and XPointer. It consists of Lloyd Rutledge, Jacco van Ossenbruggen, Les Carr, Sigi Reich, and Dave. Several calls were made for new scenarios (fictive or otherwise). While interest in generating new scenarios seemed genuine, we've failed in the past to parlay this into actual scenarios - hopefully this time our good intentions will have fruitful results. Uffe Wiil, Joerg Haake, and I have formed a collaboration subgroup. Cathy Marshall and Frank Shipman have agreed to sit on our spatial hypertext group.

   As I wrote above, I believe Doug, John, and Stuart all provided our group (directly or indirectly) with a challenge to broaden our approach to hypertext research. I think this fits well with our recent adoption of a component-based approach to system design and implementation. The work of the above subgroups move us closer to meeting this challenge.

OHSWG future workshop plans

   A question that came up during the last session of the OHS 4 workshop is how to organize our workshop efforts for HT 99. No conclusions were reached, but several options were discussed. I think all agreed that the OHS format should be changed to bring new people into the community - the workshop should not simply be a working group meeting. Some of us believe that the working group would best be served by starting another workshop. At the workshop, there were many ideas on how such another workshop might function, how it would relate to OHS 5, etc. Since I am the main proponent for this second workshop, I'll provide my current plans. As I wrote above, however, no agreement on this subject has yet been reached.

   At OHS 4, I spoke about a second workshop to pursue "C level" activities (using Doug's terminology). To use more of Doug's terms, I think a better way to describe this effort might be a NIC of B level groups, one per domain. The OHS workshops, despite their considerations of other domains, have always primarily addressed navigation, and as such, can be seen as a B level improvement group for navigation work tasks. Other "camps" in our field are B level IC's (improvement communities) for other domains. I think there is a place for another workshop that tries to bring these B groups together through a common system infrastructure. The development of that infrastructure is a C level task, and is an important undertaking, but there's probably not enough there right now for a workshop on just the infrastructure. Instead, I think we could play a valuable role as a networking agent for B groups. I don't see this as a task of speaking to users of systems for these other domains so much as speaking to B level system implementers about _their_ requirements.

   As such, we need to keep certain things in mind when considering how best to form such a B network. As much as many of us might like to, we cannot have 20 OHS people form the core of the B network. This will unbalance any attempt to bring together people from different camps. Instead, we need to identify 3-5 mature B groups and invite 3-5 people from each. This balanced approach is the only way to build a stable basis for true collaboration. In this same vein, we cannot bill such a second workshop as a "track" of OHS, anymore than it would be a track of the HM Development or HT Writers' workshops. It's important to keep this workshop separate from the OHS line of workshops. This is not to say that it should or will be separate from the OHSWG. This is strictly a question of obtaining high visibility and furthering the dissemination of our technologies into the field.

   On this front, I am drawing up the proposal for the B network workshop for HT 99. I've taken the opportunity at HT and DL 98 to contact several possible participants and have received good feedback. I think that as a second workshop of the OHSWG, we should feel free to continue to discuss details on this mailing list.

OHSWG miscellaneous news

   We are (still) in the process of acquiring the domain name
"ohswg.org". The domain will be hosted by the Center for the Study of
Digital Libraries at Texas A&M. Initially, the domain will have two names registered: "ohswg.org" for mailing lists, etc., and
"www.ohswg.org" for the OHSWG WWW site. As soon as the name services
are set up, I will mail the group. Both of the above names will be mapped to "csdl.tamu.edu" initially, and all materials (mailing lists and the WWW site) will continue to work with the "[www.]csdl.tamu.edu" addresses.

-Peter J. Nürnberg
 Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

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